Listening to music is key if you want to become a better composer. But getting the music to listen to can get expensive really quickly. So this page is dedicated to finding all of the free classical music resources online. Some may be for downloading classical music, while others are for streaming, but the important thing is they are all free.
Downloading Free Classical Music
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Music Library - What I love about the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum music is the quality. These are top notch artists and groups performing some of the best music out there. They have a ton of composers from Bach to Berg. They also have a great set of Ravel Recordings. Check out his string quartet.
Classic Cat - So far, classic cat has been a mixed bag in terms of recording quality, but you can’t overlook the size of their catalogue. I haven’t downloaded a ton from their but I have enjoyed some things. One thing they have that the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum doesn’t is full scale symphonic music.
IMSLP – Once again, IMSLP turns out to be freaking awesome. On the right hand side, you can browse free recordings. Sometimes they are not that great, like a high school orchestra recording, but this is also how I discovered the Gardner Museum recordings. If you are looking for a score, you can also check to see if there is a public domain recording of it.
Piano Society - This place specializes in piano recordings. They have a large library and the recordings are good quality for the most part.
Musopen – Musopen is another awesome resource. Because anyone can submit music, this can also be a mixed bag, but you can definitely find some gems.
www.jsayles.com – This place has a ton of great free classical guitar recordings.
www.earlyromanticguitar.com - Similar to jsayles.com, this place has quite a few classical guitar recordings (can you tell I am also a classical guitarist by now?).
cellist.nl - Some great cello recordings.
Archive.org 78 RPM & Cylinder Recordings – This has some really cool original recordings, like the premiere of Barber’s Symphony No. 1. The Sound quality will obviously be a little lower, but you can find some interesting things.
Free Classical Music Podcasts
Podcasts are a great way to get some free classical music. There are also great resources on music analysis and critique.
www.classicalpodcasts.com – Despite the name saying “podcasts” plural, this is a single podcast that is more of a critical look at the music. They play examples and occasionally have a round table discussion. They go over all of the Mahler Symphonies, and I am a big Mahler fan, so this gets a thumbs up.
Meyer Auditorium Concert Series Podcast – This is a series of concerts of traditional asian music.
Classical Podcast from Magnatune.com – Each episode is a compilation that is about 1 hour. They also look like they have a good deal to sign up for, but I haven’t personally tried.
Naxos Podcasts – The only one in the collection that I’ve listened to is the Classical Music Spotlight Podcast. It is a great introduction to some music you probably never knew existed.
The Concert – Once again the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum comes through, this time with a podcast.
Streaming Free Classical Music
Youtube.com – This is probably the best way to stream a particular piece. Many people have also taken the time to create good playlists. The link here is to a playlist I created of awesome string quartets.
Naxos Music Library – While not free, you can get a free 15 minute session, where you could listen to a particular piece, if that is what you are after. Give it a try, because it is pretty cool.
Pandora Radio – Pandora is a great online radio. You can type in a piece or a composer, and they will continue to play similar pieces. There are ads that can get annoying though.
wclv.com – There are plenty of radio stations that also broadcast on the internet. A fellow Art of Composing fan recommended this one.
kusc.com – This is my local classical radio station broadcast from USC. I love the Classical Anti-Road Rage tune they play at 5:00 PM.
There are more free resources online, and all it takes is googling around. This list is all things that I’ve listened to for the most part. My favorite would be the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum stuff.
Let me know if there are any other great resources, so I can add them.