If you are interested in exploring classical music but are unsure where to start, you're in the right place. With so many classical pieces spanning so many centuries, exploring classical music can seem intimidating, but this guide should give you a good idea of where to start.
1. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 – 1791)
Mozart is properly one of the first composers to pop into people's heads when they hear the words classical music, and this is because he wrote music that is mostly accessible to the average listener. In part this is because Mozart didn't just stick to one genre, preferring instead to write operas, piano sonatas, symphonies, and concertos -- or whatever he fancied. Therefore, there is something to please everyone in his music.
A great starting point for Mozart is his piece for chamber ensemble, Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, which you no doubt know, even if you don't realise it. If you fancy something a little more highbrow, Mozart's Requiem is truly a thing of wonder, and if you think you'd prefer something featuring a piano, have a listen to his Piano Concerto No. 21 in C major; if it seems familiar, it's probably because this gorgeous piece was used in the films Elvira Madigan, Superman Returns and The Spy Who Loved Me.
2. Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Bach was a Baroque composer who produced pieces that were mostly musically complex and yet emotionally rich. He is definitely worthy of being present on any list of composers worth listening to and certainly has a lot to bring to classical music novices. A great place to start is with his outstanding Brandenberg Concertos, a collection of six instrumental works that feature a multitude of soloists of different instruments. These pieces really showcase the best of what Bach had to offer.
If you fancy something quite dark and sombre, something that will really make you feel, have a listen instead to Suite No. 1 for Solo Cello in G Major, BWV 1007.
3. Ludwig Van Beethoven (1770-1827)
Most people have heard of Beethoven, the German composer who was probably the most popular composer of his time, despite the fact that he started to go deaf at the age of 28. Beethoven wasn't as prolific as Mozart or Bach, composing only 9 concertos, 5 piano concertos and a choral work, but the works he did produce have survived the centuries because of their powerful and tumultuous beauty.
A great starting point for Beethoven is his Symphony No. 4 in B flat major ('Eroica') Symphony. This frequently moody yet beautiful piece remains quite uncharacteristically gentle throughout, so is great if you want something relaxing. If you want to hear Beethoven at his stormiest, have a listen to his Piano Sonata No. 23 in F Minor ('Appassionata'). This is a fairly short piece that is as passionate as its name suggests.
Hopefully, listening to these three composers will result in you catching the classical music bug, meaning you'll want to seek out similar composers to your favourites listed here. There is a whole world of beautiful music out there just waiting to be discovered!