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If you’re searching for a present for someone who loves classical music, I have a great suggestion for you this morning. Buy that person a membership in Classical Archives. I’ve been a member for more than two years and I’m telling you, it is the greatest online resource ever for lovers of classical music.
What is Classical Archives?
It’s a vast online collection of recordings of classical music. According to Classical Archives, current offerings include 626,000 individual musical selections from more than 16,000 composers, played by more than 62,000 artists. That’s an awful lot of music. More than 350 recording labels are represented.
For an annual fee of $79.90, I can listen to any recording that I choose. If I want to buy any of those recordings as MP3s, I can, but I don’t have to. I can listen all I want on my computer for no additional fees. I bet that Classical Archives will soon be offering some discounted holiday gift memberships too.
Classical Archives is terrific for many more reasons too . . .
An astonishing depth of musical selections.  If I want to compare Misha Elman’s recording of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto to Jascha Heifetz’s or dozens of others, for example, I can do that. I can feast all day long on tons of different recordings of piano sonatas, operas, tone poems, you name it. Classical Archives’s “jukebox” of music seems bottomless.
A front end that has been created by people who understand classical music. You can search by composer, by performer, by genre, by composition title, and more. You’ve probably noticed that when most online services try to organize collections of classical music, they make absurd mistakes. You’re not going to find anything like that at Classical Archives.
A built-in music player that actually works. Click on your selection, the Classical Archives player opens, and you’re listening. That’s it. The one time I had a glitch with the player – and that was more than a year ago – I got technical help right away and I was listening again in a few minutes. (The problem was with Google Chrome, which thought that the Classical Archives player was a popup and blocked it.)
A big selection of new releases that’s augmented constantly. You’ll find them right on the home page. And guess what? They really are new releases – the same stuff you could buy online or in your local CD store, if you still have one. You can click and listen to these recordings right away, at no additional charge. You can listen to the terrific new multi-CD DGG recording of Pierre Boulez conducting Mahler for no additional fee as a Classical Archives member, for example, or you could buy it at Amazon.com for about $65.00. Your choice.
A nicely organized “Must Know” introductory list of playable classical music tracks. If you’d like to buy a present for someone who’s just getting into classical music, this makes Classical Archives a great gift. (I tend to think of it as a resource best for people who already know a lot about classical music, but that ain’t necessarily so.)
All This Plus an App Too!
In addition to all the features I describe above, Classical Archives also has an App for iPhones and Androids. I have it installed on my iPhone. Like everything else at Classical Archives, it has been beautifully planned and executed. I can simply scan through a list of composers and select any work that I want to hear. Then I click on it and – zowie – it plays on my phone. (To avoid data use charges, I usually use the App when I’m at home and connected to Wi-Fi.) The other day I was raking leaves while listening to Buxtehude. How many people have that kind of option?
As I review today’s post, I notice that it sounds like I must be an employee of Classical Archives. Please be assured, I am not. Just a faithful subscriber. I think it’s great. For the price of one new multi-CD set, you can give someone the gift of unlimited classical listening all year long. How wonderful is that?