Cover image for The NPR guide to building a classical CD collection
The NPR guide to building a classical CD collection
Libbey, Theodore, 1951-
Personal Author:
Second edition, revised and updated.
Publication Information:
New York : Workman, 1999.
Physical Description:
xvii, 536 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
General Note:
Includes indexes.
Added Corporate Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML156.9 .L5 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
ML156.9 .L5 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Grosvenor Room-Reference-Music

On Order



Berlioz. Vaughan Williams. Schubert and Schumann. Mozart after the Jupiter Symphony, Bach beyond the Brandenburg Concertos, opera after The Magic Flute. In his informed and indispensible guide with over 157,000 copies in print, National Public Radio's Ted Libbey takes listeners by the hand through the classical repertory to build a music library. For the second edition, with five years of new performances to consider, five years of new releases to review, and five years of reissues to re-evaluate-the author has completely revised and updated the book.

While sticking to the essential 300 works, there are now one-third new selections and reviews, and a 50% change in discography to keep all suggested CDs up to date. The NPR Guide tp Building a Classical CD Collection will make every music lover's core collection complete.

Author Notes

Ted Libbey is the featured commentator on "The PT Basic Record Library," the most popular segment on NPR's Performance Today. A former music critic for The New York Times, he reviews books for the L.A. Times and The Washington Post.



Samuel Barber Adagio for Strings On the programs of American symphony orchestras, the American composer whose music is most frequently encountered is not Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, or George Gershwin, but Samuel Barber (1910-1981). For many years, Barber's Adagio for Strings has been the most frequently performed concert work by an American composer. This intense, elegiac piece was originally the opening part of the second movement of Barber's String Quartet, Op. 11; the composer then scored it for string orchestra at the request of conductor Arturo Toscanini, who gave the first performance of the arrangement in 1938 with the NBC Symphony Orchestra. The music begins quietly with a feeling of subdued but deep sadness, builds to a searing climax of extreme poignancy, and subsides again into the stark, melancholy mood of its opening. Though familiar from repeated playings (and from use in Oliver Stone's film Platoon), the Adagio for Strings remains one of the most moving and beautiful elegies ever conceived, an outstanding example of Barber's remarkable lyric gift. Recommended Recordings New York Philharmonic/Thomas Schippers. Sony Classical "Masterworks Heritage" MHK 62837 [with other works by Barber, Menotti, Berg, and D'Indy] Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra/Leonard Slatkin. EMI CDC 49463 [with Overture to The School for Scandal, Essays Nos. 1-3 for Orchestra, and Medea's Meditation and Dance of Vengeance] The most beautiful recording ever made of the Adagio for Strings is at last on CD, thoughtfully coupled with some of the other recordings the young Thomas Schippers made for Columbia Masterworks-of the music of Barber and others-between 1960 and 1965, at the start of his all-to-brief career. Although he was never on close personal terms with Barber, Schippers had the ability to put Barber's music across in just the right way, with the perfect blend of energy and lyricism, toughness and warmth, and, above all, with the feeling that its sentiment was real, but ineffably contained. The playing of the New York Philharmonic (in the Adagio, as well as in the Second Essay for orchestra, the Overture to The School for Scandal, Andromache's Farewell, and Medea's Dance of Vengeance) is aglow with inspiration, and the sound is exceptionally vivid, with a palpable sense of presence and space. For the essential orchestral pieces of Barber, EMI's compilation with Slatkin and the Saint Louis Symphony is the best currently available. Slatkin's reading of the Adagio is beautifully built, exactly on the mark. The Essays-works of magnificent crafstmanship in which Barber unerringly balanced the sorrowful with the triumphant-are powerfully stated, and Medea's Meditation and Dance of Vengeance emerges as an orchestral tour de force. The recordings are full, spacious, superbly atmospheric. Excerpted from The NPR Guide to Building a Classical CD Collection: Second Edition, Revised and Updated by Ted Libbey All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

On Listening to Music
Chapter I Orchestral Works
Chapter II Concertos
Chapter III Chamber Music
Chapter IV Solo Keyboard Works
Chapter V Sacred and Choral Music
Chapter VI Opera
Starter Lists
Top Ten
Teenage Listeners'
Ted Libbey's Hit List
Music for Special Occasions