Listening Guide

What do I listen to?

Find out the great works to listen to!

They say that word of mouth advertising might be the most powerful kind of marketing there is. All lovers of music will find the following music to be great works to explore but don't just take my word for it, I've compiled quotes from many top musicians referencing many works.

Popular Music

1950s - Present

Michael Jackson

(August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009)


June 7, 1958 – April 21, 2016

Stevie Wonder

(May 13, 1950 - Present)


(1972 - 1982)


(1970 - 1991)

Simon and Garfunkel

(1956 - 1970)

The Beatles

(John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison Ringo Starr)

(1960 - 1970)


"There's no outdoing The Beatles." - Brian Wilson

Elvis Presley

(January 8, 1935 – August 16, 1977)

Jazz Era

1920s - 50s

Sonny Rollins

(September 7, 1930 - Present)

Barry Harris

(December 15, 1929 - Present)

Bud Powell

(September 27, 1924 – July 31, 1966)


"If I had to choose one single musician for his artistic integrity, for the incomparable originality of his creation and the grandeur of his work, it would be Bud Powell. He was in a class by himself" - Bill Evans

Charlie Parker

(August 29, 1920 – March 12, 1955)


"You can tell the history of jazz in four words: Louis Armstrong. Charlie Parker" - Miles Davis

"I, myself, came to enjoy the players who didn't only just swing but who invented new rhythmic patterns, along with new melodic concepts. And those people are: Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Max Roach, Sonny Rollins, Lester Young, Dizzy Gillespie and Charles Parker, who is the greatest genius of all to me because he changed the whole era around." - Charles Mingus

Art Tatum

(October 13, 1909 – November 5, 1956)

Lester Young

(August 27, 1909 – March 15, 1959)

Coleman Hawkins

(November 21, 1904 – May 19, 1969)

Count Basie

(August 21, 1904 – April 26, 1984)

Louis Armstrong

(August 4, 1901 – July 6, 1971)

Duke Ellington

(April 29, 1899 – May 24, 1974)

Modern Era

1890 - 1975

Igor Stravinsky

(June 17, 1882 – April 6, 1971)

"That he is a master is universally accepted. That his originality is unrivalled (for an eminently tonal composer) we all realize. That his influence has been formidable goes without saying." - Leonard Bernstein

"Stravinsky, the chameleon-musician, the man of a thousand-and-one styles, has bequeathed us a totally unified treasury of rhythm that traces a perfect arc from his first to most recent work, rising from the simple to the complex then falling from the complex to the simple." - Olivier Messiaen

"Despite the widespread influence of his music, Stravinsky as a composer remains a singularly remote and removed figure, a composer whose passport to the future needs no signature other than his own." - Aaron Copland

Béla Bartók

(March 25, 1881 – September 26, 1945)

Fourteen Bagatelles

"At last something truly new!" - Ferruccio Busoni

Arnold Schoenberg

(September 13 1874 – July 13, 1951)


"In fact, the influence of Schoenberg may be overwhelming on his followers, but the significance of his art is to be identified with influences of a more subtle kind - not the system, but the aesthetic, of his art. I am quite conscious of the fact that my Chansons madécasses are in no way Schoenbergian, but I do not know whether I ever should have been able to write them had Schoenberg never written." - Maurice Ravel

Romantic Era

1780 - 1910

Richard Strauss

(June 11, 1864 – September 8, 1949)


"I was never revolutionary. The only revolutionary in our time was Strauss!" - Arnold Schoenberg

"I believe that he (Strauss) will remain one of the characteristic and outstanding figures in musical history. Works like Salome, Elektra and Intermezzo, and others will not perish." - Arnold Schoenberg

"I can assure you, that the sun shines in Richard Strauss's music. It is impossible to resist the overwhelming power of this man!" - Claude Debussy

"Except for Strauss, there are none but second class composers in Germany." - Maurice Ravel

"I can assure you sincerely: since Wagner we have not had such a great master as Strauss." - Béla Bartók

Also Sprach Zarathustra

"I was aroused as by a flash of lightning by the first Budapest performance of Also Sprach Zarathustra. It contained the seeds for a new life. I started composing again." - Béla Bartók

Ein Heldenleben (A Hero's Life), Op. 40

"He definitely thinks in colored images. Ein Heldenleben is a book of images, cinematography even." - Claude Debussy


"Salome again made an extraordinary impression on me. It is entirely a work of genius, very powerful and decidedly one of the most important things that our age has produced." - Gustav Mahler

"Salome and Pelléas et Mélisande are the most striking works in European music for the last fifteen years" - Maurice Ravel

Claude Debussy

(August 22, 1862 – March 25, 1918)


"Debussy's great service to music was to reawaken among all musicians an awareness of harmony and its possibilities. In that, he was just as important as Beethoven, who revealed to us the possibilities of progressive form, or as Bach, who showed us the transcendent significance of counterpoint. Now, what I am always asking myself is this: is it possible to make a synthesis of these three great masters, a living synthesis that will be valid for our time?" - Béla Bartók

Pelléas et Mélisande

"a revelation, love at first sight" and "probably the most decisive influence I have been subject to" - Olivier Messiaen

Robert Fuchs

(February 15, 1847 – February 19, 1927)


"Fuchs is a splendid musician, everything is so fine and so skillful, so charmingly invented, that one is always pleased.” - Johannes Brahms

Georges Bizet

(October 25, 1838 – June 3, 1875)


"Carmen in my view is a chef d'oeuvre in the true sense of the word, that is one of those few works which are fated to reflect most intensively the musical tendencies of a whole age [...] I am convinced that within some ten years or so Carmen will be the most popular opera in the world!" - Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Léo Delibes

(February 21, 1836 – January 16, 1891)


"I also heard in Vienna the ballet Sylvia by Leo Delibes — yes, I mean heard because this is the first ballet in which the music constitutes not just the principal, but also the sole interest. What charm, what gracefulness, what melodic, rhythmic, and harmonic richness! I was ashamed of myself. If I had known this music before, I wouldn't have written Swan Lake." - Pyotr ilyich Tchaikovsky

Johannes Brahms

(May 7, 1833 – April 3, 1897)

Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel

"One sees what still may be done in the old forms when someone comes along who knows how to use them." - Richard Wagner

Symphony No. 3

"I look at the Third Symphony of Brahms, and I feel like a pygmy." - Edward Elgar

Anton Bruckner

(September 4, 1824 – October 11, 1896)


"I know of only one composer who measures up to Beethoven, and that is Bruckner." - Richard Wagner

Giuseppe Verdi

(October 10, 1813 – January 27, 1901)


"I say that in the aria 'La donna è mobile', for example, which the elite thinks only brilliant and superficial, there is more substance and feeling than in the whole of Wagner's Ring cycle." - Igor Stravinsky

Richard Wagner

(May 22, 1813 – February 13, 1883)


"The Shakespeare of music." - John Philip Sousa


"a sublime work from one end to the other" - Franz Liszt

Tristan und Isolde

Giuseppe Verdi "stood in wonder and terror" at Tristan und Isolde in an interview shortly before his death

"One felt overwhelmed, ravished, and enraptured all at the same time – in several places one could only weep!" ... "After so poignant a work I do not know what will be left for our opera composers to do." - Franz Liszt

"the end of all romanticism, as it brings into focus the longing of the entire 19th century." - Richard Strauss

[At the end of the Opera] "the most beautifully orchestrated B major chord in the history of music" - Richard Strauss

"Enough of this music! We’re mandolinists, amateurs: woe to him who gets caught by it! This tremendous music destroys one and renders one incapable of composing any more!" - Giacomo Puccini

Robert Schumann

(June 8, 1810 – July 29, 1856)


"my ideal." - Edward Elgar

Frederic Chopin

(March 1, 1810 – October 17, 1849)


"the greatest of them all, for through the piano he discovered everything" - Claude Debussy

"Music was his language, the divine tongue through which he expressed a whole realm of sentiments that only the select few can appreciate... The muse of his homeland dictates his songs, and the anguished cries of Poland lend to his art a mysterious, indefinable poetry which, for all those who have truly experienced it, cannot be compared to anything else... The piano alone was not sufficient to reveal all that lies within him. In short he is a most remarkable individual who commands our highest degree of devotion." - Franz Liszt

"Hats off, gentlemen — a genius!" - Robert Schumann

Ballade No. 1 in Gm, Op. 23

"I received a new Ballade from Chopin. It seems to be a work closest to his genius (although not the most ingenious) and I told him that I like it best of all his compositions. After quite a lengthy silence he replied with emphasis, 'I am happy to hear this since I too like it most and hold it dearest.'" - Robert Schumann

Preludes Op. 28

Chopin's Preludes are compositions of an order entirely apart... they are poetic preludes, analogous to those of a great contemporary poet, who cradles the soul in golden dreams..." - Franz Liszt

Felix Mendelssohn

(February 3, 1809 – November 4, 1847)


"a master of undisputed greatness" and "an heir of Mozart" - Ferruccio Busoni

"Mendelssohn I consider the first musician of the day; I doff my hat to him as my superior. He plays with everything, especially with the grouping of the instruments in the orchestra, but with such ease, delicacy and art, with such mastery throughout." - Robert Schumann

Hector Berlioz

(December 11, 1803 – March 8, 1869)

Symphonie funebre et triomphale

"popular in the most ideal sense ... every urchin in a blue blouse would thoroughly understand it". - Richard Wagner

Roméo et Juliette

"strange, passionate and convulsive music that opened up to me such new and vividly coloured horizons" - Charles Gounod

La damnation de Faust, Op. 24

"I heard, to my utmost delight, Berlioz's finest work, which never gets performed in our country: La Damnation de Faust. How I love this magnificent work, and how I wish that you could get to know it!" - Pyotr ilyich Tchaikovsky

Galant Era

1730 - 1820

Carl Czerny

(February 21, 1791 – August 9, 1857)


"As to Czerny, I have been appreciating the full-blooded musician in him more than the remarkable pedagogue." - Igor Stravinsky

Piano Sonata Op. 7 in Ab

"his first Sonata (Op. 7, A-flat major) and of other works of that period, which I rate very highly, as compositions of importance, beautifully formed and having the noblest tendency." - Franz Liszt

Ludwig van Beethoven

(December 17, 1770 – March 26, 1827)

Diabelli Variations

"in respect of its harmony, deserves to be called the most adventurous work by Beethoven." - Arnold Schoenberg

String Quartet No. 14 in C♯ minor, Op. 131

"reveals the most melancholy sentiment expressed in music" - Richard Wagner on the 1st movement

"After this, what is left for us to write?" Franz Schubert

"...grandeur [...] which no words can express. They seem to me to stand...on the extreme boundary of all that has hitherto been attained by human art and imagination." Robert Schumann on Op. 131 and 127

Große Fuge in B♭ major, Op. 133

"an absolutely contemporary piece of music that will be contemporary forever" - Igor Stravinsky

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

(January 27, 1756 – December 5, 1791)


"Amongst the great masters, Mozart is the one to whom I feel most attracted; it has been so ever since that day and it will always be like that"- Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

"I owe very, very much to Mozart; and if one studies, for instance, the way in which I write for string quartet, then one cannot deny that I have learned this directly from Mozart. And I am proud of it!" - Arnold Schoenberg

The Marriage of Figaro

"In my opinion, each number in Figaro is a miracle; it is totally beyond me how anyone could create anything so perfect; nothing like it was ever done again, not even by Beethoven." - Johannes Brahms

Don Giovanni

"For me, the best opera ever written is Don Giovanni." - Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Piano Concerto No. 20

"[I heard] an excellent new piano concerto by Wolfgang, on which the copyist was still at work when we got here, and your brother didn't even have time to play through the rondo because he had to oversee the copying operation." - Leopold Mozart

Piano Concerto No. 24

"[w]e shall never be able to do anything like that." - Ludwig van Beethoven

"masterpiece of art and full of inspired ideas." - Johannes Brahms

Symphony No. 40

"Grecian lightness and grace" - Robert Schumann

"I am able to understand too that Beethoven's first symphony did impress people colossally. But the last three symphonies by Mozart are much more important." - Johannes Brahms

Muzio Clementi

(January 23, 1752 – March 10, 1832)


"They who thoroughly study Clementi, at the same time make themselves acquainted with Mozart and other composers; but the converse is not the fact." - Ludwig van Beethoven

"the foremost pianist of his time." - Carl Czerny

Joseph Haydn

(March 31, 1732 - May 31, 1809)


"What a man! Beside him we are just wretches" - Johannes Brahms

Symphony No. 8 - Largo

"I want my Ninth Symphony to sound like this" - Johannes Brahms

Carl Philipp Emanuel

(March 8, 1714 – December 14, 1788)


"Bach is the father, we are the children." - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Baroque Era

1600 - 1750

Johann Sebastian Bach

(March 31, 1685 – July 28, 1750)


‘What a colossus that man is!" - Gioachino Rossini

"In Bach all the vital cells of music are united as the world is in God; there's never been any polyphony greater than this!" - Gustav Mahler

"He, who possessed the most profound knowledge of all the contrapuntal arts (and even artifices) understood how to make art subservient to beauty." - Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach

"Not Brook [Bach is German for 'brook'] but Sea should be his name." - Ludwig van Beethoven

"Johann Sebastian Bach has done everything completely, he was a man through and through." - Franz Schubert

"Bach is a colossus...beneath whom all musicians pass and will continue to pass. Mozart is the most beautiful, Rossini the most brilliant, but Bach is the most comprehensive: he has said all there is to say." - Charles Gounod

"JS Bach was allowed to write music of a kind which in its real values only the expert is capable of understanding...At the climax of contrapuntal art, in Bach, something quite new simultaneously begins – the art of development through motivic variation." - Arnold Schoenberg

"The most stupendous miracle in all music." - Richard Wagner

"If you really feel for what is beautiful, if it truly gladdens you, then your mind becomes enlarged rather than narrowed. I always get upset when some praise only Beethoven, others only Palestrina and still others only Mozart or Bach. All four of them, I say, or none at all." - Felix Mendelssohn

George Frideric Handel

(March 5, 1685 – April 14, 1759)


"This man is the master of us all" - Joseph Haydn (at a performance of Messiah)

"Handel understands affect better than any of us. When he chooses, he strikes like a thunder bolt." - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

"the master of us all... the greatest composer that ever lived. I would uncover my head and kneel before his tomb." - Ludwig van Beethoven

Georg Philipp Telemann

(March 24, 1681 – June 25, 1767)

Antonio Vivaldi

(March 4, 1678 – July 28, 1741)

Renaissance Era

1400 - 1600

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina

(c. 1525 – 2 February 1594)

Josquin des Prez

(c. 1450/1455 – 27 August 27, 1521)

Guillaume Du Fay

(August 5, c. 1397 – November, 27 1474)

Johannes Ockeghem

(1410/1425 – February 6, 1497)

Medieval Era

500 A.D. to 1400

Guillaume de Machaut

(1300 – April 1377)


(c. 1200)