From Chopin to Spotify: Why classical music is making a comeback

By Cameron Eyles
January 28 2020, 16.25

Classical music is often associated with the great composers of the past: Mozart, Beethoven and Chopin.

But the genre still maintains a great deal of popularity today with new takes on the old classics, and indeed brand-new material, still proving very popular.

So just how popular is the oldest genre of music?

The latest figures from the British Phonographic Industry paint a positive picture for classical music and that it is gaining more and more listeners online too.

The number of people on Spotify who streamed classical music increased by 42% from 2017 to 2019.

Compare this to the 33% increase that all music streams increased by in this period then it shows that not only is classical music popular, but its popularity is on the rise.

Increase of streams and sales of classical music and all music from 2017 to 2019

(Source: British Phonographic Industry)

Meet the conductor

Perhaps the best way of truly appreciating classical music is by seeing it played live and in person by a full orchestra.

There are plenty of local orchestras around the country playing concerts regularly.

The Woking Symphony Orchestra plays concerts regularly in the town and usually attracts sell-out crowds – a sign that classical music is very much still popular.

The orchestra appeals to people who have been fans of classical music for decades but also young people who may have never even heard a cello or a clarinet before.

The orchestra has been going for over a century and ‘combines classical favourites with the work of lesser known composers,’ taking pride in inspiring young musicians.

Every January they hold a child orientated concert in the H.G. Wells Conference Centre in Woking, so I went along to see how the classical music went down.

This year the concert was based on The Three Little Pigs by Roald Dahl.

I spoke to conductor Roy Stratford about his love for classical music too.

Mr Stratford has been involved with classical music for thirty years and still loves conducting an orchestra.

He said: “I’ve been doing this for about thirty years and we’ve pretty much always sold out.

“There is a big market for it – a lot of people still learn instruments.

“I’ve been playing the piano since I was seven and I’ve been a musician my whole life – it’s what I do and I don’t think there’s anything to be frightened of.”

The concert was full of children and parents alike taking in the sights and sounds of a full orchestra in all its glory.

It is clear that classical music’s popularity is enduring but what are some of the most popular classical tracks on Apple Music today and what are they like to listen to?

A guide to classical music

Admittedly I am no classical music expert but here is a Spotify playlist of ten classical pieces that are popular today.

There is a mix of classical composers’ works such as Beethoven and Chopin, but also original music written in the classical style.

While the musicianship on display in a piece like Symphony No. Six is obviously very impressive, the track’s mammoth nine-minute length is could be off putting to a younger generation.

This kind of grand piece is one that can really only be appreciated live and in the flesh.

A piece like Klangfall by Joep Beving, composed in 2019, is perhaps something more palatable for any listener.

The piece still clocks in at six minutes long but sounds like its lifted straight from the soundtrack of a sci-fi movie and really creates an atmosphere that many other genres of music would fail to do so.

There are shorter pieces on the playlist too with Black Blue by Laurence Ipsum an interesting listen and is only around the three minute mark.

So perhaps the atmosphere it can create is the true appeal of classical music. While there are no words to latch on to it can create such a strong atmosphere just using sound.

With sales and streams on the rise and plenty of concerts out there to attend there really is nothing to stop you from sinking your teeth into this unique genre of music.

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