classical music

Snell Classicism

     Because I’ve had the tune of Ravel’s “Bolero” trapped in my head all day, and because my interest in classical music has been growing steadily over the past two or so years, with the past few months constituting an outburst, I think it’s high time for me to write about Snell Library’s relationship with classical music.     I blogged about our resource Naxos at the end of June; that online library is a classical music fan’s dream come true. But it is just one of the numerous classical music resources in the library, and I am including digital resources and hard-copy resources. What are they called in this case? That’s right. CDs. Except there’s more than just CDs.    Just as an example, let’s take one of the most famous composers of all time, Mozart. In our collections, we have books on Mozart, including Mozart on the Stage, by John A. Rice. This book is a standard historical study of Mozart and his compositions. We also have a book with the bizarre title, Mozart and the Whale: an Asperger’s Love Story, by Jerry and Mary Newport. This is a memoir of two people with Asperger’s syndrome who fell in love, seemingly not having much to do with Mozart at all. But it shows how embedded his name is in our consciousness that his music is now mentioned alongside developmental disorders (and I’ve heard his music is actually believed to improve cognitive functioning).       Moving beyond books, we have movies; In Search of Mozart is one of those documentaries with a rather cliched title that simply narrates the life of Mozart, through interviews with various important people. Another movie called Destination Mozart: A Night at the Opera with Peter Sellars is a documentary about American theater director Peter Sellars’ controversial staging of several Mozart operas. But if you don’t care for non-fiction, if you don’t care for facts, and if you just want to listen to the damn music, then there are the CDs. The alliteratively titled Mozart for Morning Meditation: a Serene Serenade for the Soul sounds like it could be kitschy, but what music written by Mozart could be anything other than highly catchy and polished-sounding? He was the Brian Wilson of classical music. (Or I suppose I should say, Brian Wilson was the Mozart of pop music.)    If you don’t want Mozart, then we have numerous other composers available: there is one CD by the Klinger Quartet in which they play music by Bach, Mendelssohn, Beethoven, Schumann and Mozart, amongst others. We’ve got Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, Vivaldi, Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story, plus more movies and books on classical music and musicians like Shine and Why Classical Music Still Matters by Lawrence Kramer.         Classical music does still matter. It set the template for (virtually) all western music that followed. And although ‘Classical’ is technically a term that only refers to one period of art history, it all seems classical, traditional, rule-abiding to us these days–but if you check out enough of these resources, you’ll realize it doesn’t always sound that way. Even Frank Zappa, when he played “Bolero” on guitar in concert, knew that classical music still did have verve and purpose. And “Bolero” is still stuck in my head.

To Naxos and Beyond

  (Above: Johann Sebastian Bach, his printed Naxos subscription in hand) Note: This is the definitive version of the Naxos post, with full instructions. Are you a fan of Bach? Handel? Debussy? You should check out Naxos, one of our many Alumni Resources at Snell. It is a music library  tailored towards fans of Classical Music.  If you go to the Naxos website ( you can find such a wide array of composers and songs (over 615,000 songs), that you might feel overwhelmed, but there is no need to worry; Naxos organizes itself in to categories of Composers, Genres and a search engine for specific song titles. Although Naxos is, ostensibly, a Classical Music  site,  the site is now expanding to other genres. An impressive Jazz collection has been established, categrorized under both “Contemporary Jazz” and “Jazz Greats.”  There is a new application Naxos has recently started; now you can upload music on to your iPhone, iPad or iTouch. First you must register with Naxos, then you may begin streaming playlists on to your phone. You can create your own playlists. Students (users) have the ability to create a student playlist account and build their own, private playlists. To do this, they need to access the NML as usual, click on the Playlist tab at the top of the page, then click “Sign-up.”To register for Naxos, you must vist  (if you are off-campus, use myNEU credentials to log in). Click on the Playlist tab, then click “Sign Up.” (If nothing happens the first time you click, click again).  The user will be asked to enter his/her name, email address, and to create a password. Once (s)he has created a student playlist account, (s)he will be able to login to the account and build an unlimited number of playlists from any piece within the Naxos Music Library. (Playlists are limited to 60 tracks or 4 hours–whichever comes first–for loading and streaming optimization.) The same login will be used for both the student playlist account AND the iPhone app. While the NML app version 2.0 allows users to search and stream as if logged in on their computer, building and editing playlists must still be done on a computer. You must have iTunes version 9 to use this app. You can download the iPhone app by visiting  For now, playlists may only be created online, rather than on one’s phone. Naxos may change this in later editions of the iPhone app.  Northeastern playlists will be created in the near future, which all Naxos users of the NU community will be able to view.   Naxos can be found on the Alumni Resources page.  For technical assistance with Naxos please contact: (Special thanks to Naxos Customer Relations representative Anne Benson for providing crucial information for this post.)

Green Masterpieces

On Wednesday, September 2nd the Boston Landmarks Orchestra will present “Green Masterpieces”, a free concert at the Hatch Shell on the Esplanade. The concert, which begins at 7:00 PM will feature nature-themed pieces by Mendelssohn, Mozart, Handel and others. NU’s very own Michael Dukakis will be narrating The Story of Frederick Law Olmsted by Thomas Oboe Lee. This will be a carbon-neutral concert because all emissions generated by it will be offset. The Hatch Shell is just a short walk from the Green Line’s Arlington stop.