My primary musical interests are classical and opera. I enjoy most periods and styles, and don’t discriminate against any serious music, though a goodly number of composers do not appeal to me in the least. Rossini is one example. And most Baroque composers aside from Bach and some Handel. I am fondest of the late Romantic, and I even enjoy much twentieth century music, as long as it doesn’t show contempt for the audience.
I love Johann Sebastian Bach, first and foremost. Tchaikovsky is certainly high on the list, as are Mahler and Schumann. My opera fetish also makes me fond of Verdi, of course, though I am not one of those people who love Verdi and hate Wagner, or vice-versa. I love Wagner, too. And Schoenberg, Berg and Webern, but especially Schoenberg. Verklärte Nacht is about the most beautiful piece of music I can think of. I am a huge Debussy fan. I love Brahms’ chamber music.
But, whereas I do not dismiss many composers, I am more selective when it comes to performers. Or, perhaps more accurately, performances. For example, I don’t discount Glenn Gould’s talent, but his idiosyncrasies and fidgeting mar his recordings for me. Maria Callas is practically a deity to many opera lovers, but as much as I respect her characterization and musicality, her technical flaws prevent consistent enjoyment for me. That said, I should note that one of my favorite singers is Sherrill Milnes, who, according to some, constantly sang out of tune. I have almost all of his commercially released recordings, and I don’t hear it. So, go figure.
My all-time favorite musician is Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. I wrote to him once and he wrote me back with an autographed picture. Nicolai Ghiaurov, Samuel Ramey, Janet Baker, Leontyne Price, Leonard Bernstein, Jorge Bolet, and many others are also favorites.
My CD collection almost exclusively includes music from the stereo era. Certainly, I understand why many music lovers endeavor to own every Furtwängler or Toscanini recording, live or studio. Unfortunately, I do not have the resources to devote to those pursuits. I own almost no vinyl. Obviously, I am not the most sophisticated collector, but my tastes are fairly broad, and I am always eager to learn more.