Classical CD Suggestions

This page was designed to help librarians and anyone who has just discovered classical music that might be wanting to build a CD collection. This is a list of standard repertoire and is quite general. Some items on the list may encompass numerous CDs. For example, I have only listed Beethoven Symphones, but he wrote 9 of them. Likewise terms like "piano music" or "chamber music" are general and may comprise anything from a few to hundreds of individual items.

In this list, composers are grouped roughly within each musical era and listed alphabetically within each group. Please note that some composers span more than one musical era.

There may be many recordings available of various pieces, and it's useful to check reviews in music magazines or on the net. I do not indicate specific recordings or performers on this page, but when ordering, I do try to look for quality performances.

There are many compilation CDs with music by several composers. They are not included here, but of course are worth considering.

There were lots of mediaeval composers, but most are not known for large works as in later eras. Small instrumental and secular vocal works, or sacred music makes up the bulk of surviving music. Look for composers such as Adam de la Halle, John Dunstable, Jacopo da Bologna, Leonin, Perotin, Gilles Binchois, Leonel Power, Guillaume Dufay, Francesco Landini and many others.

Hildegard of Bingen Vocal works, including Sequences, Hymns
Guillaume de Machaut Messe de Notre Dame
Johannes Ockeghem Masses


William Byrd

Masses and other sacred music
Madrigals and consort songs
Keyboard music
Viol consort music

Josquin des Prez

Masses and sacred choral music (motets)

John Dowland

Lute songs (3 books)
A Pilgrim's Solace
Viol consort music
Solo lute music

Carlo Gesualdo Madrigals
Tobias Hume Music for lyra viol/viola da gamba from The First Part of Ayres, and Captaine Hume's Poeticall Musicke
Songs from the above books
Orlando di Lasso (Roland de Lassus)

Psalms of David
Le lagrime di San Pietro

Claudio Monteverdi

Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda
Vespro della Beata Vergine (The Vespers)
Orfeo (opera)
Madrigals (9 Books)
Vocal music (solos and duos)

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina

Masses, such as Missa Papae Marcelli

Thomas Tallis Masses
Various composers The Fitzwilliam Virginal Book


Johann Sebastian Bach

6 Brandenburg Concertos, BWV 1046-1051
St Matthew Passion, BWV 244
Orchestral Suites, BWV 1066-1069
Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin, BWV 1001-1006
Sonatas and Partitas for flute, BWV 1030-1035, 1013
Harpsichord Concerti
Keyboard works
Over 200 Cantatas
Mass in b minor, BWV 232
Goldberg Variations, BWV 988
Well-tempered Clavier, BWV 846-893

Dieterico (Dietrich) Buxtehude

112 Cantatas
Organ works
Suites for harpsichord
Trios for violin, gamba and harpsichord

Louis-Nicolas Clerambault Cantatas
Francois Couperin Concerts Royaux
Solo harpsichord music
Lecons de Tenebraes
Giovanni Gabrieli Instrumental canzonas
Sacred motets

Georg Frideric Handel

The Messiah
Music for the Royal Fireworks
Water Music
Keyboard works
Concerti grossi
Organ concertos, op. 4 & 7
Trio sonatas
Solomon (oratorio)

Jean-Marie Leclair Violin Concertos
Violin Sonatas
Trio Sonatas
Jean-Baptiste Lully

Grands Motets

Henry Purcell Dido and Aeneas
The Fairy Queen
The Indian Queen
Solo keyboard pieces and suites
Viol consorts
Trio Sonatas

Jean-Philippe Rameau

Pieces de Clavecin

Domenico Scarlatti

Keyboard sonatas
Heinrich Schutz Italian madrigals
Psalms of David
Cantiones sacrae

Georg-Philipp Telemann

Paris Quartets
Sonatas for Recorder and Harpsichord
Suite in A minor for Flute and Strings
Trio sonatas

Antonio Vivaldi

The Four Seasons
Violin concertos
Orchestral concerti and sinfonias
Cello sonatas
Violin sonatas
Cantatas for solo voice and continuo


Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach

Sonatas for Flute and Continuo
Solo Keyboard works

Ludwig van Beethoven

5 Piano Concertos
Violin Concerto, op. 61
Fidelio, op. 72 (opera)
The Piano Trios
String Quartets
Piano Quintets
32 Piano Sonatas
Violin Sonatas
Cello Sonatas
Wind sextet, op. 71

Luigi Boccherini

Guitar quintets
String quintets
Cello concertos

Franz Josef Haydn

Trumpet Concerto
Cello Concertos
Piano Concertos
Piano sonatas
The Creation
Nelson Mass
Mass in time of War
Piano Trios
String quartets

Johann Nepomuk Hummel

Piano works
Trumpet Concerto
Piano concertos
Chamber music

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

22 Piano Concertos
Flute and Harp concerto
Flute Concertos
Horn concertos
The Magic Flute
Don Giovanni
Così fan tutte
Marriage of Figaro
Clarinet Concerto
Clarinet Quintet
Piano Trios
Mass in c minor
Wind serenades
Divertimenti (such as Eine Kleine Nachtmusik)


Hector Berlioz

Damnation of Faust
Le Corsair Overture
Symphonie Fantastique, op. 14
Various overtures
Harold in Italy

Georges Bizet Carmen

Alexander Borodin

3 Symphonies
Chamber music
In the Steppes of Central Asia
Polovtsian Dances
Prince Igor (opera)

Johannes Brahms

Piano works
Hungarian Dances
Quintets (string, piano, clarinet)
Cello Sonatas
2 Piano Concertos
Various overtures (Academic Festival, Tragic)
Serenades for Orchestra
Violin concerto

Anton Bruckner

9 Symphonies
String quintet

Frederic Chopin

Piano works, including the Ballades, Sonatas, Nocturnes, Waltzes, Preludes, Polonaises
Andante spianato and Grande Polonaise for piano and orchestra
Piano Concertos
Piano trio
Cello sonata
Vocal music

Antonin Dvorak

Symphonies (esp. New World Symphony)
Carnival Overture
Concertos (Piano, Violin, Cello)
Piano quartets and quintets
Slavonic Dances
Piano Trios

Edward Elgar

Cello Concerto
Pomp & Circumstance Marches
Enigma Variations
Violin Concerto

Manuel de Falla

La Vide Breve (opera)
Three-Cornered Hat Dances
Nights in the Gardens of Spain (for Piano and Orchestra)
Piano works

Gabriel Faure

Requiem, op. 48
Pelléas et Mélisande for Orchestra Op. 80
Piano works
Pavane for Orchestra Op. 50

César Franck

Organ music
Violin sonata
Piano quintet
Symphonic poems
Symphonic Variations for Piano and Orchestra
Symphony in d minor

Reinhold Gliere 3 Symphonies
Horn Concerto, op. 91
4 string quartets
Vocal works

Edvard Grieg

Piano concerto, op. 16
Piano works
Peer Gynt Suites
Holberg Suite

Franz Liszt

2 Piano Concertos
Hungarian Rhapsodies
Piano works
Totentanz for Piano and Orchestra

Felix Mendelssohn

Piano Concertos
Violin Concerto
Songs without Words (for piano)
Piano works
Midsummer Night’s Dream (incidental music)
Octet for Strings Op. 20
Piano Trios

Modest Mussorgsky

Pictures at an Exhibition
Boris Godounov

Giacomo Puccini

La Boheme
Madame Butterfly
Many other operas

Sergei Rachmaninov

4 Piano Concertos
Piano works
Piano trios
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini

Ottorino Respighi

Ancient Airs and Dances
The Birds Suite
The Pines of Rome
The Fountains of Rome

Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov

Capriccio españole for Orchestra
Schéhérazade (symphonic suite)            Symphonies

Gioachino Rossini

Many Overtures to operas
The Barber of Seville
An Italian in Algiers

Camille Saint-Saens

Carnival of the Animals
Piano Concertos
Cello Concerto

Franz Schubert

9 Symphonies
Piano sonatas
Piano trios
String Quartets and Quintets
Piano works
Arpeggione Sonata
Lieder and song cycles

Clara Schumann Piano works

Robert Schumann

Piano Concerto
Cello Concerto
Song cycles, such as Dichterliebe
Piano works
Piano trios
Symphonic Études for Piano Op. 13

Alexander Scriabin Piano works
Bedrich Smetana Bartered Bride (opera)
Ma vlast
2 string quartets
Choral and vocal music
Piano music
Peter Ilyitch Tschaikowsky

Swan Lake
Nutcracker Suite
Piano Concertos
Piano works
Roméo and Juliet Fantasy Overture
1812 Overture
Eugen Onegin (opera)
Variations on a Rococo Theme for Cello and Orchestra Op. 33

Giuseppe Verdi

La Traviata,
Il Trovatore, and many other operas

Richard Wagner

The Ring Cycle (4 operas)
Mastersingers of Nuremburg
Tristan und Isolde

Carl Maria von Weber

Clarinet Concertos
Grand Duo Concertant for Clarinet and Piano
Piano music

Hugo Wolf Vocal works


Samuel Barber

Adagio for strings
Concertos – violin, piano

Bela Bartok

Concerto for orchestra
Piano concertos
Violin concertos
The Miraculous Mandarin
Piano works (including Microcosmos)
Sonata for Solo Violin
Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta

Alban Berg

Lyric Suite
Violin Concerto
Wozzek (opera)

Leonard Bernstein

West Side Story ballet music

Benjamin Britten

Peter Grimes, op. 33 (opera)
Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings Op. 31
Sinfonia da Requiem Op. 20
Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra Op. 34

Aaron Copland

Appalachian Spring
Piano concerto
Rodeo (Dance episodes or complete ballet)

Claude Debussy

Piano works
Sonatas – violin, cello, flute
Pelléas et Mélisande (opera)
String quartet
Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune
Nocturnes for Orchestra and Chorus
La Mer (Symphonic Sketches) for Orchestra

Frederick Delius

Appalachia for choir & orchestra
Chamber music
On hearing the first cuckoo in Spring
Piano concerto
Violin concerto

George Gershwin

An American in Paris
Piano works
Rhapsody in Blue
Porgy and Bess (opera)

Philip Glass

Einstein On The Beach
Powaqqatsi (film music)
Violin Concerto

Gustav Holst Choral Fantasia
The Planets - orchestral suite
The Hymn of Jesus
St Pauls Suite

Leos Janacek

Cunning Little Vixen (opera)
Glagolitic Mass (Slavonic Mass)
Jenůfa (opera)
Piano works
Chamber music

Aram Khachaturian Film music (many works)
Piano Concerto
Piano works
String Quartet
Suites 1-3 from Gayane
Suites 1-3 from Spartacus
Trio for Clarinet, Violin & Piano
Violin Concerto

Zoltan Kodaly

Hary Janos: Suite
Works for cello

Gyorgy Ligeti Atmosphères
Horn trio
Piano works

Gustav Mahler

Das Lied von der Erde
Rückert Lieder
10 Symphonies

Olivier Messiaen

Quatuor pour la fin du temps
Organ music
Vingt Regards for Piano

Francis Poulenc Chamber music
Concerto for 2 pianos and organ in d minor
Piano works
Piano concerto

Sergei Prokofiev

Classical Symphony
Piano Concertos
Violin Concertos
Peter and the Wolf
Lieutenant Kije Suite
Piano works

Maurice Ravel String Quartet
Piano Trio
Piano works
Piano concertos
Daphnis et Chloé (ballet)
Alborada del gracioso for Orchestra
Boléro for Orchestra
Chansons Medacasses for Soprano and Orchestra
Pavane pour une infante defunte

Joaquin Rodrigo

Concierto de Aranjuez for Guitar and Orchestra

Arnold Schoenberg

Piano works
Transfigured Night
Various concertos

Dmitri Shostakovich

Concertos for Violin, Cello or Piano
String Quartets
Piano works

Jean Sibelius

Violin Concerto

Karlheinz Stockhausen Kontakte [electronic music]
Piano works
Stimmung (for 6 vocalists)

Richard Strauss

Alpine Symphony Op. 64
Horn Concerto
Don Juan Op. 20 (Symphonic Poem)
Four Last Songs for Soprano and Orchestra
Till Eulenspiegel Op. 28 (Symphonic Poem)
Salome (opera)

Igor Stravinsky

Firebird (ballet suite)
Pétrouchka (ballet)
Rite of Spring
Symphony of Psalms
The Soldier’s Tale

Ralph Vaughan Williams

Fantasia on a Theme by Tallis
Fantasia on Greensleeves
The Lark Ascending for Violin and Orchestra