alan little’s weblog

long tail

13th April 2005 permanent link

I have been tidying up my classical music collection in iTunes, as a result of which I now know that I have a total of 980 recordings of pieces of classical music by 76 different composers.

What diverse and broadly informed musical tastes I have. Ha! Beethoven single-handedly accounts for almost a quarter of my collection, 224 pieces. The top 5 – Beethoven, Mozart, Shostakovich, Haydn, Schubert – account for more than half. At the bottom of the list are twenty composers by whom I have one piece each (hello Bruch, Cherubini, Corelli, Faure, Granados …)

There’s nothing very surprising about any of this. Well, Shostakovich and Dvořák. I like some things by Shostakovich and Dvořák very much, but their presence in places three and six on my list says more about the availability of their works in large cheap boxed sets, and in Dvořák’s case their ubiquity in compilations, than about how often I actually listen to them. (Haydn will leap over Shostakovich and Mozart to second place in a single bound if I ever buy Adam Fischer’s rather good boxed set of all his 106 [?] symphonies. 33 CDs for 50 euros at my local discount CD shop)

I started listening to classical music on a regular basis a few years ago, from the basis of knowing I liked some things by Beethoven and not knowing very much about very much else. I’m working slowly outwards from there; but I’m more interested in finding things I like than in covering anybody’s idea of a balanced musical curriculum. Having said that, I do have a tendency, once I’ve heard something new and interesting, to obsess about finding the best possible recording of it – prefereably dirt cheap on ebay – rather than moving on and finding something else that I might also like. (Current obsession: Mozart’s late symphonies). Perhaps this isn’t good.

Gratuitous graphic: here’s my music collection plotted as one of those oh-so-ubiquitous Zipf distribution curves:

distribution chart

related entries: Music

all text and images © 2003–2008