This time with less errors, I hope. I tried to make it using the [name] (link) style and that didn't work for me for whatever reason. Maybe one day I'll be less stupid enough to figure out how to do them right, 'cuz the first time was a complete failure! If there's any repeats or mismatches in songs, let me know.
So here's the rundown: I love classical music and love to share what I am currently listening to. With the introduction of personal tags, I now have an excuse to post all the composers I like without bothering anyone else!
I didn't intend this to be a compiliation of just French composers, but I happen to like a lot of French composers, so it just turned into that by accident. I guess it's better that way, since I have too many composers to list and even this alone will probably net you several hours worth of music to listen to. I'll do more as I find time. I might even update this down the road as I haven't listened to every french composer there is out there (I don't think one CAN listen to it all).
I listed tons of recommendations in this old thread here
that you should check out prior to coming here. I'll probably repeat more a few recommendations and add more music from some of the same composers, but check it out in any case. I don't think just plopping a large list of links will be helpful to anyone (Unless you think so), so I'll start off with classical that's been on my mind lately and write a bit about it, and why I like the pieces because it's always nice to know even a bit about the composers. Bear in mind I'm no musical expert, so you won't get amazing analyses of these tracks (Though I suppose given the hours I put into this "hobby", I really should know more than the typical layman stuff...). If you have any recommendations or advice, or think I did this post terribly, let me know. I don't claim to be infallible and I should probably shut up and just post the music already:
Gabriel Faure's Piano Trio in D Minor
Piano Trios are quite lovely. Faure is quite a fantastic composer that has some really beautiful tracks like his Pavane
Quite the breathtaking piece, no? He was a kind of intermediary from the Romantic style of Music to Impressionist style of music. One could say he has the best of both worlds. Moving on, let's see the works of another impressionist.
Charles Koechlin's Vers la voûte étoilée op.129
This piece is a lot more calmer and meditative. My personal favorites his 4 Nouvelles sonatines pour piano
7 pieces for Saxophone and Piano:
7 Monodies for the Ondes Martenot:
http://youtu.be/SNqCU_p2y8E, which is one of the most interesting instruments I've ever heard. It has a unique sound that is quite nice to hear. Speaking of the Ondes Martenot, let's continue the string of French composers and let's move on to the next guy, who is far away from the impressionist tradition and is quite modern:
Olivier Messiaen: Fête des belles eaux
It sounds like the kind of music that would play when a disney-esque wraith is out for mischief. In reality it's said the piece is actually made with birdsongs in mind, since Messiaen had quite a fascination with birds. Let's briefly go away from Messiaen and go to some other composers using the Ondes Martenot, since I think it's a neato instrument and want you to think it's a neato instrument too:
Thomas Bloch: Sweet Suite for Nine ondes Martenot - A Name
The Ondes Martenot is a really amazing instrument. This song in particular is just so crazy good sounding to me, though I can't pinpoint why. Another use of the Ondes Martenot by relatively obscure composer Christine Ott - http://youtu.be/vja7uAVcTao
Now, let's go back to Messiaen, because he's got some interesting tunes. Here's his Quartet for the End of Time
which was supposedly composed during his time as a POW in Germany during WWII. Maybe that puts its dark nature in perspective. Another great piece is his Fantasie for Violin and Piano
I think that's enough Messiaen for now. He's well worth looking into if you want to find more avante-garde music, and I do recommend you broaden your horizons with some! Let's keep the French theme rolling though...
Camille Saint-Saens' Violin Sonata
He's usually famous for his Canival of Animals piece, especially his Aquarium - http://youtu.be/YVpl-RNzdE4 and Swan - http://youtu.be/PXAlznKcJvA pieces, the Swan piece being a particular favorite from me. It's just so elegant and beautiful and just makes me well up in tears whenver I hear it. It's quite a beautiful piece. but aside from those popular tracks, he really has some great music worth listening to, like his Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso
Now, let's go to my absolute favorite composer...
Erik Satie - 3rd Nocturne
There's so much I could post of Satie. I like everything he's ever done. I've never heard anyone play the piano like he does. His music is a strange kind of music that is mysterious and melancholy, but familiar and sometimes even soothing at the same time. Everyone loves his Gymnopedie:
which amazingly enough sounds beautiful no matter what instrument you use. Case examples:
But he has so much more great music people should check out. His nocturnes - http://youtu.be/8AXqKqTpRyc are all pretty great, and the piece Je te Veux - http://youtu.be/wbT9DeULzU4 is so damned sweet (Funny story. I heard this piece long ago in the NES video game Binary Land - http://youtu.be/wGSfl9LPL4Q), while his Fils des Etoiles - http://youtu.be/-UTqK6R9NQs has a very frightening graveness and religious feeling to it. Meanwhile, he also did a few orchestral works that he called furniture music, music you play in the background and ignore. A novel concept back then now taken for granted today. His piece Tapisserie en fer Forge - http://youtu.be/uPDY88jh1wE is a particular favorite. He even made an Opera about the life of Socrates, simply called Socrate - http://youtu.be/WY05gn9j-aw
He was quite a prolific composer. I really could post all of his music, but for now, let's move on to another great favorite and a onetime friend of Satie before they had a falling out:
Claude Debussy's La Mer
Debussy is another composer in the impressionist period (my favorite period of classical music) whose entire works are great (in my opinion). Some personal favorites are his Reverie - http://youtu.be/y5ot-88UV-Y (which he actually hated a lot,) his Suite Bergamasque - http://youtu.be/bGcEYALnk8s particular in that suite is the ever famous Clair De Lune - http://youtu.be/CvFH_6DNRCY which also seems to sound amazing no matter what instrument you use. One particular one that stands out above all the rest is Isao Tomita's version here:
which is all synthesizers. Just listen to it and let it leave you awestruck.
Okay, let's continue with more works by Debussy! His Danse Sacree and Danse Profane - http://youtu.be/rMRzGjqXChs
is a particular favorite of mine that I personally think sounds a little Zelda-ish (Though I think a lot of impressionist music sounds Zelda-ish for some reason, like his String Quartet - http://youtu.be/1TYKpgjs-mE. Maybe it's just me though), since it has Harps, which is incidentally my favorite instrument. The first Debussy piece that convinced me he was a great composer was his Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun - http://youtu.be/9_7loz-HWUM, which just blew me away when I first heard it. When I hear that piece I hear the power of nature.... or something like that
So yeah, Debussy is a great composer, but he had a friend who also was a fantastic impressionist composer...
Marice Ravel - String Quartet in F Major
Everyone seems to know Ravel from his Bolero, a piece I incidentally don't care too much for compared to his other fantastic works, like his Miroirs - http://youtu.be/bTYUyDjVCRU, my favorite being the third piece, or his Introduction for Harp, String Quartet, Flute, and Clarinet - http://youtu.be/vYinRNy3llA which is just heavenly. His Tombeau de Couperin - http://youtu.be/lGvMvocR_Nc is also fantastic stuff. Moving on, did you notice something a bit off here? There's no woman composer on this list of recommendations!** There were in fact French women composers and they are criminally underheard. Let's explore some women composers
Henriette Renié - Concerto por Harpe et Orchestre
This piece is just so damned beautiful. I love harps, and Renié seemed to love harps as well, since she composed a lot of pieces with Harp music, like this Legende - http://youtu.be/hts59KMyXKE, or this Contemplation - http://youtu.be/DNUIrnoq8fI which is just beautiful. Her Angelus - http://youtu.be/lPciNtZ4jG8 is also really beautiful. If you want beautiful harp music, she's your woman for the job! Let's keep exploring women composers...
Lili Boulanger: Veille Priére Bouddhique
Lili boulanger has a kinda tragic backstory. Gabriel Faure noticed early on that she had talent and started training her in music and she studied under some giants and composed some great works, taking inspiration from Debussy and other composers of the time. She was a very sickly woman and died prematurely from an illness. Her great musical career was cut short, so she doesn't have many pieces compared to other composers, but her pieces, like the one I linked to above, are just magnificent. Some other favorites of mine are D'un matin de Printemps - http://youtu.be/V5iG1dyYo18, D'un soir triste - http://youtu.be/1OERJAjoHRY, which I quite like, and lastly Un Jardin Clair - http://youtu.be/HxRDUv7ocqA. Let's move on to another great composer
Germaine Tailleferre: Rêverie - http://youtu.be/D5gqDMVNbjQ.
She was one of Les Six, a group of composers who more or less tried to do something different than the romanticism and impressionism popular during their time (We'll talk more about these guys later), and I love her works as much as Erik Satie's. Some favorites are Romance - http://youtu.be/uJLsUeZAOd0, her Valse Lente - http://youtu.be/-QqK04-JaHM, her Sonata for Harp - http://youtu.be/Pf9PmVLo5Xk and Concertino, for harp and orchestra - http://youtu.be/8RumDQN_POY, and my favorite of the bunch Jeux de Plein air - http://youtu.be/pdhTXU90lSU. Pretty much everything by her is worth listening to.
....Just one more. Intermezzo - http://youtu.be/I2bl9W5l83U
Okay, let's move on...
These are the only three women composers I know of off-hand with a large amount of work on youtube. There are more, but either I haven't discovered them (yet), they aren't on youtube, or they are severely underrepresented. With that, let's move on and go through one other member of Les Six, which is
Edgard Varese - Ionisation
Frank Zappa loved this guy. I can see why. This is some really out-there music, compared to everything else on this list, but is well worth your time. I really dig this guy's music because of how different it is. People often have this misconception that classical music has to be an orchestra and sound like "classical music". as you go further along into the present, you'll find people going against that misconception and making some works that are really out-there. Some of them aren't really worth writing home about (in my opinion), but others have something to them are really worth paying attention to. Varese is one of them. Here are some other choice examples: Arcana - http://youtu.be/wu-bIPtZgE4, and Ameriques - http://youtu.be/Nq8SKwi-ycE (On a side note, wow Frank Zappa fans sure are vocal. They are on nearly every video I've seen), which I like quite a lot.
...Whew! and with that, that's enough for today! That was 58 tracks! I ought to create a youtube playlist for all this. I think I actually might do that tomorrow.
I know I sticked mostly on the modern side and ignored a lot of composers from farther back the timeline, but I stuck with what I mostly knew. I didn't go through the rest of Les Six, but I think this was more than a good enough jumping point for French composers. I hope this was somewhat helpful in getting someone to check out some composers in the French tradition. Maybe next I will do Russian composers, since I have quite a few from there that I like quite a bit as well. I dunno when I'll do that, but I'll do it.