Catapulting into Classical

A headlong leap into music, history, and composing

Frugal and Fugal


Got a buck?  Amazon has a bargain for you.

In its digital music section, Amazon has a wide variety of classical mp3 collections.  There is a group that generally goes under the name “Big [fill in the blank] Box.”  Typically they are digital forms of Bach Guild or Vox recordings, gathered together in virtual box sets.  The offerings change, but typically there are a number available for a whopping $0.99.  That’s right, ninety-nine of your finest American cents.

And they are a deal.

The boxes can have anywhere from 30-40 to over 100 tracks from a particular composer or time period or genre.  Some boxes feature a particular instrument (sorry, no Big Bassoon Box).  If you’re just getting started in classical music, this is a great way to have an opportunity to hear a good variety of music (sometimes over 10 hours!) from a particular composer.


Are they all going to be performances by premier artists?  Not necessarily (although Alfred Brendel and Lorraine Hunt Lieberson have been among the artists I’ve seen, among others).  Are they the definitive performances of the work?  Probably not–but once you figure out what the definitive performances are (or your favorites) you can get them on Amazon (or Ebay, or Classical Archives, or ArkivMusic, or your favorite venue).  But you have to start somewhere.  And 99 cents is a pretty good way to start.

You’ll probably have to install the Amazon music player (a painless process), but it’s compact  (doesn’t take up a lot of space on your computer) and easy to use.  You’re not required to use it though, the files are in standard mp3 format.  If you’re an iTunes user, Amazon can automatically download your music to iTunes.  All your purchases are also automatically stored in the Amazon cloud, free, accessible on any device that supports the app.  You can also import your personal music library, but there is a fee.

Curious about Haydn, Telemann, Debussy, or Mahler? There’s a box for you.  Flute, violin, guitar? Step right up.  Baroque?  Several boxes are available.

Want something a little more lightweight, yet still classical (since 13 hours of Mahler might be a bit much)?  The “100 must-have [fill in the blank] classics” series is there to provide a classical soundtrack to your day or your next dinner party (the horror classics is probably not a good idea though).  Tell your friends who are not classical fans, they might just get interested.

And then, if you wouldn’t mind, send them over here.  Thanks!


Image attribution: screenshot of Big Baroque Box at


3 thoughts on “Frugal and Fugal

  1. Wow- almost makes me want to learn how to do mp3’s. Amazing bargains- thanks! And it speaks to the desperate state of the “serious” music biz now- including record companies, publishers, composers…



    • Yes, I agree it’s a tough market. The avenues of distribution are definitely changing, as are the consumers’ demands, and how it will all work out remains to be seen. For example, many new laptops don’t have a DVD drive–because people stream their movies (and music). But I think it’s a smart move on the part of whomever now owns the Vox/Bach Guild masters, having already made money on the LPs, and then the CDs, to now make money on the same material via mp3s, and with a price and format (I don’t mean mp3s, I mean “Telemann for the Table” and such) that may well bring in new customers for classical music. Whatever works!


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