Many generous musicians around the world are making their performances available so that more people can have access to and enjoy classical music. They are doing this through Creative Commons licensing of performances of materials in the public domain.
The rules governing what works are in the public domain vary from country to country (find your country in the list here). Be sure that the offerings meet the public domain requirements of your country. Don’t infringe copyright. Don’t be that guy.1 Read more about classical music and copyright here.
Here are my latest discoveries.
Here is the opening paragraph of the https://www.hdclassicalmusic.com/ website:
Here at HDCLASSICALMUSIC.COM, we believe that classical music is the common heritage of humanity, and therefore everyone in the world should be able to enjoy it and use it for free. In order to achieve this, we are building the world’s largest and highest quality platform for releasing classical music under an open copyright license (public domain, creative commons, etc.).2
I can’t improve on that wording. Here is the composers index, You can play the track online as well as download it.
They also offer playlists and a radio option. You can also build your own CDs. The quality is wonderful. Listen here to a performance of “Mélodie” from Tchaikovsky’s Memory of a Dear Place (Op. 42, 3rd Movement).
And then there’s MusOpen (https://musopen.org/)
Musopen is…focused on increasing access to music by creating free resources and educational materials. We provide recordings, sheet music, and textbooks to the public for free, without copyright restrictions. Put simply, our mission is to set music free.3
I found this entry for Bach’s Sonata No. 2 in D major (BWV 1028) featuring viola da gamba and harpsichord. On this page, you can listen to the track, download the recording, and download the sheet music.
Here’s a comment about the Classic Cat website (http://www.classiccat.net)
Classic Cat is a great website available for downloading thousands of free classical music downloads that are completely legal for you to download and keep.4
You must use caution when exploring the Classic Cat website. There are many ads. Be sure to use the tiny red download buttons to get to the music you want. When you click on them, you will be taken to another website where you can hear and/or download tracks. No downloads were automatic. For example, if you click on Tomaso Albinoni on the composers list, you’ll be taken to a works page where you’ll see the Sonata in C major, underlined, in a blue font. Clicking that takes you to another page. The tiny red button that you will then find midpage will take you to the website of the performers, the Corale San Gaudenzio, where you can hear and download a large number of tracks of various works, including Albinoni’s. In exploring the Classic Cat site, this was a typical series of steps, leading to fine performers who have made a lot of tracks available. It would be hard to track down all these folks independently, so Classic Cat has provided a great roundup. A lot of steps (tread carefully), but rewarding.
And let’s not forget Wikipedia. You may have noticed that an entry for a composer might have a link to a sound file so you can hear a representative piece of music. There is a master list. Go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Sound/list and you’ll find links to alphabetical index pages where you can find the composer and the pieces that are available for that composer. You can play or download the files.
Piano fans: Lisztonian.com provides free recordings that the performer has made available for you to listen to online or download, as well as links to download the sheet music. Here’s the composers list.
Also, see the bottom of this recent post for a list of Bach freebies.
Happy music hunting!