Someone in another thread proposed talking about high culture. Having tried to cultivate an appreciation for these things over the last seven years, I'm no expert, but I have some favorites and a "top 50" list which is a good entry point, and illustrates some of the language in which music of this kind communicates: https://archive.vn/IjVLL
A prefatory remark about getting into this sort of thing: there's a lot of context that's absent if you just listen to a piece on youtube. This is even true of symphonies:
>[Beethoven's] Symphony No. 5 in C minor from 1808 has gone down in music history as the Symphony of Fate. It is a central work for the Beethovenfest, which this year has as its motto "Fate." [When asked about the opening motif of the Fifth Symphony, Beethoven] is said to have replied: "This is the sound of fate knocking at the door."
You wouldn't guess that from listening, but if you listen once and then again with context, you probably get more out of it the second time. Some compositions are explicitly topical. Liszt's Faust Symphony, for example, is presumably not any sort of opera or ballet, but:
>Liszt wanted to illustrate in music the essence of three main characters from Faust. Because of this I'd say the piece is a perfect example of program music (music that describes an idea or story).
>Liszt chose to dedicate a movement to explore each character. The movements are:
>1. Faust (Allegro, Quick), the disillusioned doctor whom the devil tempts into worldly powers and passion
>2. Gretchen (Andante, Walking pace), a sweet, innocent maiden
>3. Mephistopheles (Scherzo), the devil, an evil trickster
And you get more out of it by learning the musical vocabulary in which these people thought:
>Liszt doesn't give the devil any original themes. He just takes Faust's themes and mutilates them into gleefully wicked parodies to show Mephistopheles acting through Faust.
It's good to search for background information about these things.
Maurice Ravel's "Daphnis and Chloe" — A ballet. Having the visual component that a symphony lacks, there are passages you might describe as "whimsical", with the wacky trombone noises and things I would associate with Danny Elfman's style of movie scoring. The experience is probably lessened if you're only listening.
Bruckner's 6th Symphony struck me as the score to an epic adventure movie. I appreciate the masculinity of Bruckner's style in general. Very powerful, towering themes, imo.
Beethoven's 9th — Ode to Joy, my dudes.
Gustav Holst's "Planets" cycle is an easy entry point for anyone who wants to start somewhere, because even more than Wagner or anybody else, Holst's "Mars" has not only inspired the music to every space battle you've ever seen, but has been directly ripped off, usually without even the pretense of originality, probably in the hundreds of times. (CF Barbarian Horde from the Gladiator Soundtrack, or "Under Siege" from the Hyrule Warriors soundtrack.)
Mozart's "Magic Flute" — An Opera. It has the charm of a Disney movie. It probably IS a Disney movie in some incarnation. I actually had a hard time sitting through it when I started trying to get into this sort of thing, but webbum related gives you a taste of what you're in for.
Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker Suite" I appreciate mostly for the Christmas nostalgia, tbh.
So now I'll turn the floor over to you, dear anons. What's your favorite, and what should anybody listen to at least once?