How to Listen to Free Classical Music Online
You Know the Benefits
By now, the word is out--classical music is good for your health, helps you study, helps you build up your brain power, and much more. The problem is, the classical repertoire stretches back more than a thousand years, and includes hundreds of composers, so how do you find something you like, and listen to it without spending a fortune on buying CDs or downloading mp3s? How do you find a particular composer, or worse, a composition? How do you know what you will like? The selection can be completely overwhelming, especially for someone who is not familiar with the history and the ins and outs of classical music. Fortunately, the internet comes to the rescue, with plenty of classical stations to listen to for free, as long as you have an internet connection, and the number of recordings available on the internet is growing all the time!
There are two basic ways to find classical music online: either you can listen to streaming sources, which require an internet connection, or you can find free mp3 or other formats of music to download to your computer or standalone players. Whichever method you choose, there are hundreds of thousands of choices for discovering your favourite composers, compositions, genres, and artists. Give some of these resources a try—you'll find classical music for studying, for relaxation, for relieving stress, and much more! And since you have nothing to lose but a few seconds on a composition you don't like, it makes sense to be adventurous and begin exploring the composers, compositions, instruments, genres, and history of classical music!
Obviously, it is not possible to list every single streaming source, because there are just so many thousands of good sites. I have tried to list as many portals rather than individual stations as possible, because new streaming sources come online all the time, as traditional radio stations add simulcasts on the internet.
- BBC - Radio 3 - Home
BBC Radio 3 broadcasts not only classical music, jazz, world music, and new music, but also features arts programmes and radio dramas. Radio 3 hosts the Proms and supports composers, writers and new young performers.
- Naxos Web Radio
Naxos is a recording label, and features their own catalogue available in dozens of preprogrammed playlists. (You have to love a site that has five early music and Baroque stations!)
- Great Performances | Watch Online | PBS Video
Check out the videos from Great Performances and Live at Lincoln Center!
- Pandora Radio
Create one or more radio stations, based on your likes and dislikes, and learn about the composers through composer pictures and biographies.
Type in the name of a composer or performer, and explore related music. You can participate in forums and communicate with other users with similar (or very different) tastes. There are real gems on here!
- uWall.tv -- Listen to a Wall of classical Music
Millions of artists sorted by genre for you to discover and play instantly in a playlist. The recordings are from YouTube, but this tool makes finding what you want easy!
- Grooveshark - Free MP3 Streaming
An amazing resource for any music lover; create playlists, even your own radio station! Just go to the "Genre" selection and choose classical!
- Classical Webcast - Free Streaming Classical Music.
A portal to radio stations streaming classical music, worldwide, with over 160 stations listed!
- Shoutcast Classical Directory
Complete list of free shoutcast classical radio stations broadcasting in MP3 and AAC+ format from around the world. Browse the list of stations or search for your favorite artists or composers.
- Classical Online Radio in the USA
Lists a large collection of radio stations with simulcasts on the internet,
A Canadian full-featured "try before you buy" station, you can listen to all the tracks in an album in full before buying. Analekta claims over 12,000 items in their catalogue, and albums and tracks are reasonably priced.
- Classical Music Online
An archive of over 50,000 recordings in every genre, including the ability to make playlists, communicate with other users on forums, and sending private messages. Some recordings may be available for download.
- Classical Music Radio Stations Live on the Internet
Sixty-eight (at last count) different radio stations with online servers, where you can listen whenever you want, absolutely free!
- Online Classical Music Radio Stations from around Europe
One of the great pleasures of living in Europe was listening to different radio stations and their selections of classical music. Here are dozens of different free stations where you can listen online!
- AOL Music
A number of genres are represented here. Honestly, I was really surprised at the selection of stations available!
- Classical Internet Radio - Listen to our FREE Classical channel | SKY.fm
SKY FM features a really decent selection and a variety of genres as well. There's only one classical channel but a good variety of music.
- Live 365
Here you can find not only generic classical stations, but stations devoted exclusively to genre: early music, baroque, opera, romantic, symphonic, chamber music and much more!
Away from Your Internet Connection
Unfortunately, we cannot yet take the internet with us everywhere we go. For those times when you are cut off from streaming sources because you just don't have the internet handy, consider downloading tracks to your standalone music or video player. There is plenty of classical music you can download that will tide you over until you can find your favourite streaming source again!
Sources for Downloading Classical Music
- Internet Archive: Digital Library of Free Books, Movies, Music & Wayback Machine
The Internet Archive has thousands of recordings of music in every genre available for download. If you love organ music, check recordings of church services, as they often include preludes, postludes and offertories or communion organ compositions.
While most tracks cost money to download, each week at least one entire album is available for free download! Just think of how much music that would be in a year's time!
- Classic Cat - the free classical music directory
Sorted by composer and work, think of this site as the Wikipedia of classical music, with thousands of legal tracks, composer biographies, and more information than you can hope to ever use. Check out their top lists!
Inconceivable! Wikipedia has a huge collection of sound files in .ogg format, including hundreds of classical compositions. If your standalone player does not recognize .ogg format, conversion is easy through a number of free tools.
One More Place to Try
Amazon.com has numerous free tracks and albums available, some in the classical section. Amazon also has great specials, so check out their discounts, gold box and four-for-three promotions. You can preview any track to find out if you like it, and you can buy music by the album (cheapest) or by the track.