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Top 11 Classical Recordings for Children

Updated on September 1, 2015

Let's Go Over Some Great Pieces to Start Your Classical Collection

Ryan McAdams conducting the New York Youth Symphony in Beethoven's Leonore Overture no. 3
Ryan McAdams conducting the New York Youth Symphony in Beethoven's Leonore Overture no. 3 | Source

What are the Top Classical Recordings Essential for Your Child's Music Library?

Classical Music in your home changes the environment. Depending on the piece, you can add calmness to a hectic day or exhilaration when doing projects or playing. When starting a Classical Music Library, it's better to start small and get a couple CD's. It's better to have less selections but get a higher quality of each performance. Sometimes, you can even just buy the movement or one section of a piece. Others are not available as separate sections and you'll have to buy the whole recording.

Start playing classical music in the background while doing other activities. Make sure you mention the name of the piece to your child. We often have the music on softly while eating dinner or working on schoolwork.

Here is My Top Eleven List

Not only do you want a balanced variety of classical pieces to get your child's ear acquainted with classical music, you want to stir their interest by picking the best performances you can afford. My recording recommendations are based on The NPR Guide to Building a Classical CD Collection.

Composer-Composition-Recommended performance

1 Bach-Brandenburg Concertos-Boston Baroque/Martin Pearlman

2 Beethoven -Eroica Symphony No. 3- Vienna Philharmonic/Leonard Bernstein

3 Prokofieff-Peter and the Wolf -Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Andre Previn

4 Bizet-Carmen (Ouverture=March of the Toreador, L'amour Est Un Oiseau Rebelle,Entr'acte)-Paris Opera Orchestra with Maria Callas

5 Mozart-Eine Kleine Nachtmusik-Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields Chamber Ensemble

6 Tchaikovsky-Nutcracker Suite (March, Dance of the Mirltons, Waltz of the Flowers, Chinese Dance, Russian Dance)-Berlin Philharmonic/Mstislav Rostropovich

7 Saint-Saens-Carnival of the Animals -Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra/Lorin Maazel

8 Grieg-Peer Gynt (In the Hall of the Mountain King, Morning Mood)- San Francisco Symphony Orchestra/Herbert Blomstedt

9 Gershwin-Rhapsody in Blue-Columbia Symphony Orchestra/Leonard Bernstein

10 Copland -Rodeo, Appalachian Spring-Cincinnati Pops Orchestra/Erich Kunzel

11 Rossini-William Tell Overture-Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Lamberto Gardelli

Also, I recommend any performances by the London Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, or performances conducted by Herbert Von Karajan.

Bach: Brandenburg Concerti
Bach: Brandenburg Concerti

Here is an example of a high quality performance that you can find. In addition, the concertos are available separately in mp3 files.


One Way to Build Your Music Library - Aside from buying the CD's outright, many times you can buy the selection you want electronically.

Often you can get these fantastic performances on mp3s through Amazon or through iTunes. This makes it very convenient and cost effective for most people to afford quality classical music.

Audio Controversy: When CDs first came out, many audio experts and audiophiles pointed out the subtle change in the sound as compared to vinyl. Specifically, the music, since it was condensed and remastered, shifted its balance of harmonic volume. Some of these harmonic overtones jumped out too much, or were too hidden. If the remastering was done poorly, the music gained a tinny sound. Good remastering however can bring out the gorgeous harmonics and the listener still gets a full rich experience.

Mp3 is a different story. Mp3s compress the music to make the file size smaller and easier to download and store. This can also effect the music in a negative way. Now, new music is recorded taking this into consideration and the final result is a recording that translates well into mp3s.

Copland's American Music

Copland: The Music of America
Copland: The Music of America

Here's an example in which you have to purchase the CD. Remember the commercial 'Beef, it's what's for dinner?' This is the music.


Copland's Hoe Down

In Conclusion

If you look at it in a modern sense, Western classical music has influenced so much of the movie music we hear. Think of Star Wars Music, or the Lord of the Rings Movies. These are Classically trained musicians that composed music that thrills us and moves us.

We are inspired by what we learn about and hear to create our own new music. As I've said before, we may love the Rolling Stones but if we don't listen to what THEY listened to (American Blues), then we are missing the whole picture.

If we don't let our children listen to the amazing classical music that these movie music composers themselves listened to, then our children are going to miss out on the full, rich aesthetic experience.

Let me know what you think.

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    • Kim Milai profile image

      Kim Milai 3 years ago

      @Andromachi: I tried to put in standards as well as kid friendly music. You must be a terrific Mom, interested in music and so much more. Thank you for visiting.

    • Andromachi profile image

      Andromachi 3 years ago

      Thank you for sharing this list with us. I totally love classical music and often have it on at home. My children and me will enjoy it.

    • Kim Milai profile image

      Kim Milai 4 years ago

      @ThreeQuarters2Day: That's great you got to study there. It's so funny, I had classical training too but always listened to rock. One of my daughters actually prefers classical music for background listening !!! When I play rock in the car they ask ME to turn it down LOL.

    • ThreeQuarters2Day profile image

      Dawn Romine 4 years ago from Nebraska

      My piano teacher didn't let me play anything but classical for the eight years of lessons. I thank her now, but then, not so much. Her and her husband teach at the Hart School in CT

    • profile image

      happynutritionist 5 years ago

      Thank you for your tips for classical music for children...I love all kinds of music, but classical is a favorite, and I know it's because my parents played it all the time as I was growing up.

    • Kim Milai profile image

      Kim Milai 5 years ago

      @SusanDeppner: Thank you so much. I really believe strongly in this and I'm also having a lot of fun creating the articles.

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 5 years ago from Arkansas USA

      I love starting children off with good music at an early age. Great suggestions!