Friday, December 25, 2015

The Beatles: Capitol US albums and notable compilations, as Spotify playlists

Meet the Beatles! (1964)

The Beatles' Second Album (1964)

Beatles '65 (1965)

The Early Beatles (1965)

Beatles VI (1965)

Yesterday and Today (1966)

Hey Jude (1970)

Love Songs (1977)

Rock 'n' Roll Music (1977)

The Beatles Ballads (1980)

Yellow Submarine Songtrack 1999

Cover art from Wikipedia.

Spotify Composer Weekly

Updated every Monday. 30 tracks from 30 works.

Browse all previous playlists on this user profile:

Friday, September 4, 2015

Peaceful Choral Music: 50 tracks from 50 living composers

The playlists are coming back, for real this time.

In the past 2.5 years I've spent most of my time on fundamental metadata issues that made the streaming experience (for classical and other music) often not as pleasant as it should be. We are still not there yet, and I'm aware of the issues that still bother classical fans: long track title readability, especially on mobile; no composer column (though composer is displayed as first artist at track level for classical content); search could be lacking for aficionados and overwhelming for classical newbies. They are not forgotten. It just takes more time to fix 30m tracks delivered by tens of thousands of labels in different formats (and constantly updated), than fixing a personal music library.

From now on I will also spend some spare time on playlisting. Hope you enjoy the first effort. Suggestions and comments are welcome.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Some Improvements

1) No playlist and no regret.

2) Classical composer/artist names have been normalised. I counted 284 different spellings of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, and 23 names of Choir of King's College, Cambridge. Thousands of duplicate classical artist pages have been merged. You can search for Rachmaninov and still find Sergei Rachmaninoff (also try CPE Bach, DSCH).

3) Composers' pages start to make sense. The Popular section (which used to be playground for spammers) now becomes a nice introduction for casual listeners. See Robert Schumann:

And the discography is easier to browse now without all the "Tender Classical For Study" stuff. Leonard Bernstein and Benjamin Britten are good examples.

Can you guess which composer page was this?

It was Gabriel Faure. But it could just as well be any other composer, since they all looked like that.

Now the page is slightly more useful, with the wonderful Stephen Cleobury – Fauré: Requiem & Messe Basse at the top.

There's still so much to improve, but the below 50 composer pages are already great starting points for people who want to get into classical music or explore a bit more. Comparing to these changes, all the playlists I've done before are really nothing.

Johann Sebastian Bach
Béla Bartók
Ludwig van Beethoven
Hector Berlioz
Georges Bizet
Johannes Brahms
Benjamin Britten
William Byrd
John Cage
Frederic Chopin
Aaron Copland
François Couperin
Claude Debussy
Guillaume Dufay
Antonín Dvořák
Gabriel Faure
Giovanni Gabrieli
George Frideric Handel
Franz Joseph Haydn
Unknown Artist
Orlande de Lassus
Franz Liszt
Guillaume de Machaut
Gustav Mahler
Felix Mendelssohn
Claudio Monteverdi
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Johannes Ockeghem
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina
Sergei Prokofiev
Giacomo Puccini
Henry Purcell
Sergei Rachmaninoff
Jean-Philippe Rameau
Maurice Ravel
Gioachino Rossini
Domenico Scarlatti
Arnold Schoenberg
Franz Schubert
Robert Schumann
Dmitri Shostakovich
Jean Sibelius
Johann Strauss II
Richard Strauss
Igor Stravinsky
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Ralph Vaughan Williams
Giuseppe Verdi
Antonio Vivaldi
Richard Wagner

Enjoy and share the music.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Help testing the new classical radio

A small percentage of users now get revamped classical radio. Try it here: Use the skip button to flip through a few tracks.

If you only see soundtracks and greatest hits from not-so-great compilations and less than 10 composers, you are still on the old radio. Please ignore it like you did in the past few years.

If you see a wide range of selections from respectable labels, then play on. The more you listen, the more users will get the new version.

Your feedback will be much appreciated. Thanks.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Composers are now displayed for the Harmonia Mundi catalog

For those of you who already followed my Harmonia Mundi - hmGold Series playlist, it might take a while before the composers appear in the desktop client. In web player everyone should see the composers now.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

2014 New Classical Releases Index (Collaborative Playlist)

Thanks everyone for updating the 2011, 2012 and 2013 New Classical Releases Indices. Let's do it again in 2014 and hopefully next year you won't have to use a playlist to browse the newly recorded/released classical albums of the year.

Same rules as before:

1. One track per album. You can click album titles and browse full albums.

2. Add new tracks at the top of the playlist, so the new additions can be found easily.

3. Please avoid duplicated entries. Use the filter bar to check before adding. For example: before you add Daniel Barenboim – New Year's Concert 2014 / Neujahrskonzert 2014, you can press Ctrl (CMD) + F to bring out the filter bar, input partial title (like Barenboim or new year's concert) to check if the album has already been added.

4. Only add newly recorded albums. No re-issues, re-packages or compilations of previously released material.

Get the regularly updated 2014 classical catalog in one Spotify playlist here: 2014 New Classical Releases Index (No reissues or compilations).

Friday, January 10, 2014

Guest Playlist: Frank Zappa's Musical Evolution

Guest post from Kris Herbst:
I assembled this playlist of 401 Zappa tracks that, for me, represent his best and most accessible musical compositions (omitting tracks where I find the musical quality is secondary to comedy bits or commentary):  Frank Zappa's Musical Evolution (401 tracks, 19 hours).

To provide a sense of the progression of Zappa’s musical ideas and development, I have arranged the tracks in chronological order, based on when they were first recorded or performed, rather than by release date, with help from the discography and timelines in this site:

I have grouped together alternative recordings of the same piece, in chronological order, always beginning with the first instance of a piece, followed by alternate recordings of that piece, and then followed by guitar solos from that piece, also in chronological order of performance. This groups recordings of guitar solos (which Zappa often released at later times, as separate pieces, with different names) with the piece in which they were originally performed.

Suggestions to improve it are welcome: kris at

A little info about me: I became a Zappa fan in 1969, at the age of 13, when I was turned on to the "We're Only In It For The Money" album by my Boy Scout troopmaster. Two years later, I went to my first Zappa concert, when the band included Flo and Eddie and Ian Underwood. Listening to Zappa helped open my mind to exploring a wide range of music, especially jazz. I saw Zappa in concert once more, in 1974, fronting one of his best bands that included Napoleon Murphy Brock, Ruth Underwood, George Duke and Don Preston on keyboards, the Fowler brothers (Bruce, Walt, and Tom on trombone, trumpet, and bass, respectively), Jeff Simmons on guitar, and Ralph Humphrey and Chester Thompson on drums.

Thanks Kris, I look forward to listening to more Zappa using this playlist.

To all the Zappa fans: you can also check out my Zappa as Composer playlist, and follow the revamped Frank Zappa artist page (all albums have the correct original release year now, instead of the 2012 remaster year like in all other music services), so you will get notifications when the Zappa Family Trust makes his posthumous catalog available digitally.