Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Classical Radio and Games on Spotify

Does the absence of a classical tag in Spotify's radio page ever bother you? Well, I don't think that will change soon. Classical music is often in multiple movements, playing random movements from different works just doesn't make too much sense. Besides, the current radio interface, which categories recordings according to recorded date such as 80s/90s/00s, doesn't make sense for classical music either. Spotify will need to tag their classical catalog in different periods like: Early Music/Baroque/Classical/Romantic/20th-Century/Modern. Obviously they haven't done that yet. Thirdly, real radio with human hosts is much more fun! Why you'll ever need a Spotify radio when you have Radio 3 and BBCify?

Still, there are hidden classical radio stations on Spotify, including Mozart FM and Beethoven FM, with a gaming system. Here's how to tune into and play it in Spotify's desktop client:

1, Subscribe to this Mozart playlist: Complete Chronological Catalogue.

2, Put your Spotify in Shuffle, double click the playlist.

3, The music starts to play, do you know which piece? Can you guess it's from the early, middle or late years of Mozart's creative life? To be more specifically, the chronological position of the playing piece in Mozart's output?

4, Click the album cover at bottom-left, Spotify will go to the playing track and highlight it. Since the playlist is Mozart's complete works arranged in chronological order, the position of the scroll bar will tell you the answer.

It's the same for my chronological Beethoven playlist, and I find the Beethoven game much easier. His style had gone through sea changes and the difference is distinctive, while in Mozart, that divine instinct graced both early Salzburg works and late masterpieces.

I find this kind of "radio" more rewarding than randomly playing my whole classical collection, you can try my other composer playlists to create your own composer FM, though they are not in strict chronological order.

Other playlist that might be good to play in shuffle as a radio: 2011 New Classical Releases, Arthur Rubinstein Collection, and Classical Library For Dummies. I'm also considering creating collaborate playlists for different periods of classical music. Stay tuned.


  1. I didn't know about BBCify. I'm glad I do now. Thanks for pointing out this great resource. Major win!

    Your 2011 New Classical Releases playlist has nearly hit the 10,000 maximum number of tracks. Will you be creating a 'Part 2' for the second half of the year?

  2. Thanks Martin, I didn't know about the 10k tracks limit, will do a part 2 post soon.

  3. Is there a way to make a suggestion to Spotify? As a new user, I'm annoyed by the commercials. I understand the need to have them, but if they are going to be inserted after every movement of a symphony or concerto, can't they at least be tasteful? I really hate the blaring popular music between movements of a Beethoven concerto. Why not just a few words without the music? That's disruptive enough. It's enough to make me quit already!

  4. Hi Laura,

    Unlike NPR, Spotify is not a public service. Their Free version is actually just for you to tryout, after six months even more restrictions will apply, 10 hours listening per month and at most 5 plays per track. Spotify don't intend the users to use Spotify Free as a music appreciation tool.

    The real product they are offering is Spotify Unlimited and Premium. For $5 per month you can get rid of all the restrictions including ads. Personally I think it's totally worth it. The out of print Philips Mozart Edition costs over $1,000 alone:)

  5. Yeah, Laura, don't be a cheapskate. PAY for the service!

  6. Thanks for the BBCify link! And a unique solution the lack of a proper classical radio station!

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