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Here's How to Get Cheap or Free Classical Music - Compass Classroom Blog

Here's How to Get Cheap or Free Classical Music


An important part of teaching your kids to like Classical Music is actually having music available to listen to. When I started listening to classical music, there were just a few ways to listen: on record or tape, on the radio, or at a live concert.

Today, however, there are seemingly endless avenues for getting classical music. Many of them are made possible by the digital music revolution of the past decade. Digital files make music much more accessible and inexpensive, so that's what I'll mainly be including here.


1CLASSICAL - a great catalog of essential pieces by a wide variety of composers. Searchable in lots of ways. Includes Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, etc. plus a lot of lesser-known composers.

CLASSIC CAT - An online catalog of places to find free classical music around the web. It's a bit hit or miss with recordings; they have a lot of some composers and very little of others. But you can't beat free, and there are some real gems to be found here.

FREEGAL MUSIC - your local library may have a relationship with Freegal music, a service that lets library card holders login and download five free music selections per week from Sony and other smaller label music collections.  There is a ton of great classical music here. Search under artists for Leonard Bernstein, Isaac Stern, Eugene Ormandy, George Szell or composers for whomever you'd like to hear. Just ask your local library about it. (BTW - you can do this per library card, so include your kids cards in the mix and you can get a decent bit of music per week.)

EUROPEAN ARCHIVE - These are digital transfers of old classical LPs. The quality can be kind of questionable at times, but these are historic recordings so all the performances are excellent. It takes a little digging, but a great resource.

SPOTIFY- I personally don't use Spotify since I like actually to own the music I listen to, but lots of people I know love it. There is a seemingly limitless supply of streaming music that you can approach in album format (vs. Pandora, which is more of a radio station without control over what you hear, the main reason I don't love it). There's a free option with ads, a monthly paid subscription without ads for $4.99, then a way to stream your music to every device for $9.99/mo. If you have premium, you can download music to your devices.


AMAZON MP3 BOX SETS - There are a number of companies that have curated classical music recordings from lesser-known (though still talented) performers and orchestras across Europe.

  • Bach Guild - $2.99 to $.99 per set - These include the Big Mozart Box, Big Haydn Box, Big Mahler Box, Big Handel Box, Big Brahms Box, etc., etc. These include around 10 hours of music per composer (150-200 pieces). That's like $.01 a song - incredible.
  • Rise of the Masters - $1.99 per set - These highlight a particular composer, then offer 100 pieces of music - again, $.02 each.
  • 99 Most Essential - $1.99 to $5.99+ per set - These are a combination either of composers or subjects, and follow the same method as above. However, they are a bit pricier.

There are lots of other MP3 deals on Amazon. You just have to hunt around. When you go to a title, scroll down and use the "Customers Who Bought This Also Bought" section to see other deals.  And read the reviews - they say a lot.

NAXOS MUSIC LIBRARY - Naxos offers access to their entire collection of 85,000 albums for $20 or $30/mo depending on the bandwidth you prefer. This is a serious way to get access to pretty much everything ever written since Naxos includes classical titles that can only be found on their label.

USED CDS - Finally, there are a lot of used CD stores that can have some great deals on classical music. You just have to go hunt around and look. I also recommend buying used CDs from Amazon.com - they sometimes sell them for a dollar or so, then just make their money in the required $2.99 shipping/handling. Still a great deal.

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