If you’ve checked out the new iTunes Radio, you’ve realized that this feature is designed for songs, not for classical works. If you want to listen to classical music, you’ll find it dices and slices works into individual movements. For example, I created an iTunes Radio station to play music by Gustav Mahler. I got, in the following order: a song from Das Lied Von Der Erde, the second movement of Mahler’s 1st symphony, the fifth movement of his 5th symphony, the second movement of his 8th symphony, the first movement of his 7th symphony, and so on. You get the picture.
You might like the preset Opera station, which plays random opera arias. But for the most part, if you’re a serious listener of classical music, you won’t like iTunes Radio. If, however, you just want some background music, there are some stations that will do the trick. When you display the new station popup, scroll down and click on Classical. You’ll see a number of preset stations there that you can try.
I’ve been listening to the Contemporary Classical station for a while, and I find that somewhat interesting. It features a lot of works I’m unfamiliar with, and I don’t mind just catching a single movement as a way of discovering new works and composers. But most of the other classical stations with their movements-only approach don’t work for me.
There was a “Romantic Era Lieder” station during the prerelease period, but it’s disappeared. I quite liked that, because it was a shuffle of all the lieder on the iTunes Store. There was lots of Schubert, Wolf and Schumann, but also songs by other composers, and sung by a wide variety of singers. I hope that returns to iTunes Radio.
What about you? Have you found any good iTunes Radio classical stations, or have you created your own?
Check out my ebook, Take Control of iTunes 11: The FAQ. Buy now and you’ll get a free update very soon with full coverage of the new features in iTunes 11.1.