But I do like to listen to music, of course. I'm just really picky about what and when. I find that in recent years I like listening projects. For example, when I finally got around to the Beethoven piano sonatas, I listened to them all through in order a couple of times with the scores. I listened to the Emerson's excellent box of all the Shostakovich quartets straight through as well, though then I didn't have the scores. I am looking forward to doing that again, but following in the music. I much, much prefer listening with the score. Just listening seems a bit casual. I used to listen to one piece each morning, but now it is more often in the afternoon or evening.
I just finished a really big project: all the Haydn symphonies in the complete box by the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra conducted by Dennis Russell Davies. Here is the link. Alas, I bought it for $23 US but I must have got the last copy as it is only available now from resellers at several times that. Terrific bargain and I really enjoyed the performances. I will probably write something more detailed at some point, but my feeling after just having listened to the whole set, starting in mid-December and just finishing a couple of days ago, is that these are really excellent performances. Not only that, but I can only recall a couple of symphonies that I didn't really enjoy. Nearly every symphony made me smile with pleasure and there is not a huge amount of music I can say that about! Right now I am upping my previous very high estimation of Haydn. Honestly, after listening to all his symphonies and string quartets (I have them in another box with the Angeles String Quartet) I have no hesitation about saying that Haydn is the equal of any composer. He does not have the dogged intensity of Beethoven or the effervescent sparkle of Mozart, but his music is really their equal, I think. Haydn's music is thoroughly pleasurable with unending surprises, turns of melody, harmonic inventions, rhythmic interjections. It is so very hard to put into words, but wonderful nonetheless.
I just started on a new project, the complete Mozart piano concertos with Malcolm Bilson and John Eliot Gardiner conducting the English Baroque Soloists. I've only listened to three or four so far, so I will probably say something about that when I get to the end.
When I discover something interesting, I like to try and get my head around the whole thing. Sometimes I'm like that with food too! I once got so obsessed with perfecting my Caesar salad recipe that I made it for dinner three or four nights a week for months. Alas, that also happened with my Belgian waffle recipe which is why I am now on a strict no-carbohydrate diet! Haydn is less fattening.
But what I like about listening my way through a particular composer's work in a single genre is the opportunity to get a sense of how he evolved, how he developed his writing, how he solved the problems of form and so on. You can't do this if you are always hopping around listening to whatever comes along. I guess I listen a bit more systematically than most people. Or do I? Let me know how you listen in the comments.
Let's listen to one of those Haydn symphonies. Here is No. 95 in C minor, the third of the "London" Symphonies. Towards the end of his long career, Haydn visited London to immense acclaim and wrote twelve symphonies to be performed there. That is 33⅓% more symphonies than Beethoven wrote in his whole life.
See what I mean?