Dear good-golly Miss mollyb!
I feel like fate has prepared me for this very moment . . . It's a very humbling feeling and I feel a tear slide down my face as I hyperventilate rapidly into this paper bag.
Seriously though, I am just excited to tell about one of my favorite resources provided by the BYU Harold B. Lee Library. In a library full of amazing, underused resources, this one takes a big chunk of cake.
It is the online classical music library, hosted by Alexander Street Press
, an outside company to which BYU buys a subscription. Simply go to the HBLL homepage, click on "Site Index" and go to the "C
" page (the fact that I provided a link there indicates how much I want people to try this out). Scroll down to "Classical Music Library." You can sign on, create a profile (though you don't have to to listen to music), listen to pre-organized playlists and create your own. You can search by composer, conductor, artist, instrument etc. Even if you don't know much about classical music (like me)(honest, I swear!), you can find your way around.
So that is the resource
that I would recommend, but that doesn't exactly tell you how to go about identifying the music. I would recommend starting by exploring the previously created Themed Playlists. You will be able to find playlists that contain the "classics" of classical music (I assume that any general-type classical music will have things like Beethoven's Fifth symphony and such). Listen to those first. I would then move on to the playlists that accompany books or are called, "Anthology for Music in Western Civilization: CD 1-10" or something. Those usually contain music that was popular when it was written, but didn't stand the test of time as well as the more classical classics. Another tactic would be to try to identify the style or period. For instance Baroque music sounds different than pieces written in the Classical or Romance periods. Chamber music features fewer instruments than an entire symphony. Concertos usually feature one particular instrument (tangent: Mozart wrote some amazing French horn concertos. I recommend.). You can use the search functions to search based on instrument if you think one is being featured in one of the pieces.
If you are not a BYU student (and I guess I shouldn't assume everyone is just because some of us have been doing it so long), you can still subscribe to Alexander Press, but it can be expensive. Another resource you could check out is Classical.com. It appears to be basically the same as Alexander Press, and it does cost to create an account. But it's another option to consider.
Good luck trying to find your music. If you go to the kind of effort that I think your search will take I absolutely guarantee you will find some stuff that you really like, whether or not it matches what's on your CD.
- Rating Pending (who is forgoing a pun here using the word 'Bach' so that he can go listen to "Paintings at an Exhibition." Awesome.)