Good Gifts To Give

I am not here to tell you not to be a consumer, I’m here to help you be an excellent consumer.

It’s that time of the year, and a day in particular, to think about what you are going to get to give. And since you and your friends and family have good taste and are curious about the world, I first recommend: Beethoven.

Everyone needs at least one set of the Beethoven Symphonies, and this one is musically excellent and a great value.


More hard core means adding the Piano Sonatas and String Quartets. These two sets are great for the ears and easy on the wallet:

Get the Goode Sonatas recording. Others are cheaper but they are either musically poor (Kovacevich) or for more specialized taste (Schnabel, but not great for getting to know the music).



There are many classic recordings of the Quartets. The Végh is not as technically accomplished as the Emerson, or even Takacs, but oh my the poetic playing is wonderful. This box has a bargain price and also includes their Bartók Quartets, essential compositions though their’s is not one of the best Bartók cycles (get this one instead).



“George Grella understood exactly.”

Robert Ashley

“I ate your book.”

Bernhard Lang


I'm a composer and musician, and I write about music—I do that here, for the New York Classical Review, at the Brooklyn Rail (I edit the music section there) and any place else that will have me, like New Music Box and Music & Literature. I also wrote the Miles Davis' Bitches Brew book in the 33 1/3 series.