There's a goldmine of quality stations streaming classical music, that can be tapped for free, through the Internet.
- ClassicalWebcast.com provides a brief directory of selected classical music radio stations with brief descriptions of what to expect, along with bitrates (as an indication of sound quality) and live links to the online players.
- ClassicalDJ has a similar but more extensive list which can be searched by geographical region (continent) - especially useful if you don't have a particularly strong Internet connection and need to find stations broadcasting close to home.
- Or, if you like to search around for yourself, try the advanced search engine from Radio Beta.
- BBC Radio 3 can be accessed in good quality audio through the BBC's excellent Listen Again iPlayer service which lets you stream, on demand, any of the last week's radio programs for free from anywhere in the world (in addition to listening to live radio broadcasts or downloading podcasts). As well as programs of live concerts and recorded music (including Jazz and Contemporary), you can often find interviews with artistes, such as in the weekday magazine program, In Tune.
- One long-running daily series is Composer of the Week, in which Donald Macleod deftly explores the lives and works of all sorts of different composers.
- Discovering Music is a weekly educational feature examining renowned works in detail with copious musical illustrations, played live to a schools audience; alongside some on-demand video streams, the Discovering Music Listening Library contains a collection of .mp3 files of past programs to download.
- Another popular weekly is CD Review with its Building a Library spot, which examines the recorded performing history of individual works in some detail. Audio quality may be higher if you listen live, but is generally very good (at 128-192 kb/s).
- ABC ClassicFM - Across the globe, the ABC - Australian Broadcasting Corporation - also has a long history of high quality broadcasting. Its ABC ClassicFM station also provides a ListenAgain service in addition to live streaming. One interesting initiative from ABC is classic/amp - a growing archive of modern classical music by Australian composers which you can listen to on demand. The only slight disappointment is the limited quality of the somewhat boomy online audio (64 kb/s) radio.
(More top English language stations to follow.)
- AVRO Klassiek stations - If you like listening by genre without any commentary, some of the AVRO Klassiek streaming radio stations may appeal. No advertisements or chit chat, just a constant stream of complete recordings of an interesting repertoire and good performances. There's a choice of five stations, including 'Baroque', 'Classical movie music', 'Religious music', 'Operetta' and a 'Best of...' compendium. The individual stations are readily accessible from the list on ClassicalDJ : just click to download a live link to your desktop (or wherever) and open in your favourite media/music player (reviewed here), which will also display summary info on the music being played.
Listeners comfortable with languages other than English may also enjoy some excellent European radio stations like:
- Swiss Radio
- Radio France
- Radio Bartok (Hungarian)
- YLEn Klassinen (Finnish)
- AVRO Klassiek (Dutch) - see also above
- More live European stations listed here and here.
- AccuRadio is a customizable service which has a classical channel divided into several sub-channels to help you find bits of music you like. It seems to be at least partially financed by providing product links on Amazon.
- All Classical from Portland, Oregon, USA has a live stream and some on-demand programs in crystal clear sound. Distractingly chatty though...
- ClassicFM is a popular commercial UK station with a DJ style approach - think pop radio conventions applied to classical music.
- (more to follow.)
NB: To listen to these online streams you'll need to have the necessary codecs installed. You may also like to listen via an online audio or multimedia player, such as Foobar or the KMPlayer, which conveniently text what's being broadcast.
You might want to check out these articles too:
- Best Free Media Player
- Understanding Codecs
- Best Free Streaming Media Recorder
- Best Free Music Player and Organizer
- Listening to internet radio with dial-up [Forum thread]
- The Top 5 Video Streaming Websites
Baroque Around The Clock! And All That Hip Hop...