Free Classical Music Bonanza–Musopen

Last night I watched the movie The Seven Year Itch for the first time. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, but now I can’t stop replaying Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto #2 in my head (the first few notes are played repeatedly in the movie). I own a recording of this concerto on cassette tape, but I haven’t listened to that in a couple of decades, and I never replaced the cassette with a CD. So today I was on a mission to chase down the concerto in digital form so that I can enjoy it again until I get sick of it, which will finally get the music out of my head.

I found the options at iTunes too complex, especially because there are multiple versions and many of them are available only in album form at a bundled price above my reservation price. In pursuit of better options, I stumbled across a site I’d never heard of called Musopen. They describe themselves as follows:

Musopen is an online music library of copyright free music (public domain music). We want to give the world access to music, without the legal hassles so common today. There is a great deal of music that has expired copyrights, but almost no recordings of this music is in the public domain. We aim to record or obtain recordings that have no copyrights so that our visitors may listen, re-use, or in any way enjoy music. Put simply, our mission is to set music free.

Their database is building, so they don’t have a plethora of offerings. Further, I suspect purists would find the available renditions intolerably inferior to other commercially available offerings. For example, I noticed that a fair amount of the offerings were recorded by the Skidmore College Orchestra (which isn’t an accident because the site was founded by some folks affiliated with Skidmore). Nothing against this group, but even my untrained ears can identify some amateur aspects of their performances.

On the other hand, the price is right, and I’m still enjoying the music. Indeed, having stumbled upon this terrific website, I’ve now spent most of the day in downloading mania. My wireless modem is smoking, and I’m worried my broadband provider is going to cut me off for excessive bandwidth usage!

So go check it out yourself. While you’re there, make sure to get Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto #2, as offered by Musopen, without any copyright restrictions. Yay!

If you missed it, my other online music obsession is Pandora.