Classical Music and the Public Domain

sheetmusic_smI thought I would give a little attention to a different area of the public domain today, music, or to be more specific classical music. Copyright and music are subject to slightly different laws. There is a differentiation between printed music and sound recordings. (Sound recordings under the public domain)

I have an eclectic taste in music. No matter the genre if I like what I hear then I will listen to it, which is the same way I pick my reading material. If it piques my interest then I will read it.

I grew up with parents, who had a love of music and I simply can’t remember a time or situation when they weren’t playing a song or listening to LP’s, cassettes or the radio. They both had slightly different tastes, but tended to agree on the music of the 60’s and the Beatles. In fact there are probably quite a few songs I would automatically turn off or tune out, due to the over-input of certain bands on their part.

My father listened to Eric Burdon, Bob Dylan, Queen,The Animals, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, whereas my mother was more of a Tom Jones, Leo Sayer and Neil Sedaka kind of person. My father was in the military, which meant a lot of moving around and travelling. My sister and I spent a lot of time in the back of a car listening to the 8-track tapes before my father discovered the joy of taping his own choices and mixes onto cassette tapes.

Needless to say I could sing every lyric of every song on any and all tapes that ever graced the inside of my parent’s cars. I could (and still can) whoop out a Mighty Quinn, I’m a Wild Rover, Fat bottomed Girls, Bohemian Rhapsody, and one of my father’s favourites (his name just happens to be David), Davy’s on the Road Again before I was ten years old. Vigour, air guitars and raspy rock voices were a must on our travels.

Of course these lyrical journeys were enhanced by our journeys into the German pub scene. Back in the days when it was the norm to see big names in bohemian-esque, smoke-filled packed taverns. When my parent’s friends were an assortment of misfits and guitar playing rockers. Playing for groups like Uriah Heep.

I was already a keen lover of musicals before I had commenced my first decade. I still love The Sound of Music, Grease and let’s not forget the magic of the golden age of musical films. Judy Garland, Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby, Elvis and Gene Kelly. Those films introduced me to Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack, which in turn led me to blues and then to jazz. The brilliance of Andrew Lloyd Webber and the unforgettable Pie Jesu cemented my love of the beauty of music.

However aside from all of the above there is one particular person to whom I owe a debt of gratitude for really opening my ears to a specific joy of classical music. When I was twelve years old I had a music teacher called Herr Hensgens. We moved to Germany when I was quite young and I was always in local schools.

I vividly remember him walking in one day with his portable record player, the height of technology at the time. He often spoke of the end of the 2nd World War when this particular area was in the centre of live combat, due to the close vicinity of the Dutch/German border. The community of Selfkant is the most western point of Germany. On that day he decided to play us a track that reminded him the most of the shell-fire he had endured as a young man.


Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture is quite a lengthy piece, which features canon and gunfire. It commemorates the Battle of Borodino, the bloodiest battle of the Napoleonic Wars. My music teacher was so enthusiastic and enthralled by the sound of it. He waved his arms, conducted the invisible orchestra and his whole being was just overjoyed.

That day I saw and heard the music through his eyes and ears. His enthusiasm became my enthusiasm. It completely changed the way I listened to classical music. Discovering the beauty of different composers. Being able to discern the character and mood swings of each of them. Hensgens enhanced my life, my future experiences and interactions with music that day, which is something I will always thank him for.

Download and listen to Tchaikovsky – 1812 OvertureChopin Concerto #2, Op. 21 , Bach – Cantata, Strauss – The Blue Danube and Tales from the Vienna Woods, Handel-Messiah, Handel-Water Music, Handel-Suit in D, Schubert Serenade, Schubert – Ave Maria, Mozart – Greensleeves, Mozart – Minuet, Mozart – Requiem or Brahms -Tragic Overture free at the Internet Archive.

Read and download Adventure on the High Seas, Password Incorrect, Exploring the Heart of Darkness, Father’s Little DividendDecadence without DifficultyRoads of DestinyThe Capture of a Slaver, The Ghost TrainHow it Feels to Die, by One Who has Tried ItMysticism and LogicThe Scarecrow of Oz, Sharks Attack the Public DomainDressed to KillThe Silence, the Solitude and the Shame of Oscar Wilde or Twelve Stories and a Dream right here on the blog.

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