Originally Posted by aybojs
I'm in the midst of working on a pretty exhaustive fine arts study project; right now I'd rather not go into sources for certain reasons, but maybe in a week or two I should be able to recommend specific texts for general and specific study.
One tip for classical music: learn some basic theory and try to get to a point where you can at least read music. I may just be stuck up from my old days as a coerced-by-parents child violinist, but I think that's the bare minimum for anyone to be able to be considered "cultured" as far as music goes.
Also, having some understanding of sonata form and variations form will help greatly with active listening to Beethoven and Mozart, and fugue form for Bach. This will help him make sense of what's actually going on in the music.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonata_formhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Variati...Variation_formhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fugue
Of course, all of this presupposes understanding of the basics of keys and modulations. I don't think it's necessary for a casual listener to know how many sharps there are in an A Major scale, though (considering this man is trying to get an accelerated familiarity with European Fine Culture in the space of a few months.)
At the risk of sounding glib, if you just want a dabbler's knowledge of Classical music, stick to the Big Three to begin with, although listening to Classical music radio will help fill in some of the gaps.
I'll be emphatic on this point, however: Classical music, especially at the level of complexity of the greats, demands your full attention. That is, you listen to it sitting in front of your stereo, and not while you're driving, or as background music for dinner.