A few days ago, while Googling a piece by Ravel, I noticed something unusual in the "related searches" sidebar: a link to purchase one of the many albums under the "Now That's What I Call Music" series. I have no idea what that has to do with Ravel, but it did get me thinking: what would a classical hits playlist sound like, for, say, the 1790s?
So I made that playlist.
Predictably, there's a lot of Mozart and Haydn. Less predictable, at least in my opinion, are the Hummel, Cherubini, and Viotti. There's also a variety of forms - some opera, some concertos, some quartets, some symphonies. It's a sampling of a decade's worth of classical music – featuring at least two "hit" pieces from every year – and it gave me a pretty good taste of what was popular back then.
And now I'm left wondering: what would an album of classical hits from the 1510s sound like? What about the 1870s? The 1950s?
Maybe these "Now That's..." folks are on to something.
Now, that's what I call music.