The Classical Collection – Orbis (De Agostini Group)

the classical collection

(*Disclaimer* This entry is not intended for commercial purposes or for the advertisement and endorsement of the following discontinued product and the author is not, in any way, associated with any bidding sites or its related auction partners; nor financially/gainfully enriched by the contents of this entry)

The Classical Collection (” The Best Classical Music Brought To Life “) would probably be remembered in posterity as the direct answer to the large-scale collection ‘The Great Composers’ series published by UK publisher Marshall-Cavendish. While the latter consisted of a systematic arrangement of watershed musical epochs, the Classical Collection focuses on a select few composers tucked alongside a great deal of lesser-known musicians and predictably isolated many more gifted composers who would easily make their mark in the hearts and ears of classical music enthusiasts.

This collection was first released in Malaysia sometime in May or June 1993 and published by Orbis Publishing. I recalled that there was an advertisement on Malaysian television where the first strains of Piotr Illyich Tchaikovsky’s ‘Piano Concerto no. 1’ was played and the viewer would be informed that the first issue has gone on sale in major bookstores e.g. MPH Bookstores; Times Bookshop; Mag Store; the now-defunct Berita Times and lots more (and infinitely plenty of smaller ones as well from your regular newsagent or the shop uncle who sells cheap manga and ‘Old Master Q’ comics) and there would be a magazine binder on sale as well.

The whopping price of RM10.95 per issue was actually quite steep even back in those days. For that price, you could acquire either a copy of the magazine with an accompanying cassette tape (touted as ‘top quality chrome dioxide tape’) or the regular CD. It goes without saying that the cassette tape quality is of slightly higher standard than that of the mass-produced CD counterpart even though the recording sound is variable. Yes, the chrome tape is quite durable but we all know that cassette tapes are becoming as frequent as 3.5 inch diskettes these days. I can’t even find a dedicated cassette/radio compo these days at your friendly electric and electronics store nowadays – you know, just the ones to give my massive cassette collection a run to keep them from being magnetized from lack of mechanical activity.

I guess that was the collection came at the time when classical music was really taking a strong foothold on the Malaysian public. There was the Johann Strauss II miniseries on television in the ‘Dunhill Double’ slot (*yes, there were the days when cigarette companies could legitimately sponsor any ventures they so choose until a ban sometime in mid-1990s) and you can see Johann Strauss aficionados appearing out of nowhere – Yamaha road shows had kids playing the familiar tunes of the ‘Blue Danube’ waltz or the equally compelling ‘Emperor’s Waltz’.

I’m still an ardent supporter of Strauss’ music till now but I believe even back then that the nurturing of interest of classical music when young should include exposure to all types of music- Baroque, modern age, Romantic age, for instance. There are people who often play to the safe side and keep listening to the more popular pieces (such as those examples found in mobile phone ringtones and those in cheap disco parlours) but I think that the Malaysian public was genuinely abuzz with this collection – except my parents.

You see, my folks are the sort of parents who are astute enough to know that listening to these tapes or CDs are a form of education and mind-development, but they questioned the price of the magazines for sure and they were also thinking the same as most other adults of their age – that classical music can be dull and that it’d only be a safe investment if you bought music which the whole world knows even without owning a classical music record all their lives. Plus, they weren’t the sort of parents to invest on something which pre-pubescent teens would discard as soon as interest in them wanes. It would be most unthinkable to spend RM 10 and above on stuff which could prove an unsound investment.

Unperturbed, me and my brother who knows that musical education has been most fulfilling thus far and even strangely exciting would be trying our best to convince my parents to purchase these magazines. We watched as the issues rolled by – Vivaldi (no. 5); Handel etc until Johann Strauss II (no.8) and even then, my parents weren’t the least bit convinced. (Strauss’ music is classified as ‘safe’ and ‘highly-accessible’ by Malaysian standards if you know what I mean)

Then my brother got one copy for his birthday from his high school pals- Grieg (issue no.9) (in September 1993) and that was the turning point. That particular cassette tape was run ragged in the car stereo and finally they gave in. Our first entry in the ambitious collection was marked by the purchase of Beethoven (no.24) for my own birthday gift amongst other back issues (a term for the acquisition of previous issues which are no longer readily available in the market anywhere). Regrettably, we still don’t have the first issue in the collection (Tchaikovsky) and it’s really weird to not have the pioneer issue at all.


==Magazine Format==

about the composer

The magazine is divided into several neat sections –

i.  About the composer – Contains a short introductory biography of the composer. In three pages, you can expect to read about his birthplace, formal musical education and the career-defining moments; finally ending with the causes of death and all other tributes. While generally there was a noticeable lack of citation of these ‘facts’, they are, for the most part, accurate when compared with other biographical notes written by other authors. The occasional embellishment and the odd mistake here and there are forgivable. Interesting period photographs and artworks adorn these pages with musical quotes pertaining to the composer or something in general about music. Some of these quotes are somewhat questionable by themselves but they are mildly informative. A general timeline is also given with important events logged in this compact section. If the composer has been featured before, the other biography would likely be a more insightful detail into a particular epoch of the composer’s career.

ii. Music notes – This section contains a brief history about the music featured in the particular issue. Like the biography section, this section could be open to some debate as to its historical accuracy.

iii. Playing music – This is the section where a simplified/abridged version of one of the featured music is presented. It is often one of the more recognizable tunes of the record provided and is often a one-line tune. These pieces are quite ok for Pre-Grade music students but can be an insult to the intelligence of their advanced counterparts.

iv. Listening to music – As the magazine describes, this part of the volume explains the musical moods in general and ‘tells you exactly what to listen out for’. While there could be a certain degree of subjective opinion here, it can be a valuable addition to the notes. This section includes a small panel called ‘The Magic of Music‘ where the individual composer’s style is documented here – it can be a featured work as earlier issues may suggest but later on it would be a fraction of the composer’s affinity and composition tendencies explained.

v. More music to listen to – Usually, the centre piece featured may be presented in future issues. If the composer’s works are featured for the first time in the collection’s chronology, this section would include a list of the composer’s major and more popular works. If not, it would be a run-down of some rare gems which the music arranger would feel too good to leave out.

vi In the next issue – Not surprisingly, this would be a section where most readers would aim for if the current issue falls below expectations. Incredibly, this would act as an appetite-whetting move in the early stages of the collection’s lifespan as it would encourage selective purchases instead of see-all and buy-all. In my own stance, some composers, such as Josef Haydn, Telemann or another Handel album would be given a miss if the selection is not delectable enough.

'more music to listen to' and 'in the next issue'



part of my CD collection

Format – a) CD – has a beautiful gold-leaf/black label on the CD itself with a motif of a conductor. The programme sheet also has some drawings on it which the cassette version doesn’t. Starting from issue 30 (JS Bach), the same inlay card also has the track listing at the immediately accessible side when opened and the front cover is printed with ‘Original Recordings’ and ‘Digitally Mastered’ together with the SPARS Code ‘DDD’ along the left side.

b) Cassette tape. Touted by its publishers as produced with chrome dioxide tape and presented in the latest slimline cassette case.

Length – at least 60 minutes on the average. Chopin (issue no. 56 is the only one I know so far which clocked in less than this average and there could be more although it is uncommon. The running time may not be a good yardstick as to the quality of its contents.

Recorded sound – on the whole, the sound is quite good. On smaller ensembles performing chamberworks and solo pieces, the recorded clarity really shines but I feel that most recordings lacked the bass. Some issues feature recordings which can be labeled from ‘bad’ to ‘downright abysmal’ e.g. Berlioz (issue no.19); Saint-Saëns (issue no.20); Bruckner (issue no. 45); Weber (issue no. 47); Monteverdi (issue no. 49); Tchaikovsky (no. 58); Schumann (no.60) are the main candidates. These issues had some strange, prevalent hissing and scratchy sound in its recordings which made listening to it a really straining effort with the louder parts sounding like a cluster of bad notes. On the other hand, some orchestras are truly wonderful – the Wiener Volksoper Orchester for the Johann Strauss issues 8 and 32, and the Tchaikovsky ‘Violin Concerto’ issue no. 40 is noteworthy. The publishing house claims that the compact discs and the cassettes have been digitally recorded and mastered but take each issue as they come.

Performance – very subjective. If I were to give a general opinion, then I’d say that most of the works performed on these discs and tapes are actually quite average; nothing special nor outstanding. Some orchestras are sub-par than others and for good reason. *Note that I’m referring to the quality of the orchestras and performers and not whether a musical piece is good to listen to or is just plain sucky. For the given price however, you’d be hard pressed to find other bang for your buck. Particularly good orchestras are the Wiener Volksoper; the Philharmonia Hungarica; the Radio Symphony Orchestra Ljubljana; the South German Philharmonic; the London Philharmonic Orchestra; the Caspar da Salo Quartet; the Czech State Philharmonic; and the Philharmonia Slavonica. Notable performers and conductors are Alfred Scholz; Dubravka Tomšič; Anton Nanut; Peter Schmallfuss; Henry Adolph; Dalibor Brazda; and Libor Pešek. The bad recordings are actually not that pervasive in this collection but they may include Tchaikovsky’s half-hearted ‘Overture 1812’ (issue no. 26) amongst others.

Music selection –  Orbis probably accumulated their cache of musical recordings from various German-speaking record companies such as Deutsche Austrophon; Pilz Media etc. as evidenced by the copyright label on the CDs and tapes. Having said that – Orbis’ musical selection and, to a larger extent, their selection of composers for their issues seem to write themselves from the catalogues available to these record labels. If you’re a collector and have noticed, some issues seem to assuage our concerns that the magazine is going nowhere by promising to feature some works recommended ‘in future issues’. Sometimes, a blatant mistake may have caused Orbis to withdraw from thinking of ever publishing another issue of a selected composer, notably of Johann Strauss II where in issue no.8, the waltz ‘Morning Papers’ op. 279 was wrongly published as ‘Where the Lemons Blossom’ op.364 in track 9. How then, could they hope to republish the actual op.364 (it’s in the DA catalogue) as ‘Morning Papers’? I think that this glaring mistake is one of many in such an extensive collection but it could not be easily covered up. If they hadn’t made the mistake, there could have been another Strauss issue with ‘Vienna Sweets’ waltz op.307; ‘Accelerations’ op. 234 and Josef Strauss’ ‘Village Swallows’ waltz op.164 and the real ‘Where the Lemons Blossom’ featured alongside some other pieces like the ‘Die Fledermaus’ Overture for example.


=Public Reception and other criticisms=

I do think that the Malaysian public really enjoyed the collection when it first came out. You could see that the Indian newsagents were doing a mighty fine trade with this magazine, taking in back orders and being overstocked with these issues back in its heyday in 1994 and 1995. Some young kids even bought this magazine on their own accord far back in 1994 for Smetana (no. 27) or even Ravel (no.29). By my own admission that I was a late starter, I did collect the earliest (no.2 Mozart) and added on many more from the Yamaha school at Kelana Jaya where they had a dedicated set of back issues for sale. The old Mag Store in Carrefour at Subang Jaya also helped in supplementing some vital issues which I found necessary to acquire.

Most bookstores do have a certain degree of back issues in their stock even in 1995 and also in 1998 but you could see that its reception has somewhat dwindled. There were some unexplained delays over getting more stock over from the UK. For example, in August 1995, I was eagerly expecting issue no. 48 (Beethoven) to come out but waited till late December 1995 for it to actually go on sale here. Most news vendors shrugged and said that there were problems with the stockist but that was all they could say. There was also a time when some issues were bumped and then I was dismayed that I’ve missed out on issues 69 to 79 in 1997 because of this erratic distribution. With some effort, I managed to track some back issues such as nos. 63 to 68 and issues 74 and 75 but I was quite dissatisfied that my collection has suffered some setback. The previous Indian newsagent at Asia Jaya before its renovation had many back issues but most of them were of fairly limited scope and its prices weren’t really that attractive for a back issue- I suspect that they have now relocated to nearby Amcorp Mall but I couldn’t find any Classical Collection on sale there. Even worse, towards the end of its distribution life in Malaysia, I suspect that Malaysians didn’t even get to buy issue no. 95 (Weber) and the last ever issue is Liszt (no .94). This is all down to the poor distribution practice adopted by its local distributor which we were informed, was Times Publishing.

You could say that most of the issues featured rarely caught the attention of its once loyal customers and collectors. The glitz of the collection has almost all but ended in issue 24 upwards when the famous Beethoven piece, Fur Elise was featured. That was probably the end of the musical familiarity stage and moving on to composers whom most people even had trouble pronouncing their names. I mean, would anyone be willing to pay RM 11 for Karl Stamitz (issue no. 81) or another Haydn bore fest (no. 83) knowing full well that music has a limited amount of inspired masterworks which truly stood the test of time and fickle audiences to become established as a classic.

For the uninitiated, I still think that classical music is an acquired taste – you may be happy with pop/modern interpretations of classical masterworks but may suffer a culture shock when listening to the same pieces played by a top orchestra. The collection did feature some poignant and monumental pieces towards the end of its lifespan with Schubert’s 9th Symphony (issue no. 89) and Beethoven’s 4th Piano Concerto (issue no. 90) but I think that most people with little classical music interest would be bothered with that. The age demographics have probably moved on to other things and this collection is all but forgotten.

My favourite places to acquire these copies would be these in no particular order:

i. Mag Store (I think that it’s now called something else), Carrefour Subang Jaya [by far, the most copies acquired from, and some valuable back issues order placed through the store owner]

ii. Atria (could be the newsvendor outside at the car park area; Popular Bookstore; or Times Bookshop at Parkson). [I acquired my last ever copies of the Classical Collection from the Parkson outlet which is Times Bookshop. They weren’t selling any new issues at that time which is around June 1998]

iii. MPH (Bangsar; Jaya Supermarket; 1 Utama) [Jaya Supermarket used to have lots of back issues as well]

iv. SBL (SS2) [They were the first ones to even have the special magazine rack shipped in. It was a blue cardboard storage racks which could easily accommodate 2 simultaneously released issues.]

v. Kancilmas (SS2)

vi. Indian shop next to ‘Chow Yang’ (SS2) [Got Debussy no. 53; Haydn no.57 and Tchaikovsky no. 58 there. Can’t recall if there ever was a need to return there for other issues at that time]

vii. Chip Lee (SS2). [Got my last ever new issue here which is Liszt issue 94]

viii. B&L (ex-Asia Jaya.) [Used to have lots of back issues there but nothing before issue 19 and seems to have reached until issues 76 before reaching a dead end]

ix. Times Bookshop (Yaohan; Parkson; old Jaya Jusco store at Taman Tun Dr Ismail) [got issue 32 Johann Strauss II from the last of these venues. Fantastic, I was waiting for it like close to 2 months after the Mahler issue promised its appearance in the following one]

x. Yamaha Music Centre (Kelana Jaya) *did not continue to sell after issue 19 (Berlioz) [attained many of the earlier issues which I’ve missed out on.]

Classical Collection magazines


=Colour Scheme=

The collection is somewhat eye-catching and even so from a distance as it has a distinguished colour scheme for its issues. The colour cycle repeats itself after the 15th colour (issues 15; 30; 45; 60) has the same colour and so forth.

1. Orange

2. Dark Blue

3. Dark Green

4. Blood Red

5. Yellow

6. Sky Blue

7. Pink

8. Light Green

9. Beige

10. Amber

11. Grey

12. Chocolate Brown

13. Dark Red

14. Cream

15. Turquoise


==Complete list of issues==

Part of my magazine collection

*Some featured music could not be fully documented due to space constraints or lack of information due to break in collection sequence (cassette is ^ / CD is # – some issues I have both cassette tape and CD)

1. Tchaikovsky – The Masterpieces (Swan Lake; Piano Concerto no.1 in B flat minor; the Nutcracker Suite)

2. Mozart – Orchestral Legends (‘Eine Kleine Nachtmusik‘; Symphony no. 41 ‘Jupiter’ in C; Horn Concerto no. 1) ^

3. Chopin – Piano Classics (various Chopin favourites – Etude no. 1 ‘Revolutionary’; etc.) #

4. Beethoven – The Great Symphonies (Symphony no. 5 in C minor; Symphony no. 6 ‘Pastoral’ in F)

5. Vivaldi – Celebration of the Baroque (‘The Four Seasons’ and other concerti) ^

6. Handel – Ceremonial Masterpieces (‘Water Music Suites no. 1 and 2′; ‘Music for the Royal Fireworks’) ^

7. Schubert – the Melodic Masterpieces (‘Trout Quintet’; ‘Unfinished Symphony’ no.8) ^

8. Johann Strauss II – the Romance of Vienna (‘Blue Danube’ and other classics) ^

9. Grieg – the Spirit of Norway (‘Piano Concerto in A minor’; Peer Gynt Suite) ^

10. J.S. Bach – Masterpieces of Baroque (‘Toccata and Fugue D minor’; ‘Brandenburg Concerti’ and others) ^

11. Debussy – Poetic Impressions (‘La Mer’; ‘Children’s Corner Suite’; ‘Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun’ and others)

12. Mendelssohn – Melodic Masterpieces (‘Italian Symphony’ no. 4 in A; ‘Wedding March’ from ‘Midsummer’s Night Dream; ‘Violin Concerto in E minor’) ^

13. Dvořák – The Great Symphonies (‘From the New World Symphony’ no. 9 in E minor; Symphony no. 8 in G) ^

14. Verdi – Operatic Masterpieces (Highlights from ‘Aida‘; ‘La Traviata’; ‘Rigoletto‘; and others) ^

15. Schumann – Romantic Legends (Rhenish Symphony no. 3 in E flat; Piano Concerto in A minor; ‘Träumerei‘) ^

16. Haydn – Classical Masterpieces (Trumpet Concerto in E flat; ‘Surprise’ Symphony no. 94 in G; ‘Emperor Quartet’ no.3 in C) ^

17. Bizet – Orchestral Classics (Highlights from ‘Carmen‘; ‘L’Arlesienne Suites nos. 1 and 2) ^

18. Liszt – Romantic Masterpieces (Piano Concerto no.1; and others)

19. Berlioz – Romantic Classics (‘Rêverie et caprice‘; ‘Symphonie Fantastique’) ^ #

20. Saint-Saëns – Orchestral Legends (‘Carnival of the Animals’; Organ Symphony no.3; and others) #

21. Mozart – Melodic Masterpieces (Symphony no. 40 in G Minor and others)

22. Brahms – Orchestral Masterpieces (‘Hungarian Dances’ selection; Piano Concerto no. 1 in D minor) ^ #

23. Gershwin – Modern Masterpieces (Piano Concerto in F; Rhapsody in Blue; and others)

24. Beethoven – Melodic Masterpieces (‘Emperor’ Piano Concerto no. 5; ‘Moonlight Sonata’ and others) ^ #

25. Rimsky-Kosakov – Orchestral Masterpieces (‘Scheherazade‘; ‘Mlada‘ Suite; ‘Flight of the Bumblebee’) ^ #

26. Tchaikovsky – Romantic Legends (Symphony no. 6 ‘Pathetique’; ‘1812 Overture’)

27. Smetana – Spirit of Bohemia (‘Má Vlast’ excerpts; highlights from ‘the Bartered Bride’; Overture from ‘Libuše‘) #

28. Chopin – Romantic Classics (Piano Concerto no.1 in E minor; and others)

29. Ravel – Dramatic Masterpieces (‘Boléro; ‘Valses nobles et sentimentales’; and others)

30. J.S. Bach – Baroque Masterpieces (‘Well-Tempered Clavier’; Trio Sonata for Organ; selection from ‘Brandenburg’ concertos)

31. Mahler – the Great Symphonies (Symphony no.5 in C sharp minor) ^

32. J. Strauss II – the Romance of Vienna (‘Vienna Blood’ and other classics) ^ #

33. Rossini – Great Overtures (Overtures from ‘The Barber of Seville‘; ‘William Tell’ and others) ^

34. Mozart – Melodic Masterpieces (Clarinet Concerto in A; ‘Paris’ Symphony no. 31 in D; Horn Concerto no. 4 in E flat) ^

35. Telemann – Baroque Masterpieces (‘Tafelmusik’ and other concerti with basso continuo) ^

36. Beethoven – Melodic Masterpieces (‘Eroica’ Symphony no.3 in E flat; Leonore Overture no. 3) ^

37. Wagner – Operatic Masterpieces (highlights from ‘Lohengrin‘; ‘Tannhäuser’; and others) ^

38. Haydn – Symphonic Masterpieces (Symphonies no. 6 ‘Morning’; no. 7 ‘Noon’; no. 8 ‘Evening’) ^

39. Franck – Symphonic Variations (‘Symphonic Variations’; Symphony in D minor; and others) ^ #

40. Tchaikovsky – Orchestral Masterpieces (Violin Concerto in D; Serenade for Strings in C) ^

41. C.P.E Bach – Baroque Masterpieces (various chamberworks) ^

42. Schubert – Romantic Masterpieces (Symphony no. 4 ‘Tragic’ in C minor; Impromptus; Moments Musicaux) ^ #

43. Paganini – Instrumental Classics (Violin Concerto no.1 in D; others) ^

44. Handel – Instrumental Masterpieces (various Concerti Grossi) ^

45. Bruckner – Great Symphonies (Symphony no. 4 ‘Romantic’ in E flat) ^ #

46. Vivaldi – Harmonic Inspirations (‘L’estro Armonico’ concerti) ^

47. Weber – Romantic Masterpieces (Clarinet Concerto no.2 in E flat; Symphony no. 1 in C; Overtures ‘Oberon‘ and ‘Euryanthe‘ etc) ^ #

48. Beethoven – Romantic Legends (Violin Concerto in D; ‘Waldstein’ Sonata in C) ^ #

49. Monteverdi – Vocal Masterpieces (Madrigals of Love and War) #

50. Mendelssohn – Melodic Masterpieces (Overture to ‘Das Heimkehr aus der Fremde’; Symphony no.3 ‘Scottish’; etc) #

51. Scarlatti – Instrumental Masterpieces (various Sonatas for piano) #

52. Brahms – Symphonic Masterpieces (Variations on a Theme by Haydn; Symphony no. 2 in D; Waltz; Intermezzo no.1) #

53. Debussy – Poetic Impressions (Images for Piano; Images for Orchestra ‘Iberia’; ‘Estampes‘ (Pagodes); String Quartet in G minor) #

54. Mozart – Great Concertos (Piano Concerto no.23 in A; Piano Concerto no. 20 in D minor; Overture ‘Magic Flute’) ^ #

55. Dvořák – Orchestral Masterpieces (Serenade for Strings in E; selection from ‘Slavonic Dances‘) #

56. Chopin – Romantic Masterpieces (Piano Concerto no.2 in F minor; selection of ‘Impromptus’; Nocturne in A flat) ^ #

57. Haydn – Classical Masterpieces (selection of String Quartets; Symphony no. 101 ‘The Clock’; and others) #

58. Tchaikovsky – Great Symphonies (Symphony no.4 in F minor; Overture ‘Romeo & Juliet’; The Seasons ‘Barcarolle’) #

59. Beethoven – Romantic Masterpieces (Piano Concerto no.3 in C minor and others)

60. Schumann – Romantic Legends (Overture ‘Hermann und Dorothea’; Symphony no.4 in D minor; and others) #

61. Liszt – Romantic Masterpieces (Mephisto Waltz no.1; selection from ‘Hungarian Rhapsodies’) #

62. Handel – Baroque Masterpieces (‘Arrival of the Queen of Sheba’; and others) #

63. Schubert – Instrumental Masterpieces (String Quartet no.14 in D minor; ‘Wanderer’ Fantasy for piano) ^

64. Brahms – Great Masterpieces (‘Tragic’ Overture; Piano Concerto no.2 in B flat) ^

65. J.S. Bach – Great Concertos (Double Violin Concerto and others) #

66. Mozart – Classical Landmarks (Violin Concerto no.5 in A; Symphony no. 38 in D ‘Prague’; and others) #

67. Haydn – Classical Masterpieces (Symphony no.100 in G ‘Military’; and others) #

68. Chopin – Romantic Genius (selection from ‘Nocturnes’; ‘Waltzes’ and others) #

69. Vivaldi – Instrumental Maestro (Mandolin Concerto and others)

70. Tchaikovsky – Orchestral Masterworks (Symphony no.5 in E minor; Capriccio Italien; and others )

71. Debussy – Poetic Impressions (Ballet music ‘Jeux’; and others)

72. Dvořák – Romantic Masterpieces (Cello Concerto in B minor and others)

73. Handel – Instrumental Masterpieces (Organ Concerto no.1; Concerto Grosso in A; and others)

74. Schubert – Romantic Masterpieces (Symphony no.5 in B flat; selection of songs; Arpeggione Sonata in A minor) #

75. Mahler – Symphonic Masterpieces (Symphony no. 1 in D ‘Titan’; extracts from Symphony no.6 in A minor) #

76. Boccherini – Courtly Classics (Menuet and others)

77. Bruckner – A Symphonic Masterpiece (Symphony no.5 in B flat)

78. Mozart – A Musical Feast (Piano Concerto no. 26 in D ‘Coronation’; Overtures ‘Marriage of Figaro’ and ‘Abduction from the Seraglio’; and others )

79. Telemann – Lyrical Masterpieces (Strings and basso continuo ‘Lyra’; Table Music) #

80. Schumann – Romantic Masterpieces (Cello Concerto in A minor; selection from Scenes from Childhood; Symphony no. 1 ‘Spring’) #

81. Stamitz – Classical Masterpieces – (Clarinet and Bassoon Double Concerto; and others) #

82. Haydn – Classical Masterworks (Flute and Oboe Concerto; and others)

83. Beethoven – Symphonic Landmarks (Symphony no. 7 in A; Symphony no. 8 in F) #

84. Vivaldi – Baroque Masterworks (Flute Concerto; and others) #

85. Rachmaninov – Concert Classics (Piano Concerto no.3 in D minor; Symphony no.3 in A minor) #

86. Wagner – A Musical Pageant (Overtures to ‘Rienzi‘; ‘Das Liebesverbot’; Prelude to ‘Parsifal’; and others) #

87. J.S. Bach – Solo Masterworks (‘Goldberg’ Variations; and others)

88. Mozart – Classical Splendours (Piano Concerto no. 9 in E flat; Symphony no.36 in C ‘Linz’)

89. Schubert – Instrumental Glories (String Quartet in C minor ‘Quartettsatz’; Symphony no. 9 in C ‘The Great’) #

90. Beethoven – Poetry and Passion (Piano Concerto no. 4 in G; Piano Sonata no. 8 in C minor ‘Pathetique’; Violin Romances in F; Violin Romance in G) #

91. Bizet – Sparkling Masterpieces (Agnus Dei; extracts from ‘Carmen’; Symphony in C; Petite Suite for Orchestra) #

92. Reger – Inspired Chamberworks (Cello Suite no.1; and others) #

93. Brahms – Pathos and Fire (Violin Concerto in D; selection from ‘Hungarian Dances’)

94. Liszt – Poetic Masterworks (Waldesrauschen; ‘Gnomenreigen’; ‘Les Préludes’; ‘Tasso’; ‘Funerailles‘) #

95. Weber – Virtuoso Lyricism (Overture ‘Abu Hassan’; Clarinet Concerto no.1 in F minor; Clarinet Quintet; and others)

96. Mahler – Symphonic Poetry (Symphony no. 4 in G; extract from ‘Das Lied von der Erde’)

97. Dvořák – Melodic Masterworks (Symphony no. 5 in F; String Quartet no. 12 in F ‘American’)

98. Handel – Baroque Treasures (Concerto Grosso in G; Concerto Grosso in F; E and A)

99. Verdi – Vocal Highlights (N/A)

100. Romantic Chamber Music (N/A)

101. Golden Age of French Opera (N/A)

102. The Spirit of Russia (N/A)

103. Glories of the Italian Baroque (N/A)

104. The Rise of Romanticism (N/A)

105. The Genius of Italian Opera (N/A)
+ 3 special Christmas issues: –

i. Christmas 1 – A Celebration in Music (selection of Christmas Carols; Josef Bayer – The Fairy Doll Ballet Suite; Charles Gounod – Ave Maria; Tomasso Albinoni – Concerto in B flat; Wolfgang Mozart – Vesperae Solennes de Confessore K 339; Arcangelo Corelli – Concerto Grosso in G minor ‘Christmas’ op .6 no.8)

ii. Christmas 2 – ??? (selection of Christmas Carols; Johann Strauss I – Radetzky March; and others)
iii. Christmas 3 – ??? (N/A)

*Note (I don’t think that Malaysia ever received the Christmas 2 issue as when the time came to anticipate it, the old Christmas 1 issue made its way into stores again. Needless to say, Malaysia never even knew what was in Christmas 3 either.)



No collection is complete without binders to preserve its magazines. The publishers issued 2 types of these binders – the standard and the luxurious one. I’ve seen the standard binder on sale before but not the more expensive one. Neither looked impressive for me to warrant a purchase.


= Current Availability=

As you know, these magazines were distributed in a number of Commonwealth countries, such as Singapore; South Africa; New Zealand; Australia and Malaysia. It’d be an understatement to claim that the demand emanating from these countries for back issues would be few as it’s not only a very outdated collection but also targeted a limited worldwide audience.

If that is so, do try ebay or other bidding websites. Their prices are quite competitive and I think that it’s fair that you should pay somewhat more for something precious and as a part of an extensive collection. Unfortunately, the Classical Collection items sold over ebay has also quite dwindled and you’d really have to try your luck and besides, most of them are not exactly interesting stuff such as another Baroque collection or another Telemann album (ugh).

Another alternative – try asking your friends or your friends’ friends. Many of my pals did pick up a copy or two without really committing to serious collecting during its heyday. They may have just the copies you require. If your negotiation skills are good enough, you may be lucky enough to acquire the odd issue or two which you think you may need from someone’s house which you’ve just visited. They may even thank you for clearing their store-room for them. Just don’t expect their CDs/tapes to be in near perfect condition after so many years or that their books are not chewed on by their dogs or cats. By the way, also look out for the fungus on tapes – they’re really useless if it ever came to that stage and that’s why I thought that collecting CDs late in its circulation was ideal for album preservation despite the attractive slimline cassette case and the high-quality chrome dioxide tape.

If you’re not so fussy, there are a host of fancy imitators which have tried to emulate the collection (without the magazine of course) but these discs are legitimate copies published under a different cover but has the same performers and even music arrangements. In Malaysia, try Victoria Music Centre at Amcorp Mall or their Damansara Jaya branch for these rarities. I can’t promise anything but I’ve picked up a redesigned cover of Handel’s issue no. 6 and the Johann Strauss issue no.8 as of August 1997 – all with the exact same music selection and performers but no book. In the UK, I found a second-hand store which do not sell the Classical Collection but sold the same recordings released by the record studio. It’s easy to spot them – they have the same conductors like Anton Nanut or Alfred Scholz and also have the same orchestras like the Philharmonia Slavonica or the Wiener Volksoper Orchester. These CDs were released under the label of ‘forum’ without the capital letter.

I won’t hold my breath on the next suggestion, but I’d also try out second hand magazine stores which handles lots of old magazines. I haven’t encountered any such stores but hey, you never know.

If none of these work, try setting up a petition to the publishers and see what comes off it. I think that a good deal of collectors would still love to acquire more of these, especially those who missed out on the earlier issues when it was quite hot property.


* The collection could have been a lot more extensive – Brahms was missing his 1st; 3rd and 4th Symphonies; Beethoven had his Symphony no. 2 in D listed in the Deutsche Austrophon catalogue and there’s even no Symphony no. 9 at all! Mozart has many more works which deserve a run-in; and many more composers such as Gabriel Fauré; Franz Lehár etc. has an interesting body of work attributed to the aforementioned catalogue but did not even have issues dedicated to them.

I think that the last 6 issues or so are rehash of some finer works which couldn’t fill up enough of CD/tape space for one composer alone – so it has to be a potpourri of them. By issue 100, I also believe that the editors have thought of calling it a day and decide to end the venture in issue 105. The public interest in these magazines have probably fallen so low that the supply of cassettes/CDs far outweigh the sales and many more back issues would find their way back to the warehouses.

As you’ll notice, the selection of works aren’t too bad even in the 70s to the 90s but there are far too little “killer songs” to revive the interest. It may even be probable that the inclusion of so many mediocre-rated to poor stuff such as the Telemann works and the boring Haydn concertos added to the decline as did the perpetual Concerto Grosso of Handel and Vivaldi. Even I can’t tell the goddamn difference between Baroque composers and more so of their lesser-known pieces, so I thought that they should’ve done away with that overload of flute and cello chamberworks unless the publishers were thinking of introducing the Classical Collection as a sleep-inducing collection.

I admit that I really disliked the following issues – 41, 44, 62, 79 and 92 because I really think that some chamberworks are really just plain unimaginative and insulting to the pleasure-craving mind. Some Baroque exposure at the beginning was great as in issues 5, 6 and 10 but I feel that the last issues were really going overboard with their flat as pancake Baroque instrumentation and melody. I’d have a wishlist of my own but I think that I’d really only like around 10 or so cover-up acquisitions instead of aiming to complete the collection as I do think that the series, which began brilliantly, got really sloppy towards the end.

For the most part, the Classical Collection is a pleasurable read and its CDs or tapes are good enough for a trip down memory lane on any good sound machine. The write-up and the pictures are often colourful and witty and the editors really outdo themselves in some issues, such as but not limited to, the no. 52; no. 53; no. 68, no. 83 and no. 90 with the perfect blend of visuals and text to describe the moods of the pieces featured. Some efforts were clearly slipshod work like the recycling of materials on a stretch of a few issues and many historical inaccuracies are easily discovered. If you can get past these and some more obvious embellishment for dramatic effect, then this is a magnificent partwork.

I’m quite sure that there won’t be any reissue of this collection in the foreseeable future, but wouldn’t mind restarting collection if it does. My final acquired issue stands at issue no. 83; 84 and 87 collectively and not issue 94 – although it was the final issue to be sold in Malaysia. As of September 1997, no newsagents in Malaysia carry even a hint of a back issue any longer.


A simplistic abridged version of the 'Blue Danube'

In closing, I do think that everyone involved in the pre and post-production stage of this magazine collection was genuinely enthusiastic about making this collection an unqualified success, at least at the beginning. Somewhere along the way, the selection of music appeared to have stagnated on some reason only known to the publisher – there simply wasn’t a great deal of interesting music/composers featured.

The fact that Malaysia only started to receive copies of the magazine in mid-1993 speaks as much as the publishers’ intention that this country be the dumping ground for something which they feel has bumped into a stumbling block somewhere along the way. I believe that when Malaysians started on the 1st issue, the publishers were already busy with the Schumann or the Haydn issues in 15 and 16 respectively. There are many exciting projects underway but I do feel that the disparity between the distribution practice in both Malaysia and in the UK led to some inexplicable delays which may have dulled the anticipation for this magazine. If there was any enthusiast eagerly checking out bookstores in an almost fanatical display of loyalty, that would be me and I find it insulting that some issues simply escaped being issued in Malaysia.

I wouldn’t think that most people are drawn towards these sort of music collections in this day and age. The BBC Music magazine in Malaysia which features music performed by the BBC Orchestra was severely overpriced in Malaysia and I’ve never seen any more issues being sold here as of early 1997. Much earlier, Marshall-Cavendish’s ‘The Great Composers’ series were also sold locally. Soon, the magazines got separated from the CDs and the tapes and newsvendors took liberty to cash in on a wasted investment by selling it separately, something which most magazine publishers have expressly disclaimed in the contrary. So, you could see stacks of these CDs in one corner of the shop together with The Classical Collection and Orbis Publishing’s other works such as the Musicals Collection and the Blues Collection. Their target audience are simply not the sort of demographics who would mind spending close to RM11 for something mass-produced and may contain second rate recordings. It didn’t help that most newsagents simply dumped these magazines like a pile of cheap broadsheets or the Chinese gossip tabloids.

Having said that – the Classical Collection was and probably still is, a useful learning tool for classical music education for all. If not for this Collection, I won’t know if my interest in classical music would have achieved the heights it did and helped me sustain interest to even perform music in public. This much, I owe to the Classical Collection. I know it may sound funny, but having collected the magazine for years in 1994 to 1996, my mind would automatically scan around the store interiors for this magazine and for new issues and would curse the old issue still sitting idle there.

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112 Responses to The Classical Collection – Orbis (De Agostini Group)

  1. John says:

    Nice commentary on what is currently taking up way too much space on my iPod! I never received the Christmas II and Christmas III CDs so maybe it wasn’t just Malaysia. If you ever come across them, please let me know – I would love to complete my collection 🙂

  2. Freddie says:

    Hi I have the Classical Collection but I am missing vol 31 + cd (Mahler Thr Great Symphonies) Symphony No. 5 in C sharp Minor, can anyone help me to buy it? Thanks

  3. Craig says:

    I have Tchaikovsky… in fact, that’s all I have. Can I scan it in to email for you?

  4. Esther Liew says:


    Actually I am interested in Classical Music.I am also from Malaysia. It is so hard to get all these collections I love to read biographies of the composers like Beethoven and Mozart,Haydn,Vivaldi,Bach and Many more is just that I can’t get the complete set. In Cheras Leisure Mall Actually I saw they are selling these magazines which is second hand and still in good conditions except that there is no CD or Cassettes. For one magazine is only RM 3.90. I bought a lot about 33 of them is just the magazines, I felt it enjoying. I love reading and also music. I am also a law student and I found out that Tchaikovsky studied law and he left law just to pursue his music career. Anyway I actually have negotiated because I bought a lot ,so is only RM 3.00 for each magazine and is RM 99.00 but not a complete set.I manage to get Issue 1-10 and 33-48.

    • Esther Liew says:

      Sorry is Issues 1-17 and 33-48. I really hope to collect all of them.Even if there are no CD’s or cassettes.

      • arthuroon says:

        Hi Esther,

        Wow, 33 magazines would be really heavy! Yea, won’t be surprised to see some of these old issues cropping up long after its apparent demise. Good to know that you have acquired a fair bit of these mags as the editors were quite good in their narration and choice of visuals. Did that shop where you bought these stock the later issues that you might want?

        It’s going to be quite a challenge to acquire all of these mags at this point of time. I was looking at ebay uk just the other day and saw quite a number of Classical Collection CDs for sale. You may want to check it out but be prepared to hunt long and hard for the ones that you would really like to acquire. Some sellers also prefer Paypal which Malaysia doesn’t see fit to adopt yet. Otherwise, the price of £3.00 (or whatever the seller intends to sell at) is a bargain IMO.

        It may be possible to submit a petition to De Agostini to reissue this series but fiscally, it would be rather poor piece of business – not many ppl listen to classical music these days and those who do are either listening to better quality performances recorded by Deutsche Grammophon or EMI Classics etc.

  5. Mike Harrison says:

    I purchased Disc No 1 Tchaikovsky from my local Value Village thrift store. Wasn’t aware it was such a huge collection. Interesting page:) Thanks.

  6. Steve Woolley says:

    I must congratulate you on your brilliant site. It is the most informative website I have found for this CD collection. I bought the complete collection by subscription during 1993-1996 here in the UK and have been labouriously trying to rip and catalogue my collection to my PC and Hard drives. Thanks to your site I have finally completed this task.
    Now that my collection is safely stored, I am looking to sell my collection of 105 + Christmas (106) CD’s complete with all magazines stored in 7 Standard Binders (Maroon with Gold lettering) and wondered if any of your readers would be interested. I can provide photos and an excel spreadsheet with complete track listings (based on the listing on this page). I am prepared to sell for around GBP 100 plus carriage if anyone is interested.
    Once again, thank you for your great site.

    • arthuroon says:

      Hey, Steve.

      Many thanks for dropping by.

      That looks like a great offer and I second your proposal to commit the entire collection into a catalog. There are a fair bit of people visiting this page as well though most are quite shy to post a comment. Regardless, once your entire documentation is complete, just drop a note here and someone would respond. By then, you may want to consider charging extra for your additional hours committed! : )

      • Steve Woolley says:

        Would you like me to email my Excel Spreadsheet containing full track details for the collection? It is 17.2MB. Maybe you could include it (or a link to it) on your webpage if you’ve got room? Failing that, if anyone would like to email me at I’d be happy to email it to them.

      • arthuroon says:


        Thanks, I’ve already uploaded your latest comment and visitors should be able to email you their request for the Spreadsheet which you’ve prepared. By way of compliment, I’d appreciate if you could mail me a copy at ‘’.

        Thanks again.

    • Robert Smith says:

      Hi there
      I saw that u had the complete collection, and would be grateful if you could contact me to arrange a deal of some sort, as I am extremely interested in obtaining the christmas edition you have, at the very least.
      Many thanks

      I just found this site and like it already, nice work guys.

      • Steve Woolley says:

        Hi Bob,
        Here are the details of the Xmas CD I have. If you would like to contact me on we could discuss things further, Steve
        Classical Collection #106 Christmas – a celebration in music
        1992 Tracks: 12 Total time: 64:17 Disc-ID: classical / a10f180c
        1. O Come, All Ye Faithful [arr.S. Benson] 1:58
        2. Once In Royal David’s City [arr. chorale] 2:51
        3. Ding Dong! Merrily On High [arr. D. Mercer] 1:33
        4. Away In A Manger [arr. chorale] 2:18
        5. Joseph Bayer, 1852-1913 / Ballet Suite from The Fairy Doll 14:46
        6. Ave Maria 3:07
        7. Concerto In B Flat 3:31
        8. Vesperae Solennes De Confessore K339 12:55
        9. Concerto Gross Op. 6, No. 8 in G Minor 15:38
        10. ‘Hail Thee, Gracious Jesus’ for organ 1:12
        11. The First Noel 1:44
        12. Silent Night 2:44

    • steve brace says:

      Yes, I would be interested in purchasing them. I am based in Yorkshire in the UK and have most of the CDs but the magazines got damaged in flood and i am looking for replacement copies. Cheers

      • Steve Woolley says:

        Hi Steve,
        Sorry for my delay in replying, but I am recovering from an eye operation.
        I would certainly be willing to sell the COMPLETE collection for 100 GBP plus carriage (this could be quite a lot as there’s a lot of weight involved), but I believe this is a fair price compared to others I’ve seen on this site and the web. I live in Reigate, Surrey, so it may be cheaper for you to collect. If you are seriously considering my offer, please email me at and we can discuss this further.
        Best regards, Steve.

  7. Mick Taylor says:

    I have almost all the collection apart from 3,11,12,13,29,48,68,71,79. I do have 2 of the Christmas CDs you refer to. Can anyone tell me where I could get the missing CDs?

    • Robert Smith says:

      not sure where u could get the rest from but would be interested in obtaining a christmas CD if u interested in parting with one? I am looking for the first christmas CD brought out with charles gounod playing Ave Maria by JS bach

      Please reply if you would be interested in the sale of this item.
      Many thanks


  8. Graham Brookes says:

    I’m looking for issue 105 ‘The Genius of Italian Opera’ and Christmas 1 and 2 published in the UK as Christmas ’92 and Christmas ’93.
    I note in Sep 2010, that someone in Perth is selling the complete issues 1 to 104 for £75 through the website
    Christmas 3 published in the UK as Christmas ’94 is entitled ‘Music for the Festive Season’ and contains I Saw Three Ships, the Holly and the Ivy, O Little Town of Bethlehem, Champagne Polka (Op 211), Viennese BonBons (Op 37), Overture from the Merry Wives of Windsor, Overture from Poet and Peasant, Hallelujah Chorus form Mesiah and extracts from Mozart’s Requiem.

    • arthuroon says:

      Hi Graham, thanks for the updates.

      I saw Partworks UK – ‘’ having the following (as of 21 December 2010)-

      (a) Issue 105 – Magazine + cassette but no CD;
      (b) Xmas 1 – Magazine + CD + cassette; and
      (c) Xmas 2 – Magazine but no CD/cassette

      Besides this site, I’ve no idea where else to get them, short of going to ebay uk where I found quite a good number of CDs available.

      nice to know what was in Christmas 3 – cheers

  9. jim simpson says:

    I have access to these magasines….let me know if you require any!

  10. Jim Simpson says:

    let me know if you want any of these mags as I may have access to the full collection!

  11. Andrew says:

    Hi John

    Am interested in some of the mags. Maybe we can communicate?

  12. Mick Taylor says:

    I now have copies of all the cd’s except No. 27 . Smetana – Spirit of Bohemia (‘Má Vlast’ excerpts; highlights from ‘the Bartered Bride’; Overture from ‘Libuše‘)

    Anyone out there know where I can get this CD or would be willing to lend it to me to copy?

    • Daniel says:


      I have the complete set from no’s 1 tot 105 with the magazines all in leather type folders. Never been used still all brand new. I now want to sell the complete set if you should know of someone who might be interested. Furthermore I am willing to forward you a copy of no 27 via email or similar ? Only with pleasure. Please advise

      • James Matthews says:

        I may be interested in purchasing the collection if the price is right. What would you sell them for?


  13. Paul Yeoman says:

    I have the full collection of CD’s as well as magazines complete with binders. I could lend you CD 27 Mick if you want.

    Paul Yeoman

  14. Mick Taylor says:

    That would be fantastic! Could you email me your contact details to


  15. Paul Yeoman says:

    I’ve sent a reply Mick.


  16. Paul Yeoman says:

    I have three Christmas CD’s

    1992 Christmas – A Celebration in music
    1993 Christmas -A Seasonal celebration
    1994 Christmas – Music for the festive season

    • Mick Taylor says:


      Didn’t see your post about the Christmas CDs.

      I have not got the Christmas 3 CD. To save money, could you possibly email me a file of the CD and scan the covers etc rather than go the the time and trouble of actually sending me a copy?

      Again, many thanks for the CD 27.

      Mick Taylor

  17. Paul Yeoman says:

    Hi Mick – Sorry for delay in replying. When you ask for file of the CD, do you mean a rip of the disk? This would be about 60-100 Mb in Mp3 form, I can certainly scan the disk as per the last one I did for you, and send them off. Just let me know via my email address.


  18. Mike Bell says:

    Complete collection of 105 mint CD’s and all magazines in 7 luxury binders. All items shelved, cared for and in pristine condition. £200 + shipping cost.

  19. Brennan Fisher says:

    Does anyone know details of the artwork that was used for the various covers or where it can be found – there are no details on the inlay card. Don’t tell me it’s in the magazines, please, I don’t have them!

    • Steve Woolley says:

      I have scanned images of all the front covers (.jpg files) and would willingly send you copies if you contact me on

    • Steve Woolley says:

      Hi Brennan,
      You have raised a good topic – and the simple answer is no, there are no credits either on the CD inlay nor in the magazines that relate to the artwork used. There is a mention in the magazines, showing the full picture, but the comments are restricted to a brief description of what the picture shows and how it relates to the music or the composer – no actual details of the artist or title of the picture. I must admit, my findings are based on a “spot check” of several albums, so may not be a conclusive answer.
      Sorry, back to the drawing board – I’m a little dissapointed as I could have included the artwork details in my spreadsheet – never mind!

  20. Hannelie Joubert says:

    Dear All,
    I am looking for only 5 issues to complete my magazine collection.
    Numbers: 44( Handel), 87(Bach), 88(Mozart), 99(Verdi), and 100(Romantic chamber music).
    Unfortunately I gave up to get hold of all the CDs as well, so I would realy appreciate anybodies help with the 5 magazines.
    I also have a few doubles of a few issues if I could help anybody.
    Thanks, Hannelie

    • Steve Woolley says:

      Hi Hannelie,
      How is your search for back issues going? If you cannot get any response from this wonderful site, as a last resort and if money is no barrier, you could try
      I have just checked and they seem to have stock as follows:
      44: Handel – magazine @ £2.20 (3 in stock); CD @ £3.60 (4 in stock)
      87: J S Bach – magazine @ £2.20 (2 in stock); CD @ £3.60 (3 in stock)
      88: Mozart – magazine @ £2.20 (3 in stock); CD @ £3.80 (1 in stock)
      99: Verdi OUT OF STOCK
      100: Romantic Chamber Music – magazine OUT OF STOCK; CD @ £5.40 (1 in stock)
      There are probably Post and Packaging charges on top of these prices.
      If all else fails please contact me at as I may (as a second best alternative) be prepared to scan the Magazines you need as .pdf files (you could then print them at your leisure) and send you copies of the discs as you only need 5 – this would be very time consuming, but I would be glad to help if all else fails

  21. Ian Osborn says:

    A delightful site with plenty of information. As all the cover artworks were missing, the scans provided by Steve Woolley (above) are very useful especially with the meticulous track listing supplied by him as a spreadsheet. Good to see people with such enthusiasm this long after the release. Does this type of collectable periodical still have a place when gigabytes of stuff is now available at the click of a button?

    • arthuroon says:

      Thanks, Ian.

      I’d also like to commend Steve for his work, which is useful for those who have missed out on certain issues.

      It’s difficult to gauge the current interest level in this magazine, but personally, I’d be quite happy to catch up on all the issues which I’ve missed out on. I’m certain Hannelie would also be interested to acquire the final few copies needed to complete the entire collection.

      • Steve Woolley says:

        Hi Arthur, In response to the comments above, I tried to contact D’Agostini (who took over the Orbis Collection) at back in June, asking if they could supply back copies or if there were any plans to re-issue the Classical Collection. To date I have not had the courtesy of a reply or even an acknowledgement of my request.

      • arthuroon says:

        Hi Steve, apologies for the late reply – have you received any answer from De Agostini? I was actually thinking of setting up a petition so that they may be convinced to re-issue the Classical Collection.

        I’m certain that they are the correct people to ask as their website proclaimed that they are the owners of rights to over 350 CDs worth of music – (of which I’m certain that at least 105 CDs belong to the Classical Collection).

      • Steve Woolley says:

        Hi Artur,
        Just a quick update to let you know that a second request via their site has failed to gain any response from De Agostini! I had reason to have complaint about Orbis customer support when I was buying the collection – it seems 10 times worse since De Agostini have taken them over. At least Orbis used to respond.
        On a more positive note, due to the increasing requests for my Excel Spreadsheet (now updated with artwork) and scanned images, I have started to create my own website with a dedicated Classical Collection page where your readers can freely download whatever they need. I have also included several links to this brilliant site. My site is still in the early stages of construction, but please bear with me.
        My best regards to you and your readers, I am happy to help in whatever way I can.
        Steve Woolley

      • arthuroon says:

        Hello, Steve.

        I’ve dropped by your website – many thanks for providing links to this site! I’ve also taken time to browse thru your son’s paintings and agree that he is very talented.

        I suppose we could work on a petition to De Agostini so that they would consider to reissue the collection. After all, it may be helpful if they have an approximate idea as to the current interest level in the magazine. Please let me have your view on this.

        Thanks and take care.


  22. Gavin says:

    Cheers Steve
    A fascinating insight, with comprehensive and solid detail
    Thank you so much for passing me over CD#3, Chopin Piano Classics, my favourite Classical CD of all time, now reinstated in time for my desert island discs CD for my 40th birthday

  23. David says:

    Hi, This seems like the only place on the web for the info on this collection! 🙂
    For particular attention of Steve Woolley – I would also love the scanned cover artwork. If I send you an email any chance of acquiring them? Also, you don’t happen to have also scanned the inner info and back have you!? (don’t get if you don’t ask! :-)).
    Great work…

    • Steve Woolley says:

      Hi David, I have created a folder containing all 106 front cover images of The Classical Collection – I have not, unfortunately scanned the inlays as you requested – maybe I’ll consider that project at a later date.. Also I can include my spreadsheet which contains the complete tracklisting for the whole collection. I hope this will help you. However, I cannot attach the folder to an email as it is too large. I am willing however to put it on to a Data CD and post it to you (at no charge) if you would let me have your address and postcode by return. Please contact me at

  24. David L says:

    Hello all,

    It is with fascination I have stumbled over this site, as I am coming to the end of converting my own collection to MP3s in the hope I will listen to them, as they have been in storage for years now given their size.

    I was a paperboy in the early/mid 1990’s and stumbled over it delivering them. I collected up to 96, plus two Xmas editions. I am missing 68. Chopin – Romantic Genius, and 85. Rachmaninov – Concert Classics. I’m also missing the few I stopped bothering to collect (girls were more interesting then).

    I’ve spent a week on and off ripping the damn things, including 30 odd a second time after they were ripped at the wrong bit rate without me realising! I would be really interested in getting hold of the covers and that spreadsheet – Maybe I could go the whole hog and scan the inlays I have and do a swap?


    David L

  25. Jerry Tng says:

    Interested to buy the entire collection (CD+Mag), shipping to Singapore. Please quote

    Jerry Tng

    • Hi Jerry
      Thanks for your interest in my collection. I have made some interim enqiries online and the shipping costs for Door to Door (home delivery) by sea, for 3 book boxes would be in the region of GBP100 and would take about 70 days, which is a lot of money! This would be on top of the price of the collection making GBP200 in total. Mind you, the initial cost of the set was over GBP560 once I’d added the Binders, so I suppose it isn’t a bad price. If after this preliminary quote you are still interested, please contact me by email at or via my new website (under construction) at where you can download my Classical Collection Excel Spreadsheet which gives full details of the collection, and we can discuss things in more detail. I can supply you with photos of the collection if it would help you.

  26. Hi everyone. Im interested in this collection and found some intersting facts. Look at this link:
    It seems that in Germany the classical collection has 120 issues!! and the last issue is some sort of index.

    • arthuroon says:


      Yea, I noticed the German edition added Gluck, Puccini, Hummel, Johann Christian Bach, Mussorgsky, Donizetti, Palestrina, Bellini, Richard Strauss, Prokofiev and Sibelius to the stable of existing composers in the Collection.

      In other pictures of ‘Die Klassik Sammlung’ (especially the front page of the magazines), I noticed that the present ‘DeAgostini’ logo has replaced the familiar Orbis one. Well, for those who have missed out on the Commonwealth edition (i.e. the original Orbis run) maybe there’s hope yet that DeAgostini would reissue the entire new collection of 120 issues. There’s certainly a market for these magazines, especially from the hits that this site is receiving.

      • Yes, I would gladly buy the complete collection if they re released it. The best would be if they released the english collection and included the missing issues that the german collection have. So that we got all 120. Im from Sweden and here they only released 52 issues. They cancelled the series cause of lack of interest. Too bad cause i really enjoyed the series and was hoping to get the entire collection back then.

  27. Hi folks,
    Just posting to let you all know of some new developments fellow collectors may be interested in.
    Firstly, My Excel Spreadsheet has now been updated to include details and artwork for the two illusive Xmas CD’s #107 Christmas – a Seasonal Celebration and #108 Christmas – Music for the festive season.
    Secondly, there are TWO new torrent downloads available on Kickass Torrents; (1) the two Xmas CD’s mentioned above and (2) the COMPLETE UK Classical Collection which contains all 108 CD’s. (you will need to install a P2P client such as BitTorrent on your PC to be able to download these)
    If you are interested in any of these downloads, please follow this link to my website:, where you will find links to all the above.
    Happy hunting, Steve

    • Steve, you have done the classical music world a tremendous favor! Your torrent is the only way to get the complete Classical Collection on mp3 today. I wish everyone would spread the word about this in their countries. To see all the issues of the Classical Collection as digital download… I never dreamt I would see the day!

  28. Kayleigh says:

    Hi everyone, I have the following from The Classical Collection (Orbis):

    Magazine numbers 1-50 (inclusive) + Binders 1, 2 and 3 (where the magazines are inserted)
    CDs number 1-24 and 30-50 (inclusive) (not sure where 25-29 are, but I could look around)
    The Classical Collection for Christmas: A celebration in music (magazine + CD)

    I live in Singapore and I am interested in selling my set. Please let me know if you’re interesteed. You can contact me at

    Thanks 🙂

  29. Andy says:

    Hello everybody, I have just come across a relatives Classical Collection.
    It consists of magazines 1-105 and tape cassettes 1- 67.

    I would be quite interested in selling the collection (preferably as one) and was wondering if anyone would be interested or could point me in the right direction.

    The magazines are in excellent condition (not in folders) and the cassettes work fine, although I’ve not tried them all yet.

    contact me at

  30. LH Chow says:

    I am actually searching online for a place that has “The Classical Collection no. 83 – Beethoven Symphony no. 7 & 8″. Know what happened? I lent it to someone, forgot about it for a time, and when I looked for it, couldn’t find it, & when I asked those who could have borrowed my CD, all said,”No, not with me…” I collected almost the whole collection in the 1990’s until it slowly went out of production. And THAT CD was one of my favourites; so you can imagine how heartsick I am.
    Then I stumbled on to this website of yours. I’ve read what you wrote above, & it really thrills me that there is another classical music fan who is such an avid enthusiast of The Classical Collection!
    So, not to sound too long-winded, I would be MOST grateful if you would let me know WHERE I could get the above-mentioned CD.
    Thanks in anticipation.
    Best Regards,
    LH Chow

    • Artur says:

      Hi there and thanks for dropping by, LH.

      No worries, I do empathize with your situation of people borrowing stuff and not making an effort to return it in essentially the same piece.

      I’ve just popped by ( and saw an issue 83 with CD in stock there retailing at £4.80 which is pretty steep. I’d also keep an eye out for items on sale @

      Other than that, I’ve been to the site :
      but they don’t have it in stock and their inventory hasn’t changed much in the past year or so. Still, I’ve acquired quite a number of CDs for some of the early issues that I’ve missed out on. It’s worth to check back from time to time although their prices are also somewhat expensive.

      But if you wanted a really good recording of Beethoven’s Seventh and Eighth Symphonies, you might want to try Herbert von Karajan’s version with the Berlin Philharmonic or Philips Classics’ recording with Kurt Masur leading the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchester. Both are, in my view, more inspired interpretations than the Classical Collection recording. My write-up on his other symphonies can be found here:

      • LH Chow says:

        Hi, Artur, so nice of you to reply, and so promptly. Yeah, after I had sent off my message above, I also came across the website and saw the CD available at 4.80 pounds. But then, the total, including shipping would be 11.20 pounds. The cost of delivery is even greater than that of the CD itself!
        Anyway, I DID get the Berlin Philharmonic CD conducted by Karajan the other day — that is the Symphony no. 7, but that CD includes Symp. no. 5; whereas I also want the no. 8 (both the 7th and the 8th are beautiful). The Classical Collection no. 83 has the no. 7 & 8.
        I might go down KL town to look for a CD with the Symp. no. 8…
        Thanks a million again for your response. And thanks also for the link…

      • Artur says:

        No prob, bro. If you do drop by from time to time, a visitor would have seen your comments and may be willing to part with the CD for issue no. 83 in return for much less than quoted on Partworks.

        Also, do consider visiting Steve Woolley’s excellent site on the Collection as well : (

  31. LH Chow says:

    Ah! I visited Steve Woolley’s website with your link — it’s excellent indeed. Really, if I hadn’t been googling the Classical Collection CD, I wouldn’t have come across such fine fellows like you and Steve Woolley. After all, classical music enthusiasts are so few and scattered in the world. None of my friends (not many though, anyway) is a classical music fan…
    I’ll definitely visit your website and Steve Woolley’s from time to time. I feel myself mingling with “birds of a feather” while reading your commentaries… LOL!!

  32. Luke says:

    Discovering classical music through this collection, Loving it! Only on 26 so far but really enjoying it,

  33. michael bolton says:

    Hello i have the entire Classic Collection 105 cds as new with 105 magazines that explains all about each cd and the artist etc. Am looking to sell . Live in Australia. Plrase email me if any interest. Thankyou

    • Johan Coetzee says:

      Hello Michael, I’m interested in buying the entire collection from you. I live in South Africa. Please e-mail me further details. Thanks.

      • michael bolton says:

        Hi, There is a lot of weight in this collection so i reckon it would cost quite an amount to post to your place. My price for the set is $350. Are you still interested.

      • michael bolton says:

        My price is $350 plus postage.

  34. Don says:

    I have the first tcaihaikovsky on cd and im still playing it till today 🙂

  35. Ahmad Rizal says:

    Hello there,

    I’m looking to acquire these cd’s although soft copy version is appreciated.

    Mozart – Issue no 2
    Vivaldi – 5
    Grieg – 9
    Verdi – 14

    I live in Johor , Malaysia. Had loads of the earlier versions when i was a kid but somehow lost the cassettes along the way. I only own Tchaikovsky, Beethoven and Bizet currently. Would appreciate it if anybody could help me out here. Thanks


    • Artur says:

      Hi, Rizal.

      You could check out (Singapore) for used CDs of the Grieg and Verdi issues. Vivaldi (no. 5) used to be in their inventory, but they do restock fairly occasionally. The CDs are pricey, though (approximately twice the original issues) but I bought all of the three issues from this online retailer. I couldn’t find the Mozart issue no. 2 at all, though.

      If you have time, do check out Steve Woolley’s site at:

      Last I checked, he’s still interested to sell his entire CD collection for £100.00 including delivery costs up to 30 miles from Reigate, Surrey.

    • Kayleigh says:

      Hi Rizal, I have those CDs and am looking to sell. Currently negotiating to sell 2 and 5 but if that falls through I’ll let you know. My email is

  36. Putra Shazly says:

    Hello there.. I stumbled upon this site when I Googled the classical collection.. For your information, I used to collect this collection on an on-off basis, relying on my favourite composers and also to my newsagent’s stock (Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Beethoven, Strauss, Grieg, Brahms, Rachmaninov, Liszt, Wagner, Franck, Ravel) amongst others. I collected the cassette version, and later I bought the CDs. A good collection starter to the uninitiated. A great companion to the classical lovers..

    • Artur says:

      Yea, it certainly was. Learnt a lot abt classical music thru this collection and the pictures and featured paintings were always lovely to look at. I was always looking out for the new issues every month and it felt good to see them hanging on those newsagent racks when they do arrive. I guess people nowadays don’t make things like they used to, don’t they? What we have now is only the awful BBC music magazine often featuring a selection no one could be arsed to listen to.

  37. Nicky says:

    Hi, I’m glad I found your site. I was hoping you might be able to help. I had many of the magazines and CDs when I was younger which my mother bought them for me, but I am only left with issues 20-30, and 37. The reason I need your help is that I have a vague memory of a brilliant quote in one of the volumes which described music as being in vain until it is is received by the listener. I have checked the volumes which I do have but the quote is not in those. Please can you have a look if you don’t mind as I would like to know the exact quote and who it was by. Thanks.

    • Artur says:

      I think you must mean Mozart – issue no. 2 and I quote: “Music must never offend the ear, but must please the listener, or, in other words, must never cease to be music”. Is that the one you’re looking for?

      • Nicky says:

        Sorry not that one, But it was in one of the earlier editions.

      • Nicky says:

        I found it, issue no. 1 – “Music is a meaningless noise until it touches a receiving mind.” – Paul Hindemith.

  38. LH Chow says:

    Excellent! Excellent! Thank you for the quotes, Artur and Nicky. Just to show you that there is someone who has similar tastes — good music, good quotes…

  39. Artur says:

    Thanks, Nicky and Chow for dropping by. Interest in this collection is still rather strong – judging from the no. of hits per day

  40. Dennis says:

    Hello Artur,Nicky,& LH,I am collecting the CDs,I thought the collection only went to 70ty.Now I am hunting for more.Just received No85 Rachmaninov,concert classics from My Cd Place.Going to all charity shops, & on net.Good to know Im not the only one collecting.Dennis

    • Artur says:

      Rachmaninov no. 85 is great. At first I thought I wouldn’t like the 3rd Piano Concerto but the works were directed by Mariss Jansons and it’s one of the best in the entire collection.

      • Michael says:

        Hi, Sitting in front of me is the entire 105 cd Collection [THE CLASSICAL COLLECTION] which I would like to sell. My home is Australia. if you are interested drop me a line. Thanks. Michael

  41. LH Chow says:

    Hey, Guys, I recently stumbled on a website that sells all sorts of things online, including music CDs — Heard of it? The good thing about them is, delivery of purchased items is free worldwide. Now, THAT is something, don’t you think? Before I discovered this website, I had recently bought a CD from Amazon. The shipping and handling charges came to nearly USD9.
    Try fishpond out — they have tons of classical music CDs… 🙂

    • Artur says:

      Hi, Chow. Never heard of the site until now. I’ve had a look and you’re right – it’s quite interesting. I bought from Amazon years ago and the pricing and shipping fees were always on the high side. Thanks!

  42. Dennis Bye says:

    Hello again I’ll be giving a try,Just bought the full set of of mags looking forword to reading them.Dennis

  43. David says:

    Great site & information, I have magazines No 1-34, incl Xmas & Xmas 2, looking for a new home … available for free pickup or costs of postage & packaging in/from Perth, Western Australia … please contact me at DJWilkes at GMAIL dot COM if you are interested … best or easiest response wins 😉

  44. Billy Drysdale says:

    I started collecting these when they first came out and managed to collect up to #53 plus the first christmas cd. However due to personal problems i had to stop. Now many years later I am transferring my entire cd collection (which is massive) to mp3 on an external hard drive so if poss would like to download #54 onward. Unfortunately my internet provider ( sky ) denied me access. Any suggestions as to how I can complete my collection, and also where to dispose of the cd’s I have.
    Many thanks
    Billy D

  45. Basilio Calazans Palacio says:

    En Colombia, ¡Dónde puedo comprar toda la colección “THE CLASSICAL COLLECTION”?
    Basilio Calazans P.

  46. The Classical Collection Completer says:

    There’s an Albéniz CD out there that was apparently only available in a South American release (CD #6). Here’s some more info:

    It’s also available online if you know how to look…

  47. The Classical Collection Completer says:

    Also, any chance that some of our German or Dutch friends could make “Die Klassiksammlung” Nos. 99-109 and 111-114 (No. 110 in “Die Klassiksammlung” is No. 29 in “The Classical Collection”) available as .mp3’s?

    I was disappointed as a teenager in the US when I received the very late but complimentary (free) double CD of Handel & Schubert accompanied by a notice that “The Classical Collection” was being discontinued. Hooray for the uncultured swine of the good ol’ US of A.

    Needless to say, I’m excited to get my hands on the recordings that I enjoyed many years ago, and now I’m thinking that it would be fun to compile “The Ultimate Classical Collection” by combining the various editions.

  48. I really love this series and collected every single issue. Only trouble is, I have not kept the magazines to accompany the discs.

    Thank you for sharing this constructive and informative post on this series. If you type “The Classical Collection” into a search engine you rarely see any references to this 1992 collection.

  49. Andy says:

    Hi – I recently completed my cd collection by buying someone else’s complete collection on ebay. As I now have two copies of numbers 1-75 I am selling these cd’s on ebay at £1.95 each free P&P to UK. Only a few have gone so far. Anyone interested come along to the boogiestore! on ebay. Note CD’s only. I still want the mags for the last 30 editions.

  50. David Helps says:

    Hello Andy. there are ten CD’S that I want, All attempts to go via E-bay UK to find your site have failed. Numbers 27,44,47,48,50,54,61,63,66 & 70. Can you please assist me ? my name, Address, E-mail, Tel no are David Helps 13 Manson Rd, Newlands, Cape Town 7700 South Africa. +44 (021) 6852394. More than happy with the cost & extra postage. I am able to pay by PayPal.

    • Andy says:

      Hi David

      Thanks for your message. Yes I can send the CD’s to you however the cost of postage is quite high. I still have all but two of the CD’s on your list however I am happy to send you my copies. I am able to replace these myself through ebay. As long as you are willing to pay the extra for the two I am replacing (£3.25 each for 66 and 50) plus postage and packing I am happy to ship them. The cost would be –
      8 x 1.95 15.60
      2 x 3.25 6.50
      postage 12.85 (or 17.85 for signed for)
      packing 1.00

      Total 35.95 (or 40.95 for signed for)

      If you are happy to pay for all of the above please pay through my paypal account I will leave it to you to ensure the exchange rate is correct at the time of paying to ensure I get £35.95 sterling! As soon as I receive the money I will immediately take the items off ebay and place an order for my replacements.

      I am around all day today but not tomorrow.

      I will copy this message to your email and as a reply on the webpage.


      Andy Finel

      Sent from Windows Mail

  51. Beverley. Greening says:

    I have the Classical Collection from 1 to 105 plus the booklets. I have not played them for years as I have so many other classical CDs as well. My collection is in good order. I do not have the Christmas CDs that have been mentioned. I live in Australia and bought mine from the local newsagent who was selling them every 2 weeks.

  52. Brian says:

    I subscribed to this series in South Africa. I can remember fighting the newsagent to get every issue as they were always short or missing issues. I finally completed the series this year by getting the magazine for the Christmas 3 edition.

    • Beverley. Greening says:

      I had the complete collection and recently tried to sell it but had no interest. In the end I kept my favourites and donated the rest to a charity. I had so many multiples of these composers I just had no room for so many CDs. Sadly my adult children are not interested in classical music.

  53. C.P.B. says:

    Nice page. I bought these first on cassette from my local Newsagent, then I saw some CD issues a few years later in WH Smith and bought them too. Does anybody have any info on the other DeAgostini release for Great Composers [85xCD]?

  54. Diana says:

    I have The Classical collection 19,20,21,22,23,24,24,25,26,28,29,30,31,32,33,34,36,37,38,40,42,44,46 and Christmas 2. Magazines and tapes. Most tapes bar maybe unplayed. Anyone want to make a decent offer?

  55. Antonio (Tony) Mittiga says:

    Hi, I have recently purchased the (ORBIS DE AGOSTINI GROUP),(The Blues Collection) from a second hand shop. The complete collection has 15 Digitally Remastered CD,s. Numbered 1 to15.

    The Collection I purchased has Discs 3 and 11 missing.
    Can i purchased those discs from your company? or acquire them from someone that you could recommend to me?

    I live in Adelaide South Australia

    My phone number is 0404165338.

    Waiting to hear from you.

    Kindest Regards


  56. Henry says:

    Hello everyone, i need someone to help me to loock for the FULL CLASSICAL COLLECTION 108 CDs + MGZ , i am loocking for it sin 10 years ago after to find this block. Please help me i’ll be waiting in Argentina! Thanks Henry!

  57. Ian Smith says:

    Thanks for this. Very useful, especially as my accompanying magazines got lost many years ago. Bought my collection many years ago in the UK and it has languished in a DJ box for the last 15 years as I mainly now listen to music on Spotify or YouTube. The versions in the collection aren’t necessarily available on these services, and your article has prompted me to dust off and re-listen to at least some of the discs in the collection.
    Thanks again.

    • David says:

      RIP them to MP3, laborious but worthwhile … I did (from cd 💿 ), quite good results … and I scanned the magazines I had if you need copies … whatever is within copyright law etc … ☘️🇬🇧

    • David says:

      RIP them to MP3, laborious but worthwhile … I did (from cd 💿 ), quite good results … and I scanned the magazines I had if you need copies … whatever is within copyright law etc … ☘️🇬🇧

  58. robert kawitzki says:

    Hi everyone. I’ve got a somewhat strange question. I have the full collection of The Classical Collection. However, I have lost the small white plastic clips that fasten the magazines to the binders. Does anyone have an idea where I might be able to purchase these clips for 30 magazines?

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