Not all classical music is classical music. Classical music, in its true sense, conforms to a particular style and time period – not an exact time, but roughly from 1750 to 1825. Even so, much of what we casually call “classical music” was written before and after that chunk o’ time. So what gives?
Think of it this way: We call a lot of music “rock music” even when it doesn’t conform to the chord progressions and beats of rock & roll. There’s a huge difference between Ike Turner’s "Rocket 88" and The Cardigans’ "Lovefool," yet they both get played on so-called rock music stations.
So, classical music can either refer to the above mentioned period of Western music, or it can be a generic, blanket term for all that stuff you hear on the classical music station, or find when shopping the Classical Music Section at Amoeba Music.
The reason it’s good to know a little about the periods and sub-genres of classical music is it will help you find what you like. For instance, I’m a huge fan of what’s known as the Impressionist style of classical music, so if I find an album of some composer I’ve never heard of – like say, Sir Pooppants McNaughtybits – and he’s described as an Impressionist, there’s a very good chance that I will enjoy his music. In addition, if I see that the compositions on the album are concertos for clarinet (an instrument I love), I know it’s highly likely I’ll love it. (You know what a concerto is because you read my last blog entry.)