When Bach was busy writing masterpieces of contrapuntal music, he probably never dreamed that in 300 years there would be millions of people around the globe listening to his music on a daily basis. With countless local FM radio stations like the ones below streaming their programs online, such a wild thought has become reality.
Where to Find Free Streaming Classical Music
This begs a question: why pay for a subscription service when you can tap into the local FM playlists of skilled classical DJs around the world for free? The following stations will not only provide hours of classical bliss without charging you a dime, they will give you fun little escapes into the cultures and happenings of other cities and countries.
KUSC in Los Angeles
KUSC is one of the most renowned classical music stations in the nation for the following reasons:
- It has been broadcasting out of the University of Southern California, one of the nation's best schools for music, for over 60 years.
- Full-service classical stations have become rare in the nation, and KUSC is one of them (and arguably one of the best). It devotes 100 percent of its schedule to classical music of every period, style, and composer.
- It gives listeners that LA/Hollywood feel by broadcasting selections from some of the best film music ever written. This is no surprise, considering that USC is home to one of the most famous film schools in the world.
- It broadcasts its famous "Anti-Roadrage Melody" every weekday at five o'clock during the rush hour in Los Angeles. This melody is always a very tranquil classical piece to help irate drives on the freeways take a deep breath and calm down.
Listen live to KUSC.
WQXR in New York City
WQXR, based out of New York City, offers spectacular programs that only a station in NYC could pull off, such as live broadcasts from Carnegie Hall. Besides a diverse range of styles and composers, it has special theme shows such as the Morning Bach selection to help you wake up in the mornings to the invigorating contrapuntal awesomeness that is J. S. Bach.
Listen live to WQXR.
The station's blog also has superb videos such as this all-saxophone chorus playing the classic piece Jupiter.
Classical WETA 90.9 FM in Washington, D. C.
WETA, broadcasting from the nation's capital, has a unique opportunity to broadcast special programs thanks to its prime location. Besides a quality curation of classical music, it features live concerts from the Library of Congress and a special Choral Showcase that highlights the best classical choral music.
Listen live to WETA.
WFCL in Nashville, Tennessee
WFCL is Music City's premier FM radio station for classical music. During the summer, you can listen to live broadcasts of the Nashville Symphony Orchestra during their concert season. Their Live in Studio C program brings in famous concert musicians to play classical music live.
Listen live to WFCL.
KLEF in Anchorage, Alaska
Classical music might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Alaska, but its state capital classical station KLEF is a superb station that will provide you with hours of classical gold straight from The Last Frontier. It has one of the most delightful mix of programs in the nation including:
- Sacred Concert: A diverse mix of sacred music broadcasting every Sunday morning, ranging from sacred Scandinavian music to Rachmaninov's All Night Vigil.
- Saturday Night at the Opera: You don't have to be a phantom prowling in the shadows of an opera house on Saturday night to enjoy this program, which includes opera from every period of classical music.
- Classics for Kids: Every Sunday afternoon, the DJs put together a program of entertaining and inspiring classical music that kids will love.
Listen live to KLEF.
BBC Radio 3 in London, United Kingdom
BBC Radio 3 is arguably the most famous, accomplished classical radio station since the invention of the radio. It commissions more new music than any other classical radio station in the world, and it broadcasts some of the most highly anticipated live concerts such as the BBC Proms.
Listen live to BBC Radio 3.
The station also has unrelenting waves of YouTube videos that it produces, which adds a wonderful visual extravaganza to their feast of music, such as this tranquil new composition from contemporary composer Max Richter:
Bayern 4 Klassik in Munich, Germany
Some of the best composers in history came from Germany, so it's no wonder a fantastic classical radio station is based there too. Bayern 4 Klassik plays a wonderful variety of classical masterpieces, but also fits in live broadcasts with such local German greats as the Munich Radio Orchestra to the Choir of the Bavarian Rundfunks.
Listen live to Bayern 4 Klassick.
(Bonus benefit: you can brush up on your German as you listen to the DJs speak in between compositions.)
Filodiffusione in Rome, Italy
Italy gave birth to opera and many important innovations that created the many styles and genres of classical music. It is only appropriate then that the Eternal City has great classical stations such as 100.3 Filodiffusione. It features bold contemporary music but also rare live recordings from old archives that only Rome, Italy would have.
Listen live to Filodiffusione 100.3 in Rome.
The Best Things in Life Really Can Be Free
When you've immersed yourself in the splendor of classical music, both traditional and modern composers, it can become as emotional and life-changing an experience as reading Shakespeare for the first time or going on your first hike in a stunning national park. The rise of online streaming has made many of these wonderful treasures of life available for free, and that's something to celebrate.