Thank you for this story!A little about me before we begin.
I was a long-time beginner with classical music. I had listened to what you might call popular classics since I was in my late-twenties (I virtually wore out all of The Classic Experience cds for anyone that knows them). I also attended opera including Tosca at the ROH, Turandot in Bordeaux, The Magic Flute in Paris, Aida in Orange, and Lulu, Queen of Spades and Jenůfa at Glyndebourne.
In May 2020, I was challenged by a friend on Facebook to post ten albums that influenced my life, one per day. In deciding which ten to choose I discovered that amongst the Bowie, Dylan, John Martyn, and Florence and the Machine albums, my most played album on iTunes was Mendelssohn's Piano Trios by Perlman, Ma and Axe. I didn't even remember buying it, and certainly hadn't realised that I had listened to it twice as much as any other album I owned. This discovery made me determine to delve deeper into classical music and ultimately brought me to Talk Classical. I'm now, 'hooked', and am grateful for many doyens of this site for sharing so much information, guidance and insight in various threads that has supported my learning and listening over the past eighteen months.
I certainly don't consider myself an expert. Far, far from it. These listings are unlikely to be error-free. All I can say is that I've lived and continue to live the, "n00b", experience and know how challenging it can be for anyone wanting to learn more about classical. This thread is designed to help. You might consider it a 'sister' thread to pianozach's execllent, "Beginner's Guide to Classical Music", giving some structure to the task and I'll link to his excellent commentary on individual pieces as appropriate. I'll also try to link to some of the resources we have on composers and pieces.
I can relate very closely. I absolutely continue to live the "n00b" experience. Outside of cinema, which I studied formally, my relationship with the other arts is a lot less informed. And I glibly and happily will say I like a painting or a piece of music because it's pretty. Happy to declare how shallowly I understand all of this.
Maybe one day I'll take a piano lesson and learn some music theory. (I am beginning to watch a series of recorded lectures from Yale's youtube channel on basic music theory, which I am excited about).
On my end, aside from loving the Classical music I'd hear in high school concerts or the stuff that was put into movies (like all of the amazing stuff in 2001 A Space Odyssey and of course in Amadeus), I really had no clue about any of this stuff. I didn't even know that Amadeus was significantly about opera! And I had seen the film a countless number of times in high school and college.
In my late-20s another neophyte and I stumbled into a performance of Satyagraha because we liked his film stuff and Glassworks reminded me of the music in the Civilization games. We also had been exposed to and seriously appreciate modern experimental music (Cage, Riley, Reich, etc). And we had no idea that Glass was really an opera guy! During the intermission some helpful folks in the audience gladly explained to us that this was being sung in Sanskrit, and some super basic opera stuff (people were so nice! And a surprising number of others in their 20's and 30s too!). And man have I been hooked ever since.
I soon watched The Magic Flute and returned to Amadeus, and that movie was kicked up another notch in my estimation. So much opera so deeply interwoven into its plot!
Anyway, count me in for your exploration of this music. Outside of the 16 operas I've seen, plus smatterings of the usual bigwigs like Mozart & Beethoven, I have very limited understanding of classical music. Even if it is the blind leading the blind
EDIT: I'm glad pianozach mentioned his own Beginners Guide. I'm getting through that now. I'm not quite his target audience, but so far it's a fun curation!