Once I’ve narrowed my works lists down to those pieces of which I can find critically acclaimed recordings, I program the episodes covering the year in question. I’ll typically program three composers per episode: one major composer and two minor composers. Then, once my recordings list has no more legendary composers left and there are only minor figures remaining, I don’t program any more episodes for that year. When programming the 1837 episodes (up next after we’ve finished with the fourteen 1926 shows), this approach gave me ten episodes, as I had identified ten major composers who produced important work that year. (In some cases, stopping after I’m done with the major composers will leave a number of acclaimed recordings of minor composers left on the list. Whenever there are significant numbers of these, I’ll create a page here on the site where you can shop for them: see More Compositions from 1926.)
At this point comes CD shopping. There are hundreds of CDs to get copies of for each year I study — amazon.com is key, as I can find cheap used copies there of most of the discs I’m looking for. I collect CDs and not downloads — classical music creates immensely complex acoustic sounds that demand maximum resolution sound quality.