QUOTE(RoseRodent @ Jul 24 2012, 02:50 PM)
What would you recommend as some easy transition music for someone who finds late era Beethoven "a bit modern" but is trying to branch out a bit with a view to eventually listening to more 20th & 21st century. I don't want to go straight into something that is going to turn my head upside down, something with some discernible and familiar patterns, form, etc. but outside my usual comfort zone of Bach, Haydn, Tartini, Hoffmeister, et al. I don't like listening to piano music or jazz, but otherwise I'm open to all possibilities. Convert me!
Just suggestions: if you can cope with Berlioz' Symphonie Fantastique try:
Debussy: La Mer, L'Apres midi d'un Faun, Iberia. (You may find Jeux mentioned. A pleasant piece but Debussy at his most extreme.)
Ravel: Daphnis and Chloe; and his Piano Concerto in D (for the Left Hand)
Schoenberg: Verklaerte Nacht/Transfigured Night. Was originally written as a string sextet but later arranged for String Orchestra.
Holst's Planets Suite is popular and very good. See if you can find the Previn/LSO recording.
As others have suggested, Stravinsky. Le Sacre du Printemps has been mentioned. Some listeners have
difficulty with it - Stravinsky relies heavily on dissonance but the work is basically modal and highly rhythmic - irregular rhythm. Much depends on the recording you listen to. Stravinsky's own isn't so great.
If you can acquire a DVD of the ballet 'Firebird' the music makes more sense than as just a concert work to me.
Bartok: Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta
These will bring you into the first half of the 20th century. Then there are a few English composers: Vaughan Williams, Bax, Elgar. Elgar's Enigma Variations is easy to get on with. George Butterworth's A Shropshire Lad is rather beautiful, definitely worth a listen.
These are within reach of tonality / modality. For atonal works, try Schoenberg's 5 pieces for Orchestra Op15, and perhaps Hunphrey Searle: Symphony No.1
Hope this helps.