Vienna, Berlin, NY Phil jump aboard Apple’s classical app

Vienna, Berlin, NY Phil jump aboard Apple’s classical app


norman lebrecht

March 28, 2023

Six world orchestras have uploaded some of their closely guarded subscribption concerts onto the new Apple classical app which launches today.

The Vienna Philharmonic has led the way with six concerts from the 2020-21 season, plusa an unaired 2017 Liszt concerto with Martha Argerich and Daniel Barenboim.

The Concertgebouworkest has just announced that twelve previously unreleased recordings will be uploaded in high-resolution stereo and Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos during 2023, along with more than 50 RCO Live releases.

The other orchs have yet to specify.

This is a major coup for the new device.


  • Tony Sanderson says:

    The Apple classical music app isn’t available on Android yet, although the basic Apple Music app is.

    • Constantine says:

      Plus, this is designed to be a phone app only for the time being. Hope Apple will change their mind. But good news is Presto Music have launched their own classical (and jazz) streaming service which also offers hi resolution audio at a very low price. And it also works cross-platform.

  • Edoardo says:

    I think is major coup for the orchestras…I doubt they gave the recording for free…imho

  • Robin Mitchell-Boyask says:

    A major mystery of Apple Classical is why it is streaming HI-RES recordings when Airplay is limited to CD-quality. Unless there’s another shoe that hasn’t fallen yet.

    • aje says:

      Presumably when I stream on my studio Mac through pro equipment, I am benefiting from the hi-res?
      Either way, Apple Music has long sounded better to me than other streamers I’ve tried, and they pay artists better.

    • niloiv says:

      There’s debate on if Hi-Res even makes any audible difference. I remember reading something like hearing the different between Hi-Res and CD quality is equivalent to hearing a pin drop during a hard metal concert. I’m sure there’ll be something to follow up from Apple – for a phone app mainly catering airpods and carplay uses Hi-Res really doesn’t make much sense.

  • caranome says:

    This will soon become the Spotify for classical music. No musical org. can compete with these platforms’ distribution power, n distribution is what these orgs. need.

  • Chicagorat says:

    OK so this is a real cliffhanger. Which are the six orchestras?

    I don’t know, but the odds are .. the CSO is not one of them.

    First, we have long established that it is not a world orchestra, it is a parochial Midwest local orchestra fallen into obscurity, who likes to gang up on their best principals and deny them tenure. So logic says they are out.

    But, even assuming Apple would be even remotely interested , wouldn’t the CSO need to run this thing by the Italian Stallion’s sons? They are the real gatekeepers and bosses of the CSO and my gut feel is they would say no, because it would cannibalize the minimalist sales of the grotesque site family business.

    And wouldn’t they need to run it… by the Italian Stallion lawyer (i.e., the one who vetoed Alexander the Great from selling Muti coffee mugs)?

    [Also, between us, that was a doomed project from the start. Who would buy a coffee mug with Muti on it. Don’t all of us want to start our day with a happy thought and the right … espresso?]

    But Apple music will be useful – we will finally be able to track who listens to Muti recordings.

    Hard to track a zero though …

    • Plush says:

      Laughable commentary and uninformed too. Yours a distinct voice of made up discontent. What a piece of crap you write. You’re an unhappy person who vents here.

    • Barry Guerrero says:

      Just judging from recordings, I think Chicago is due for a symphony hall upgrade as well. There definitely needs to be some good planning for an eventual post-Muti era. Hang in there! You’ll have lots of Mahler and other good stuff from guest conductors this coming year. Things could be much worse. I think the Bears are going to better next year as well (couldn’t get worse!).

  • here we go again says:

    The sad thing here is that in order to ‘achieve’ this new classical app, Apple bought out Primephonic. I was a subscriber to Primephonic when this happened — we were ported to AppleMusic (which I had a subscription to anyway, ho hum) until the new Apple Classical app was released (and it took ages). Prior to this I had done a thorough evaluation of the sound quality of various streaming services provided, as I had recently invested in a decent DAC and headphones, and was trying to kick, or at least supplement, my vinyl-habit. I had concluded that Qobuz and Primephonic lead the way with very similar sound-quality, followed at a fair distance by Apple, then Spotify. So I maintained my Qobuz membership when Primephonic folded. Now Apple Classical is underway, the exclusive albums are definitely a draw-card, but has Apple improved their sound quality? I don’t believe that have. So the whole point of Primephonic has been thrown in the bin, except for the search engine, which could easily have been replicated anyway. In sum, I feel that Apple have made a bid for monopoly without acknowledging the real strength of Primephonic and other services which seriously address the age-old issue of sound quality dating back to the introduction of CD and heightened by MP3. Apple ‘Lossless’ is NOT the same as the proper high-res sound offered by Qobuz (and don’t get me started on the . Hopefully somewhere out there cares — otherwise this Apple Classical app (phone only? give me a break, when iPhones are locked out of proper EQing) is just another cash-grab. Notice I haven’t mentioned Tidal in the same breath as those others — their MQA algorithm is impressive sometimes, but generally reminds me of 1960’s ‘electronic stereo’ — fake and synthetic sounding.

  • CSOA Insider says:

    Technically, the coffee mugs were not vetoed because at least a small batch was made. If that lawyer got involved, it must have been to discuss image rights and financial implications, including potentially sharing the profits. Muti may be speaking of music as a mission, but his business entourage and lawyers have never really fully embraced that “core value”.

    I agree that the mugs were quite distasteful.