There is a great book called "Discovering Great Music" which give you a synopsis of the major composers (including, up to a point, their "stature" as musiciansa) along with recommended piece/recordings. Amazon.com should carry it. This is a good starting point. The Penguin Guide to Classical CD's is another more or less OK source to get feel for who's who in the world of classical composers. However...I would say your teacher is a bit of a jerk. what matters is that you find the music that moves YOU and makes you sit up anlisten, NOT what the pros think about it. I dated a pianist who thought Mozart was "Mickey Mouse" music, but that did NOT stop me from listening to Mozart Symphonies. If you REALLY must/want to know what may impress your teacher I guess you could drop names like Mahler, Bartok, Wagner, Satie, Beethven, Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky, Sibelius, Bach, and so on and so on. But there is NOTHING like finding out who/what you like, kicking back and enjoying the music. If you'd like some specific recos, e-mail me privately w/ your phone number and I'll give you a call.
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