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Top 5 Last Minute Holiday Gifts for the Classical Music Fan

The holiday season is no longer around the corner, it's here. However, the perfect gift for the classical music lover may not be. Good thing there's still a time to purchase something a little more personal than an gift card or another recording of a Beethoven symphony.

Here are our top 5 last minute gifts:

1. A gift certificate to a restaurant or tickets to an evening concert? Why decide when the New York Philharmonic is offering both. For four evenings in 2010, Mimi Sheraton will host a dinner created by either Alain Ducasse, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Lidia Bastianich or Daniel Boulud following a performance at Avery Fisher Hall. Dinner is $150 per person in addition to the concert tickets.

2. Opera buffs are notorious for their all-consuming passion invested in the art form. Let them expand their knowledge and deepen their interest with the Metropolitan Opera Guild's series of lectures. Options include everything from a boot camp for the uninitiated to interviews with stars to mini-courses on specific subjects like Shakespeare's influence on the art form and bel canto.

3. The much anticipated 90-CD Yo-Yo Ma Outside the Box set is large in both heft and price ($789.99), which makes the new $170 55-CD Deutsche Grammophon set commemorating the venerable label's 111-year anniversary seem like a deal in comparison. Still too pricey? There's also a pared down 6-CD set offering 111 specially chosen tracks.

4. Toy company Archie McPhee is keeping the playfulness in playing classical music with its composer action figures. The 5 1/2"-tall figures of Bach, Beethoven and Mozart each come with a piano bench. Richard Wagner, ever the master of ceremonies, carries a removable baton.

5. Buying someone a membership to a venerable arts institution brings the recipient benefits like first dibs on tickets along with the warm fuzzy feeling of being philanthropic. But less established and smaller organizations offer added incentives to members with perks like free tickets, parties and access to performers. The downtown venue, Le Poisson Rouge is throwing in even more discounts and freebies with two holiday membership packages at $50 and $300.