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Thread: The Most Challenging Piece That You Came to Appreciate… or Not

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    Senior Member Serge's Avatar
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    Default The Most Challenging Piece That You Came to Appreciate… or Not

    What was the challenge exactly? And why did it take such an effort to overcome it, whether this ultimately happened or not?

    Go ahead, ladies and gentlemen, share the stories of your most glorious achievements and your most miserable failures please!
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    When I hear John Cage’s 4’33”, I reach for my earplugs.

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    Moderator Huilunsoittaja's Avatar
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    It has yet to happen with me and the Rite of Spring. But the closest "challenge" I've had recently was Prokofiev's 2nd Symphony. Still occasionally I have trouble with it, especially the 1st movement, but it actually makes sense to me now! I actually have acquired a taste for its particular kind of dissonance, with block chords, impressionism, and polytonality.
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    Senior Member Weston's Avatar
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    Assuming you're meaning listening and not playing, because most pieces are a challenge for me to play, then it would be Edgar Varese's Arcana.

    A lot of this type of music, atonal or whatever you want to call it, reminds me too much of TV soundtracks. It's like the raucous music used in fight scenes in movies and TV from the 1950's onward. So we baby-boomer aged people, I believe, have become conditioned to think of TV when hearing atonal. I have anyway. Makes me want to get up and turn the TV off so I can go listen to music.

    I tried to overcome this handicap and actually enjoy "atonal" or modern by memorizing the piece. This method had worked decades before with Ligeti's Atmospheres off the 2001: a space odyssey soundtrack. I listened to Arcana over and over one weekend and read about what I was supposed to be noticing. I did manage to recognize a recurring motif and I could now hum parts of the piece in the shower or whatever, but I'm afraid it didn't work this time for really appreciating the piece. I do think my method for trying is valid. Maybe that's just not the atonal piece for me. I'll try again with another someday.

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    Beethoven 9th (no kidding). It's not that I found ugly or something like that, but there was a huge gap between my appreciation of it and the title it got (greatest symph). Im still working on it, but Im starting to get it. Still like the 5th way way more.
    It took me some time to get Janacek's 2nd SQ, but know I really love it.
    I had some troubles with the Rite either, I'm over it now.
    Mozart's 41. I do acknowledge now that this is one of the best classical symphonies.
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    And Id like to add Debussy Cello Sonata, first Imperssionist piece Ive ever heard (Bolero doesnt count), I was like WTF is this music?! What is he doing?! After some listening I started to get it, today it's of, my favorite pieces in the genre

    Edit:
    I cant edit my first post, so please pretend I wrote now and not know
    Last edited by Pieck; May-29-2011 at 14:34.

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    Senior Member Romantic Geek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Huilunsoittaja View Post
    It has yet to happen with me and the Rite of Spring. But the closest "challenge" I've had recently was Prokofiev's 2nd Symphony. Still occasionally I have trouble with it, especially the 1st movement, but it actually makes sense to me now! I actually have acquired a taste for its particular kind of dissonance, with block chords, impressionism, and polytonality.
    Yes - The Rite of Spring is the hardest of the Stravinsky ballets I think. I'm still working on that one.

    I am still having trouble getting into Wagner. But probably the hardest one I overcame was Josquin. He's one freaking incredible composer.
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    Senior Member clavichorder's Avatar
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    I personally took to the Rite immediately. I'd say that lately I'm rather proud of my appreciation for William Schuman's 3rd symphony and Britten's violin concerto. Still trying to crack Britten's sinfonia da reqiem and William Schuman's 6th.

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    Senior Member Sid James's Avatar
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    Recently, I've returned to listening recordings I got earlier of the music of the likes of Xenakis, Lutoslawski, Stockhausen & am beginning to notice the differences between their pieces, whereas before I found them to be virtually all the same. I'm talking about the similarity between various works by the same modern/contemporary composer, not between different composers. I think this has been a bit of an achievement, whether a glorious achievement or not, because this is not "easy" music. It doesn't mean I understand or "get" it fully, just that I can listen to it now & not think that it's all the same, I can hear the differences (even if they seem obvious now, they certainly weren't before)...
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    Contrasts and Connections in Music

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    I would say Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time. I can usually recognize his music when I hear it, but I find Messiaen difficult to enjoy aside from the quartet.

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    Senior Member Sid James's Avatar
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    ^^I think Messiaen's song-cycles are pretty good in terms of them being my "next step" after knowing Quartet for the End of Time. Eg. Poemes pour Mi & also Harawi, they are quite dramatic and expressive & present a kind of journey, similar to the Quartet in some ways...
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    Contrasts and Connections in Music

    "Oh! It is absurd to have a hard and fast rule about what one should read and what one shouldn't. More than half of modern culture depends on what one shouldn't read."
    - Algernon Moncrieff (in Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest).

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    Senior Member science's Avatar
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    Crumb's Black Angels.

    Since then, I don't know if anything has challenged me.
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    Anything Milton Babbitt ever wrote. I really tried, too--read his writings, studied and attempted to analyze scores, played around with his techniques myself, everything. It's not that I'm unsympathetic to the serialist aesthetic; there's plenty of Boulez, Wuorinen etc. that I really like. I just could never get anywhere with Babbitt's music.

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    Senior Member Klavierspieler's Avatar
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    I tried to get into Shostakovich recently... and failed.
    Beautiful music reflects a beautiful Savior.

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    Senior Member jalex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Klavierspieler View Post
    I tried to get into Shostakovich recently... and failed.
    Which string quartets did you try?

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    Senior Member Klavierspieler's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jalex View Post
    Which string quartets did you try?
    I didn't, I tried Symphonies and Sonatas.
    Beautiful music reflects a beautiful Savior.

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