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Thread: My list of the 100 greatest composers

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    Senior Member DavidMahler's Avatar
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    Default My list of the 100 greatest composers

    I tried to be as impartial as I could


    1. Ludwing van Beethoven (1770-1827 German)
    2. Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750 German)
    3. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791 Austrian)
    4. Richard Wagner (1811-1883 German)
    5. Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1525-1594 Italian)
    6. Franz Schubert (1797-1828 Austrian)
    7. Josquin des Prez (1450-1521 Franco-Flemish)
    8. Johannes Brahms (1833-1897 German)
    9. Claude Debussy (1862-1918 French)
    10. Franz Josef Haydn (1732-1809 Austrian)
    11. Georg Frederic Handel (1685-1759 German-British)
    12. Giullame de Machaut (1300-1377 French)
    13. Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1743 Italian)
    14. Gustav Mahler (1860-1911 Austro-Hungarian)
    15. Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971 Russian)
    16. Robert Schumann (1810-1856 German)
    17. Pytor Il'yich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893 Russian)
    18. Fryderyk Chopin (1810-1849 Polish)
    19. Jean Sibelius (1865-1957 Finnish)
    20. Guillaume Dufay (1397-1474 Franco-Flemish)
    21. Antonin Dvorak (1841-1904 Czech)
    22. Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975 Russian)
    23. Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901 Italian)
    24. William Byrd (1540-1623 English)
    25. Franz Liszt (1811-1886 Hungarian)
    26. Hector Berlioz (1803-1869 French)
    27. Bela Bartok (1881-1945 Hungarian)
    28. Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683-1764 French)
    29. Maurice Ravel (1875-1937 French)
    30. Anton Bruckner (1824-1896 Austrian)
    31. Sergey Prokofiev (1891-1953 Russian)
    32. Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951 Austrian)
    33. Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847 German)
    34. Richard Strauss (1864-1949 German)
    35. Christoph Willibald Gluck (1714-1787 German)
    36. Orlando de Lassus (1532-1594 Franco-Flemish)
    37. Henry Purcell (1659-1695 English)
    38. Tomas Luis de Victoria (1548-1611 Spanish)
    39. Modest Mussorgsky (1839-1881 Russian)
    40. Johannes Ockeghem (1410-1497 Franco-Flemish)
    41. Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992 French)
    42. Gyorgy Ligeti (1923-2006 Hungarian)
    43. Sergey Rachmaninov (1873-1943 Russian)
    44. Camille Saint-Saens (1835-1921 French)
    45. Karlheinz Stockhausen (1928-2007 Geman)
    46. Anton Webern (1883-1945 Austrian)
    47. Carl Maria Von Webern (1786-1826 German)
    48. Antonin Vivaldi (1678-1741 Italian)
    49. Alban Berg (1885-1935 Austrian)
    50. Thomas Tallis (1505-1585 English)
    51. Bedrich Smetana (1824-1884 Czech)
    52. Paul Hindemith (1895-1963 German)
    53. Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767 German)
    54. Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924 Italian)
    55. Arcangelo Corelli (1653-1731 Italian)
    56. Giovanni Gabrieli (1557-1612 Italian)
    57. Gioachino Rossini (1792-1868 Itailian)
    58. Gabriel Faure (1845-1924 French)
    59. Edvard Grieg (1843-1907 Norwegian)
    60. Leos Janacek (1854-1928 Czech)
    61. Carl Nielsen (1865-1931 Danish)
    62. Edward Elgar (1857-1934)
    63. Heinrich Schutz (1585-1782 German)
    64. Alexander Scriabin (1872-1915 Russian)
    65. Pierre Boulez (1925-n/a French)
    66. Benjamin Britten (1913-1976 English)
    67. Francois Couperin (1668-1733 French)
    68. Georges Bizet (1838-1875 French)
    69. Charles Ives (1874-1954 American)
    70. Erik Satie (1866-1925 French)
    71. Gaetano Donizetti (1797-1848 Italian)
    72. Cesar Franck (1822-1890 Belgian)
    73. Ralph Vaughan-Williams (1872-1956 English)
    74. Alexander Taneyev (1850-1918 Russian)
    75. Alfred Schntitke (1934-1998 Russian)
    76. John Cage (1912-1992 American)
    77. Dietrich Buxtehude (1637-1707 Danish)
    78. Vincenzo Bellini (1801-1835 Italian)
    79. Kristoff Penderecki (1933-n/a Polish)
    80. Jacob Obrecht (1457-1505 Franco-Flemish)
    81. Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1848-1908 Russian)
    82. Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714-1788 German)
    83. Mikhail Glinka (1804-1857 Russian)
    84. Edgar Varese (1883-1965 French)
    85. Luigi Boccherini (1743-1805 Italian)
    86. Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625 English)
    87. Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck (1562-1621 Dutch)
    88. Philip Glass (1937-n/a American)
    89. Carlo Gesualdo (1566-1613 Italian)
    90. Charles Gounod (1818-1893 French)
    91. Samuel Barber (1910-1981 American)
    92. Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757 Italian)
    93. Aaron Copland (1900-1990 American)
    94. Alexander Borodin (1833-1887 Russian)
    95. Giacomo Meyerbeer (1791-1864 German)
    96. Isaac Albeniz (1860-1909 Spanish)
    97. Marc-Antoine Charpentier (1643-1704 French)
    98. Manuel de Falla (1876-1946 Spanish)
    99. Steve Reich (1936-n/a American)
    100. Perotin/Leonin (c. 1200 French)
    Last edited by DavidMahler; Jan-30-2012 at 03:17.
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    Senior Member ComposerOfAvantGarde's Avatar
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    Swap Schoenberg and Debussy around. And swap Bach and Beethoven around too.
    It's the greed of huge companies and huge organizations which control life in a kind of a brutal way ... It's gotten worse and worse, somehow, because physical science has given us more and more terrible deadly weapons, and the human spirit has been destroyed in so many cases, so what's the use of having the most powerful country in the world if we have killed the soul.
    ~Hovhaness

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    Senior Member ComposerOfAvantGarde's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidMahler View Post
    45. Karlheinz Stockhausen (1928-2007 Geman)
    Germany was just his adopted country. Wasn't born there at all.
    It's the greed of huge companies and huge organizations which control life in a kind of a brutal way ... It's gotten worse and worse, somehow, because physical science has given us more and more terrible deadly weapons, and the human spirit has been destroyed in so many cases, so what's the use of having the most powerful country in the world if we have killed the soul.
    ~Hovhaness

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    Senior Member Lisztian's Avatar
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    Very interesting list. I love how you managed to be very broad and...cover all the bases rather than glorify individual eras.
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    Senior Member DavidMahler's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ComposerOfAvantGarde View Post
    Swap Schoenberg and Debussy around. And swap Bach and Beethoven around too.
    Schoenberg in the top 10?
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    Senior Member ComposerOfAvantGarde's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidMahler View Post
    Schoenberg in the top 10?
    I would consider him one of the most important composers in the history of music. Without him where will our music be today? He is one of the most influential and creative composers of all time. Also an excellent teacher and also a pretty good painter (he taught his next door neighbour George Gershwin how to paint).
    It's the greed of huge companies and huge organizations which control life in a kind of a brutal way ... It's gotten worse and worse, somehow, because physical science has given us more and more terrible deadly weapons, and the human spirit has been destroyed in so many cases, so what's the use of having the most powerful country in the world if we have killed the soul.
    ~Hovhaness

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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidMahler View Post
    I tried to be as impartial as I could
    You have got to enlighten us with your criteria.
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    Senior Member DavidMahler's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Polednice View Post
    You have got to enlighten us with your criteria.
    i put a 1000 names in a blender. then I put my hand inside and if i pulled out a name i didn't like, i ripped it up. if i t was a name i thought deserved to be in the top 100, i set it aside.

    then i let my cat pick the order
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    Senior Member clavichorder's Avatar
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    Some of your Russian romantic choices are interesting. Brave effort, I suppose. I've no doubt that its better than most, including myself could do, but how can you try this and expect to be anywhere close to perfect. My list would look different, and may be a little less valid in spots, due to less overall knowledge, but also simply due to different personal judgements.

    Pleased to see Carl Phillip and Taneyev appear.

    Some really major names that are extremely low on your list, I'm curious about. Aaron Copland? Domenico Scarlatti?
    Last edited by clavichorder; Jan-30-2012 at 03:08.

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    Senior Member starthrower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Polednice View Post
    You have got to enlighten us with your criteria.
    He likes white guys! OK, don't get upset. I'm just kidding!
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    Senior Member clavichorder's Avatar
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    Out of almost morbid curiosity, would you say you are capable of going on and ranking another 400 composers? I'm not asking you to do it, I just wonder if you are capable and if the idea almost strikes your fancy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Polednice View Post
    You have got to enlighten us with your criteria.
    As fallible as I am, I believe he used the great-o-meter, which is a device that Apollo, the patron god of music and poetry, invented for us mortals so that we may do his bidding and turn music into a science without thinking about personal preferences and other inhibiting concepts. Though, to be honest, that doesn't take into account what Zeus might think of Apollo's personal preferences.

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    Senior Member DavidMahler's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ComposerOfAvantGarde View Post
    I would consider him one of the most important composers in the history of music. Without him where will our music be today? He is one of the most influential and creative composers of all time. Also an excellent teacher and also a pretty good painter (he taught his next door neighbour George Gershwin how to paint).
    I agree he was great teacher, but I feel his methods and ideologies occupy a much smaller place in the history of music than many other great 20th century composers. No doubt of his genius though and I wouldn't necessarily object to him being just on the outskirts of the top 20. He could never sit in front of Mahler though in my opinion, a composer with whom I relate him to in a way.

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    Senior Member DavidMahler's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by clavichorder View Post
    Out of almost morbid curiosity, would you say you are capable of going on and ranking another 400 composers? I'm not asking you to do it, I just wonder if you are capable and if the idea almost strikes your fancy.
    I think I would be too bold to say I know 400 composers' works and historical value intimately. To be honest, I'm too bold to suggest I know 100 of them well enough. Just to know one of those composers extremely well is quite a task. I could probably list 400 composers and I could probably do it in some sort of order, but it would be total guesses at that point. In this list, I really tried to assess whatever memories I've had talking with people.

    Scarlatti is a great composer, but his 500+ one movement sonatas are just not quite the right motivation for me to put him higher. Copland is one I think American's adore, but outside of that I could see him being totally ignored.

    My list, I really just made to dilute the romantic era emphasis. Those Renaissance composers are great. I listen to them a lot. And they get totally ignored on best of lists. Josquin is a much better composer than Mendelssohn. Palestrina is a genius compared to someone even as wonderful Grieg. It's so easy to dismiss the early stuff. The later stuff too gets oddly dismissed. Varese, Ligeti, Boulez, Webern are truly top composers. Messiaen in my opinion is the greatest composer born in the 20th Century after Shostakovich, but I think Messiaen's influence is still being weighed, and one day he may even be recalled as the supreme 20th Century composer over Shostakovich.

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    Senior Member clavichorder's Avatar
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    David Mahler, I think you might really enjoy Copland's 1st symphony. Have you ever heard it? It was written two ways, the purely orchestral version is superior to the organ symphony in my opinion. It might change the way you think about Copland.

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