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Thread: Changing Tastes

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    Senior Member Argus's Avatar
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    Default Changing Tastes

    That old CTP thread about your favourite period for classical music reminded me how much my tastes have changed over the last few years. I used to listen to a much broader range of classical eras than I do now. I very rarely listen to anything pre-20thC these days and much of this is post-WW2. I still like the pieces from these earlier eras that I used to really like, but I don't find myself wanting to explore it further anymore.

    How have your tastes changed over the years?

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    Senior Member Klavierspieler's Avatar
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    I used to think Bach was too dissonant...

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    You got me thinking back, and it's interesting: When I was in my 20s, I liked Wagner, hated Tchaikovsky, and couldn't stand piano music.

    When I picked up classical again 12 years ago, I loved piano music, finally got Tchaikovsky, and occasionally listened to Wagner.

    Today I listen to everything. That means I've either expanded my mind or I've lost my taste.

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    Senior Member robert's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Argus View Post
    That old CTP thread about your favourite period for classical music reminded me how much my tastes have changed over the last few years. I used to listen to a much broader range of classical eras than I do now. I very rarely listen to anything pre-20thC these days and much of this is post-WW2. I still like the pieces from these earlier eras that I used to really like, but I don't find myself wanting to explore it further anymore.

    How have your tastes changed over the years?
    indeed it has. I believe that is natural. I only listen to 20th century. I have problems pre 20th century. I found that after listening to 20th century for at least 10 years or longer I have no desire to go back....
    WHEN WORDS FAIL, MUSIC SPEAKS

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    Senior Member Weston's Avatar
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    As a teen I enjoyed middle to late romantic almost exclusively, probably because of all the timpani bangs, cymbal crashes, and general over the top histrionics of the genre.

    In my 20's and 30's I enjoyed almost exclusively baroque. I was fascinated by counterpoint and the deep polyphonic textures. I wanted to translate that visually and paint fugues.

    In middle age, while I still enjoy all of the above, I am now more interested in the classical era and early romantic than ever before, and also in modern and contemporary music. All of these have, or can have, an emphasis on form. In the case of contemporary it may be new forms, but still I detect some interest in form returning for some composers. I am interested in works that lead us down a formal path and then take a wild detour.

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    For old-timers like me (in terms of length of membership) I can recall several similar threads to this in the past. My opinions haven't changed since I wrote the following in a very similar thread some 20 months ago:
    It is possible, if not likely, that people who say that their classical music tastes have not changed significantly are probably too young or inexperienced to be able to judge properly. I would venture to suggest that, from whichever point they happen to start at, most people seem to go through a “romantic” era phase, whether in the form of early examples like Chopin and Schumann or mid/late period example like Brahms, Wagner, Tchaikovsky, or Mahler.

    Curiously, I have found that it is the class of purist romantic fans who tend to express the most negative comments about the significance of other periods in music, especially music of earlier times and "classical" music in particular.

    In my case, I have been all over the place in my preference order of music eras. I did not start in the romantic era but there was a time when this type of music appealed almost exclusively. Since then the emphasis has shifted back to where I started, in the baroque and classical eras. I was never all that taken with 20th C music, apart from some brief encounters with the likes of Elgar, Delius, Holst and Respighi.

    The reason for this shift must be an underlying preference for elegance and less heart-rending drama. Certainly my interest in the heavy forms of romanticism has waned sharply, especially of the Wagnerian/Brucknerian type, and even more so, Tchaikovsky. I never rated Mahler Sibelius that highly, so nothing has changed there. My remaining concession to romanticism is the early form when the poetic element was the most prominent feature (Chopin, Schumann, Mendelssohn). I still love Beethoven and Schubert who remain the solid musical rocks around which all else pivots.

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    I'm definitely too young for my changing tastes to be all that serious, but I have noticed a few distinct shifts. To start with, I was completely in love with Beethoven, but this changed dramatically as I got into the Romantic period more and more. I barely listen to Beethoven now. Brahms has always been my first love, and Dvorak my second, but my tastes have been shifting more and more towards early Romantic. I used to love Rachmaninov, but now I can't stand him - I like a small selection of his solo piano stuff, but even those pieces tend to be tainted by (what I think is) tasteless melodrama. I've never yet managed to get into Mahler (except for his Piano Quartet, which I suppose doesn't really count!), or any of the other late Romantics like Strauss.

    In brief, Brahms is eternal, Tchaikovsky is always worth the indulgence, but, right now, I'm interested in exploring Schumann, Mendelssohn and contemporaries.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Polednice View Post
    I'm definitely too young for my changing tastes to be all that serious, but I have noticed a few distinct shifts. To start with, I was completely in love with Beethoven, but this changed dramatically as I got into the Romantic period more and more. I barely listen to Beethoven now. Brahms has always been my first love, and Dvorak my second, but my tastes have been shifting more and more towards early Romantic. I used to love Rachmaninov, but now I can't stand him - I like a small selection of his solo piano stuff, but even those pieces tend to be tainted by (what I think is) tasteless melodrama. I've never yet managed to get into Mahler (except for his Piano Quartet, which I suppose doesn't really count!), or any of the other late Romantics like Strauss.

    In brief, Brahms is eternal, Tchaikovsky is always worth the indulgence, but, right now, I'm interested in exploring Schumann, Mendelssohn and contemporaries.
    Looks like you're following a similar path to me, with one or two differences perhaps. I thought you are also interested in Schubert? The last two composers you mentioned, Schumann and Mendelssohn, are among my favourites. Of the two, Schumann is the more complex and more difficult to get into, but the effort is worth it. If you like Brahms, as I know you do greatly, you will get to like Schumann for sure. It's far more cerebral than both Liszt, and another composer I once liked, Chopin, but with whom I hardly bother these days.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Artemis View Post
    Looks like you're following a similar path to me, with one or two differences perhaps. I thought you are also interested in Schubert? The last two composers you mentioned, Schumann and Mendelssohn, are among my favourites. Of the two, Schumann is the more complex and more difficult to get into, but the effort is worth it. If you like Brahms, as I know you do greatly, you will get to like Schumann for sure. It's far more cerebral than both Liszt, and another composer I once liked, Chopin, but with whom I hardly bother these days.
    Ah yes, I still adore Schubert, although my active exploration of his works has taken a back seat lately. I've certainly found Schumann one of the most difficult to get into, but you're right that the rewards are well worth it. I've never really bothered with Liszt because I've never heard anything by him that has made me want to listen to more (and, as Brahms said, the hardest part of composing is keeping the unnecessary notes under the table which Liszt certainly didn't do!). Chopin is another one once beautiful to my ears that I hardly bother with - if anything, I listen to the Variations on La ci darem la mano for a bit of fun; that's it.

    I think I'll just follow your progression because I seem to be in safe hands!

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    My first serious exposure to classical music was through recordings of the Baroque: Bach, Handel, and Vivaldi. Specifically... the concerti grossi: The Brandenburgs, The Four Season, Op. 3 and Op. 6 and the Water Music, etc... From there I moved forward exploring mostly concertos, sonatas and orchestral works within the recommended canon. Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Mussorgsky, Beethoven, and The Rite of Spring were early favorites. As my mother sang soprano in the Lutheran church choir I came to love choral music early on and among my early records were Handel's Messiah and Solomon, Bach's passions, Mass in B-minor, and various cantatas, Mozart's Requiem, and Orff's Carmina Burana. After getting a "real job" I began collecting music ardently and would consider that I had a solid collection of the essential works of the core repertoire from Bach through the early 20th century for at least 10 years. My collection was again quite deep with regard to vocal music... especially lieder and songs and choral works. More recently, I have begun a focused effort on deepening my collection... and my experience of music beyond the Romantic/Early Modern eras. This has involved expanding the number of works by Mozart and Haydn especially from the "classical period". More so this has involved a concerted effort to explore the music of the 20th century and the music of the Baroque and earlier. In spite of my love for Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, etc... I would imagine that nearly a third to half of what I have collected over the last 4 years has been music of the 20th century... or beyond. At the same time I have greatly deepened my collection of the Baroque (not only Bach, Handel, and Vivaldi, but also Biber, Zelenka, Rameau, Couperin, Lully, Corelli, Pandolfi, Buxtehude, Schutz, Hasse, Monteverdi... and earlier composers. If there is a single genre I have focused upon with a greater passion recently, it is certainly opera. This has included the purchase of 3 entire Ring cycles, filling the void in my collection of Verdi and Britten... and beginning to explore DVDs.

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    Senior Member Klavierspieler's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Polednice View Post
    I've certainly found Schumann one of the most difficult to get into, but you're right that the rewards are well worth it.
    This I find interesting, to me it seems that Schumann simply draws me in.

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    My taste doesn't change, it's part of my nature. I only learn to find things I'm looking for in music in more diffrent works from diffrent periods/styles or sometimes I find that there is not as much of these things in some music that I used to think.

    To make it short, my major changes that I remember are:

    - Mahler: from "quite interesting" (after hearing 1st symphony as total newbie) to total repulsement leasting many months until, finally, immeasureable awe and love.
    - Baroque music: from early love, through "it's all the same and boring" to rediscovery and firm liking again. Same with classical period (though I can't say I'm into it much deeper than Mozart/Haydn/Beethoven).
    - pre-Verdi Italian opera, bel canto: from strong scepticism based on stereotyphes to fascination with Bellini which made me absolutely mad for OOOooooOOoooo-o-o-o-ooOOss's.
    -

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    Quote Originally Posted by Klavierspieler View Post
    This I find interesting, to me it seems that Schumann simply draws me in.
    There are certain things that I found grabbed me straight away - the Piano Concerto and the Kinderszenen are examples. However, the Op. 17 fantasy is still to make a big impression on me (though I'm certain it will), and the same goes for his 3rd and 4th symphonies.

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    Senior Member Ukko's Avatar
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    I don't recall having difficulty getting into Schumann's music. I was always sensitive to the hint of melancholy, of fatalism resisted, that hovers around the edges of his music. Listening to the tandem of Carnival and Davidsbundlertanze can put me in a 'mood'. Good thing I live alone.

    My tastes in classical music are catholic now (opera doesn't count, and the lieder genre is iffy), the significant change being an appreciation of Renaissance music, from Dufay onward. Josquin Des Prez is clearly a demi-god. Following by ear the developmental progression in music between those two guys is a current challenge for me; so far I don't hear what's going on there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Klavierspieler View Post
    This I find interesting, to me it seems that Schumann simply draws me in.
    He is one of the "complete" great composers, writing music across virtually the whole range of genres. In this respect, he is rather like Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Brahms, so he is worth investigating because you can get the whole "deal".

    Once I began to get seriously interested in Schumann, I worked my way through his entire output, and now have at least two copies of virtually everything. I'm still buying it even though I have quite enough already. The other day, I picked up yet another version of his Piano Sonata No 2 in G minor, Op 22. This version is by Angela Hewitt and it really is a magnificent work which she plays excellently. I heard it played on the radio recently; it sounded great, so I bought it.

    Outside his solo piano repertoire, one of my ultimate favourite works by Schumann is Das Paradies und die Peri. This work was once very highly popular but has since dropped off. It needs a few listens but then becomes addictive. My best version is by the Monteverdi Choir/Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantiques.

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