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Thread: Vivaldi, 1 concerto 400 times?

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    Senior Member Perotin's Avatar
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    Default Vivaldi, 1 concerto 400 times?

    Stravinsky supposedly made the folowing comment on Vivaldi: "Vivaldi did not write 400 concertos; he wrote one concerto 400 times." Why is Vivaldi's music so repetitive? One idea, that comes to my mind, is that back then in the baroque period, composers (and people in general) were not viewed as an individual personalities and hence were not expected to be original and inventive. The notion of an artist as a creative individual only appeared in romantic era. Artist was just a craftsman, who must please the audiance with enjoyable music. Telemann also falls into this "one piece repeated hundreds of times" category, I think. On the other hand, Bach also wrote about 200 cantatas, but he didn't repeat himself, his cantatas are quite versatile. So, is that Vivaldi's weakness or can we see that as something typical of his period?
    Last edited by Perotin; Jan-11-2013 at 23:57.

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    Senior Member Ukko's Avatar
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    Neither a weakness, nor typical, nor repetitive. One need only pay attention.
    I spent a fortune on deodorant before I realized that people don't like me anyway.

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    I don't find Bach cantatas to be much more diverse or inspired than Vivaldi concertos or even Telemann overture suites. Its just the same thing but more "overbuilt" and not purely instrumental. I would like JS Bach more if I could get away from all this unfair elevation of his music, which is pretty blown out of proportion.

    What Hilltroll said can apply to much older music. You do have to pay attention to more subtle differences. And it is worth it. You'll get more out of that in the long run than you will in discrediting the music.

    However, to soften my post, of course if its not your thing, then don't stress about it. But there are those of us who really get into it and appreciate this stuff.
    Last edited by clavichorder; Jan-12-2013 at 00:16.

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    Senior Member Novelette's Avatar
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    Take away the "circle of fifths" progression and 2/3 of Vivaldi's non-vocal music evaporates. =\

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    Senior Member neoshredder's Avatar
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    I don't see that. Vivaldi wrote many Concertos with their own unique sound. And now you're putting Telemann in there as well?
    Last edited by neoshredder; Jan-12-2013 at 03:59.

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    Stravinsky said lots of really stupid things, but he wrote amazing music so we can forgive some of it (not all of it though).

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    What you're talking about, Perotin, is 'sewing machine' music. Telemann is a good example. I think Vivaldi too. Even the 'greats' did lots of rehash - Handel, Mozart even J.S. Bach. The Baroque and Classical Eras did have many conventions that where more or less adhered to. Of course, these composers did move away from these conventions in a good deal of their works, and I think that's what makes them great. Not some obscure trio sonata or something that's same to a dozen or more others they did, but its their unique works that make them stand out from the many composers from back then who where (is it fair to say) lesser lights of their era.

    Let's face it, much of the stuff from back then does sound the same, basically because it is, in terms of the conventions. They used these same kind of chord progressions in many of their works. Of course we can offer examples like Rebel's Les Elements or stuff like the sturm und drang symphonies of Haydn, C.P.E. Bach and Mozart as being uber dissonant for the time, but they are not typical of their output as a whole (& I think Wolfie did only sturm und drang symphony, the 25th in G minor, and its one of his most popular works - along with the 40th in G minor - simply because it stands out from most of his other symphonies as different and unique).

    There's obvious things like this that's not said on this forum, maybe to protect people from being discomfited (as I recently and periodically get abused by a 'trio' of members here who I've singled out many times) or maybe cos its like treading on eggshells. But read even the most basic books on classical music, and it does describe this type of 'sewing machine' music or 'music made to order.'

    Music made to order

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    Senior Member neoshredder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sid James View Post
    What you're talking about, Perotin, is 'sewing machine' music. Telemann is a good example. I think Vivaldi too. Even the 'greats' did lots of rehash - Handel, Mozart even J.S. Bach. The Baroque and Classical Eras did have many conventions that where more or less adhered to. Of course, these composers did move away from these conventions in a good deal of their works, and I think that's what makes them great. Not some obscure trio sonata or something that's same to a dozen or more others they did, but its their unique works that make them stand out from the many composers from back then who where (is it fair to say) lesser lights of their era.

    Let's face it, much of the stuff from back then does sound the same, basically because it is, in terms of the conventions. They used these same kind of chord progressions in many of their works. Of course we can offer examples like Rebel's Les Elements or stuff like the sturm und drang symphonies of Haydn, C.P.E. Bach and Mozart as being uber dissonant for the time, but they are not typical of their output as a whole (& I think Wolfie did only sturm und drang symphony, the 25th in G minor, and its one of his most popular works - along with the 40th in G minor - simply because it stands out from most of his other symphonies as different and unique).

    There's obvious things like this that's not said on this forum, maybe to protect people from being discomfited (as I recently and periodically get abused by a 'trio' of members here who I've singled out many times) or maybe cos its like treading on eggshells. But read even the most basic books on classical music, and it does describe this type of 'sewing machine' music or 'music made to order.'

    Music made to order
    It's not the same. It's similar in style as every Era has their unique sound. This is one of those things that I diisagree strongly with you on. But you aren't going to see anything extreme. Just variations. Just enough to make that piece unique. The same goes for the Classical Era.

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    Senior Member tgtr0660's Avatar
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    Stravinsky was a great composer. He made great music.

    A great composer. Great music.

    Composer. Music.

    That's it.

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    Senior Member neoshredder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tgtr0660 View Post
    Stravinsky was a great composer. He made great music.

    A great composer. Great music.

    Composer. Music.

    That's it.
    Not as great as Vivaldi though.

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    Senior Member Ondine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Perotin View Post
    " Why is Vivaldi's music so repetitive?
    OMG... I hear completely different concertos between the Bassoon ones, Op. 3 -L'Estro Armonico-& Op 9 -La Cetra- between many others like those for wind instruments. The flavours are really different but is like trying good wines. 'Taste' is needed to be developed.
    Last edited by Ondine; Jan-12-2013 at 05:30.
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    Senior Member quack's Avatar
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    The other point about what Stravinsky said was that little was known of Vivaldi's output except a lot of similar concertos, his vocal music was still obscure at the time.

    I personally don't see what is wrong with writing the same thing 400 times if it is good, and there is variety to them even if it is not immense. Some people are able to constantly reinvent themselves and try different things, like Stravinsky, other people find a niche and keep doing what works for them or others.

    There is the romantic era idea that the artist is a striver after beauty and truth in whatever ways possible whereas before they were mere workmen, but that is pretty much just a romantic fantasy. Artists have been going their own ways since time in memorial, sometimes they get a sympathetic patron/critic/audience but mostly they get lost to history.

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    I too hear the repetitive quality in V's concertos - some listeners apparently not. He was a "formulaic" writer if ever there was one. A producer of pleasing "product" to be sure - but formulaic nonetheless. If any one is interested I can go into more detail in musicological terms - but then I will have to consult the books just so I get the explanation right and I'd rather avoid this. So... please, believe me.

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    Senior Member Perotin's Avatar
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    It's interesting to compare Beethoven, Mozart and Vivaldi in terms of repetitiveness. Different Beethoven's works convey different emotions and different musical ideas. With Mozart, the majority of his pieces evoke the same feeling, but are rich in ideas. With Vivaldi, mostly all works are similar, both in terms of feelings and musical ideas. I do like Vivaldi's style and find quite many of his peices brilliant, but if we erased three quarters of his oeuvre, we would lose nothing, I think. But it is a pity, if Vivaldi had been capable of producing more diversity in his music, he would have probably been on the same level as Bach or Händel, thus, he is only a second rate baroque composer, I'm afraid. All the Vivaldi lovers, please, don't get offended.
    Last edited by Perotin; Jan-12-2013 at 16:21.

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    Senior Member Rapide's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sid James View Post
    What you're talking about, Perotin, is 'sewing machine' music. Telemann is a good example. I think Vivaldi too. Even the 'greats' did lots of rehash - Handel, Mozart even J.S. Bach. The Baroque and Classical Eras did have many conventions that where more or less adhered to. Of course, these composers did move away from these conventions in a good deal of their works, and I think that's what makes them great. Not some obscure trio sonata or something that's same to a dozen or more others they did, but its their unique works that make them stand out from the many composers from back then who where (is it fair to say) lesser lights of their era.

    Let's face it, much of the stuff from back then does sound the same, basically because it is, in terms of the conventions. They used these same kind of chord progressions in many of their works. Of course we can offer examples like Rebel's Les Elements or stuff like the sturm und drang symphonies of Haydn, C.P.E. Bach and Mozart as being uber dissonant for the time, but they are not typical of their output as a whole (& I think Wolfie did only sturm und drang symphony, the 25th in G minor, and its one of his most popular works - along with the 40th in G minor - simply because it stands out from most of his other symphonies as different and unique).

    There's obvious things like this that's not said on this forum, maybe to protect people from being discomfited (as I recently and periodically get abused by a 'trio' of members here who I've singled out many times) or maybe cos its like treading on eggshells. But read even the most basic books on classical music, and it does describe this type of 'sewing machine' music or 'music made to order.'

    Music made to order
    Music "sounding the same" can be said of any period if one is not familiar with it. Some even say all classical music sound the same. The last time I checked, you are not a big fan of the Baroque ("wig music" was your description), so it is not surprising you arrived at such a conclusion.

    Finally, what are those "things like this that's not said"? Best to come clean rather than not out in the open for a friendly discussion. The last time I checked, you often stated you prefer to write down your thoughts openly.

    One more thing - as you suggested there existed plenty of "music made to order", then it implies there were music NOT made to order. Can you elaborate what music NOT made to order might be?
    Last edited by Rapide; Jan-12-2013 at 10:53.
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