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Thread: The Difference Between Beethoven and Brahms

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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mandryka View Post
    Who cares whether Schoenberg held a hierarchichal view of musical history with his experiments at the top of the tree so far? I mean, who cares apart from biographers.
    Well, I'd guess that lots of people care. People who like to think about music, write about it, compose it.

    The important thing is that he made the imaginative leap to 12 equal tones, and its results producted a whole new plateau of activity in music.
    Theories of music, and and understanding what composers were doing and why they wrote the way they did, are important things to theoreticians, philosophers, scholars, historians, etc.

    (If it's not obvious, I've been reading Deleuze this afternoon. I like rhyzomes! I just want to say something which tries out these Deleuzian ideas.)
    It wasn't obvious to me. But then, who cares about Deleuze?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    Well, I'd guess that lots of people care. People who like to think about music, write about it, compose it.



    Theories of music, and and understanding what composers were doing and why they wrote the way they did, are important things to theoreticians, philosophers, scholars, historians, etc.



    It wasn't obvious to me. But then, who cares about Deleuze?
    Well that's the last time I try a Deleuzian way of thinking out on you!

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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mandryka View Post
    Well that's the last time I try a Deleuzian way of thinking out on you!
    No problem. But do spare me Derrida.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SixFootScowl View Post
    Have not been able to really get into Brahms yet. Started with a Karajan symphony cycle, then picked up a cycle conducted by Rahbari. Still not clicking for me. Recently got a Brahams' symphony 4 conducted by jarvi and liked it enough to give it several listens. Maybe I'll get there some day. It may not be Jarvi so much as time has passed any other listening experiences have influenced my general musical outlook.
    Bernstein (Vienna) conducts the first fantastically, particularly the finale. That finale is amazing composing, Brahms takes from Bach and Beethoven and manages to orchestrate it fantastically; he definitively worked his butt off; took him decades to write the symphony.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 1996D View Post
    Bernstein (Vienna) conducts the first fantastically, particularly the finale. That finale is amazing composing, Brahms takes from Bach and Beethoven and manages to orchestrate it fantastically; he definitively worked his butt off; took him decades to write the symphony.
    Maybe can pull it up on You Tube. My Bernstein set is Berlin.
    "Life is too short to spend it wandering in the barren Sahara of musical trash."
    --Sergei Vasilyevich Rachmaninoff

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    Quote Originally Posted by SixFootScowl View Post
    Maybe can pull it up on You Tube. My Bernstein set is Berlin.
    I think I get why some people don't like Brahms, it's something to do with the flow; he gets tied up. His moments are very good but as far as a works' overall congruence he is far behind Beethoven, it's very clear now.

    It's so difficult to add complexity to a work yet keep the balance and congruence, this is why ideas have to come explosively in large blocks, already finished, and of the same drive and nature to connect them when the work spans a great length. Beethoven in his last three piano sonatas and his 9th symphony really flaunts it, just complete coherence and clarity of creativity, such potency and natural flow--no inner doubt whatsoever--or even a trace of thought or construction in the music, he does it like he'd been composing for a thousand years, with the self assurance of a lion.

    This lacks in Brahms, where you can hear the chary, nervous approach in the construction. There are moments in which Brahms flows, but overall his works are put together in a way that shows weakness if we compare them to Beethoven's. His counterpoint is better, I'll give him that.

    I love Brahms, but the harder thing to accomplish is what Beethoven does.
    Last edited by 1996D; Feb-24-2020 at 07:49.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    What kind of evidence are you looking for? Quotes from Schoenberg's writings, complete with bibliography? I could provide those if I wanted to spend time tracking them down. Schoenberg did a lot of writing. Happy hunting.

    Of course he respected past composers and absorbed influences. Who's saying he didn't?

    The general state of neuropsychology in Schoenberg's day is irrelevant. I know of no evidence that he was interested in it. The point is simply that he made assumptions about a supposed evolution in human hearing to support further assumptions about the progress of music, thus providing the hoped-for triumph of atonality, and his own role in bringing that about, with a grand intellectual and historical justification. He postulated that consonance and dissonance were entirely relative and that with sufficient exposure the ear would learn to hear more and more remote (dissonant) relationships in the harmonic series, and ultimately all dissonances, as consonant. Essentially, he observed that composers in 1900 were using more chromaticism, more remote modulations, less reinforcement of tonic and dominant, etc. than composers in 1800, and figured that if audiences found this acceptable they would ultimately be perfectly happy with music that abandoned tonic, dominant, modulation and the whole concept of tonality altogether. His questionable assumptions didn't stop there; the implicit conception of tonality as a mere structural option rather than a vehicle of meaning should also be examined, but I don't want to take up space in this thread with that discussion.

    If you want references as "evidence" for my statements, I can recommend a book, "Schoenberg's Error," published in 1991 by University of Pennsylvania Press as part of a series, "Studies in the Criticism and Theory of Music," for which Leonard B. Meyer served as General Editor. The author is William Thomson, then professor of music theory at the University of Southern California.
    I'm just saying that you don't know what someone's motives were. Even if persuasive stories can be made about what is behind his claim to be standing on the shoulders of giants, they become suspect particularly when coming from one who is "hostile" to his claims of achievement. You may be right. We can't know. That's all I'm saying.

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    Senior Member Strange Magic's Avatar
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    Sometimes knowing when to stop is an important part of crafting a musical composition. There are some episodes--some, a few--when Beethoven fails to understand that it's time to get out the red pencil--the thing has exhausted itself; there has been enough congruence. For some reason, I never have that feeling with Brahms: the musical fertility seems to fit perfectly within its temporal borders.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange Magic View Post
    Sometimes knowing when to stop is an important part of crafting a musical composition. There are some episodes--some, a few--when Beethoven fails to understand that it's time to get out the red pencil--the thing has exhausted itself; there has been enough congruence. For some reason, I never have that feeling with Brahms: the musical fertility seems to fit perfectly within its temporal borders.
    Which Beethoven works impress you as overextended?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    Which Beethoven works impress you as overextended?
    Breaking my self-imposed rule about not knocking others' musical tastes, selections, favorites, I will first affirm that I mostly like the two pieces I'll here finger as needing the red pencil. Both compositions are often put forward as the respective apotheoses of their forms, but both would be, in my view, stronger works with some careful pruning. They are the sainted 9th symphony and the holy 5th (Emperor) concerto. I wear my flame-proof suit, helmet, gloves, boots, and visor and await the (possible) torrent of fire.
    Last edited by Strange Magic; Feb-24-2020 at 17:05.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 1996D View Post
    I think I get why some people don't like Brahms, it's something to do with the flow; he gets tied up. His moments are very good but as far as a works' overall congruence he is far behind Beethoven, it's very clear now...you can hear the chary, nervous approach in the construction. There are moments in which Brahms flows, but overall his works are put together in a way that shows weakness if we compare them to Beethoven's.
    I agree; the reason Brahms had "no flow" is because he literally had "no flow." His failed romance "broke" his libido, and he became a lifelong bachelor/celibate. This is the music of a monk, derived from rigorous self-denial or self-discipline; it's austere; abstinent; it seems to involve a withholding of physical pleasure. Passionless, or lacking emotion in some way.
    Last edited by millionrainbows; Feb-24-2020 at 18:08.

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    Senior Member Strange Magic's Avatar
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    Must be some other Brahms I'm listening to.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange Magic View Post
    Must be some other Brahms I'm listening to.
    If this is a reply to my post, it implies I'm saying Brahms is "bad" in some way, which I'm not. Sometimes I'm in the mood for Brahms' restraint and control.

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    Senior Member Strange Magic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    If this is a reply to my post, it implies I'm saying Brahms is "bad" in some way, which I'm not. Sometimes I'm in the mood for Brahms' restraint and control.
    It is a comment on your post. Your analysis of Brahms' music is wonderful in that it demonstrates the almost infinite variety of reactions that diverse people can have to the same music. I think, though, that few sense the monkishness, the self-denial, the celibacy you detect in his music; the austerity, the abstinence. I find he often luxuriates in a musical sensuality, often ecstatic, joyous. I'm talking here about Johannes Brahms, of course.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange Magic View Post
    Breaking my self-imposed rule about not knocking others' musical tastes, selections, favorites, I will first affirm that I mostly like the two pieces I'll here finger as needing the red pencil. Both compositions are often put forward as the respective apotheoses of their forms, but both would be, in my view, stronger works with some careful pruning. They are the sainted 9th symphony and the holy 5th (Emperor) concerto. I wear my flame-proof suit, helmet, gloves, boots, and visor and await the (possible) torrent of fire.
    I’m not going to set you aflame (though I thought about it for using the word ‘apotheoses’), but I am going to pray for you.
    Last edited by DaveM; Feb-24-2020 at 18:20.

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