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Thread: Greatest Orchestrator of all time?

  1. #61
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tdc View Post
    To some extent the point that was touched on earlier in the thread applies in that it is hard to separate the orchestration completely from the rest of the composition. If one is not really touched by the music, they will not notice how the orchestration may enhance clarity or expressiveness. People will tend to prefer the orchestration in music they enjoy.

    I find good use of harmony is more important than orchestration, which is why Bach's works tend to all sound perfectly orchestrated to me. Its also why I get more color and expressiveness out of the rough orchestration in a Rachmaninov symphony than I get out of most anything Boulez composed. Regardless of how well the latter orchestrates his harmonic language renders his compositions mostly dull and lifeless to me.
    Yes. The best orchestration is whatever instrumental coloration best reveals the melodic and harmonic substance of the work, and doesn't draw undue attention to itself. For example, how often is Brahms mentioned as a great orchestrator? He should be, but I'll bet it takes many people a while to realize that (I know it did me). He knew what colors his ideas required, and never went for merely brilliant "effects."

    Personally, I tend to be bored by music that relies mainly on colorful orchestration for its interest. "Interesting" timbral effects seem almost obligatory in contemporary music, but they're a lot easier to create than a compelling sequence of melody and harmony that makes the sounds really meaningful.

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  3. #62
    MacLeod
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    Quote Originally Posted by JamieHoldham View Post
    Of course Mahler would outdue anyone else trying to orchestrate any of his own works, just for the sake of only the composer himself knowing what notes are truly needed.
    I don't think that's true. Many composers would acknowledge their need for helpful criticism of their work, pointers about how to improve.

    [add]Sorry, I should say that it may be true in the particular case of Mahler.

    Quote Originally Posted by tdc View Post
    Well, if we are talking about excellent and coloristic orchestration I think the obvious answer is Ravel
    And yet I find Ravel's work...well, actually, I don't find his work, that is, I don't go looking for it. Daphnis et Chloé is a turn off - but perhaps I'm not listening to his best orchestrated works?

    Quote Originally Posted by T Son of Ander View Post
    When I think of good orchestrators, Prokofiev always comes to mind.
    Yes .
    Last edited by MacLeod; Nov-14-2017 at 09:24.

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    Senior Member KenOC's Avatar
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    Tchaikovsky would often invite a particular friend (Arensky?) to preview and criticize his new works, including I assume orchestration. He'd often get quite angry at the criticism, but always listened, apologized afterward, and asked his friend back the next time.

    I read that Brahms, also, gave preview performances of his works on the piano for a small circle of friends, in order to get their feedback.

    Beethoven just told them all to go to hell.
    Last edited by KenOC; Nov-14-2017 at 09:10.


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  6. #64
    MacLeod
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    Just found this comment on Mahler's orchestration in wiki (apologies if it's already been posted and I missed it.)


    Attachment 99178

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gustav...rtoon_1907.jpg
    Last edited by MacLeod; Nov-14-2017 at 09:32.

  7. #65
    Senior Member tdc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MacLeod View Post
    And yet I find Ravel's work...well, actually, I don't find his work, that is, I don't go looking for it. Daphnis et Chloé is a turn off - but perhaps I'm not listening to his best orchestrated works?
    I think Daphnis et Chloé is a great example of his orchestration, but not his most accessible piece. You may find another work a better gateway to appreciating his work, you may not. I think I am certainly biased towards Ravel's orchestration because he is among my favorite composers. I do know I'm not the only one who feels he excelled in that area which is why I posted the Stravinsky quote. Simply by reading through this thread you will find others who rate his orchestration very highly.

    But as I've said I don't think of orchestration as being the most important thing in composition anyway and I'm not really that attached to the idea of Ravel being the very best. There are plenty of other composers who have excelled in orchestration. You are free to draw your own conclusions.

  8. #66
    MacLeod
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    @tdc...you're right, Ravel is regarded as one of the best orchestrators. He just seemed to me to be an example of what you and Woodduck have observed: that orchestration isn't everything.

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    Senior Member tdc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MacLeod View Post
    @tdc...you're right, Ravel is regarded as one of the best orchestrators. He just seemed to me to be an example of what you and Woodduck have observed: that orchestration isn't everything.
    No its not, the reason I like his music so much doesn't even have much to do with that. The fact he is widely respected from an academic standpoint and also one of the more popular and frequently recorded and performed composers of the 20th century I think is indicative that he excelled in more areas than just orchestration.

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    Senior Member PlaySalieri's Avatar
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    Mozart's orchestration must seem primitive compared to the 19th/20th c masters - but then he used modest forces.

    I recall a friend telling me how when he was a teenager in the 60s mad about classical music - his parents bought him a classical LP for christmas. Being a lover of orchestral music he was left feeling deflated when he saw that he had been bought Mozart's K361 for winds - but after listening to the piece he changed his view - was overwhelmed by the variety of sounds etc.

    I think Dvorak was a class orchestrator among others but then there are just too many in that era and after who did stunning things with an orchestra.

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  12. #69
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    Messiaen considered Villa-Lobos the greatest orchestrator of the modern era.
    Last edited by Flavius; Nov-14-2017 at 17:32.

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    Villa Lobos is very colorful! I also thing Ginastera's orchestration is very good, although in his music it is more of a primary element than it is to many other composers. As far as other composers, Vaughan Williams studied orchestration with Ravel, and it shows in his music.

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    Mahler had a great advantage as an orchestrater. since he was primarily a conductor, he enjoyed the vantage point of the podium. he would have constant insight into what would "sound", what combinations would work, what voices would project in what setting....when we get to Mahler's latest works - Sym #9, DLvDE....we see a total mastery of orchestration...a clarity of texture and a wonderfully colorful and varied orchestral palette.

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    Quote Originally Posted by R3PL4Y View Post
    Villa .....Vaughan Williams studied orchestration with Ravel, and it shows in his music.
    Vaughan Williams and Prokofieff sound very different in thematic, harmonic content, but they share a common trait as orchestrators - they really exploit the low woodwind and brass sonoroties very effectively..bassoons, low clarinets, horns, trombones, tuba always enjoy pretty juicy parts with these composers....they still achieve a clarity of texture, tho, and sound does not become too thick or muddy...they paid great attention to the exact instruments being featured, or used in combination.
    Last edited by Heck148; Nov-14-2017 at 23:21.

  16. #73
    Senior Member T Son of Ander's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heck148 View Post
    ...bassoons, low clarinets, horns, trombones, tuba always enjoy pretty juicy parts...
    True, but with Prokofiev, I always thought how he used clarinets in the higher register was practically a signature. Works that immediately come to mind are the 5th symphony and Alexander Nevsky.
    Tom

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    Quote Originally Posted by T Son of Ander View Post
    Works that immediately come to mind are the 5th symphony and Alexander Nevsky.
    yes, Prokofieff 5 has major league solos for clarinet.

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    Another angle on great orchestration: someone asked Elgar why in one of his scores he had the cor anglais playing mezzo forte when the rest of the orchestra was playing fortissimo and the cor anglais couldn't possibly be heard. Elgar said the instrument had an important solo in a few bars and he wanted to give the player a chance to warm up.

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