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Thread: The Great Symphonists

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    Newbies Pete's Avatar
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    Default The Great Symphonists

    As I have been binging on symphonies throughout the last two weeks or so, I came to wonder which composers others of you might regard as "top-tier" symphonists. Also, which symphonists come just short of this mark?

    I have constructed my own list -- based purely on my own listening experiences of course -- using such criteria as expressive range, consistency of inspiration and quantity.

    TOP TIER

    Haydn
    Mozart
    Beethoven
    Bruckner
    Brahms
    Dvorak
    Mahler
    Sibelius
    Prokofiev
    Shostakovich

    CLOSE, BUT NOT QUITE...

    Schumann
    Berlioz (assuming we take him at his word that "Faust" and "Juliet" are symphonies as well)
    Tchaikovsky
    Martinu
    Stravinsky
    Hartmann

    Certainly there are those I've neglected, due to ignorance, absent-mindedness or indifference.

    How do you arrange them?

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    Senior Member Daniel's Avatar
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    I don't see Mendelssohn?

    Daniel
    Last edited by Daniel; Sep-28-2005 at 10:42.

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    I would personally put Beethoven, Dvorak, Mozart, Haydn, Schubert, and Mendelssohn at the top of the list and Schumann, Tchaikovsky, Brahms, and Prokofiev next.

    I guess I dislike everything I have heard by Stravinsky, Berlioz, and Mahler.

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    Senior Member Daniel's Avatar
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    Hello,

    Thanks for the Mendelssohn.

    Greetings,
    Daniel
    Last edited by Daniel; Jul-04-2006 at 18:26.

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    THe greatest symphonist ever and most important LUdwig Van Beethoven
    THe greatest symphonist after him Gustav Mahler
    If you just study those two, you will likely become a great symphonic composer

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    Pete--

    I'm largely in agreement with your list (although I don't know any of Hartmann's work). I would add Schubert, Nielsen, Carlos Chavez, and Malcolm Arnold.

    Jack

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    In my opinio,every symphonist is unique,so that they provide us a lovely and colorful world of music.It's hard to say.Beethoven has a view as if he is on the peak of the world.Brahms has the widest and deepest and most delicate interpretation of emotion.Haydon is like a nice and humorous gentlman.Mozart is SUN.Mendelssohn is spring.You can catch an impact of a painfully thinking man through the sensitive surface of Mahler's works.And,there is still numerous composers who should be remarked^^^^^^^^^

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    Nielsen has to be up in the top Ten! I would even have Vagn Holmboe in the top twenty!
    My List in no order except the first two.
    Beethoven
    Shostakovich
    Sibelius
    Mozart
    Bruckner
    Mahler
    Nielsen
    Prokofiev
    Brahms
    Dvorak
    Vaughn-Williams
    Holmboe
    Walton- because Walton 1 is surpassed only by Beethoven 5 and 3
    Tchaikovsky
    Hindemith
    Mendelssohn
    As you can see, i am not a Haydn fan, but he probably deserves to be here so
    HAYDN!

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    Yeah! Malcolm Arnold! Let me add him! How about Tippet, and Simpson

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    Senior Member Edward Elgar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by baroque flute
    I would personally put Beethoven, Dvorak, Mozart, Haydn, Schubert, and Mendelssohn at the top of the list and Schumann, Tchaikovsky, Brahms, and Prokofiev next.

    I guess I dislike everything I have heard by Stravinsky, Berlioz, and Mahler.

    I disagree with Brahms being in a lower tier - His symphonies can be described no less than absolutely glorious! Brahms is one of the few symphonists who just takes you to another world.
    When all the paint has been dried, when all the stone has been carved, music shall remain, and we shall work with what remains.

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    Newbies Oblivion's Avatar
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    I would personly put Glazunov there somewhere, his symphonies are excelent - especially his fifth.

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    Junior Member Weltschmerz's Avatar
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    Everyone seems so reluctant to exclude Schubert! As the man who debatably single-handedly took the baton (double meaning intended) from Beethoven and relayed the music world into full Romanticism, it is hard to not put him as one of the most important symphonists, even if he had more notable contributions in other areas of composition. Oh and I almost forgot - he composed (again debatably) the most celebrated piece of music in the history of Western music, the Unfinished Symphony, which (regardless of the debate over whether you consider it a true symphony or not) revolutionzed the approach to the symphony up to and including the great Gustav Mahler.
    "When all hopes of recognition or honor have faded into distant memory, when purity of heart meets sorrow of mind, when all the world seems to walk in blindness, and yet a man works without wearying for that which he loves...only in this moment is passion truly understood." - Franz Schubert, 1827

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    Senior Member Kurkikohtaus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by glezzery View Post
    Nielsen has to be up in the top Ten!
    I think enough time has passed for a fair verdict to be laid upon Nielsen.

    While Nielsen may justifyably be someone's favourite composer, I don't think it is possible to rank him with the greatests symphonists of all time.

    While Nielsen is by all means an extremely skilled and original composer, his music has a highly esoteric quality about it that simply does not communicate something universal to most listeners and musicians alike. That does not mean that it is bad music, that does not mean that it is not good music. Certainly, Nielsen's music is good. But to put him up along with Beethoven and Brahms in the grand scheme of things is not warranted.

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    Senior Member linz's Avatar
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    Its absurd trying to figure out who is the greatest of the symphonist, for starters the symphony has meant different things at different times. Trying to compare Haydn with Mahler is down right disrespectful to both parties, and besides, if you were to rank any of the truely mighty masters of the form at the primes of their creativity, chances are that they would compose equally brilliant works, but in highly different styles. This is more a fact then an oppinion!

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    Senior Member Hexameron's Avatar
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    I agree, linz. You have to separate by period: Baroque, Classical, Romantic (even late Romantic) and Twentieth Century. It's like saying, who's the best string quartet writer? How can you look at Haydn's and Schubert's with the same scope? Or Mozart's and Brahms'? You can't. It has all gone through an evolution. Just look at the Scherzo form alone. Mozart's was a joke (not an insult, as Scherzo means "joke" in Italian), Beethoven's was a musical escapade, Chopin's was a virtuosic concert piece. Can you ask who was the best "Scherzoist" from that?

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