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Thread: Unpopular opinion: Beethoven sucked writing vocal music

  1. #16
    Senior Member Robert Pickett's Avatar
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    "Fidelio always gives me chills when I listen to it, I think that the Missa Solemnis is a marvellous work of genius and that the Choral symphony is one of the greatest symphonies ever; and I also think that the Mass in C and that the Choral Fantasy are criminally underrated pieces. I love the Beethoven's lieder that I know, and I like his cantatas. I wanted that Beethoven had written more vocal music."

    Couldn't agree more, although I think I would put many of his Lieder into the "criminally underrated" bracket as well.

    For a short piece of lovely, Echt-Beethoven, I'd also recommend the short cantata A Calm Sea and a Prosperous Voyage. I love it!
    Last edited by Robert Pickett; Oct-12-2018 at 13:18.

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  3. #17
    Senior Member JAS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ManuelMozart95 View Post
    Of course saying he sucked is an exageration,
    So, really nothing but TC click bait.

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  5. #18
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    It seems like the people who don't like his vocal music, most particularly choir music, are the ones who have to sing it. Fortunately, I don't have to, so I really like his choral music. The Missa Solemnis sends me through the roof, as does the closing of the 9th symphony.

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  7. #19
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    I have read that Verdi didn't like the 4th movement of the 9th Symphony because he thought it was subpar compared ti his instrumental music.
    I do like the Ode to Joy but I think it is the heart that it has that makes it a touching piece.
    But from a pure technical analysis I think it has some problems and Verdi analyzing it as an Opera composer is probably right.
    But I guess it is perfect un its own way because it's pure Beethoven, it has all his passion and it couldn't have been better un that sense.

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  9. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by ManuelMozart95 View Post
    I have read that Verdi didn't like the 4th movement of the 9th Symphony because he thought it was subpar compared ti his instrumental music.
    I do like the Ode to Joy but I think it is the heart that it has that makes it a touching piece.
    But from a pure technical analysis I think it has some problems and Verdi analyzing it as an Opera composer is probably right.
    But I guess it is perfect un its own way because it's pure Beethoven, it has all his passion and it couldn't have been better un that sense.
    That's correct, Verdi kind of despised the vocal music in Beethoven's 9th.

    "The alpha and omega is Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, marvelous in the first three movements, very badly set in the last. No one will ever approach the sublimity of the first movement, but it will be an easy task to write as badly for voices as in the last movement.
    -- Giuseppe Verdi, 1878

  10. #21
    Senior Member isorhythm's Avatar
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    I'll take the Missa Solemnis over all the sacred music of Mozart and Haydn put together (which I also love). So, no, I don't agree that he sucked.

    He certainly didn't specialize in vocal writing, and I admit I've never warmed to Fidelio.

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  12. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by ManuelMozart95 View Post
    I have read that Verdi didn't like the 4th movement of the 9th Symphony because he thought it was subpar compared ti his instrumental music.
    I do like the Ode to Joy but I think it is the heart that it has that makes it a touching piece.
    But from a pure technical analysis I think it has some problems and Verdi analyzing it as an Opera composer is probably right.
    But I guess it is perfect un its own way because it's pure Beethoven, it has all his passion and it couldn't have been better un that sense.

    Perhaps that is part of the problem as far as Verdi is concerned, he was analyzing it as an opera composer. Vaughan Williams, as a symphonist and writer of choral music, had a different perspective -

    'I have simply tried to set down, largely to clarify my own mind, my personal 'reactions' ...... to what I believe, together with the B Minor Mass and the St. Matthew Passion, to be the greatest of choral music. In case this last sentence should appear to be an impertinent truism, I ought to explain that the early nineteenth-century idiom is naturally repugnant to me. My natural love is much more the Gothic-Teutonic idiom of J.S. Bach and his predecessors ........ Thus it is, so to speak, in spite of myself, that I have to acknowledge the supremacy of the Ninth Symphony'
    Last edited by Biffo; Oct-12-2018 at 16:31.

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    Senior Member KenOC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    To say Berthoven was a purely romantic composer is a sweeping statement thatdoesn'tstand up to much scrutiny. He bridged the gap between classical and romantic. I can't see why this has any effect on his vocal music. After all, Beethoven was Verdi's hero.
    Hoffman wrote this in 1810, when the word "romantic" meant something quite different, at least to him, than it does today. He also classed Haydn and Mozart as "romantic" composers. For more perspective, you can read his entire essay:

    https://sites.google.com/site/kenocs...n-on-beethoven
    Last edited by KenOC; Oct-12-2018 at 17:30.


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  15. #24
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    Comparing him to Mozart and Bach, well that's just unfair.

    I don't think so. I have sung all three composers -- Beethoven's Missa Solemnis, several of his lied, Der Glorreiche Augenblick and others; Mozart's Ave Verum Corpus, Mass in C Minor, Coronation mass, opera arias and Laudate Dominum; Bach's St. Matthew Passion, cantatas BWV and motets -- and I wouldn't say Beethoven wrote less well for the voice than the others.

    Mozart is much easier to learn than either Bach or Beethoven and probably more tuneful much of the time. But so is Mendelssohn and Haydn easier to learn, more tuneful and just as prophetic as the big three. They are all a lot of fun to learn and sing.

    Anyone that thinks Beethoven wrote poorly for the voice hasn't heard or performed much of his music. It is always challenging because he pushed everything beyond its limit. He felt restrained by the four octaves of the fortepiano of his time and wanted to go beyond it, the reason so much of the finale of the 32nd piano sonata spends so much time at the high end tinkling around. He was like that with the voice too.
    Last edited by larold; Oct-12-2018 at 20:33.

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  17. #25
    Senior Member aleazk's Avatar
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    Over the years, I have read that Beethoven apparently didn't have any melody skill, no counterpoint, no orchestration, no harmony, 'only form'. And now no vocal writing skill.

    Nevertheless, he managed to be one of the greatest composers ever. Of course, he excelled in all those skills, and that's why he's great.

    When reading these claims about the supposed ineptness of the great composers at some specific, vital to write good music, skill (like in that Chopin bashing thread), it becomes clear to me that the actual inept is usually the claimant, which operates under a rather narrow and cliché notion of the skills being discussed (e.g., counterpoint must refer only the ability to write a fugue in a north germanic baroque style, melody must refer only to the ability to write in a romantic bel canto style and the same with emotion, etc.)
    Last edited by aleazk; Oct-13-2018 at 23:03.

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  19. #26
    Member Gallus's Avatar
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    Cough...



    To me this is one of the most profound (that word again) moments in all of opera, and music in general.

  20. #27
    Senior Member JAS's Avatar
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    There is a odd mental condition by which some people seek (and perhaps find) a kind of validation of individualization and intellect by making outrageous claims that simply fly in the face of established opinion. (There seems to be a particular delight in trying to take down a peg or two someone with a well-established reputation.) It is as if they are saying that this idea is important because I hold it, and I am important because I am the only champion for it. Furthermore, it seems that the more people don't agree with them, the more validation they receive from expressing it. I see this often, although I don't understand the mysteries of why it seems to work for them. It is a strange world.
    Last edited by JAS; Oct-13-2018 at 23:27.

  21. #28
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    I think it goes without saying that operatic writing came more difficult for Beethoven than Mozart. It wasn’t a question of lack of skill, but of a composer who was never satisfied with the end result. After all, he wrote no less than 4 versions of the overture and did a major rewrite of his only opera that was originally called Leonore. (Anyone who loves Fidelio should give Leonore a listen.) after all the years he spent on Fidelio, I think Beethoven soured on the idea of another opera.

    On the other hand, Mozart churned out operas like they were a no-brainer. My guess is that opera was his favorite medium by far. And he fine-honed it to perfection with the final 4-5 operas. IMO, Mozart’s final operas don’t sound like any of his other music, symphonies, concertos, etc. The melodies are especially exquisite, the music anticipates the romantic era and the arias are particularly well written for the situation in the opera. Unlike a number of other operas that have only a couple of ‘hit’ arias, Mozart’s operas came with several, sort of like a Beatles album back in the day. (Apparently true of Lil Wayne at present, but sadly, I’m not a fan.)
    Last edited by DaveM; Oct-13-2018 at 23:35.

  22. #29
    Senior Member KenOC's Avatar
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    Beethoven was aware that, when it came to opera, he was a bit slow. "Rossini is a talented and a melodious composer, his music suits the frivolous and sensuous spirit of the times, and his productivity is such that he needs only as many weeks as the Germans do years to write an opera." (1824)

    He had perhaps forgotten about Mozart, who wasn't very slow at all.


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