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Thread: A Contemporary Music Repertoire (a work in progress)

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    Senior Member Trout's Avatar
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    Default A Contemporary Music Repertoire (a work in progress)

    Hi everyone,

    For the past year or so, I've been on and off working on compiling a large, but hopefully comprehensive, list of contemporary classical music. In fact, I'm still working on it, but I thought I would share my current progress in case anyone is interested.

    What is this list exactly? Well, in the most precise terms, it is simply an aggregation of works of the most-acclaimed contemporary composers that both critics and casual listeners seem to recommend. I did this through plenty of research across various forums, books, articles and reviews (including a drop of my own preferences). As I disclaim in the link, this list is obviously not scientific nor perfect by any means, but I hope it provides a good overview of contemporary classical music especially for novices.

    To breakdown its sheer vastness, I created a couple tiers to distinguish the most-recommended works:

    ⋆⋆⋆ means an essential work, among the most esteemed of the contemporary era
    ⋆⋆ means a fairly important work, good to know especially if you're interested in that particular composer

    Of the composers listed, am I missing any of their important works or your favorites? Do you disagree strongly with any of the star ratings (or lack thereof)? Or generally, if anyone has any questions or feedback, I'd be happy to hear!

    Edit: I should have made it more clear that there are tons of absent composers that I just haven't had time to include yet. Each composer entry takes many hours to complete thoroughly so I appreciate all of your patience.
    Last edited by Trout; Dec-22-2018 at 10:35.

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    Senior Member Lisztian's Avatar
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    Awesome, thanks!

    Just wondering what the cut-off point is, as I was struck by the absence of Xenakis and Stockhausen (while their contemporaries are up there). I also realise you said it's a work in progress: just curious!

    Again: thanks, this is fantastic and I'll definitely make use of it.
    Last edited by Lisztian; Dec-22-2018 at 06:39.

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    Senior Member Red Terror's Avatar
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    Great list. I would add:

    Jón Leifs
    Vyacheslav Artyomov
    Richard Barrett
    Michael Hersch
    Kaija Saariaho
    Aribert Reimann
    George Benjamin
    Ben Johnston
    Lou Harrison
    Pascal Dusapin
    Olivier Greif
    Jason Eckardt
    Djuro Zivkovic
    Michel Chion
    Evan Ziporyn
    Luciano Cilio
    Magnus Lindberg
    Mick Rossi
    Franco Evangelisti
    Friedrich Cerha
    Noah Creshevsky
    Hans Kox
    Rolf Riehm
    Horațiu Rădulescu
    Steve Martland
    Rytis Mažulis
    Robert Kyr
    Anders Koppel
    Georg Katzer
    Giya Kancheli
    Vinko Globokar
    Last edited by Red Terror; Dec-22-2018 at 08:07.

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    Senior Member Trout's Avatar
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    Thanks for checking it out, Lisztian!

    Quote Originally Posted by Lisztian View Post
    Just wondering what the cut-off point is, as I was struck by the absence of Xenakis and Stockhausen (while their contemporaries are up there). I also realise you said it's a work in progress: just curious!
    I forgot to mention that I've been tackling this project by going through one composer at a time in a quasi-alphabetical order. (I did the Schnittke and Takemitsu entries early on before becoming a bit more methodical.) Xenakis and Stockhausen are definitely in the pipeline!

    Here's a (non-exhaustive) list of all other composers I definitely intend to do at some point:

    Nono, Luigi
    Nørgård, Per
    Nyman, Michael
    Pärt, Arvo
    Partch, Harry
    Penderecki, Krzysztof
    Rautavaara, Einojuhani
    Reich, Steve
    Rihm, Wolfgang
    Riley, Terry
    Romitelli, Fausto
    Rzewski, Frederic
    Saariaho, Kaija
    Scelsi, Giacinto
    Sciarrino, Salvatore
    Sculthorpe, Peter
    Sessions, Roger
    Silvestrov, Valentin
    Stockhausen, Karlheinz
    Tavener, John
    Ustvolskaya, Galina
    Vasks, Pēteris
    Wuorinen, Charles
    Xenakis, Iannis
    Young, La Monte

    Once I hit all of the big names, I'll probably start adding some more lesser-knowns.

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    Senior Member Trout's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Terror View Post
    Great list. I would add:

    Vyacheslav Artyomov
    Richard Barrett
    Michael Hersch
    Kaija Saariaho
    Aribert Reimann
    George Benjamin
    Thanks for the suggestions. Saariaho is definitely on the shortlist. Benjamin and Barrett will probably follow once I finish the above list. The others deserve more research on my part, though I definitely do really like Reimann's Lear and Hersch's The Vanishing Pavilions.

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    Senior Member Lisztian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trout View Post
    Thanks for checking it out, Lisztian!



    I forgot to mention that I've been tackling this project by going through one composer at a time in a quasi-alphabetical order. (I did the Schnittke and Takemitsu entries early on before becoming a bit more methodical.) Xenakis and Stockhausen are definitely in the pipeline!

    Here's a (non-exhaustive) list of all other composers I definitely intend to do at some point:

    Nono, Luigi
    Nørgård, Per
    Nyman, Michael
    Pärt, Arvo
    Partch, Harry
    Penderecki, Krzysztof
    Rautavaara, Einojuhani
    Reich, Steve
    Rihm, Wolfgang
    Riley, Terry
    Romitelli, Fausto
    Rzewski, Frederic
    Saariaho, Kaija
    Scelsi, Giacinto
    Sciarrino, Salvatore
    Sculthorpe, Peter
    Sessions, Roger
    Silvestrov, Valentin
    Stockhausen, Karlheinz
    Tavener, John
    Ustvolskaya, Galina
    Vasks, Pēteris
    Wuorinen, Charles
    Xenakis, Iannis
    Young, La Monte

    Once I hit all of the big names, I'll probably start adding some more lesser-knowns.
    Excellent I'll be looking forward to it! As for now I'm updating my 'to-buy' lists

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    Senior Member Lisztian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trout View Post
    Of the composers listed, am I missing any of their important works or your favorites?
    I think Gougalon is one of Chin's very best works and I have heard others express a similar sentiment. Of course, I don't think it's out on CD...
    Last edited by Lisztian; Dec-22-2018 at 07:21.

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    Senior Member Trout's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lisztian View Post
    I think Gougalon is one of Chin's very best works and I have heard others express a similar sentiment. Of course, I don't think it's out on CD...
    It's a piece that I just barely left out the first time, so your support and an enthusiastic Guardian review that I missed is more than enough to push it on the list. It would need the support of several others more to climb to the next tier though, which is pretty difficult without a proper recording and also for being such a new piece.

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    Senior Member Andolink's Avatar
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    Two female composers I'd definitely add: Chaya Czernowin and Rebecca Saunders

    and worth conisdering:
    Isabel Mundry
    Clara Ianotta
    Olga Neuwirth
    Marina Khorkova

    And from the other gender: James Dillon and Alexander Goehr are both very important IMO.
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    A first glance: you're missing some of the most important contemps from Finland: Aho, Rautavaara, Saariaho, Sallinen.

    What's your cut-off for contemporary?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andolink View Post
    Two female composers I'd definitely add: Chaya Czernowin and Rebecca Saunders

    and worth conisdering:
    Isabel Mundry
    Clara Ianotta
    Olga Neuwirth
    Marina Khorkova

    And from the other gender: James Dillon and Alexander Goehr are both very important IMO.
    Many of those would be on my second pass (Czernowin, Saunders, Neuwirth, Dillon and perhaps Goehr). The others will require some more research from me.

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    Senior Member Trout's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Art Rock View Post
    A first glance: you're missing some of the most important contemps from Finland: Aho, Rautavaara, Saariaho, Sallinen.

    What's your cut-off for contemporary?
    See my post above for major composers that I haven't had time to get to yet. Aho and Sallinen would definitely follow.

    My rough cutoff is any composer that has a substantial or important body of work post circa-1975.
    Last edited by Trout; Dec-22-2018 at 10:10.

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    Senior Member arpeggio's Avatar
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    In all fairness this is a humongous undertaking so I am not too disappointed at the many omissions. The ones that have made the list so far are excellent. But as a band junkie I am sad
    Last edited by arpeggio; Dec-22-2018 at 16:10.
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    Senior Member Trout's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by arpeggio View Post
    In all fairness this is a humongous undertaking so I am not too disappointed at the many omissions. The one that have made the list so far are excellent. But as a band junkie I am sad
    I appreciate your understanding and your advocacy. You are right though, band music has been almost entirely absent from my radar and from most of my sources, as if the "contemporary classical" and "concert band" worlds were entirely insular and distinct. I will certainly spend some more time researching, but for now I find that Wikipedia has a pretty good list of contemporary concert band composers, that I'll use as a starting basis. Are there others that you would personally add?
    Last edited by Trout; Dec-22-2018 at 10:33.

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    Most composers released by neos I’ve really enjoyed. Nikolaus Brass and Adriana Hölszky are two that spring to mind. https://neos-music.com

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