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Thread: 50 Greatest Composers by 174 Composers

  1. #196
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    And talking of works not heard, it's not absolutely true for tons of modern composers?

    By modern do you mean living composers? The recording era changed this for everyone.

    Name some whose music isn't played and known that you think are great.

  2. #197
    Senior Member norman bates's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by larold View Post
    And talking of works not heard, it's not absolutely true for tons of modern composers?

    By modern do you mean living composers? The recording era changed this for everyone.

    Name some whose music isn't played and known that you think are great.
    I mean modern as usually associated to classical era, that means from the start of the 20th century or even a bit before.
    Modern classical music isn't even remotely known or performed as the classics. For instance, for a long time I've tried to find a work by Jan Ingenhoven that was considered the first atonal song, and to my knowledge it's not been recorded even once.
    Andrew Hill wrote an opera, and I'd really like to listen to it, it's still unrecorded. A lot of music written by Sorabji is still only on paper.
    Some of my very favorite composers are Maurice Ohana and Giacinto Scelsi. How well known are they? Sure, now there are recordings of their work, but are they heard even remotely as Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert, Puccini etc?
    And I've mentioned musicians that are relatively well known.
    The recording made possible to a lot of music to be heard, no doubts about it, but for a classical composer there are other difficulties to consider (there should be an orchestra to perform your music, that could also be very hard to play), and even if one is able to record his music, the huge (and always increasing) amount of music available makes every single musician less and less visible. You could be able to have your whole body of work recorded and still be completely unknown.
    When Bach was rediscovered on the other hand the situation was very different, the world of music was much smaller back then, so once heard he (even if dead) had a wide audience listening to his music.
    What time is the next swan?

  3. #198
    Senior Member Larkenfield's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by larold View Post
    Could you clarify your 'continually confuse popularity with greatness'?

    Toward the end of the 20th century and into the 21st century one composer ascended more than any other: Mahler. In 1950 Mahler was not considered among the greatest composers even though, as a conductor and music director, he had held important posts in Vienna and New York (Philharmonic) and continually played his own symphonies to, at best, lackluster reviews and fanfare.

    Today he is played by orchestras everywhere. Where I live the Grand Rapids (Mich.) Symphony, Lansing Symphony Orchestra and the Michigan State University Philharmonic all schedule performances of his symphonies -- every year. He is a hit with conductors, orchestras and attenders.

    But is he great? Arturo Toscanini, one of the greatest and most revered conductors in history said his music was not only not great it wasn't good. Furtwangler never played it before or after the war. It took Leonard Bernstein and Maurice Abravanel in USA to make it popular here, thanks to the advent of the long played record.

    No one considered him great less than a lifetime ago yet he has skyrocketed in popularity to a point where his symphonies are now played in concert all over the world as much as Beethoven's. Would anyone say he is Beethoven's peer as a composer? Then why does he get as much air time? Because he is popular.

    To me this is popularity, not greatness. This popularity is just as great with conductors and orchestra managers as record buyers and fans, too. This is what I mean to confuse popularity with greatness.

    I agree there is a certain cache to hearing music less familiar and perhaps more contemporary than the greatest music of history. But to confuse that with greatness I cannot accept. And the title here is "50 Greatest Composers by 174 Composers."
    And exactly when does "popular" become symphonies that are considered critical successes according to you? Fifty years? One hundred? Most likely never? It's possible for them to be both and be well-deserving of being high on anyone's list. I would suggest there has already been plenty of time for his symphonies to wear out their welcome and yet there has been no loss of interest in them after Bernstein put Mahler on the musical landscape for good with the NYP—and his concerts for the centennial of Mahler's birth was in 1960 and almost 60 years ago. Sixty!... So there's more than popularity going on here for the interest in them to have already lasted this long... The only ones who say this are the ones who don't seem to understand him, IMO, in the first place because they have more criticism of him than praise. How about a statement such as, "My preference was for recordings that somewhat scaled back Mahler's psychoses..." Now what makes you an expert on his psychological state of mind to make such an arrogant statement of a man who was never viewed with psychosis even by Freud—but who indeed had his neuroses and doubts that led to him question the deeper issues of life and yet functioned quite well and successfully in the world until he died. What's wrong with that? Nothing's wrong with that. So your apparent understanding of him is neither sympathetic nor insightful. It's narrow, judgemental and negative... He wrote his last symphony more than 100 years ago and I would suggest that it's still being heard, along with his 9 others, because while he remains popular, listeners remain fascinated by them, not to mention the man, and find depth there because they are strongly biographical in certain ways and Mahler put a great deal of himself in them that have inspired others to ask the same probing questions of life, not to mention that he was a melodic genius and one of the greatest orchestrators of all time, which seems to have escaped some of his crass listeners... I find the above critique full of errors... and who exactly gives a damn whether Toscanini or Furtwangler liked them?... The 8th Symphony, the last of Mahler's works that was premiered in his lifetime, was a symphony that was a critical and popular success during his lifetime when he conducted the Munich Philharmonic in its first performance, in Munich, on 12 September 1910. His symphonies also had to overcome being unfairly banned in Europe when Hitler was in power. I would consider them second only to Beethoven and there's more to them than only "popularity," not after his 1st Symphony is still being played though it was composed in 1888. That's almost 130 years ago! Mahler's "psychoses" is a gross exaggeration though he's sometimes played as a total neurotic by those who identify with him perhaps too strongly though he was a man of remarkable resilience even after numerous deaths (such as the death of six siblings growing up and later the tragic loss of his daughter), a devastating divorce from a woman he still loved, and his heart problems that led to his death. What a displeasure to read about a composer by those who mainly have faint praise, can't seem to hear even half of what he put into his works, and criticism. Toscanini couldn't even get Ravel's Bolero right during its American premiere, so forget him playing Mahler, and actually Furtwangler performed Mahler's Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, live performance with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and the Vienna Philharmonic, 1951 (on Orfeo) and Mahler's, Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, studio recording with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and the Philharmonia Orchestra, 1952 (on Naxos, EMI)... He
    played him
    .
    Last edited by Larkenfield; Yesterday at 18:37.
    "That's all Folks!"

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