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Thread: Top 10 Symphonists of the 20th Century - Ranked

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    Default Top 10 Symphonists of the 20th Century - Ranked

    Only rule is that each composer must have written at least 3 symphonies after 1900.

    Here's my list:

    1. Sibelius
    2. Mahler
    3. Shostakovich
    4. Vaughan Williams
    5. Nielsen
    6. Roussel
    7. Prokofiev
    8. Martinů
    9. Honegger
    10. William Schuman
    Last edited by Ulfilas; Oct-25-2020 at 03:09.

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    Senior Member Allegro Con Brio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ulfilas View Post
    Only rule is that each composer must have written at least 3 symphonies after 1900.

    Here's my list:

    1. Sibelius
    2. Mahler
    3. Shostakovich
    4. Vaughan Williams
    5. Nielsen
    6. Roussel
    7. Prokofiev
    8. Martinů
    9. Honegger
    10. William Schuman
    I started to type my list until I realized that it would be essentially the same as yours! However, I would substitute Elgar at No. 6 and a toss-up between Bax and Myaskovsky at No. 10.
    "If we understood the world, we would realize that there is a logic of harmony underlying its manifold apparent dissonances." - Jean Sibelius

    "Art, like morality, consists of drawing the line somewhere." - G.K. Chesterton

    "Ceaseless work, analysis, reflection, writing much, endless self-correction, that is my secret." - Johann Sebastian Bach

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    Quote Originally Posted by Allegro Con Brio View Post
    I started to type my list until I realized that it would be essentially the same as yours! However, I would substitute Elgar at No. 6 and a toss-up between Bax and Myaskovsky at No. 10.
    Interesting! Elgar is only eligible if you count his third symphony...

    I'll be interested to see what other names come up. Tubin is another interesting name, he might be my no. 11.
    Last edited by Ulfilas; Oct-25-2020 at 04:03.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ulfilas View Post
    Only rule is that each composer must have written at least 3 symphonies after 1900.

    Here's my list:

    1. Sibelius
    2. Mahler
    3. Shostakovich
    4. Vaughan Williams
    5. Nielsen
    6. Roussel
    7. Prokofiev
    8. Martinů
    9. Honegger
    10. William Schuman
    I need to listen more to Roussel and W. Schuman. I would put Nielsen in 4th place but your top 3 are my top 3 in the same order. Maybe Shostakovich before Mahler? Maybe.
    What would you suggest is a good place to start with those two?
    Last edited by TwoFlutesOneTrumpet; Oct-25-2020 at 04:05.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TwoFlutesOneTrumpet View Post
    I need to listen more to Roussel and W. Schuman. I would put Nielsen in 4th place but your top 3 are my top 3 in the same order.
    What would you suggest is a good place to start with those two?
    I'd recommend starting with each composer's 3rd symphony:

    636943931721.jpg

    Schuman's 3rd was written around the same time as Copland's, and to my mind surpasses it (Copland was the greater composer, but to my mind Schuman was the more natural symphonist).

    For Roussel's 3rd, Bernstein on DG is a classic:

    00028947869726.jpg

    There's also a great Roussel series on Naxos, and this 3rd is equally good:

    747313024575.jpg
    Last edited by Ulfilas; Oct-25-2020 at 04:11.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ulfilas View Post
    Only rule is that each composer must have written at least 3 symphonies after 1900.

    Here's my list:

    1. Sibelius
    2. Mahler
    3. Shostakovich
    4. Vaughan Williams
    5. Nielsen
    6. Roussel
    7. Prokofiev
    8. Martinů
    9. Honegger
    10. William Schuman
    That's about right for me but I'll replace VW with Bax, and Roussel with Lutoslawski. Others I wouldn't be without are Gerhard, Schnittke, Lajtha, Dutilleux, Penderecki, Bernstein, and Szymanowski.
    Last edited by starthrower; Oct-25-2020 at 18:06.
    “Music makes you feel feelings. Words make you think thoughts. But a song can make you feel a thought.”

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    For Roussel #3 - two great ones:
    Bernstein/NYPO/Sony
    Munch/CSO/'67 - Archival set "CSO in 20th Century"

    For Schuman Sym #3 - major piece, really heavy duty!! Two classics:
    Bernstein/NYPO I - first one for CBS/Sony from 60s
    Slatkin/CSO/ '86 - "Archival set "CSO in 20th Century
    These are all wonderful recordings, real classics.
    The competition in the Schuman(tough piece!!) Is fierce, Seattle is good, but not on the level of CSO. NYPO at their best.

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    Very good list, and arguing with ranking would be a pretty pointless exercise. However.....

    I'd swap Mahler and Sibelius, and put Vaughan Williams equal with Shostakovich. Then Martinů, level with Nielsen.

    Others I would try and squeeze into a top ten would have to include Eduard Tubin, Leevi Madetoja and Franz Schmidt. Alberic Magnard would not make the list for only writing one post-1900 symphony (No.4, which is one of the truly great Symphonies, as is Schmidt's 4th). If forced to include an American, I would go for either Walter Piston or David Diamond before Schuman...

    1. Mahler
    2. Sibelius
    3= Shostakovich
    3= Vaughan Williams
    5= Martinů
    5= Nielsen
    7. Tubin
    8. Prokofiev
    9. Madetoja
    10. Schmidt
    Last edited by CnC Bartok; Oct-25-2020 at 19:51.

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    Senior Member Prodromides's Avatar
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    Lightbulb

    ... and now for something different ...

    1. Andre Jolivet
    2. Benjamin Frankel
    3. Richard Rodney Bennett
    4. Roberto Gerhard
    5. Humphrey Searle
    6. Meyer Kupferman
    7. Isang Yun
    8. Fartein Valen
    9. Carlos Chavez
    10. Malcolm Arnold

    Mid-century Brits tend to resonate with me the most, particularly between 1958 & 1970. Frankel's 1st ('58), Gerhard's 3rd ('60), Searle's last ('64), Bennett's 1st ('65), etc.
    The 1960s truly 'speak' to me.
    If more than 10 were requested, I could have included Josef Tal, Roger Sessions, Havergal Brian + many more.

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    ^^^^ Glad someone mentions Ben Frankel, grotesquely under-rated!

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    1. Shostakovich
    2. Nielsen
    3. Vaughan Williams
    4. Arnold
    5. Tubin
    6. Atterberg
    7. Holmboe
    8. Rubbra
    9. Martinu
    10. Langgaard


    Honorable mentions: Sibelius, Myaskovsky, Prokofiev, Alwyn, Braga Santos
    Last edited by MusicSybarite; Oct-26-2020 at 00:58.

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    Most often played in our house (in approximate order of frequency):

    1. Sibelius
    2. Vaughan Williams
    3. Mahler
    4. Shostakovich
    5. Langgaard
    6. Penderecki
    7. George Lloyd
    8. Tubin
    9. Pärt (though his only satisfactory symphony seems to me No. 3)
    10. Rautavaara

    It’s preposterous that I haven’t left room for Bax, Prokofiev, Martinů, and Myaskovsky. What a lot of first-rate symphonies have been composed in the last 100 years!

    I assume that I can’t include Glazunov (3 symphonies post-1900, but the last is incomplete) or Stravinsky (who entitled 4 compositions “Symphony” and a fifth “Symphonies,” but the world has chosen to disagree with him).

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    Senior Member KenOC's Avatar
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    My list:

    Shostakovich
    Sibelius
    Prokofiev

    Sorry, there are no others.


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    Quote Originally Posted by KenOC View Post
    My list:

    Shostakovich
    Sibelius
    Prokofiev

    Sorry, there are no others.
    Even if I were being über-picky, I'd have to include Nielsen, Roussel and Vaughan Williams as well.

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    Senior Member Bulldog's Avatar
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    1. Mahler
    2. Shostakovich
    3. Prokofiev
    4. Weinberg
    5. Pettersson
    6. Bax
    7. Myaskovsky
    8. Martinu
    9. Rautavaara
    10. Vaughan Williams

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