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Thread: Hello, from warm, sunny, Phoenix, Arizona!

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    Member cato's Avatar
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    Smile Hello, from warm, sunny, Phoenix, Arizona!

    I just found this board, and I think it's great!

    I've been into classical music since I was a teen, and lately, in the past few years, I have expanded into opera, although I still like classical music more then opera.

    As far as composers go, I have a wide range of interests starting with Bach (although I do enjoy some early church music composed before 1600) and through the classical period, to the Romantic era, and even many 20th centuary composers, with Dmitri Shostakovich being my favorate. In fact, Shostakovich is in my top 5 favorate composers, running very close to Rachmaninov in my love for his music, and both composers are very misunderstood and lacking favor with the wider public.

    And I am always open to finding "new" music and composers, if, (and this is a big IF) I find the music pleasing to either my "head" or my "heart", and prefurably both.

    I look foward to visiting this board, and not only learning about "new" music and composers, but sharing my own views and experences as well.

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    Senior Member linz's Avatar
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    I also like Shostakovich, but haven't listened to his music enough, unfortunately. I know that his String Quartets are considered among the best of all time. He could easily be considered the most prolific composer of the whole 20th century. I am a fan of many Austro-Germanic composers, but as far as opera, moments of musical brilliance influence me more then the subject of the opera. Have you herd of Schnittke? His 1st Concerto Grosso and third string quartet are outstanding. Schnittke is considered by some to be the proper successer to Shostakovich.



    Alfred Schnittke

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    Member cato's Avatar
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    Default Yes, I have heard of Alfred Schnittke

    However, I have only listened to 1 or 2 of his composistions, and I can't really say that I like his music much.

    As far as him being a "proper successer" to Shostakovich, I must strongly disagree, unless you are talking about his "style" or his use of atonal elements in his music. Yes, there are some simularities in both, but Shostakovich has a depth and a gravity that no other composer can match. Why? Here's why.

    First, no other composers lived through Stalin's terror as Shostakovich did. Sure, there were other Soviet composed who lived in the same era, but they were not threatened with death or imprisonment as was Shostakovich was.
    (In fact, Prokofiev came back to Stalin's Russian Gulag of his own free will, after living for many years in the free world. And once he was back, he was Stalin's primary boot-licker, and the "darling" of the Soviet art estlabishment. )
    Shostakovich on the other hand, lived in a state of constant terror, having been accused of being a "formalist" composer.

    Second, how many composers lived through a war, watching "up close and personal" the destruction of their home town (Leningrad) and the invasion of their country by the Nazi's?

    In fact, going back to the 17th Centuary, how many composers lived through BOTH police state terror, AND a bloody, destructive war fought on their home soil, as Shostakovich did?

    Of course, Mozart composed "pretty" music, Rachmaninov composed "romantic" music, and I love them both. However, I believe that Shostakovich has a "depth" and "gravity" in his music (as well as beauty) that neither of these other great composers posesses. This depth and gravity comes from seeing and fearing DEATH as a reality of your day to day existence. No other composer has ever suffered as Shostakovich did, and as a result, he has left us with a rich musical legacy that no other composer can match.

    Just my opinion.

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    Hi Cato,

    Robert here from a bleak and windy London. I honestly thought the same - that a composer who had suffered KNEW emotion and his music was far more valuable. I must say I am not so sure of this as before. Maybe my view on this has changed. For example, one of my chief reasons for overlooking Mendelssohn was that he was born to an affluent, high class family. His music (such as I knew of it) seemed shallow, superficial etc. - like marzipan or 19th century Mozart. So I tended to set it to one side. But as I got older and realised that depth, profundity, is almost limitless in music (e.g. awesome depth of feeling in works by Bach, Beethoven, and many composers) I touched on composers like Mendelssohn again, and found them to be far more lovely than I first imagined.

    I love Shosktakovitch for many reasons. He certainly can convey bleakness and every sort of human emotion. But his individualism is at times not appealing to me. There are times when he seems too individualistic - not social, and lacking in transmitting a group expression other than hardship, terror, suffering etc etc. This is still my biggest criticism of Shostakovitch though he is surely one of the very greatest composers of the 20th century. Alienation is not, to me, musical greatness if it is not matched in equal measure by resolving alienation. That is my sole criticism of this great, tremendous composer.

    So, yes, I greatly admire Mendelssohn now - more than ever before. His music is wonderful. Full of life. The fact that he did so much to revive interest in JS Bach's great choral works is also a great plus.

    Another poster here greatly rates Ravel for his huge depth of emotional ability. I agree with that. At the moment I rate Prokofiev and Shostakovitch as two of the very greatest composers of the 20th century with Rachmaninov and Medtner not far behind. If Philip Glass's music was more expansive I would rate him very highly too.

    I guess I think that a truly great composer must be all things to all listeners. And few have ever achieved that.

    It's funny how we 'know' what we like. That in itself is profound.

    Regards

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    I can obviously acccept that Shostakovich lived in very troubled times, and that he stoically endured the most awful of experiences (including vicious Pravda denunciations etc). I can also accept that his music was changed from what it might otherwise have been, and that it may have changed for the better. But it doesn't mean it's much good overall.

    I disagree with the idea that a tempestuous personal situation is required to produce great art of any kind, if that's what is meant. It may have such an effect for some musicians, but it's clearly untrue as a general proposition. It just raises one's blood pressure!

    To be fair, I quite like bits of it. S5, S8 and S11 are OK. Festive Overture is good. Some of his film music is good too (Gadly etc). Jazz Suites are fine. One or two String Quartets are nice. But overall I'm only luke-warm. It's the style I guess which is not quite to my taste. I can see it becoming "dated". His work hasn't the timeless beauty and majesty of many earlier greats. His symphonic works are not a patch on Mozart's, Beethoven's or Brahms. They are far too uneven in quality both within and between symphonies.


    Topaz
    Last edited by Topaz; Dec-10-2006 at 12:04.

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    Member cato's Avatar
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    I have to disagree with your view that his music with someday be "dated." I believe that Shostakovich's music is timeless, however, only time with tell which one of us is right.

    I also disagree with the view that adversity has nothing to do with forming great works of art. I see your point..... to a point. However, it seems to me that Russia for example, has suffered a great deal in the past two hundred years, and I think it is no accident that some of the best plays, novels, poems, operas, and classical music all came from artists who were suffering first under the Tasrs, and then the Soviets.

    Would Tolstoy have written such beautiful, and meaningful books, had he not lived under a Tasr, and knew serfdom firsthand?

    Would Shostakovich have writen such moving music, were it not for Stalin and living through a Nazi invaison of Russia?

    I don't believe they would, but it is a good debate, with points taken on all sides, and you have made some great points.

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