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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
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.
 

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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.
 

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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
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for checking it out, Lisztian!

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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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
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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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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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
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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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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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
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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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
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.
 

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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 :(
 
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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
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?
 
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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.
Most of the music I listened to over the last six months were by composers whose average date of birth is somewhere in the early 70s....I could have a look at them all again when I get back home from my holiday and add some more.
 

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Its going to develop into a great work! I wonder how you are handling the evaluative and categorising decisions? How do you decide where to place the bar for who to include and who not to? If it is open to all suggestions it will grow so big that it will be only good to refer to (looking up composers you already know) but if it is more discerning it might also function as a guide that takes you to composers who you don't know yet. Also, how did you decide which works are *** and **?
 

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Excellant list

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?
Excellent list.

What freaked me out is that Jerry Brubaker, who is on the list, was a friend of mine. After he retired from the U S Navy Band he became a member of the City of Fairfax Band. Jerry is a horn player and a graduate of Eastman. He used to be the chief arranger for the Navy Band and he used to do many arrangements for us. The band is doing several of his arrangements at our annual Christmas concert tonight.

The bassoon section used to tease him that he never wrote interesting bassoon parts. He got his revenge on us and we never complained again. A few years ago he moved to Colorado.

He is an outstanding arranger. A few years ago he did an arrangement of the Overture for Sea Hawk by Korngold. He listened to the classic RCA recording with Charles Gerhardt conducting the National Philharmonic Orchestra. It was fantastic and he did by ear listening to the recording.
 
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Thanks for this list, I look forward to exploring more of it. I recently picked up a cd of Mark Anthony Turnage, Your Rockaby. It's a Saxophone Concerto. I've heard some more of his music a year ago, but I don't remember what exactly. Sorry, not much help here. But yet another composer to listen to in your excellent but mammoth project.
 
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