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He’s soulless. He considers people who value heart and spirit of the music to be akin to cult members. He states that he only deals in “musical facts.”

I was reading a Penguin Guide review of the Lindsay Beethoven Quartets yesterday:

“The sense of spontaneity brings the obverse quality: these performances are not as precise as those in the finest rival sets; but there are few Beethoven quartet recordings that so convincingly bring out the humanity of the writing, its power to communicate.”

This is the whole way of thinking that Hurwitz runs counter to (He rails against the British press). I completely disagree with Hurwitz’s musical philosophy and in particular his diatribes against people who recognize that there is more to music than just the nuts and bolts.
II’m not sure if he’s really soulless— there are many occasions where he’s spot on. But I totally disagree on the Lindsay’s. His Beethoven and Schubert are both my reference cycles — they simply say far more than dozens of flashier accounts although you obviously want to hear alternatives from time to time
 

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Recently, Hurwitz vlogged about: "Review: Johanna Martzy's Warner Recordings--Enjoyable, but Necessary?"
Usually, Wikipedia or other Internet sources can provide detailed info about important artists. But I can find almost no DETAILED info about Martzy; specifically about her experience with the Nazi's and Jewish ethnicity. Is a more complete biography of hers included somewhere not on the internet?
Thx!
 

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Usually, Wikipedia or other Internet sources can provide detailed info about important artists. But I can find almost no DETAILED info about Martzy; specifically about her experience with the Nazi's and Jewish ethnicity. Is a more complete biography of hers included somewhere not on the internet?
Thx!
There's a bit here:

The Cult of Johanna Martzy - The American Scholar
 

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I just recently found and subscribed to his channel. In conjunction with the forum, I am seeing his channel as a good way to find recordings of pieces I am very familiar with and some commentary. I am doing a quick dive back into Beethoven symphonies and so far most of the ones that he has recommended as his favorites are very solid. I also looked at some of his opera videos and compared with the recordings that have been recommended to me in the forum and online, finding that he is fairly consistent with a good chunk of them with a few surprises. He also seems to be pretty pleasant and informed when talking about pieces and recordings, which is something I have been looking for on YouTube.
 

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Who else thinks that his endless row of (boring) "Dave's faves" videos only serve to give us the impression that he's very broadly oriented and knowledgeable in fields that he never discussed or reviewed? Neither on yt or at his own site, where he leaves the non-orchestral stuff to other reviewers. Yet we are to believe that he loves all kinds of opera and chamber music. Sure Dave.
 

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Who else thinks that his endless row of (boring) "Dave's faves" videos only serve to give us the impression that he's very broadly oriented and knowledgeable in fields that he never discussed or reviewed? Neither on yt or at his own site, where he leaves the non-orchestral stuff to other reviewers. Yet we are to believe that he loves all kinds of opera and chamber music. Sure Dave.
I think Hurwitz is familiar with the chamber music of Mendelssohn, Dvorak, and Haydn. He wrote books about these composers (so he listend to their more obscure works) and thinks they're underrated. (Bizarrely, in one video, he compares Dvorak's last two string quartets to the Beethoven late quartets)
 

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His latest "Dave's fave" is really bizarre. Hurwitz never discusses organ music, doesn't like it, doesn't care for it. Fair enough.
But now we're supposed to believe that one of his favorite cd's features the organ music of... no, not Bach, Franck, Reger or Messiaen, but Edouard Batiste, the trashiest organ composer of the 19th century.

I downloaded some of his music from IMSLP once, with the idea of playing it in church, always nice to have something off the beaten path in your repertoire. But the liturgical value of this stuff is zero. Play it during a service and people will think a barrel organ has rolled into the building.
But I guess Dave loves campy crap, so yeah, Batiste it is. Good luck with it.
 

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I love the review of a CD of Bruckner 9-- played on organ. It sounds as awful as you'd expect (Hurwitz plays clips of passages like the climax of the slow movement). So Hurwitz starts playing themes from Bruckner 9 on a kazoo to mock the organ recording.

Even though I love Hurwitz for stuff like that, I haven't listened to any of his Dave's Faves entries.
 

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I love Dave Hurwitz, he is a morbidly obese version of Lil Ludi, without the knowledge or insight into what makes classical music great.

He loves lurid, trashy, superficial recordings of monumental works, and is pretty open about this in his Dave’s Faves. I suspect he really only enjoys musicals and operettas, as there‘s quite a lot of repression (in both senses of the word) going on there.

That said, I really only listen for his wonderful Jewish shtick, what they used to call Borscht Belt… “Take my mother… no really, TAKE MY MOTHER!”

American humour wouldn’t exist, hadn’t Jews not gone on holidays in the Catskills in the 1950s…
 

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I love the review of a CD of Bruckner 9-- played on organ. It sounds as awful as you'd expect (Hurwitz plays clips of passages like the climax of the slow movement). So Hurwitz starts playing themes from Bruckner 9 on a kazoo to mock the organ recording.

Even though I love Hurwitz for stuff like that, I haven't listened to any of his Dave's Faves entries.
I completely agree with him on the subject of the organ 9th. Arranging a symphony (by Bruckner or anyone else) for organ means losing so much of the score's details and nuances that it becomes a mutilation instead of an arrangement. And in this case it proves that the Bruckner's famed organ-inspired "cathedral sound" is a myth. As a composer of orchestral works, his medium was the orchestra and he didn't have the organ on his mind when he wrote his symphonies.
If keyboard players want to get busy with Bruckner, they should try the various great piano arrangements for 1 and 2 players by people like Grunsky, Singer and Stradal.
 

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His latest "Dave's fave" is really bizarre. Hurwitz never discusses organ music, doesn't like it, doesn't care for it. Fair enough.
But now we're supposed to believe that one of his favorite cd's features the organ music of... no, not Bach, Franck, Reger or Messiaen, but Edouard Batiste, the trashiest organ composer of the 19th century.
And apart from his curious choice, he spouts a lot of nonsense about organ stops in his video. His theory that tremolo and voix céleste stops are imitations of orchestral string vibrato (and thus "prove" that vibrato existed in Beethoven's time) is utter bullsh*t.
First of all, the celeste stop is NOT invented by Cavaillé-Coll. The use of slightly detuned rows of pipes that cause a tremolando effect when combined with a proper tuned stop is as old as renaissance and early baroque Italian organs. The stop is called Unda Maris there. Is Hurwitz gonna claim that Italian string music from 1600 used vibrato because of the organs "imitated string sounds"?
Tremolo in the sense of interrupting the air stream is even older.
Secondly, these "effects" have nothing to do with strings imitation. They're mostly inspired by the human voice. In italian, "voce umana" is even sometimes used as a synonym for voix céleste!
 

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This is about Hurwitz, but not his Youtube channel. Hurwitz wrote a book about the Brahms symphonies. Check out the bizzare Amazon description, which I quote below:


Brahms was a musician's musician, in some respects an "academic" composer, and so it's practically impossible for professional scholars and musicians to approach his music without wanting to demonstrate at some point that they are as smart as Brahms, and uniquely able to unravel the technical intricacies of his larger works. For the general reader, this obviously represents a problem; indeed, it's not exactly a joy for the music professional either. Though Brahms' symphonies are often treated somewhat like medicine, as something "good for you," but otherwise lacking in purely sensual pleasure, David Hurwitz takes the reader beyond the jargon and pedantry and unlocks the mystery (and the joy) contained within Brahms' symphonies.

Uh huh. Brahms' symphonies are repertoire staples not because people enjoy them ("lacking in purely sensual pleasure") but because they're supposed to be good for you, like medicine. I wonder if this is a common viewpoint Hurwitz encountered in decades of attending concerts and reading emails from readers of his CM website, or if Hurwitz, deep down, doesn't like the symphonies but knows he must pretend to love them in his popularizer role.
 

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The (unfair, I think) idea that Brahms is overly well-constructed/"dense"/"academic" is absolutely one I've heard before- in fact before I started listening to Brahms, that's the impression I got about him from reading other opinions of his music. That seems like a weird reading of that blurb.


What's that famous quote one of Brahms friends said about the 4th - "like I was being beaten over the head by a very intelligent person"?
 

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To that point, I think a lot of his standpoint and intended audience is the idea that people might be put off by overly academic/dry or overly hagiographic discussions on classical music, which is probably why his videos have a lot of vulgarity and his provocative statement about entertainment. I don't think it's so much "dumbing down" as it is a philosophy that at our cores, music is to be enjoyed.
 

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But after more than 30 years of moderately funny books like "bluff your way trough/classical music /for dummies", even longer pedestal tumbling of anyone formerly considered to be "great" at something (except sports or popular culture) and 99% of the populace being unable to understand music or art as anything but entertainment, this seems like kicking against wide open doors.
 

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The (unfair, I think) idea that Brahms is overly well-constructed/"dense"/"academic" is absolutely one I've heard before- in fact before I started listening to Brahms, that's the impression I got about him from reading other opinions of his music. That seems like a weird reading of that blurb.


What's that famous quote one of Brahms friends said about the 4th - "like I was being beaten over the head by a very intelligent person"?
That was Hanslick, who only pretended to like much of Brahms' music so he could have a champion against the New German School. It was also his first time listening to a piano four hands arrangement of the work, and Brahms symphonies generally are less immediately accessible* than some other orchestral works (example: Mendelssohn's Italian symphony) and may take a few listens to enjoy. In the age of recordings, CM listeners can listen to Brahms 4 a few times and get hooked.

*Brahms 3 is probably accessible on first listen

Now to my perhaps uncharitable interpretation of Hurwitz's blurb. I am suspicious because I've watched many of his videos.
-- Hurwitz said he disliked the German Requiem until a few years ago. He plays his favorite part (that he finally learned to love after decades)-- it was an excerpt we all know, and that I had loved instantly on first listen
--Hurwitz described a love-hate relationship with the two piano concertos-- he has liked both of them but not at the same time
--Hurwitz charged through Brahms' chamber music in one video, though he has done seperate videos on the string sextets.
--Hurwitz often puts down Brahms to lift up Dvorak (indeed, Hurwitz is an excellent popularizer of Dvorak-- his book on Dvorak is recommended on the pinned Music Books thread).
--And no Double Concerto video
 

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To that point, I think a lot of his standpoint and intended audience is the idea that people might be put off by overly academic/dry or overly hagiographic discussions on classical music, which is probably why his videos have a lot of vulgarity and his provocative statement about entertainment. I don't think it's so much "dumbing down" as it is a philosophy that at our cores, music is to be enjoyed.
That would be a problem if there weren't a bajillion recordings of the Brahms symphonies, if they weren't performed live all the time by orchestras, and they were mostly known to listeners in a couple recorded cycles and by discussions in biographies of Brahms. Great thing that's not the case.
 

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Is it a sin to not like Brahms on initial listen, or to find him "intimidating"?

It's one hell of a leap to go from that to "David Hurwitz is pretending to like Brahms" which is a hell of an accusation, especially given he's been very blatant at expressing when he doesn't like something, including popular works.
 
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