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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I happened to notice when a certain poll first surveyed, there were about 30 individuals who said Beethoven's Ninth wasn't their favorite piece, and how many said it was? That number was of course, zero. We can understand why most people don't consider the greatest piece on Talk Classical polls, their favorite, in fact it makes total sense.

Let's go back to an older sample of our favorite composers. It seemed unanimous that everyone chose Chopin as one of their favorites, he was on everyone's list, and this makes him still one of the elite on Talk Classical, yet on each list individually he was low. His name still skyrocketed to the top of the final list.

Analyzing the Ninth with this in mind, what makes such a work unable to hit the very top of the individual preference? Well, it's unanimously very close, and that's what makes the Ninth the top piece, but if 100 is the greatest and none have reached 100, we go with the next best thing. A piece that's almost there. Statistics aside, let's finally explore these individual reasons we consider certain pieces and composers better than the average best, and why it makes sense to us personally.

Compare Bach's Mass and WTC, or Beethoven as a composer, feeling free to denote in either of these circumstances why you make preference for another instead, however I'll provide for you an analogy of why that might be. It's clear that individuals find perfection in ideas unique to them, and while others might not understand the greatness of them, they still exist nevertheless as subjective benchmarks of absolute individual perfection. Sometimes in marrying these ideas or descriptors we reach a greater sense of objectivity, but the pieces that marry them often don't reach us as favorites. They end up at the top of the great hall only for a wider appeal, especially those that chose the right few aspects to draw a wider audience in.

I want to start with a sense of perfection in certain individual descriptors that a great piece can reach. For the first descriptor, some favorites of mine often have a flawless sense of classical form and counterpoint--I think particularly of, Beethoven's Third and Sixth symphony. The Ninth also has this sprawled and epic sensibility compared to these works--it really marries both brilliant classical form with epic and imaginative evocation, and even grander celebration.

To really summarize everything so far, the Ninth balances and captures two or more of the greatest aspects in music, and therefore reaches a wider audience and vote. Its second aspect or descriptor, that broad sense of expression or adventure, has on its own been perfected for me in the likes of works like Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade. Classical form and counterpoint has been accomplished flawlessly by the Eroica and Pastoral of Beethoven, both also celebratory in nature. Beethoven marries these greatest concepts above and more, for the first time in composing the Ninth, and is this result better than those that focused individually on one?

I can only form these above preferences and analogies in regards to why my ears might gravitate to music, not why others enjoy these works, but the actual gravitation itself inevitably must begin with what my ears simply enjoy to begin with: the pieces that captured these elements best separately. Yet I still wonder if there's a perfect piece out there that does marry everything one enjoys, and if so, please share it and try explaining, with this in mind: Descriptors of perfection tend to be inevitably quite subjective and varied. I once pointed out that harmonically, a very overlooked composer was my favorite, and have had to acknowledge for a long time that people don't agree and it's still never changed my opinion. If a work is limited into certain descriptors it may not reach a wider appeal by doing everything, but for those who appreciate what it does, it is absolute in ingenuity and focus. It is often that unfocused works will enter a higher status of fame and acknowledgement, but for doing more things not as well.

This in conclusion, is how we may often reach The Greatest Pieces and Composers, that still are not our top personal favorites. But what those perfect descriptors are, like the many in the Ninth, may be different for someone and indicate greater inspiration for other pieces. So which favorite piece of yours fits your ideal focus, compared to a similar more widely-esteemed work?
 

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that is fairly well written-up. I think what you are speaking to is that music is an art form. The philosophical study of aesthetics is really at the heart of it.

when we talk about "perfection", we have to remember that "perfection" is just a word. Just like "Beautiful", we each can have our own definitions of "perfection" when it comes to music. Unlike the study of physics where the acceleration of gravity on Earth at sea level is what it is regardless of how you and I feel about it, music and the arts are different.

This is why things dont add up in the surveys.

If it were possible for the surveys to yield your favorite pieces, then it should also be possible to create a "formula" for a perfect piece of music.

but that is clearly not possible

which why we call it "art"....for lack of a better word
 

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... I think what you are speaking to is that music is an art form. The philosophical study of aesthetics is really at the heart of it.
It looks like the OP for this thread has been deleted. Anyway, your mention of (1) "music as an art form;" and of (2) "the philosophical study of aesthetics" caught my eye.

Re (1): it has been a concern for many including me that we so often miss the artistry in music in our TC discussions. Yet verbalizing our musical experiences is difficult. Over a lifetime of working in music, talk about musical artistry has come mostly in the form of side remarks, quotes, and occasional enlightening commentaries. Sporadic articles and books on music criticism sometimes directly address music as an art form, and sometimes don't. "Taste" isn't mentioned much anymore and superlatives with accompanying explication seem to be frowned upon, even in reference to compositions that we believe deserve them. As for (2): aesthetics -- philosophical or otherwise -- is seldom even surveyed in university music programs that I know of. Again, there are a few books that one can resort to, possibly more than I'm aware of. If anyone has comments or can recommend good sources, I'd be interested.
 

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As most people probably do not have a single favorite piece, I found that surprisingly many named Beethoven's 9th as their (single) favorite piece (also because some other people love to hate its finale ;)). I have lots of favorite pieces where I have no idea how they could be better. I also have favorites that have IMO small flaws but are overall so good that it doesn't matter. (There are also some where I understand what other people find flawed but don't agree. Or maybe just don't realize them for lack of insight)

And there are pieces (more frequent with long large scale pieces with many sections, such as operas) where I find quite few flaws and would be somewhat open to some cuts or slight amendments and this has been very common in practice in opera and oratorio although often also because of sheer length or other practical reasons.
It is also quite common to have today in practice hybrid versions of works that were never performed like that (Mozart's Don Giovanni is very often performed as mix between Prague and Vienna and so is Handel's Messiah between its umpteenth historical versions).
But overall, I think I find very many favorites close enough to perfection.
 

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I happened to notice when a certain poll first surveyed, there were about 30 individuals who said Beethoven's Ninth wasn't their favorite piece, and how many said it was? That number was of course, zero. We can understand why most people don't consider the greatest piece on Talk Classical polls, their favorite, in fact it makes total sense.

Let's go back to an older sample of our favorite composers. It seemed unanimous that everyone chose Chopin as one of their favorites, he was on everyone's list, and this makes him still one of the elite on Talk Classical, yet on each list individually he was low. His name still skyrocketed to the top of the final list.

Analyzing the Ninth with this in mind, what makes such a work unable to hit the very top of the individual preference? Well, it's unanimously very close, and that's what makes the Ninth the top piece, but if 100 is the greatest and none have reached 100, we go with the next best thing. A piece that's almost there. Statistics aside, let's finally explore these individual reasons we consider certain pieces and composers better than the average best, and why it makes sense to us personally.

Compare Bach's Mass and WTC, or Beethoven as a composer, feeling free to denote in either of these circumstances why you make preference for another instead, however I'll provide for you an analogy of why that might be. It's clear that individuals find perfection in ideas unique to them, and while others might not understand the greatness of them, they still exist nevertheless as subjective benchmarks of absolute individual perfection. Sometimes in marrying these ideas or descriptors we reach a greater sense of objectivity, but the pieces that marry them often don't reach us as favorites. They end up at the top of the great hall only for a wider appeal, especially those that chose the right few aspects to draw a wider audience in.

I want to start with a sense of perfection in certain individual descriptors that a great piece can reach. For the first descriptor, some favorites of mine often have a flawless sense of classical form and counterpoint--I think particularly of, Beethoven's Third and Sixth symphony. The Ninth also has this sprawled and epic sensibility compared to these works--it really marries both brilliant classical form with epic and imaginative evocation, and even grander celebration.

To really summarize everything so far, the Ninth balances and captures two or more of the greatest aspects in music, and therefore reaches a wider audience and vote. Its second aspect or descriptor, that broad sense of expression or adventure, has on its own been perfected for me in the likes of works like Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade. Classical form and counterpoint has been accomplished flawlessly by the Eroica and Pastoral of Beethoven, both also celebratory in nature. Beethoven marries these greatest concepts above and more, for the first time in composing the Ninth, and is this result better than those that focused individually on one?

I can only form these above preferences and analogies in regards to why my ears might gravitate to music, not why others enjoy these works, but the actual gravitation itself inevitably must begin with what my ears simply enjoy to begin with: the pieces that captured these elements best separately. Yet I still wonder if there's a perfect piece out there that does marry everything one enjoys, and if so, please share it and try explaining, with this in mind: Descriptors of perfection tend to be inevitably quite subjective and varied. I once pointed out that harmonically, a very overlooked composer was my favorite, and have had to acknowledge for a long time that people don't agree and it's still never changed my opinion. If a work is limited into certain descriptors it may not reach a wider appeal by doing everything, but for those who appreciate what it does, it is absolute in ingenuity and focus. It is often that unfocused works will enter a higher status of fame and acknowledgement, but for doing more things not as well.

This in conclusion, is how we may often reach The Greatest Pieces and Composers, that still are not our top personal favorites. But what those perfect descriptors are, like the many in the Ninth, may be different for someone and indicate greater inspiration for other pieces. So which favorite piece of yours fits your ideal focus, compared to a similar more widely-esteemed work?
Election and perfection are inconsequentional to one another. The peak of preference is never perfect. Only faith can support a belief in musical perfection. Musical perfection is an imposition of religious attributes.
 

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As most people probably do not have a single favorite piece, I found that surprisingly many named Beethoven's 9th as their (single) favorite piece (also because some other people love to hate its finale ;)). I have lots of favorite pieces where I have no idea how they could be better. I also have favorites that have IMO small flaws but are overall so good that it doesn't matter. (There are also some where I understand what other people find flawed but don't agree. Or maybe just don't realize them for lack of insight)

And there are pieces (more frequent with long large scale pieces with many sections, such as operas) where I find quite few flaws and would be somewhat open to some cuts or slight amendments and this has been very common in practice in opera and oratorio although often also because of sheer length or other practical reasons.
It is also quite common to have today in practice hybrid versions of works that were never performed like that (Mozart's Don Giovanni is very often performed as mix between Prague and Vienna and so is Handel's Messiah between its umpteenth historical versions).
But overall, I think I find very many favorites close enough to perfection.
There is a rawness to every opinion that is inescapable despite one's studied predilection.
 

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The title is impossibly demanding and the OP is missing -- not a perfect thread! Anyway I'll just plunge forward.🏊‍♀️ There are short piano pieces that come close to perfection. Nevertheless I feel something more is needed. For big orchestral works the one that stands out is Beethoven's 3rd, the Eroica. It's an epic work maintains a high level, even for Beethoven, over four movements. Yet the details matter too, things that pique our attention. For example, the opening theme in E-Flay Major has a famous dip to the note D-Flat -- what my teacher called "where the unexpected becomes the inevitable." Beethoven often makes such impish moves. Not only does he wriggle out of this one successfully but it adumbrates harmonic events later in the movement. Perhaps we might call that delayed perfection.
 

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Election and perfection are inconsequentional to one another. The peak of preference is never perfect. Only faith can support a belief in musical perfection. Musical perfection is an imposition of religious attributes.
That's quite an absolutist view, but surprisingly, I tend to agree with it - now that you've written it out like that. Impressive.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
The title is impossibly demanding and the OP is missing.
It looks like the OP for this thread has been deleted.
That is incredibly odd. Maybe I should make a new thread, since the replies so far must not have been able to read the OP. It's right here:
I happened to notice when a certain poll first surveyed, there were about 30 individuals who said Beethoven's Ninth wasn't their favorite piece, and how many said it was? That number was of course, zero. We can understand why most people don't consider the greatest piece on Talk Classical polls, their favorite, in fact it makes total sense.

Let's go back to an older sample of our favorite composers. It seemed unanimous that everyone chose Chopin as one of their favorites, he was on everyone's list, and this makes him still one of the elite on Talk Classical, yet on each list individually he was low. His name still skyrocketed to the top of the final list.

Analyzing the Ninth with this in mind, what makes such a work unable to hit the very top of the individual preference? Well, it's unanimously very close, and that's what makes the Ninth the top piece, but if 100 is the greatest and none have reached 100, we go with the next best thing. A piece that's almost there. Statistics aside, let's finally explore these individual reasons we consider certain pieces and composers better than the average best, and why it makes sense to us personally.

Compare Bach's Mass and WTC, or Beethoven as a composer, feeling free to denote in either of these circumstances why you make preference for another instead, however I'll provide for you an analogy of why that might be. It's clear that individuals find perfection in ideas unique to them, and while others might not understand the greatness of them, they still exist nevertheless as subjective benchmarks of absolute individual perfection. Sometimes in marrying these ideas or descriptors we reach a greater sense of objectivity, but the pieces that marry them often don't reach us as favorites. They end up at the top of the great hall only for a wider appeal, especially those that chose the right few aspects to draw a wider audience in.

I want to start with a sense of perfection in certain individual descriptors that a great piece can reach. For the first descriptor, some favorites of mine often have a flawless sense of classical form and counterpoint--I think particularly of, Beethoven's Third and Sixth symphony. The Ninth also has this sprawled and epic sensibility compared to these works--it really marries both brilliant classical form with epic and imaginative evocation, and even grander celebration.

To really summarize everything so far, the Ninth balances and captures two or more of the greatest aspects in music, and therefore reaches a wider audience and vote. Its second aspect or descriptor, that broad sense of expression or adventure, has on its own been perfected for me in the likes of works like Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade. Classical form and counterpoint has been accomplished flawlessly by the Eroica and Pastoral of Beethoven, both also celebratory in nature. Beethoven marries these greatest concepts above and more, for the first time in composing the Ninth, and is this result better than those that focused individually on one?

I can only form these above preferences and analogies in regards to why my ears might gravitate to music, not why others enjoy these works, but the actual gravitation itself inevitably must begin with what my ears simply enjoy to begin with: the pieces that captured these elements best separately. Yet I still wonder if there's a perfect piece out there that does marry everything one enjoys, and if so, please share it and try explaining, with this in mind: Descriptors of perfection tend to be inevitably quite subjective and varied. I once pointed out that harmonically, a very overlooked composer was my favorite, and have had to acknowledge for a long time that people don't agree and it's still never changed my opinion. If a work is limited into certain descriptors it may not reach a wider appeal by doing everything, but for those who appreciate what it does, it is absolute in ingenuity and focus. It is often that unfocused works will enter a higher status of fame and acknowledgement, but for doing more things not as well.

This in conclusion, is how we may often reach The Greatest Pieces and Composers, that still are not our top personal favorites. But what those perfect descriptors are, like the many in the Ninth, may be different for someone and indicate greater inspiration for other pieces. So which favorite piece of yours fits your ideal focus, compared to a similar more widely-esteemed work?
 

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There is a rawness to every opinion that is inescapable despite one's studied predilection.
Rawness. Yes, thanks for putting my notion about this into words. I have trouble posting without sounding condescending. I try to help, but often it just raises tensions.
 

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The title is impossibly demanding and the OP is missing -- not a perfect thread! Anyway I'll just plunge forward.🏊‍♀️ There are short piano pieces that come close to perfection. Nevertheless I feel something more is needed. For big orchestral works the one that stands out is Beethoven's 3rd, the Eroica. It's an epic work maintains a high level, even for Beethoven, over four movements. Yet the details matter too, things that pique our attention. For example, the opening theme in E-Flay Major has a famous dip to the note D-Flat -- what my teacher called "where the unexpected becomes the inevitable." Beethoven often makes such impish moves. Not only does he wriggle out of this one successfully but it adumbrates harmonic events later in the movement. Perhaps we might call that delayed perfection.
Excellent post. Food for thought. My thanks to Ethereality for starting this thread which is turning out to be so helpful for communicating challenging concepts, as I try to read between the lines (while knowing the past posts of my favorite posters).

It's been 20 years since I last heard the Eroica. I frequently listen to the Eroica Variations to try to understand how his mind worked in that form. So remarkable, using such obvious material (just look at the score and what he achieves artistically with so little (in my opinion)).

After 20 more years of listening experience how will I be twisted and turned by a new listen to the Symphony? LvB was so young. I need to make time for it. It's just a happy accident that I put off listening to it for so many years, now I’ll get my reward. :giggle:
 

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Was the OP referring to a survey/poll that was posted in a different thread? If so, then it would have been helpful to have inked to it.

Regarding the OP, my favorites have nothing to do with an idea of "perfection." I don't even understand how that quality could be applied to music. Since perfection does not exist in our world, I consider its usage an example of hyperbole.

As an aside, most of my favorite composers don't appear on any top ten lists, and many works considered great are not among my favorites.
 

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if its any good to you, I think you make good points. Dont worry about sounding condescending, just say what you have to say
Thanks, there's so much to admire and respect about our members and I don't say it enough.

Can imperfection in music be a good thing? I really don't want perfection in jazz performances (improvisations). I want to hear what comes from those human minds with so much experience!, how they cover their slight mistakes. That to me is what enlightens me and my playing.

Added:
Years ago Leonard Feather mentioned that he didn't know a jazz improviser who could remain fresh for more than 16 minutes. After that they tend to repeat themselves musically. And this has stuck with me all these years… it was good for me and it was bad for me..
 

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Can imperfection in music be a good thing? I really don't want perfection in jazz performances (improvisations). I want to hear what comes from those human minds with so much experience!, how they cover their slight mistakes. That to me is what enlightens me and my playing.
there's an old saying among jazz players...."when you make a mistake, repeat it"

then you work with it and "pitch your way out of a jam" to borrow a term from baseball. And to borrow another baseball term, "When you're swinging for the fences, sometimes you are going to wiff"

I always encourage people I play with to take chances. Even if you bust, there's something about just trying that raises the energy of the group. And as a performer, part of the mental preparation is to accept that mistakes are going to happen, so its best to just put it behind you and get on with it quickly when it does happen, and if you perform enough, it surely will.

sort of like the old joke about there being just two kinds of performers: those that get nervous and liars
 

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there's an old saying among jazz players...."when you make a mistake, repeat it"

then you work with it and "pitch your way out of a jam" to borrow a term from baseball. And to borrow another baseball term, "When you're swinging for the fences, sometimes you are going to wiff"

I always encourage people I play with to take chances. Even if you bust, there's something about just trying that raises the energy of the group. And as a performer, part of the mental preparation is to accept that mistakes are going to happen, so its best to just put it behind you and get on with it quickly when it does happen, and if you perform enough, it surely will.

sort of like the old joke about there being just two kinds of performers: those that get nervous and liars
“I know I ask perfection of a quite imperfect world and fool enough to think that’s what I’ll find.” 'Such a pretty song as sung by Karen Carpenter (with her range!) - by Richard Carpenter and two others.
I can't get it out of my head now...
 
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