Classical Music Forum banner
81 - 100 of 177 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,421 Posts
Experts are fans of music themselves and are biased based on their listening experience and preferences, and they tend to be focused on things that have been originally popular. What they say isn't like gospel truth or anything of the sort.
Experts, listeners, what's actually performed...this is what decides the canon.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,946 Posts
the reality of the existence of a collection of composers and works which make up what is called the CM canon.
So please show this canon.

Or at least answer the simple questions whether Schubert's 3rd symphony and 5th string quartet are in the canon or not.

Can you?
Your opinion flies in the face of historical facts.
I don't see this.
But to extend your personal preference or what you think ought to be everyone's priority is irrelevant regarding the existence of a CM canon.
My personal preferences have nothing to do with the hypothesis that there might be something that one could call a canon.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,946 Posts
That's the canon. You can't deny that it exists, and that it has been remarkably stable for decades (otherwise, almost no one would care about recordings by Furtwangler, Toscanini, Klemperer, Bernstein, Karajan, Walter, etc.
It is interesting that you are focussing on conductors. Do only orchestral works matter for the thing you are calling "canon"? (This is what many CM lovers might do ... )

In my humblest opinion, things like "canon" stem from 19th century thinking. It belongs to the time when hero worshipping was modern. Instead of human heroes there are just musical works.

Yes, there are also today conductors, pianists, violinists etc. that are playing the common stuff from the CM charts up and down. The guys and girls like Jansons, Gergiev, Barenboim, Nelsons, Nézet-Séguin, Janine Jansen, Igor Levit e tutti quanti. They know that there is a need for many CM lovers to stay within their preferences, stabilizing their "knowledge" that there is a canon and that these CM lovers know what the canon is and therefore are part of the hero's tale.

However, there are musicians like Olafsson, Hamelin and others, looking left and right. Breaking 19th century's concert dramaturgies. Finishing the "Bach, then Beethoven, then a break, then Chopin, then some russian crowd-pleaser", which was already criticised by Glenn Gould in the 1970s. Looking for new ways of communicating music. Stopping the perpetuation of 19th century ideologies and ideas of "canon" and "per aspera ad astra" and stuff like this.

Sometimes you need a meteor to stop dinosaurs.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,133 Posts
The canon exists as much as any socially-agreed convention exists, like law, or language. Of course there is not a literal list somewhere, and to be skeptical that the socially-agreed-upon repertoire of masterpieces necessarily represents some sort of grand filtering process of wheat from chaff is something that it's natural to be skeptical of.

I don't think it's necessary to deny it's existence, though - even if it's not a physical thing with specific entries.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
12,000 Posts
My view of the canon is that there is a reasonably well defined concept of a canon, but there is not a specific canon. There are multiple actual canons such as the Dubal's The Essential Canon of Classical Music. Those actual canons have significant overlap, but the fact that they may not be identical does not matter. The vast majority of canons would work quite well for the purposes they are compiled.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12,407 Posts
So please show this canon.

Or at least answer the simple questions whether Schubert's 3rd symphony and 5th string quartet are in the canon or not.

Can you?
What I think of as the CM canon is really the repertory which is consistently recorded and performed and has been for a long time. So, yes, most of the symphonies and the late string quartets by Schubert are in the canon. As are most of the major works by the most highly performed composers.

But the bottom line is that the existence of a CM canon is not worth arguing over. New listeners rely on these lists in order to familiarize themselves with the basic repertory, but experienced listeners don't need them.

My question is what is it about the idea of a CM canon that bothers you so much?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
173 Posts
So please show this canon.
...
It's a more or less informal consensus on the music deemed most "worthwhile", "worthy", "well-made" and it includes the opinions of musicians, critics, musicologists, and just plain old listeners. It's vast and reflects many different tastes and attitudes. Composers like Stockhausen, Ferneyhough and Xenakis are canonical, I would say.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,421 Posts
That's a 19th century attitude that comes along with such behaviour as hero worship and similar things.

What a pity! So we are listening (mostly) to music that was alive and fresh decades ago ... our dead spirits are enjoying dead music.

You cannot write it down. So does it really exist? Is Schubert's 3rd symphony in the canon? His 5th string quartet? Boulez' "Marteau"? Can you answer this?

Besides, I did not understand yet how you are defining the hypothetic canon.

Is the canon the set of CM that people in 2022 like to listen to?

Or is the canon the set of CM that had some historic importance (e. g. Meyerbeer)?
The canon is the stuff that's regularly recorded and performed. And it's largely the same works as fifty years ago. You deliberately chose works that are not in the canon because you don't want to pick the canonical works of Schubert like the Trout Quintet, the last three string quartets, the String Quintet, the last three piano sonatas, Winterreise, the Wanderer Fantasy, or the last two symphonies. Please distinguish between your personal taste, and the consensus.

Meyerbeer is not part of the canon. The canon consists of the works that are enduringly popular.

There's also a slight difference between the compositions canon consisting of the enduringly popular works and the composer canon consisting of the famous composers. I also distinguish between the canon and the recorded reportoire (the latter category is broader and includes stuff like Nielsen Symphony no. 4, the Brahms Sextets, Sibelius Symphony no. 3, and the Scriabin Piano Sonatas...and the canon. Not obscure but not necessarily popular either
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,933 Posts
Or at least answer the simple questions whether Schubert's 3rd symphony and 5th string quartet are in the canon or not.
A middle-of-the-road answer would be: Those are non-canonic works by a canonic composer.

Canonicity exists. "Canonic works" is a viable conceptual category. What it comprises depends on the context in which it is used and the people and purposes to whom and for which it is useful.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Shaughnessy

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,876 Posts
"So many people around the world without the knowledge of the music theory behind canons go onto youtube to listen to Pachelbel's canon. From observing such a phenomenon, don't you feel the universal power of classical music that speaks to all mankind?"
Of course, to convince ourselves in our "elitist" circles that we're "different from the masses", we're not supposed to talk this way. Instead, we've created in our minds our own weird rules to discriminate the so-called "classical pop" from the so-called "classical great", with longer works typically thought to belong in the latter category. But there are videos of, for example, Mozart's requiem and Beethoven's 9th getting like 200 million views on youtube, and somehow we're not supposed to think they belong in the former category.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,946 Posts
If I put you in a room, alone with the scores of Mahler 10 (the finished movement), Webern's Symphony, Shostakovich 11, Norgard 3 and some symphony written in 2022 which has not been published yet, no cell phone, no internet access, I would be interested how you find out which of these works belongs to the canon and which not.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,421 Posts
So please show this canon.

Or at least answer the simple questions whether Schubert's 3rd symphony and 5th string quartet are in the canon or not.

Can you?

I don't see this.

My personal preferences have nothing to do with the hypothesis that there might be something that one could call a canon.
The Canon includes the popular works of JS Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven...and so on all the way to Shostakovich and John Williams. Schubert's String Quartet no. 5 and Third Symphony are probably in the reportoire but not quite the Canon-- unless there are a lot of single recordings of them not part of a Schubert symphony or string quartet cycle. Unless one defines the Canon as the standard reportoire-- then they are in the Canon.

However, the last 3.5 string quartets and last two symphonies of Schubert are unambiguously in the Canon. That's why you didn't ask about them-- you'd know you'd look silly.

Why are you so bothered by the fact there is a canon of works that are regularly performed and recorded, and that this canon's contents have been quite stable for decades? It doesn't mean that the canonical works are automatically better than unpopular works, or that record companies SHOULD focus on producing new Beethoven symphony cycles when there's already a zillion of them.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,146 Posts
Canon. An undefined list.

But you could assemble one with a little effort.

Google "100 Greatest Classical Works" or "100 Classical music before you die" (or other variations) and look at the top ten results. You could even include the word "canon".

Go to Amazon and search for Best Classical box set

Go to Chilham's list, or my Beginner's Guide.

See what works are listed in Grout's History of Western Music.

Peruse the playlists of ClassicFM or KUSC.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,146 Posts
If I put you in a room, alone with the scores of Mahler 10 (the finished movement), Webern's Symphony, Shostakovich 11, Norgard 3 and some symphony written in 2022 which has not been published yet, no cell phone, no internet access, I would be interested how you find out which of these works belongs to the canon and which not.
That's a silly recommendation.

The Classical Music "canon" is determined by consensus, not the opinion of one person conducting a blind taste test.

Works that are considered "canon" would have a track history of being considered "Great" by composers, musicians, music scholars, and popular opinion. There's ALWAYS that ONE guy that thinks one particular piece is the greatest, even though no one else does.

Listening to
Mahler 10,
Webern's Symphony,
Shostakovich 11,
Norgard 3 and
John Doe's Symphony No. 2.0

to prove one cannot tell which is great without looking it up is silly. Besides, there are plenty of great Classical Symphonies and other works that ARE great, but are NOT in the canon.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
173 Posts
"So many people around the world without the knowledge of the music theory behind canons go onto youtube to listen to Pachelbel's canon. From observing such a phenomenon, don't you feel the universal power of classical music that speaks to all mankind?"
Of course, to convince ourselves in our "elitist" circles that we're "different from the masses", we're not supposed to talk this way. Instead, we've created in our minds our own weird rules to discriminate the so-called "classical pop" from the so-called "classical great", with longer works typically thought to belong in the latter category. But there are videos of, for example, Mozart's requiem and Beethoven's 9th getting like 200 million views on youtube, and somehow we're not supposed to think they belong in the former category.
That is one huge straw man you've constructed there. "Elitist circles"? I don't know of anyone who obsesses over "classic pop" vs "classical great", or the idea that we're "different from the masses". I always despised the dehumanizing term "the masses", by the way.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,946 Posts
The Canon includes the popular works of JS Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven...and so on all the way to Shostakovich and John Williams.
I see ... the membership in the canon is decided by popularity. So McDonalds is in the canon of restaurants, but some three-star restaurant from the Guide Michelin is not, right?
Why are you so bothered by the fact there is a canon of works that are regularly performed and recorded, and that this canon's contents have been quite stable for decades? It doesn't mean that the canonical works are automatically better than unpopular works,
I still don't see that there is a canon. There are works that are performed more than others, ok. But there are also newspapers that are read more than others.
That's a silly recommendation.
Thank you.
The Classical Music "canon" is determined by consensus,
I see. Concensus among whom? Can you clarify? Musicologists? Professional musicians? Amateur listeners? Or are different canons for these groups?

Is Dufay's motet "Nuper Rosarum Flores" in the canon? Or Boulez' "Marteau"? You can't deny that these are works that are highly regarded among experts as climaxes within their time, among guys that know what's going on and that choose their playlist maybe not from classic FM. Are they in the canon or not?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,946 Posts
If someone could give a definition of the hypothetic "canon", one could discuss more precisely.

Writing the canon down seems impossible for the noble members of this discussion.

Maybe someone could give a definition in a general way: "A musical work is member of the CM canon, if and only if ..."
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,146 Posts
I see. Concensus among whom? Can you clarify? Musicologists? Professional musicians? Amateur listeners? Or are different canons for these groups?
Already answered

Pianozach said:
The Classical Music "canon" is determined by consensus, . . .

. . . by composers, musicians, music scholars, and popular opinion.
So, yes, by Musicologists, Professional musicians, and Amateur listeners.

I'm perplexed that you continue to press for a concrete answer to what "Canon" is. There is no "official list".

There are works that everyone would agree on, such as Beethoven's 3rd, 5th, and 9th Symphonies, Handel's Water Music, Bach's WTC, Mozart's Jupiter Symphony, Holst's The Planets, Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring.

There's not been a single Judge or Moderator to say "Yay" or "Nay" to works. Some are in the public Consciousness, and some aren't. And there's a gray area of works that people disagree on.

But works that are generally agreed upon by "Musicologists, and Professional musicians" are probably part of the canon. If you include "Amateur listeners" the list might be a bit shorter.



Is Dufay's motet "Nuper Rosarum Flores" in the canon? Or Boulez' "Marteau"? You can't deny that these are works that are highly regarded among experts as climaxes within their time, among guys that know what's going on and that choose their playlist maybe not from classic FM. Are they in the canon or not?
I don't know. This might be the first time I've heard of either of them. So they're probably not "Canonical" works. Or maybe they are. I'm not the caretaker of "The Canon". I don't know how large the "canon" is. I know a good deal about Classical Music, but I am by no means a musicologist. But I learn all the time. I've learned a lot from this site.

But you're really trying to get people to defend this nebulous 'canon', when it's just a catch-all phrase meant to convey a sense of all the really important works and important composers.
 
81 - 100 of 177 Posts
Top