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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I am wondering who are those composers who reached the greatest depths, breadths and diversity to humanity in all of their subject matter? Beethoven and Brahms were known to tackle almost every genre and style of music, but I'm also looking for underrated composers who may have done something in their own way, far-reaching into many comprehensive new visions of humanity, or maybe just similar to the classic approach. The one that really captures my attention at the moment in a different way, although I wouldn't hold him as highly as Beethoven or Brahms, is Uematsu. I designed a progressive album that showcases truly the most monumental, diverse experience of his music. Although not one of the masters of detail like the greats, it's the bigger vision I'm talking about that seems to bleed out of his ouvre: the comprehensive humanity that just one composer can provide in a single ouvre. So for this thread, I am wondering if you might list the most diverse representation of ~3 to 4 hours of music of a single composer who seems to capture the great celebration of humanity, in all our ups and downs, all our eclectic emotions, diverse experiences and cultures, similar to the album I created. I'm really interested in hearing composer (or their perfect album) recommendations from each individual, it seems like it could be a fun project to compare the true stretch of value of composers. What would the essential comprehensive Beethoven or Brahms album look like, if we reduced it to a few hours of the most essential in breadth and scope?
 
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I get the impression that Scriabin set out to do big things for humanity. And Schoenberg made a major attempt.

Stravinsky and Shostakovich created different 'large' worlds of music. They're all so different, which is fascinating.

In one lifetime? Well, we're limited.

Just my opinions, as always.
 

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Composer Gene Roddenberry created the United Federation of Planets.
The album "The Great Bird of the Galaxy" may be the finest hour, but none of us can hear what it sounds like until the 23rd Century. :)
 

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I get the impression that Scriabin set out to do big things for humanity. And Schoenberg made a major attempt.

Stravinsky and Shostakovich created different 'large' worlds of music. They're all so different, which is fascinating.

In one lifetime? Well, we're limited.

Just my opinions, as always.
Mahler is the obvious example because it's his turn-of-phrase but yeah, him and Scriabin (and maybe Messiaen to an extent) are the guys I think of who tried to "encompass the world" in their music
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thank you a lot so far! I have two questions about these composers.

A) If Mahler was said to encompass the world, who's the composer (or composers) who would encompass humanity?

B) If you had to give the most comprehensive example of extremes of one of these composers, with what pieces/movements might you start out? ie. 2 or more opposite/dual extremes of the composer. Could be small examples.
 

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I don't look for Profound Breadth and Humanity in the music I enjoy. One of my favorite pieces of music is "Do You Love Me, Now That I Can Dance" written and produced by Berry Gordy Jr.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
I don't look for Profound Breadth and Humanity in the music I enjoy. One of my favorite pieces of music is "Do You Love Me, Now That I Can Dance" written and produced by Berry Gordy Jr.
I just listened to that work. I guess I should clarify that this thread isn't necessarily about pieces of music of profound breadth and humanity, like a symphony to encompass the world. It's about oeuvres. An oeuvre is like a big piece, in a way: it expresses everything a person could, or it has some pieces that do. That song is nice, I'm not sure what else to make of it. What do you make of it? There is a very special song by Uematsu I placed in his album, but I don't want to spoil which it is.

One could make an argument that, profound breadth of humanity isn't necessary of a composer, so long as he/she develops their progression in the best way. Some of the greatest moments in music are dependent on what just came before and after.

But humanity is like one way of saying that. That the composer is big enough that they're going to take care of you. But also, what does humanity mean here? Define it in notes. I feel like the movie Forrest Gump had a lot of humanity.
 

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I don't look for Profound Breadth and Humanity in the music I enjoy. One of my favorite pieces of music is "Do You Love Me, Now That I Can Dance" written and produced by Berry Gordy Jr.
Yes, the performance of that song had a lasting effect on me. I began searching for more like it.
 

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All composers are products of their times, and their scope and vision of Humanity is confined by the strictures of those times. Too, some of the most promising of them had very little time within their "time". This said, I propose Franz Schubert as one who "reached the greatest depths, breadths and diversity to humanity in all of their subject matter." He wrote so many kinds of music, from light dances to probing symphonic movements, from solo piano contemplations to chamber music conversations, from large choral masses to some of the finest miniatures in the repertoire, and he did so on a diversity of topics, secular and religious, light and dark, observational and speculative.

Schubert has always seemed problematical to me. Among his most accessible works, one with an almost instant "appeal value", is one which ranks also among his most profound musical essays: the Unfinished Symphony. This single work seems to me to probe the deepest recesses of the human experience in all its possibilities and textures. I can never but listen to it with fresh ears. It haunts my sensibilities and seems to exist in a near "other world" of music, almost as if created by an alien mind distilling all of humanity's history of music into two movements of exhaustive power. Yet, it can be featured as incidental music to a child's cartoon, and has with The Smurfs.

And still there are those piano sonatas and string quartets and dozens of other chamber works and hundreds of songs to contend with. Just considering the songs: they are set to some of the most meaningful verses by some of the greatest of our poets, to words which stand alone with the greatest thoughts of Mankind, and yet the addition of Schubert's music only enhances their power.

I recall, decades ago, telling groups of students that Schubert, who died so young, was among my favorite composers but that I didn't comprehend his music. It always seemed too deep for my grasp. It seemed like music that was written by the oldest and wisest and most experienced person in our species and that I would have to wait until I had many more years of age, wisdom, and experience myself before I was able to even graze the surface of those profound depths. I remember telling students that I was collecting discs and scores of Schubert's music with the intention of someday being able to approach it with some better level of understanding. And now, several decades on in my own life, when I turn to the music of Schubert, I realize that it still escapes me. But I understand now, too, that I could never achieve the level of empathy for the human experience that had come naturally to Schubert, through that inexplicable, ineffable gift we call genius.

I once read something to this effect: Schubert, who lived only 31 years, composed a nearly impossible amount of music, largely within a span a fifteen years. In fact, if one calculates the time it takes to jot down Schubert's body of work with ink and a feather pen the task seems nearly to take a full 15 years, working 20 hour days. Did Schubert ever eat and sleep and do anything else but scratch down notes on manuscript paper? Yet, given this ... and this is the most startling statistic of all, to me ... nearly everything Schubert ever wrote ranks as a masterpiece. How is that possible?

So, which composer "reached the greatest depths, breadths and diversity to humanity in all of their subject matter?" I don't hesitate to respond: Franz Schubert is my selection.
 

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All composers are products of their times, and their scope and vision of Humanity is confined by the strictures of those times. Too, some of the most promising of them had very little time within their "time". This said, I propose Franz Schubert as one who "reached the greatest depths, breadths and diversity to humanity in all of their subject matter." He wrote so many kinds of music, from light dances to probing symphonic movements, from solo piano contemplations to chamber music conversations, from large choral masses to some of the finest miniatures in the repertoire, and he did so on a diversity of topics, secular and religious, light and dark, observational and speculative.

Schubert has always seemed problematical to me. Among his most accessible works, one with an almost instant "appeal value", is one which ranks also among his most profound musical essays: the Unfinished Symphony. This single work seems to me to probe the deepest recesses of the human experience in all its possibilities and textures. I can never but listen to it with fresh ears. It haunts my sensibilities and seems to exist in a near "other world" of music, almost as if created by an alien mind distilling all of humanity's history of music into two movements of exhaustive power. Yet, it can be featured as incidental music to a child's cartoon, and has with The Smurfs.

And still there are those piano sonatas and string quartets and dozens of other chamber works and hundreds of songs to contend with. Just considering the songs: they are set to some of the most meaningful verses by some of the greatest of our poets, to words which stand alone with the greatest thoughts of Mankind, and yet the addition of Schubert's music only enhances their power.

I recall, decades ago, telling groups of students that Schubert, who died so young, was among my favorite composers but that I didn't comprehend his music. It always seemed too deep for my grasp. It seemed like music that was written by the oldest and wisest and most experienced person in our species and that I would have to wait until I had many more years of age, wisdom, and experience myself before I was able to even graze the surface of those profound depths. I remember telling students that I was collecting discs and scores of Schubert's music with the intention of someday being able to approach it with some better level of understanding. And now, several decades on in my own life, when I turn to the music of Schubert, I realize that it still escapes me. But I understand now, too, that I could never achieve the level of empathy for the human experience that had come naturally to Schubert, through that inexplicable, ineffable gift we call genius.

I once read something to this effect: Schubert, who lived only 31 years, composed a nearly impossible amount of music, largely within a span a fifteen years. In fact, if one calculates the time it takes to jot down Schubert's body of work with ink and a feather pen the task seems nearly to take a full 15 years, working 20 hour days. Did Schubert ever eat and sleep and do anything else but scratch down notes on manuscript paper? Yet, given this ... and this is the most startling statistic of all, to me ... nearly everything Schubert ever wrote ranks as a masterpiece. How is that possible?

So, which composer "reached the greatest depths, breadths and diversity to humanity in all of their subject matter?" I don't hesitate to respond: Franz Schubert is my selection.
Thanks for taking the time to write all that out. It's an understandable and suitable projection for me also ...through the decades of listening to all the great figures in THEIR places in the development of music.
I quickly jotted down these thoughts;
Schubert's older brother taught him piano and then he couldn't keep up with him. ..much to his own frustration about getting there in music. He was slightly too old and didn't have benefit of an older sibling?
Bach had a musical older brother who had authority over him, who he looked up to.
Haydn had a younger musical brother and a choir master to have authority over him, at a very young age, I guess.
Mozart had his older sister (rivalry) and of course Leopold and friends had the authority.
Beethoven, his musician father was the intense authority and then Ludwig over his younger brothers, rivalries and hero worship of their older brother?
Chopin as a young child would lie under the piano while his mother played, just dreaming of making those sounds himself. And then amazing the family later. Younger sister or older sister?
I don't know about Schumann or Liszt, but Brahms had Schumann I guess to feel those authority, mentoring, peer rivalry feelings propelling/pushing him.

So, early piano lessons (crucially early introduction to the game of music) and feelings of authority/expectations, caring older family members, and the rivalries and the pride of the surpassing of the family members, and then peers.
A lot of parallels, but it's complicated.
 

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Mozart and Beethoven and Chopin had very loving mothers (while the fathers were austere maybe). I don't know about Schubert or the rest. JsB's mother?, but he surely went the 'mathematical' route (feeling the music came later).
Just speculations..
I think I see this in my students.

Off topic, sorry.
 

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Reich: Different Trains

Yes, I have a very pessimistic view of humanity.
 

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Thank you a lot so far! I have two questions about these composers.

A) If Mahler was said to encompass the world, who's the composer (or composers) who would encompass humanity?

B) If you had to give the most comprehensive example of extremes of one of these composers, with what pieces/movements might you start out? ie. 2 or more opposite/dual extremes of the composer. Could be small examples.
With Chopin I get this sense of encompassing and expressing humanity, in his development of his mazurkas and polonaises. And in all the larger works he struggled with (such a perfectionist).
The piano alone was probably inadequate, for such a grand attempt.
Glenn Gould said that he wouldn't want to play the piano, except that there was no other way for him to so completely control his interpretations and what he wanted to express.
 
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Schubert has always seemed problematical to me. Among his most accessible works, one with an almost instant "appeal value", is one which ranks also among his most profound musical essays: the Unfinished Symphony. This single work seems to me to probe the deepest recesses of the human experience in all its possibilities and textures. I can never but listen to it with fresh ears. It haunts my sensibilities and seems to exist in a near "other world" of music, almost as if created by an alien mind distilling all of humanity's history of music into two movements of exhaustive power. Yet, it can be featured as incidental music to a child's cartoon, and has with The Smurfs.
The second movement of the Great C Major has always been my favorite Schubert. The first movement of the Unfinished has an enormous emotional breadth (I love the HIP versions where the "this is the sym-ph-ony..." bit plays more like a dance that suddenly gets plunged into the abyss), but the second movement of the Great C Major has this unsettled, ambiguous emotional complexity that I rarely see out of any classical music. It's not just a case of it being emotionally strong or having a wide range - it might have big climaxes in the B-sections, but even the A-section has this unsettled character that I find fascinating because I can't put a single finger on it.
 

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duplicate, wifi problem here I think

I think I've only heard the last symphony maybe twice, but that's definitely something to listen for. Thanks.
 

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The OP talks about music which somehow incorporates all our ups and downs, all our eclectic emotions, diverse experiences, and that has made me think about the place of madness and irrationality in music. From all those classic FM composers, the only one I can think of who seems to touch this is Beethoven, in the Missa Solemnis. You have to go away from classic FM territory to find it more thoroughly explored - to Wolfgang Rihm, for example.

He also talks about music which incorporates diverse cultures, and there, as before, I don’t think you’ll find much from the likes of Bach and Brahms. You would have to go to Stockhausen.
 

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He also talks about music which incorporates diverse cultures, and there, as before, I don’t think you’ll find much from the likes of Bach and Brahms.
I don't think this is true of Bach or Brahms, although later nineteenth and twentieth-century nationalistic German musicology may have made it seem so. Perhaps if they had been opera or ballet composers cultural diversity might have been more apparent. Yet Bach drew enormously on diverse cultures and learned what he could especially by acquiring musical scores and from visiting musicians. However he wasn't able to travel a lot because of his church positions and large family. We see what styles he did incorporate into his music with his French Suites, English Suites, Italian Concerto and Vivaldi transcriptions, for a few examples. "Germany," not then a country, was itself a source of cultural diversity. Bach's influences ranged from the northern Lubeck-based organist and choral composer Buxtehude to the south-German court of Saxony. His knowledge of both Lutheran and Catholic religious music was large. Later in life after the tremendous cantata-cycle etc. for the Lutheran Thomaskirche in Leipzig he turned to the Roman Catholic church in Dresden, trying with the Mass in B Minor to get a position.

As for Brahms he grew up in the north German international seaport of Hamburg and later lived in Vienna, the capital of the multi-ethnic Habsburg empire. He saw himself in the German line of Beethoven-Schumann-Mendelssohn etc. but maintained a diverse European network of composer "friends of Brahms." He was a philosemite, drew on Austrian and Roma folk music, and was close to the Bohemian composer Dvorak. Both the German and Austro-Hungarian empires were larger and more diverse than those countries today. Brahms remained distinct from the German-nationalist line of Wagner and the New German School. In the nationalistic nineteenth century he stands out as a tolerant figure in music.
 
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