What do you want from classical music? Seriously!

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piston
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What do you want from classical music? Seriously!

Post by piston » Fri Mar 16, 2007 9:07 pm

There is a lot of discussion, here and elsewhere, about Wagner, the Romantics, the Moderns, the "Early," our respective tastes and inclinations, etc. But I think people seldom articulate what they look for, want to obtain from, classical music. Five days ago, before Corlyss_D posted she was listening to Rameau's Une symphonie imaginairee, I was doing the usual walk around at Borders. What do I want? What should I choose? And there it was, Rameau's work, and it caught my attention. But with fifty or sixty $ to spend, I had to choose and une symphonie imaginaire was not chosen. Ask me to rationalize why and, truth is, I couldn't! I got the Abbado box-set of Ravel, two Naxos CD's of William Schuman's symphonies, and another Naxos of Diamond's symphonies. But I've been looking at Early and Romantic too, the balance simply tipping in favor of the twentieth.

Do you have a notion as to why your compass directs you S, E, N, or W? Can you articulate it without rejecting centuries of music in the process? And, Corlyss, I know I'm gonna get that Rameau eventually! :wink:

piston
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Post by piston » Fri Mar 16, 2007 10:55 pm

I guess I like these public monologues :lol: Buying music is not the whole story because the classical music we consume daily or regularly includes all the media. Much of the c.m. played on public radio here is classical and romantic. The same reality applies to the classical music channel(s) on tv. Subconsciously, buying CD's is a sort of leveling process which can be worded as "What do I miss the most?" But I agree that "Early" c.m. is being left out, somehow. The "starter" is Bach. From Bach, who virtually stands as the spokeperson for the baroque era (I know, Vivaldi and Handel show up on occasion), the classical reps are Haydn and Mozart (I know Dittersdorf shows up on occasion). Then comes the media coverage of the Romantics; it's what? 50% of all c.m. played on radio/tv/music halls? I compensate by buying twentieth century and by putting on LP's of "Early" composers: Schutz, Monteverdi, Buxtehude, Couperin, Rameau, Purcell. Curious, ain't it? Early composers on old LP's, Classical/Romantic in the media, Modern and a few Contemporary at the stores :roll:

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Post by anasazi » Sat Mar 17, 2007 2:16 am

Yes, I have taken some time recently to articulate to myself what it is that I want from music. I don't say classical music, since I listen to all kinds.

But I believe it might be useful for all of us to understand our own needs.

I'm sorry that I can't be more articulate about this subject. There is just so much I could speak of. Sometimes it just does not transcend into words however. I am a pianist, so my basic musical direction is really part of my playing something. It is more to me than the sound, but it is kind of a connection between my fingers and Bach (or whoever). I can kind of translate this when I attend a live performance, especially if there is a pianist. With recordings it becomes a little trickier. There is a lot of ear candy to be heard. But I need some connections that often are more of the physical (or even metaphysical) kind.
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Post by Ralph » Sat Mar 17, 2007 3:56 am

I look for pleasure always and comfort sometimes. I have eclectic interests in music as in art, literature, food - you name it.

I view my enjoyment of music as a journey that ends only at death. I seek new experiences. With the demise of Tower I'm spending much more time listening than I am buying and it's a nice, probably way overdue, experience.
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Post by Teresa B » Sat Mar 17, 2007 7:53 am

Seriously! This question is not so easy to answer, as one person may seek enjoyment, pleasure, fulfillment, etc, on a number of levels from music.

I would say that some music I like just for kicks, because it's jazzy, or high-spirited--not necessarily profound, but puts you in a great mood.

Other music--in my case, Beethoven, Bach, Mozart and the Greats of Classical, is an emotional experience surpassing toe-tapping fun. The joy, for example, evoked by a Mozart concerto finale--or the incredible poignancy of a second movement such as the ones in the Beethoven PC nos. 4 and 5, doesn't just make me happy, it somehow possess me.

And as one who plays, I have an idea of what anasazi is saying. The connection, the whole body being involved in producing the music, is yet another way to partake of the "flow" experience (Truly, I'm not trying to be New Age :) ).

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Post by jbuck919 » Sat Mar 17, 2007 10:20 am

I do have to wonder if the question is not rather, "What does classical music, to the extent, which is great but not all-encompassing, that it is high art, ask of us?"

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Post by ichiro » Sat Mar 17, 2007 11:42 am

This is a very tough question, and relates to why i listen to classical music in the first place, which i can't answer, other than the fact that my dad has always been a classical music fanatic, would play all types of music ( esp shostakovich/prokofiev in recent years, ), and so in a sense encourage me almost sublimally to later experience it for myself.

Right now, having listened to it for about 2 and 1/2 years, i feel it adds a powerful enrichment to my life, as does great literature. I seriously feel it helps me understand how i approach life and history, in that it adds new shades of subtlelty, meaning etc. As much as I can put on Beethoven, or read Doestoyevsky and DO get sheer pleasure from it, I feel as if I am learning new things about the human experience, which I feel I was far less attuned to beforehand.

So , I dont know, i only know that I can continually listen to such music and usually get more appreciation each time I listen to it, which is something I don't think yet get from many other thing in life, except maybe contact with other people!

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Re: What do you want from classical music? Seriously!

Post by Corlyss_D » Sat Mar 17, 2007 12:24 pm

piston wrote:There is a lot of discussion, here and elsewhere, about Wagner, the Romantics, the Moderns, the "Early," our respective tastes and inclinations, etc. But I think people seldom articulate what they look for, want to obtain from, classical music. Five days ago, before Corlyss_D posted she was listening to Rameau's Une symphonie imaginairee, I was doing the usual walk around at Borders. What do I want? What should I choose? And there it was, Rameau's work, and it caught my attention. But with fifty or sixty $ to spend, I had to choose and une symphonie imaginaire was not chosen. Ask me to rationalize why and, truth is, I couldn't! I got the Abbado box-set of Ravel, two Naxos CD's of William Schuman's symphonies, and another Naxos of Diamond's symphonies. But I've been looking at Early and Romantic too, the balance simply tipping in favor of the twentieth.

Do you have a notion as to why your compass directs you S, E, N, or W? Can you articulate it without rejecting centuries of music in the process? And, Corlyss, I know I'm gonna get that Rameau eventually! :wink:
I have so much of this crap littering my house, I don't "browse" any more, even in what passes for our Borders' classical music section. I know what I want when I go online, I buy that, end of story. I decide what I want usually based on something I've heard recently on XM Radio or I'm doing some special analysis and research, like with the recent Elgar Cello Concerto binge, which led me to some delightful wind music by Elgar on Chandos.

You will like the Rameau - it's a conflation really by the conductor Minkowski of overtures and ballet music from Rameau's operas (did he write anything else?). I recognized a lot of the music and was very happy with the idea as it was excellently well performed and with HIP if not OI. Minkowski is one of the hottest conductors in the EM field.
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Post by lmpower » Sat Mar 17, 2007 12:31 pm

Pleasure is a consideration in listening to music, but so are inspiration and edification. Listening to music seems to be a vicarious outlet for emotional expression. I can empathize with the composer's feelings and moods. That may be why I enjoy reading their biographies and regard the great composers as friends.

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impower hits the nail on the head for me

Post by hangos » Sat Mar 17, 2007 2:21 pm

I feel that impower has articulated brilliantly what I would have taken ages to express about my "needs" from great music - it's exactly what he wrote in my case!
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Post by Febnyc » Sat Mar 17, 2007 4:22 pm

I want the breathless feeling of anticipation which precedes a particularly powerful or beautiful section of a composition, or a special aria or duet, and the chills down my spine when it appears.

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Post by jbuck919 » Sat Mar 17, 2007 7:36 pm

Febnyc wrote:I want the breathless feeling of anticipation which precedes a particularly powerful or beautiful section of a composition, or a special aria or duet, and the chills down my spine when it appears.
It's interesting that you would say that, Frank. I was listening to what was offered over the local radio station this evening and it happened to be the Brahms Requiem (recorded live in Berlin, not that this is relevant). I don't usually catch the grand, well, warhorsees for want of a better word except when they turn up opportunistically; these days that actually enhances my enjoyment of them.

Was there ever a work composed with more passages that send chills up and down the spine? And yes, I indulged every one; I even indulged my susceptibility to be moved to tears by great music (an interesting topic for another thread, perhaps). But, without implying that you suggested any such thing, I could never enjoy a work for "cheap thrills." Every breathtaking passage in the Requiem is under complete artistic control, I am tempted to say restraint (that is true of everything by Brahms of course), but more to the point, it belongs to a unity of composition filled with subtleties, providing the greatest satisfaction to the listener, that are only tangentially related to the thrill of the moment.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Post by Gurn Blanston » Sat Mar 17, 2007 7:48 pm

Yes, that IS a challenging question. I know why I listen to music, it is for the sensual gratification. But why I listen to the particular music I do, that is the harder side of the equation. I guess that I listen to Classical-Early Romantic far more than anything else, and perhaps it is because I serendipitously chose to start there, so that is the music that "sounds right" to me. And after several years of listening to the major composers of that era, when I wanted to hear "new" music, it was less prominent composers of the same time frame that beckoned, and that is probably a direct result of my interest in history and context. I wanted to know why certain composers "made the cut" in terms of historic supremacy and other didn't. And after spending the last 3-4 years with Vanhal, Ditters, Stamitz, Crusell, and dozens of others, I really don't have an answer yet.

In any case, that is what intrigues me, it appeals to my particular version of what's important to me and at least explains why I buy the music that I do, which I perceive to be your question.

8)
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Re: What do you want from classical music? Seriously!

Post by dulcinea » Sat Mar 17, 2007 9:15 pm

piston wrote:There is a lot of discussion, here and elsewhere, about Wagner, the Romantics, the Moderns, the "Early," our respective tastes and inclinations, etc. But I think people seldom articulate what they look for, want to obtain from, classical music. Five days ago, before Corlyss_D posted she was listening to Rameau's Une symphonie imaginairee, I was doing the usual walk around at Borders. What do I want? What should I choose? And there it was, Rameau's work, and it caught my attention. But with fifty or sixty $ to spend, I had to choose and une symphonie imaginaire was not chosen. Ask me to rationalize why and, truth is, I couldn't! I got the Abbado box-set of Ravel, two Naxos CD's of William Schuman's symphonies, and another Naxos of Diamond's symphonies. But I've been looking at Early and Romantic too, the balance simply tipping in favor of the twentieth.

Do you have a notion as to why your compass directs you S, E, N, or W? Can you articulate it without rejecting centuries of music in the process? And, Corlyss, I know I'm gonna get that Rameau eventually! :wink:
:D ADVENTURE. :D
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Post by Febnyc » Sun Mar 18, 2007 7:36 am

Adventure. That's very good. I agree.

I have hundreds of CDs of music by obscure composers - and every time I unwrap one and place it in the player I have that sense of exploration. What will I hear? Where will it take me?

Adventure itself is a parge part of the journey.

piston
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Post by piston » Sun Mar 18, 2007 7:40 am

Absolutely! These are all great posts and, except for the association between the instrumentalist/listener and the composer -- which I could not pretend to experience -- I find elements of my own "compass" decisions in all of them. :D

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Post by Febnyc » Sun Mar 18, 2007 7:46 am

jbuck919 wrote:But, without implying that you suggested any such thing, I could never enjoy a work for "cheap thrills."
John:

Cheap thrills are fine for me. I am not sure what is meant by the word "cheap," but I love to be thrilled, for that sake alone, by music.

In the last movement of the Sibelius First - when the orchestra builds to the maestoso theme - it's a thrill. Every time. Does it get "cheap?" I don't know and don't care. There are so many other instances I could cite...

When Mimi knocks at the door and the music switches from the carefree motifs of the four Bohemians who had just finished razzing their landlord - when it switches to the Che gelida manina music slowly rising in the backgroud - it's a moment I thrill to. Almost get breathless awaiting what comes next...

When the Sacristan and the choirboys are whooping it up in the Chiesa and, suddenly, the thunderous chords ring out as Scarpia makes his entrance...

In the first symphony of Vassily Kalinnikov - as that magnificent echt-Russian melody emerges and strengthens...

...And on and on.

Maybe it's all schmaltz and "cheapness" to another. For me it's why I listen.

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Post by johnshade » Sun Mar 18, 2007 11:54 am

-
I listen to classical music that I evaluate and select as true art: like great literature, paintings, sculpture, and archecture. There is a certain something that comes over one; it is an unnameable delight and appreciation as one experiences great art.
The sun's a thief, and with her great attraction robs the vast sea, the moon's an arrant thief, and her pale fire she snatches from the sun... (Shakespeare)

Brendan

Post by Brendan » Mon Mar 19, 2007 6:01 pm

Grace.

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Post by Jack Kelso » Wed Mar 21, 2007 2:54 am

Music, a good game of chess, a spring bicycle tour through an old town, a glass of fine wine, a good strong German beer, a home-cooked meal or a great movie from the 1930's with Paul Muni or James Cagney (or others!).......these are some of life's great pleasures.

And like the food, drink and entertainment, music is so variable!

My mood, my grilfriend's mood---whether I want relaxation (e.g., Mendelssohn, Raff), excitement ("cheap thrills") (Liszt tone poem), tonal philosophy (Bach, Schumann, chamber music), adventure (Searle, Boulez, etc.)--- all must be repeated from time to time and moved over for other feelings, other masters and other musical works, so that I don't ever become stuck in a rut.

In addition, listening to "lesser masters" (e.g., Volkmann, Gade, Raff, Goldmark, Goetz, Bendix, etc.) shows us how human and frail most of us are---and we can then better appreciate the true milestones of music, when the desire is upon us.

Tschüß!
Jack
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Post by diegobueno » Fri Mar 23, 2007 8:51 am

I want to be entertained, moved to tears, intellectually stimulated, surprised, amazed, comforted, confounded, challenged, reassured, physically excited, spiritually nourished; anything capable of being felt or thought, I want to experience in the music I listen to.

And there is, in music we apply the label "classical" to, something to satisfy each of those desires.

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Post by Jack Kelso » Fri Mar 23, 2007 9:51 am

diegobueno wrote:I want to be entertained, moved to tears, intellectually stimulated, surprised, amazed, comforted, confounded, challenged, reassured, physically excited, spiritually nourished; anything capable of being felt or thought, I want to experience in the music I listen to.

And there is, in music we apply the label "classical" to, something to satisfy each of those desires.
Gosh! It sounds like you are itching to listen to Schumann's "Paradies und die Peri"! :D
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

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Post by diegobueno » Fri Mar 23, 2007 10:08 am

Jack Kelso wrote: Gosh! It sounds like you are itching to listen to Schumann's "Paradies und die Peri"! :D
That's a title I've always been curious about, mainly because it reminds me so much of G & S's "Iolanthe, or, the Peer and the Peri". I suspect it has to do with the afterlife of someone who's a fairy from the waist up.

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Post by MaestroDJS » Fri Mar 23, 2007 12:43 pm

Quite simply, classical music is one of the most interesting, moving and beautiful gateways to appreciate the secrets of the cosmos. Like the Croftweiler Industrial Cartel ("Makers of all sorts of stuff, made out of everything") on the old Bob & Ray radio shows, I'm generally interested in all sorts of stuff about everything. The only problem is, I'd need several centuries to absorb it all, so I must make informed choices. Classical music meshes beautifully with most of my other major interests -- history, travel, languages, culture etc. -- and they all complement each other beautifully. Moreover, the Right-Brain nature of music also neatly complements the Left-Brain nature of my scientific work as an engineer, and therefore helps increase my enjoyment and understanding of this grand and glorious Universe.

Art historian John Ruskin wrote, "Great nations write their autobigraphies in three manuscripts, the book of their deeds, the book of their words and the book of their art. Not one of these books can be understood without reading the two others, but of the three the only trustworthy one is the last."

Danish composer Carl Nielsen wrote, "Music is life, and, like it, inextinguishable."

Music is my Rosetta Stone to understand life. It's just so doggone beautiful too. :)
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Post by Auntie Lynn » Fri Mar 23, 2007 10:47 pm

I want love and money AND - hey nonny nonny - I'm getting both...

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Post by RebLem » Sat Mar 24, 2007 5:37 am

As some who attended Furtwangler concerts during WWII have testified, and as I know whenever I come home from a Carlisle Square Condominium Association membership meeting, music has the ability to assure one that there are still sane, beautiful, ordered, loving, thoughtful, and sensitive people in the world, even if none of them, for the moment, seem to be part of one's personal life.
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