Top 20 composers

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slofstra
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Post by slofstra » Thu Apr 26, 2007 9:02 am

The jist of what I understand as the life of Handel is that he was 'all washed up' at the age of 57, riding on his coattails and going nowhere. And THEN he wrote the Messiah. So, when I see the phrase "consistently inspired" -- it seems an oxymoron. Handel wrote the Messiah in a very short period of time, and for that alone, one brief brilliant burst of 'inspiration', earned our continued veneration. And the same has been said of Stravinsky and the Rite of Spring. Then how do you make a relative comparison of these composers, who both also wrote much that is banal.

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Post by karlhenning » Thu Apr 26, 2007 10:02 am

The burst of inspiration for Messiah is most impressive, even factoring in that Handel cannabilized a bit from his earlier catalogue.

From this senator's standpoint, there is much less banality, both absolutely and as a weighted percentage, in the oeuvre of Igor Fyodorovich than in that of Handel.

But with your larger point, that comparing two great composers is problematic, I agree completely.

Cheers,
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Post by Jack Kelso » Fri Apr 27, 2007 12:57 am

What total nonsense has been written about Handel in this thread only indicates to me how little of his life's work is known to the posters.

"Business as usual"????! Have a listen to "Israel in Egypt", to those powerfully expressive choruses; or "Samson"---the beautiful arias and double-chorus, "Fix'd in His everlasting seat" (which G.B.Shaw loved so much).

Or the "Nightingale Chorus" from "Solomon", following the marvelous (and famous!) orchestral tour-de-force "Arrival of the Queen of Sheeba".

For complete English pastorale operas, "Semele" and "Acis and Galatea" have no peers. Both are filled to the brim with the most delicious arias, choruses and instrumental parts. "O Sleep", "My Lovely Fair", the entire set of arias between Semele and Jupiter are possessed with divine inspiration.

Then there's "Belshazzar", "Alexander Balus", "Esther", "Susannah" (with a double-chorus to knock your socks off!), "Judas Maccabaeus" with its dramatic chain of aria-recitative-chorus-aria etc. and interaction of superb dramatic-harmonic-melodic power and originality.

Do you think Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven were fools---to have believed that Handel was "the greatest"?!? No. They KNEW Handel's music well and thus could place it in proper perspective.

And I have spent many, many hours listening to his English oratorios, Italian operas and concerti grossi----not ONLY "Messiah", the "Royal Fireworks", the "Watermusic" and the largo from "Xerxes" ("Serse").

Handel, like Bach and Mozart, is a world unto itself. But---for those who are not inclined to venture to it---it is a world which will remain for them numb and dark.

Tschüß!
Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

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Post by slofstra » Fri Apr 27, 2007 10:45 am

Jack, I enjoyed the obvious passion for Handel in your response. And although I have heard the Messiah often enough to be able to sing most of it in the shower (though not all in one shower, thankfully) the rest has been mostly "numb and dark", except for the Water Music, which I do like, but of which I'm not a big fan.

If you picked only one, which of his several/many operas would you recommend outside the obvious stuff, and also which rendition? I'm tempted to give a listen to 'Susannah' as I once wrote an essay on the apocryphal story 'Susannah and the Elders' and its impact on Thomas Hardy's Jude the Obscure. It's quite a powerful legend/story.

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Post by karlhenning » Fri Apr 27, 2007 12:05 pm

Jack Kelso wrote:Handel, like Bach and Mozart, is a world unto itself. But---for those who are not inclined to venture to it---it is a world which will remain for them numb and dark.
I could say the same for Shostakovich, e.g., Jack.

And again, notwithstanding your own intense admiration for Handel, you have exactly no measurable, external means of 'demonstrating' that the Baroque master was "more consistently inspired" than the Russian genius.

I could write a post like yours, only seven times the length, advocating his work.

Just saying.

Cheers,
~Karl
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Post by karlhenning » Fri Apr 27, 2007 12:08 pm

(Same thing applies to Stravinsky, for God's sake, of course, only I had forgotten which composer I had referenced earlier. They're both sustainedly inspired musical geniuses.)
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Post by slofstra » Sat Apr 28, 2007 4:21 pm

Compiling all the responses to this point, its uncanny to see how accurate Goulding now is in relation to the sample we've taken here. All of Goulding's top 20 are in the CMG sample's top 24. And all of Goulding's top 10 are in the CMG sample's top 11. (Chopin at no. 10 is the only addition, and if Wagner moves up one more notch, the two top 10s will contain the same composers, though not in the same order). So this shows to me, that canonization processes are still hard at work among classical music listeners.

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Post by Adolovni Acosta » Sat Apr 28, 2007 9:46 pm

I like your own list, Slofstra, but I would promote Chopin to no. 5 ahead of Schumann
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Post by slofstra » Sat Apr 28, 2007 10:13 pm

It strikes me that Chopin inspires tremendous loyalty in some listeners - (some of whom are not even Polish :D). Perhaps more than any other composer. Do you think that is so?

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Post by Brahms » Sat Apr 28, 2007 10:22 pm

slofstra wrote:It strikes me that Chopin inspires tremendous loyalty in some listeners - (some of whom are not even Polish :D). Perhaps more than any other composer. Do you think that is so?
Definitely. Why? Perhaps because Chopin was such a horsesh!t orchestrator that he's attained "underdog" status ..... such that his loyal followers overcompensate for his glaring inadequacies (as an orchestrator).

Chopin is not a top-10 composer.

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Post by jbuck919 » Sat Apr 28, 2007 10:26 pm

I guess I've been missing something here, since "greatest" lists present the temptation to reinforce the false impression that I only like Germanic composers.

Nevertheless, on the matter of Handel, it is difficult for me to imagine him not being on the list if one is allowed to get as far as ten let alone twenty. That being said, Handel is a problem in patient listening and time available the way Bach is not. He did not write an unbroken stream of masterpieces consisting of nothing but masterly numbers. But the flip side of that is that the standard "anthologizations" hardly do him justice. I am continually astonished to hear a "new" Handel piece over classical radio when so much of the "old" is, frankly, pretty drab and always has been. When Handel is great, he is great as in Olympus.

Brahms subscribed to both the BWV Bach edition and the Handel edition (complete editions such as those being novel concepts at the time). According to his own testimony, he would always take the new Bach volume immediately to the piano. The Handel, well that he would set aside for a little while.

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 some guy » Sat Apr 28, 2007 10:57 pm

All of Goulding's top 20 are in the CMG sample's top 24.
Isn't that backwards, slofstra? The CMG sample's top 24 includes all of Goulding's top 20. Shows exactly what you said it shows, though. I do agree.

Anyway, I've tried to make a list of twenty "best of the best." Even though I know I shouldn't. And each one has been a miserable failure. But just to take a punch at that Goulding list, here's my most recent miserable failure:

Monteverdi
Vivaldi
Bach
Beethoven
Berlioz
Debussy
Schoenberg
Ives
Varèse
Bartók
Prokofiev
Stravinsky
Ligeti
Cage
Tudor
Oliveros
Lutosławski
Lachenmann
Xenakis
Radigue

Wow. I must really think the twentieth century is the cat's whiskers or something.

Anyway, here's my "immortals" three:

Bach
Berlioz
Cage

Well. I wish there were more women on my list. And more of my favorites. But there you have it. Total failure. (Speaking of women, though, have you heard Alma Mahler's songs? No wonder Gustav forbade her to compose--her songs are consistently better than his. Truly. And he wrote some killer songs, as you may already know.)
"The public has got to stay in touch with the music of its time . . . for otherwise people will gradually come to mistrust music claimed to be the best."
--Viennese critic (1843)

Confusion is a word we have invented for an order which is not understood.
--Henry Miller

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Post by Ken » Sun Apr 29, 2007 2:39 pm

Adolovni Acosta wrote:I like your own list, Slofstra, but I would promote Chopin to no. 5 ahead of Schumann
:shock:

(Faints)
Du sollst schlechte Compositionen weder spielen, noch, wenn du nicht dazu gezwungen bist, sie anhören.

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Post by karlhenning » Sun Apr 29, 2007 6:22 pm

slofstra wrote:It strikes me that Chopin inspires tremendous loyalty in some listeners - (some of whom are not even Polish :D). Perhaps more than any other composer. Do you think that is so?
Well, I do find it hard to imagine anyone disliking Chopin.

Notwithstanding the evidence of the neighbor going by the ID of Brahms :-)

Cheers,
~Karl
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Post by Jack Kelso » Tue May 01, 2007 12:46 am

slofstra wrote:Jack, I enjoyed the obvious passion for Handel in your response. And although I have heard the Messiah often enough to be able to sing most of it in the shower (though not all in one shower, thankfully) the rest has been mostly "numb and dark", except for the Water Music, which I do like, but of which I'm not a big fan.

If you picked only one, which of his several/many operas would you recommend outside the obvious stuff, and also which rendition? I'm tempted to give a listen to 'Susannah' as I once wrote an essay on the apocryphal story 'Susannah and the Elders' and its impact on Thomas Hardy's Jude the Obscure. It's quite a powerful legend/story.
You just can't go wrong with Handel at his best (or J.S. Bach either, for that matter). He is correctly regarded as one of the half-dozen most inspired composers who ever graced the earth.

Which oratorio? That depends on what you enjoy----for great, powerful choral numbers take "Saul" or "Israel in Egypt". For operatic grace and beauty "Semele", "Acis and Galatea". For a fine combination, "Samson", "Judas Maccabaeus" and "Belshazzar" do it for me. I'm not so familiar as yet with "Susannah", but I'll be getting that one for my collection soon......

As you read others' comments on Handel above, don't be put off by the notion that there is no real consistency in Handel's oratorios: although the poster enjoys bits and pieces of certain works, the best of these masterpieces of Handel are certainly as consistent as any choral work of the baroque by any other composer, including Rameau or Bach. Naturally, the stumbling-block for many listeners remains the recitativo, since through-composed works had not yet been developed.

To Karl Henning: I cannot for the life of me compare your Schostakowitsch with Handel or Stravinsky with Bach---just as I can't do a neat comparison of Schumann with Schoenberg or Berio. With Hindemith there might be a chance. 20th century "inspiration" is just a totally different animal than Baroque, Classical or Romantic era. Much 20th century music tends to be tortured; Baroque can be more ennobling.

Good listening!
Jack
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Post by karlhenning » Tue May 01, 2007 11:53 am

Jack Kelso wrote:To Karl Henning: I cannot for the life of me compare your Schostakowitsch with Handel or Stravinsky with Bach---just as I can't do a neat comparison of Schumann with Schoenberg or Berio.
And yet, Jack, you attempt just that thing, when you claim that Handel "is correctly regarded as one of the half-dozen most inspired composers who ever graced the earth."
20th century "inspiration" is just a totally different animal than Baroque, Classical or Romantic era. Much 20th century music tends to be tortured; Baroque can be more ennobling.
Ah, there we are, Jack!

You are defining a composer's "inspiration" according to how it presses certain buttons of yours!

That at least has the virtue of being honest. Your false dichotomy between 20th-c. music and the Baroque (even with the hesitant qualifier "much") is very telling. A great deal of 20th-c. music is ennobling; some of us might say, more so than a great deal of Baroque music.

Thank you for so neatly illustrating my point, which is, that to claim that Handel is "more inspired than" this or that 20th-c. composer (e.g.) is to front-load the process with aesthetic prejudices.

Cheers,
~Karl
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Post by Jack Kelso » Wed May 02, 2007 12:29 am

keninottawa wrote:
Adolovni Acosta wrote:I like your own list, Slofstra, but I would promote Chopin to no. 5 ahead of Schumann
:shock:

(Faints)
Yes, that comment made me dizzy, too.

I would place Chopin ahead of Schumann as well----if I could only forget Schumann's overtures, symphonies, concerti for piano, 'cello, horns and violin, string quartets, piano quintet, piano quartet, violin sonatas, songs, large choral and dramatic works and the opus 1 thru 23 piano works.

Hey, Adolovni----What do you think about Bizet ahead of Brahms....?!

Jack
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Post by Jack Kelso » Wed May 02, 2007 12:47 am

karlhenning wrote:
Jack Kelso wrote:To Karl Henning: I cannot for the life of me compare your Schostakowitsch with Handel or Stravinsky with Bach---just as I can't do a neat comparison of Schumann with Schoenberg or Berio.
And yet, Jack, you attempt just that thing, when you claim that Handel "is correctly regarded as one of the half-dozen most inspired composers who ever graced the earth."
20th century "inspiration" is just a totally different animal than Baroque, Classical or Romantic era. Much 20th century music tends to be tortured; Baroque can be more ennobling.
Ah, there we are, Jack!

You are defining a composer's "inspiration" according to how it presses certain buttons of yours!

That at least has the virtue of being honest. Your false dichotomy between 20th-c. music and the Baroque (even with the hesitant qualifier "much") is very telling. A great deal of 20th-c. music is ennobling; some of us might say, more so than a great deal of Baroque music.

Thank you for so neatly illustrating my point, which is, that to claim that Handel is "more inspired than" this or that 20th-c. composer (e.g.) is to front-load the process with aesthetic prejudices.

Cheers,
~Karl
Well, Karl---then literally EVERYONE (including yourself) here is doing just that: all this listing stuff is PPP (pure personal preference): Fauré is more subtle than Sibelius; Corelli's writing for the violin is defter than Vivaldi's; Hindemith's symphonies are more concise than Schostakowitsch's, etc., etc.

Even well-known musicologists take their "pet" composers and build their supposed greatness around front-loaded reasoning. They're often not wrong technically, but make some pretty ridiculously subjective statements. One of my favorites was (surprisingly!) a German critic:

"Schubert und Brahms sind ausdrucksvoller als Schumann." (Schubert and Brahms are more expressive than Schumann.) I guess for him they probably are......

I just didn't feel well about your comment about Handel's oratorios being "more business as usual". Now THAT truly doesn't fit the facts of the quality of his inspiration. If Handel's music isn't inspired, what were Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, etc. doing studying, playing and listening to it?!?!?

Tschüß!
Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

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Post by Jack Kelso » Fri May 04, 2007 12:05 am

karlhenning wrote:(Same thing applies to Stravinsky, for God's sake, of course, only I had forgotten which composer I had referenced earlier. They're both sustainedly inspired musical geniuses.)
Yes, they both rank with Bartok and Hindemith as two of the most important 20th century masters.

Jack
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Post by Jack Kelso » Tue May 08, 2007 2:01 am

karlhenning wrote:
Jack Kelso wrote:Handel, like Bach and Mozart, is a world unto itself. But---for those who are not inclined to venture to it---it is a world which will remain for them numb and dark.
I could say the same for Shostakovich, e.g., Jack.

And again, notwithstanding your own intense admiration for Handel, you have exactly no measurable, external means of 'demonstrating' that the Baroque master was "more consistently inspired" than the Russian genius.

I could write a post like yours, only seven times the length, advocating his work.

Just saying.

Cheers,
~Karl
Hi Karl et al---

My "intense admiration" for Handel begs explanation: first off, my own personal preference is Schumann, Beethoven, Mozart----then Handel and Bach (equal). I don't admire the Halle Master more than his work and genius deserve. What I've been saying about him is no different than what his biographers and other musical scribes wrote/write who know his greatest works and realize his contributions and proper place in music history.

It doesn't matter if you (or I) or anyon else could write seven or ten times the length of any other poster here; it's the content that counts. I try to keep facts, analysis and perspectives as short as possible.

I seem to leave the impression that Handel is my favorite of all----but it's perhaps because I feel obligated to defend many of his sadly neglected masterworks. Bach, on the other hand, doesn't need that defense---he has tons of fans here.

I enjoy a Handel oratorio as much as a Mozart concerto, a Beethoven sonata, a Schumann quartet or a Bruckner or Brahms symphony. There is plenty of room on Mt. Olympus for all.

Tschüß!
Jack
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Post by karlhenning » Tue May 08, 2007 7:55 am

Hi Jack,

I agree that it isn't volume but content which counts.

So you are retracting the statement to the effect that it is not possible to consider Shostakovich inspired on the same level as your exalted Handel?

Cheers,
~Karl
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Post by Chalkperson » Tue May 08, 2007 9:33 am

I once read that Handel spoke three languages fluently but could curse in ten... :wink:

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Post by Jack Kelso » Wed May 09, 2007 1:08 am

karlhenning wrote:Hi Jack,

I agree that it isn't volume but content which counts.

So you are retracting the statement to the effect that it is not possible to consider Shostakovich inspired on the same level as your exalted Handel?

Cheers,
~Karl
No, not at all. My "exalted" Handel is as noble and sublime as anyone else's Mozart, Bach, Schumann, Beethoven, Wagner, Brahms, Haydn, Schubert, etc.

So if you feel that Schostakowitsch is equal to those above-masters in inspiration then Dmitri is "pushing your buttons" in the right way for YOU, Karl. Despite the grand efforts of Stravinsky, Bartok, Hindemith and the modern Soviet/Russians, I still generally obtain more deep spiritual nourishment from the masters of the Baroque----particularly Handel and J.S. Bach, but also Purcell, Couperin, Charpentier, Rameau and Corelli (more than Vivaldi, curiously!).

I enjoy Prokofiev and Schostakowitsch very much---but sometimes their frequent sarcastic moments do get to be a bit much for me.....and I need a change.

Best regards,
Jack
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Post by karlhenning » Wed May 09, 2007 7:45 am

Jack Kelso wrote:So if you feel that Schostakowitsch is equal to those above-masters in inspiration then Dmitri is "pushing your buttons" in the right way for YOU, Karl.
Sorry, Jack, you cannot make this out to be an 'eccentricity' of MINE.

On very much the contrary, it is Handel who by now is a niche interest. Because, you know, Music has Moved On.

I wish you joy of him, but Handel is on life support compared to the 20th-century masters.

Cheers,
~Karl
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Post by karlhenning » Wed May 09, 2007 7:51 am

The fact remains, Jack, that you have no basis for the claim (which you wilfully insist is The Case) that Handel was "more inspired" than Shostakovich, e.g.

That is the content which no quantity of your discussion has erased . . . and the conversation goes on chasing its tail.

I retire from the conversation, confident that you have failed to answer my question, even after ample invitation. And aware that you are ready to post continual variants on The Same Old, Same Old (much, some might say, as Handel composed).

Best,
~Karl
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Post by Jack Kelso » Thu May 10, 2007 12:27 am

karlhenning wrote:The fact remains, Jack, that you have no basis for the claim (which you wilfully insist is The Case) that Handel was "more inspired" than Shostakovich, e.g.

That is the content which no quantity of your discussion has erased . . . and the conversation goes on chasing its tail.

I retire from the conversation, confident that you have failed to answer my question, even after ample invitation. And aware that you are ready to post continual variants on The Same Old, Same Old (much, some might say, as Handel composed).

Best,
~Karl
I, too am weary of this personal preference discussion.

Yet Karl, in all respect to you and your musical abilities, anyone who believes that Handel's music is "same old" has a real blind-spot in that regard....just as if someone said Stravinsky or Prokofiev wrote "ugly" music I would know that he or she doesn't "get" their music.

Handel's harmonic invention is STILL regarded by those who know his music as amazingly modern and powerful.

The oratorio as form is currently enjoying a revival----there are more and more recordings appearing. If Handel's music in general would be regarded as "old fashioned" then Baroque choral music would be dying without him. Remember when his "Julius Caesar" was produced at the MET?! It was an instantaneous success---artistically and popularly.

Best regards,
Jack
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Post by Chalkperson » Thu May 10, 2007 12:47 am

I always thought Handel was a bit like an early version of Andrew Lloyd Webber, for what that's worth... :wink:

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Post by Jack Kelso » Thu May 10, 2007 1:51 am

Chalkperson wrote:I always thought Handel was a bit like an early version of Andrew Lloyd Webber, for what that's worth... :wink:
The proof is in the deeper listening. I think you should try a couple of oratorios, e.g., "Samson", "Israel in Egypt" or "Saul". Webber wants to please and entertain his fans. Handel, on the other hand, when asked whether he felt a particular oratorio "entertained" his audience, replied:

"I did not wish to merely entertain them; I wished to make them better!"

I'm currently at a loss to explain why so many apparently astute listeners on CMG are totally unaware of Handel's sublime qualities......

Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven loved his music and regarded him as the greatest of them all---Beethoven exclaiming, "Therein lies the Truth!". Mozart's operas strongly reflected Handel's influence half a century after "Saul"!

Tschüß!
Jack
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Post by slofstra » Fri May 11, 2007 9:13 am

I, too, am weary of this personal preference discussion.
It's called the 'locked horns' syndrome, don't want to continue it, can't get out of it.

I've tried to put this on the table before - without success. But I suspect that your debate isn't so much about Handel and Shostakovich, but that it's attitudinal. Post-modern thinking is that the entire idea of a classical repertoire, or a standard reportoire, is largely an artificial construct. There is no such thing as an objective best composer, or even that music has any degree of 'quality'. It all comes down to taste. If we talk about the three Immortals, we're really just reflecting our own Western cultural bias. You might say - of course - that is our culture, so it's understood that we make our quality decisions based on certain assumptions. But this idea goes deeper; it suggests that we haven't really made any such evaluation at all, but just bought into a certain line of thinking - a party line on what's best in music - it's what we've been taught.

I don't actually agree with this totally myself - I merely present the thought. And this line of thought certainly has had deep implications for my approach to musical enjoyment. So what I do detect in your Handel debate is some 'old school' - 'new school' shift in thinking. Am I correct? By the way, 'old school' is not a pejorative.

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Post by karlhenning » Fri May 11, 2007 9:25 am

slofstra wrote:I've tried to put this on the table before - without success. But I suspect that your debate isn't so much about Handel and Shostakovich, but that it's attitudinal. Post-modern thinking is that the entire idea of a classical repertoire, or a standard reportoire, is largely an artificial construct. There is no such thing as an objective best composer, or even that music has any degree of 'quality'. It all comes down to taste. . . .
I think there are inherent difficulties in weighing great composers (and in line with those difficulties, I think that it is simply talking out the back of one's neck to claim, for instance, that Vivaldi was "more inspired than" Prokofiev, e.g.).

I don't believe that it all "boils down to preference," though. I bridle nearly as much at the "what you say is great, is great for you, and what I say is great, is great for me," as at the fatuity of "clearly JS Bach is a greater, and more inspired, composer than [list of subsequent composers, most of whom naturally benefited in part from Bach's example]."

I think the discussion is both more complicated, and more interesting than either black or white.

Cheers,
~Karl
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Post by slofstra » Fri May 11, 2007 9:57 am

Now, I haven't read anything about postmodernism and music, specifically, but I have regarding literature. If one applies this line of thought to music, then I think that the way the theory of music is built up, the scales we use, what is thought to be 'quality' in how the violin or the piano is played - for example, the whole question of proper technique - all are culturally conditioned. So, it's quite valid to say - I think Indian sitar music is better than Bach. Or, fingernails scratching on the blackboard or two cats fighting make better music than Stockhausen. Or - for that matter, let me take an example - Haydn's music is better than Mozart (deliberate attempt at controversy - but to make it I would say nothing of Mozart's comes close to Der Schopfung.)

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Post by Chalkperson » Fri May 11, 2007 10:16 am

Jack Kelso wrote:
Chalkperson wrote:I always thought Handel was a bit like an early version of Andrew Lloyd Webber, for what that's worth... :wink:
"I did not wish to merely entertain them; I wished to make them better!"

I'm currently at a loss to explain why so many apparently astute listeners on CMG are totally unaware of Handel's sublime qualities......Jack
What I actually meant was that he was also an entepreneur, he rented the Theatres, had bad shows and good shows, and needed to recycle himself in order to do that, I completely agree that some of what he did was sublime although he is far from my favourite composer...

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Post by karlhenning » Fri May 11, 2007 10:42 am

slofstra wrote:Now, I haven't read anything about postmodernism and music, specifically, but I have regarding literature. If one applies this line of thought to music, then I think that the way the theory of music is built up, the scales we use, what is thought to be 'quality' in how the violin or the piano is played - for example, the whole question of proper technique - all are culturally conditioned. So, it's quite valid to say - I think Indian sitar music is better than Bach. Or, fingernails scratching on the blackboard or two cats fighting make better music than Stockhausen. Or - for that matter, let me take an example - Haydn's music is better than Mozart (deliberate attempt at controversy - but to make it I would say nothing of Mozart's comes close to Der Schopfung.)
Excellent (aside from your deliberate provocation viz. Haydn :-)

So much of it is a matter of cultural conditioning/environment/consensus . . . .

Cheers,
~Karl
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Post by diegobueno » Fri May 11, 2007 11:28 am

Music has "moved on" from Handel????

I've seen several Handel operas on stage, including Agrippina, Orlando and Acis and Galatea, and am always impressed at how well they work in the theater. There's nothing routine in any of this music. True, baroque opera operates under conventions which seem peculiar to us today, but I'm sure Karl would insisist that Stravinsky and Shostakovich should be appreciated on their own terms, so I hope he would accord the same courtesy to Handel.

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Post by slofstra » Sat May 12, 2007 7:52 am

I probably went too far with the Mozart-Haydn. My point was that you could take any pair of composers (almost) and develop a persuasive context by which one would be considered better than the other, or vice versa. For example, I could belittle Bach, and say: not enough harmony, no dynamics, no percussion, therefore don't like it, Shostakovich is my thing. Or, if I was an AC-DC fan, I could say - not enough power chords, E Power Biggs at the Fillmore West not withstanding. Whatever.

I've observed that many musicians, in particular, tend to be non-eclectic as a group and fairly narrow in their musical interests. Which I find ironic. A good pal is a superb banjo player, and Bela Fleck is as far as he ever moves outside the bluegrass genre. Take any guy playing accordion in a polka band, and it's possible that he listens to classical at home, but likely he's all polka all the time. And classical music people, as well, tend to stick close to home, not only to classical as a genre but to certain specific composers and tastes.

My own musical interests are highly eclectic and it would appear that the reverse is also true: I can't play a note.
Last edited by slofstra on Sat May 12, 2007 12:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by BC » Sat May 12, 2007 11:02 am

The proposition that Handel's music is the product of "inspiration" is perhaps anachronistic. This is a relatively modern concept: Handel's contemporary Swift satirised the notion that anything worthwhile could be produced by "inspiration" in "The Tale of a Tub"; and while the Dean notoriously nearly prevented the first performance of "The Messiah" (because he worried that it was blasphemous, and disapproved of his vicars singing in a choir), he is on record as describing Handel as a "genius" and a " prodigal"; I can't believe he would have been so generous if he thought Handel guilty of anything so vulgarly modern as being "inspired". I wonder what Handel himself would have thought of the accusation? :wink:

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Post by karlhenning » Sun May 13, 2007 7:54 am

diegobueno wrote:Music has "moved on" from Handel????
Certainly; not that one is unable to appreciate the great older music for itself; but when art ossifies, it dies.

Even Jack would be fatally disappointed with Schumann if his music were just Handel re-tread.

Cheers,
~Karl
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Post by Jack Kelso » Tue May 15, 2007 12:35 am

karlhenning wrote:
diegobueno wrote:Music has "moved on" from Handel????
Certainly; not that one is unable to appreciate the great older music for itself; but when art ossifies, it dies.

Even Jack would be fatally disappointed with Schumann if his music were just Handel re-tread.

Cheers,
~Karl
Of course, music "moves on" (generally, that means becomes more dissonant, rhythmically and harmonically more complex), since Bruckner is more "modern" than Schumann and Schumann more than Beethoven, etc.

But to say that Handel is on "life-support" compared to 20th century masters is silly. Is Shakespeare on life-support compared to Tennessee Williams or Arthur Miller...?!??

P.S.: Re: Handel-"re-tread": Beethoven's "Die Weihe des Hauses" (Consecration of the House) Overture was intended as a tribute to Handel's style----and it is STRONGLY reminiscent of the Halle Master indeed.

Tschüß!
Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

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Post by Jack Kelso » Tue May 15, 2007 3:06 am

jbuck919 wrote:Brahms subscribed to both the BWV Bach edition and the Handel edition (complete editions such as those being novel concepts at the time). According to his own testimony, he would always take the new Bach volume immediately to the piano. The Handel, well that he would set aside for a little while.
Yes. And Wagner would have put the Bach in the attic and immediately begun an enthusiastic perusal of the Handel!

Wagner: "Handel is the only composer who could 'bleed'".

Interesting, no...?!

Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

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Post by Corlyss_D » Tue May 15, 2007 11:23 am

Top 20? For me there are my top three who all share the #1 spot, followed by everyone else I will listen to, followed by those few I will not listen to any more of.
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