The most depressing music ever?

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hangos
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The most depressing music ever?

Post by hangos » Sat Oct 13, 2007 3:13 am

Having recently purchased Kurtag's various works for strings (Keller Qt. on ECM) and listened to them several times on headphones (for the protection of the rest of the family!) I think they must be the most depressing and depressive pieces ever written (hey, I've heard most of Ligeti,Schoenberg,Shostakovich Symphony #14 and the SQs,I love Bartok and am familiar with Boulez's Rituel)For me,only the finale of Bartok's 2nd SQ comes anywhere near Kurtag!
Can anyone else nominate their most depressing (non-cathartic) music? :(
Martin

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Post by Corlyss_D » Sat Oct 13, 2007 4:46 am

Well, what a cheerful idea. :cry:
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Post by Donaldopato » Sat Oct 13, 2007 5:06 am

Almost anything by Allan Pettersson. But it is well written and moving and thus I find it wonderful in a strange way.
Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. - Albert Einstein

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Post by moldyoldie » Sat Oct 13, 2007 5:44 am

Arvo Pärt: Miserere -- can't stand listening to it, nor most things by him.

I'll concur with Shostakovich's Symphony No. 14 -- I heard the Ormandy recording once many years ago and have been loathe to revisit it; it might be time. However, in most of Shostakovich's late works, I also sense a speck of optimism mixed with his resignation.

I don't find Ligeti's darker work so much depressing as eerie, exploratory, and otherworldly.

I've yet to hear anything by Pettersson.

val
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Post by val » Sat Oct 13, 2007 6:50 am

SCHOECK: Lebendig Begraben, Lieder


More depressive than that and you are really dead.

Teresa B
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Post by Teresa B » Sat Oct 13, 2007 7:23 am

Anything by Stockhausen.

( :lol: because I don't have to listen to him!)
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Auntie Lynn
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Post by Auntie Lynn » Sat Oct 13, 2007 8:48 am

Richard Strauss' Metamophosen...

Spare me...

Heck148
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Post by Heck148 » Sat Oct 13, 2007 9:19 am

Shostakovich - Symphony #14..

it's a very effective piece, but I have to take it in small doses....

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Post by Ralph » Sat Oct 13, 2007 9:44 am

Anything by Henze.
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Post by Chalkperson » Sat Oct 13, 2007 1:16 pm

Obviously Shosty's 14th, but, Kurtag hands down beats all others, I really like him though... :D

hangos
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Post by hangos » Sat Oct 13, 2007 2:04 pm

Chalkperson wrote:Obviously Shosty's 14th, but, Kurtag hands down beats all others, I really like him though... :D
I'm trying to like his music, but unlike Ligeti or Bartok ,for me there is hardly anything of joy or real transcendent beauty in these pieces,neither is there much "fight" against the gloom. Have you tried Hartmann's string quartet? I bet you'd love it,Chalkie! :(
Martin

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Post by pizza » Sat Oct 13, 2007 2:14 pm

Andrzej Panufnik's Tragic Overture is the most depressing piece of music I ever heard.

Paul Conway's article on the composer describes it very well:

http://www.musicweb-international.com/c ... nufnik.htm

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Post by Chalkperson » Sat Oct 13, 2007 2:45 pm

hangos wrote:
Chalkperson wrote:Obviously Shosty's 14th, but, Kurtag hands down beats all others, I really like him though... :D
I'm trying to like his music, but unlike Ligeti or Bartok ,for me there is hardly anything of joy or real transcendent beauty in these pieces,neither is there much "fight" against the gloom. Have you tried Hartmann's string quartet? I bet you'd love it,Chalkie! :(
Martin
I know, it's all doom and gloom but these are the times we live in, I do not have the String Quartets but I have been playing Hartmann this week, I have a couple of recordings of the Concerto Funebre but I just got a new recording on Hyperion, Alina Ibragimova and the Britten Sinfonia, The Concerto and the Sonatas and Suites for Solo Violin...great stuff...

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Post by Brahms » Sat Oct 13, 2007 4:19 pm

Chalkperson wrote:Obviously Shosty's 14th, but, Kurtag hands down beats all others, I really like him though... :D
Have you listened to Pettersson 7? Nothing has come remotely close to infusing my brain with depressing thoughts as that symphony. It's in a class of its own ..... by several orders of magnitude .......

But I guess it's a rather personal thing .......

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Post by Chalkperson » Sat Oct 13, 2007 4:51 pm

pizza wrote:Andrzej Panufnik's Tragic Overture is the most depressing piece of music I ever heard.
I like him too, and his Grandaughter Roxanna, I don't have the Tragic, but I do have the Heroic... :wink:
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Post by Corlyss_D » Sat Oct 13, 2007 5:46 pm

Ralph wrote:Anything by Henze.
Not Carter? :shock:
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Wallingford
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Post by Wallingford » Sat Oct 13, 2007 6:28 pm

Brahms wrote:
Chalkperson wrote:Obviously Shosty's 14th, but, Kurtag hands down beats all others, I really like him though... :D
Have you listened to Pettersson 7? Nothing has come remotely close to infusing my brain with depressing thoughts as that symphony. It's in a class of its own ..... by several orders of magnitude .......

But I guess it's a rather personal thing .......
Wow, so that makes the rest of his symphonies peaches & cream? Damn, & after listening to the Seventh several times I was in a proper frame of mind to brood along with his other symphonies.
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SONNET CLV
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contenders

Post by SONNET CLV » Sat Oct 13, 2007 9:26 pm

I must agree with those who nominate Bartok's 2nd Quartet, Shosty's 14th Symphony, and Pettersson's 7th Symphony as "gloom and doom" music. But here are a couple of contenders.

Of course, the final movement of Tchaikovsky's Pathétique Symphony is supposed to be depressing, and I usually sense that in a well-interpreted performance. I suspect the composer himself wrote it while contemplating suicide.

The Epilogue of Ralph Vaughan Williams's Sixth Symphony ranks with the darkest, most despairing music of all time. It evokes nothing less than the aftermath of the nuclear holocaust and an earth destroyed, empty of life. Scary stuff, indeed.

Alfred Schnittke offers much in the way of gloom and doom music. The Symphony No. 4 is a case in point. It's based upon religious motifs, but it proves rather more depairing than uplifting to my ears. (This same composer's First Symphony is despairing in quite another way, and any of you who have taken on this vehicle will understand what I mean.)

But my vote today goes to Shostakovich's protégé Galina Ustvolskaya who is perhaps the only one who outdoes Shosty's own 14th (which, I believe, Jim Svejda warned about that no one should listen to it more than a couple of times a lifetime or it might provoke suicide). Everything I've heard from Ustvolskaya is dark and upsetting, but perhaps the laurel goes to her Symphony No. 5 ("Amen") which is music from the depths of the gulag itself. I'll go so far as to offer that the Shosty 14th seems cheerful in comparison.

--SONNET CLV (currently listening to the "Amen" Symphony of Ustvolskaya performed by the London Musici with Mark Stephenson on a CONIFER disc 75605 51194 2)--

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Post by Wallingford » Sat Oct 13, 2007 9:41 pm

Say what you will about the 20th-century masters doing Depression better than anyone:

MY own vote goes to Schubert's Winterreise.
If I could tell my mom and dad
That the things we never had
Never mattered we were always ok
Getting ready for Christmas day
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piston
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Post by piston » Sat Oct 13, 2007 10:55 pm

The most depressing music is that which was composed without inspiration. Bartok and Shostakovich do not qualify. Search instead for gifted composers who were doing whatever was necessary to maintain their standard of living, or to pay their gambling debts. That's depressing/

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Post by Wallingford » Mon Oct 15, 2007 12:44 am

piston wrote:The most depressing music is that which was composed without inspiration. Bartok and Shostakovich do not qualify. Search instead for gifted composers who were doing whatever was necessary to maintain their standard of living, or to pay their gambling debts. That's depressing/
Depends on one's viewpoint: I always get a few big yocks at hearing Beethoven's Wellington's Victory (even if it does get overbearing during about the last two-thirds) or Bizet's Patrie Overture.

Despicable as the motives for writing them were (though, in Bizet's case, he probably desperately needed the cash).
If I could tell my mom and dad
That the things we never had
Never mattered we were always ok
Getting ready for Christmas day
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Post by dirkronk » Mon Oct 15, 2007 4:54 pm

For years, I looked on the Shostakovich sym. 7--in particular, the first movement--to be about as oppressive as I cared to ever hear. My first exposure to it was live in concert, and it seemed to go on forever. Thus, I immediately began referring to it as the "death march bolero." In fact, my companion that evening and I discussed whether a noose-and-rusty-razor-blade concession in the lobby might not do a booming business.

Long afterward (we're talking years here, folks), I allowed myself to revisit the work...and eventually began to have a less gloomy attitude about it. Today, in fact, I can rather enjoy it. But the memory of that first impression was a strong one.

Dirk

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Post by Ralph » Mon Oct 15, 2007 10:19 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:
Ralph wrote:Anything by Henze.
Not Carter? :shock:
*****

Henze is, ah, more depressing for me. :)
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Post by Ralph » Mon Oct 15, 2007 10:20 pm

dirkronk wrote:For years, I looked on the Shostakovich sym. 7--in particular, the first movement--to be about as oppressive as I cared to ever hear. My first exposure to it was live in concert, and it seemed to go on forever. Thus, I immediately began referring to it as the "death march bolero." In fact, my companion that evening and I discussed whether a noose-and-rusty-razor-blade concession in the lobby might not do a booming business.

Long afterward (we're talking years here, folks), I allowed myself to revisit the work...and eventually began to have a less gloomy attitude about it. Today, in fact, I can rather enjoy it. But the memory of that first impression was a strong one.

Dirk
*****

I love the Shostakovich "Leningrad" symphony and to me the first movement isn't oppressive, it is powerful and reflects both the Russian resistance to the Nazi hordes and a timeless assertion of strength expressed through music.
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Post by Ralph » Mon Oct 15, 2007 10:21 pm

Most won't concur but I have always hated that great popular DOWNER, Ravel's "Bolero."
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Post by living_stradivarius » Mon Oct 15, 2007 10:36 pm

Samuel Cohen's melody to HaTikvah. No offense, but the minor key for a national anthem just doesn't do it for me (but the PRC's cheery veneer is worse).

Classical music-wise it would have to be sections of Bartok's Romanian Dances. I wouldn't be surprised if the music came from periods of famine.
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Post by Scafell » Tue Oct 16, 2007 6:46 am

I suppose I don't listen to music I find depressing. If I enjoy it then it will never depress me. My other half cannot listen to the Chopin Sonata because of the connotations with funerals, whilst I find it powerful and uplifting. If anything depresses me I probably won't listen to it again.
Last edited by Scafell on Sun Oct 21, 2007 11:21 am, edited 2 times in total.

dirkronk
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Post by dirkronk » Tue Oct 16, 2007 8:33 am

Ralph wrote: I love the Shostakovich "Leningrad" symphony and to me the first movement isn't oppressive, it is powerful and reflects both the Russian resistance to the Nazi hordes and a timeless assertion of strength expressed through music.
If my first hearing of this piece had been led by Mravinsky...or possibly Bernstein (as in his Chicago DGG recording)...I might have heard more of the grandeur and strength to mitigate the gloom. I don't recall who conducted, and besides, I hesitate to throw blame on the performers--they MAY have been great, but I really think I just wasn't ready for this symphony. As it was, I didn't know what to expect and that first movement weighed rather heavy on me. And at the time, my only previous experience with Shostakovich symphonies had been the 1st, 5th, 9th and 15th--all much different and I think more easily approachable pieces than the 7th. Certainly all those have quirky, occasionally even humorous themes to lighten the listening. But as I say, I finally did grow into the 7th and now find it enjoyable.

Cheers,

Dirk

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Schmidt

Post by elektra » Fri Oct 19, 2007 1:15 pm

Franz Schmidt's great Symphony No. 4 is just about the bleakest music imaginable. But, I am deeply moved every time I hear it.
Try Zubin Mehta on Decca or Franz Welser-Most on EMI for two modern recordings of great beauty.
But, there is also a gem of a performance from the 1950's by Rudolf Moralt and The Vienna Symphony on an Epic LP, which is quite a revelation. It has never, to my knowledge, been available on CD. :D :D :D :D

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Post by Wallingford » Fri Oct 19, 2007 1:53 pm

Percy Grainger's setting of The Power Of Love, written in 1922 on the occasion of his mother's suicide, has a quite otherwordly sadness to it.....Grainger suggested several scorings for it, but the most effective has been a 78 on which he himself played harmonium, along with about half a dozen other instrumentalists (including a bass clarinet) accompanying the singer.
If I could tell my mom and dad
That the things we never had
Never mattered we were always ok
Getting ready for Christmas day
--Paul Simon

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Post by Ricordanza » Sat Oct 20, 2007 7:58 am

I just heard Sibelius' In Memoriam for the first time at a Philadlephia Orchestra concert. It's a funeral march, and certainly depressing in that sense, but I found it so beautiful that it's actually uplifting.

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Post by Dave » Sat Oct 20, 2007 4:50 pm

Scnittke's Piano Quintet is I think probably the bleakest thing I've ever encountered. There's a 'ray of hope' at the end, but the overwhelming impression is of bleakness, for slow movement after slow movement.

It is a powerful work, but I do not find it uplifting or consoling in any way, nor do I think it is meant to be.

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