Important composers not considered "great" today ...

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Important composers not considered "great" today ...

Post by Lance » Fri Dec 30, 2011 2:53 am

This seems appropriate as a counter to Garrett's (Iced Note's) post taking the opposite approach.

There are many, but I might mention these initally:

Johann Nepomuk Hummel [1778-1837]
Karl Stamitz [1745-1801]
Charles Valentin Alkan (Morhange) [1813-1888]
Anton Arensky [1861-1906]
Franz Berwald [1796-1868]
Ludwig (Louis) Spohr [1784-1859]
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Re: Important composers not considered "great" today ...

Post by hangos » Fri Dec 30, 2011 6:36 am

Berwald = "Mendelssohn with teeth" ! :wink:

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Re: Important composers not considered "great" today ...

Post by Seán » Fri Dec 30, 2011 8:44 am

I do like Berwald.

Lance, would you consider including the Russian composers, Yevgeny Mravinsky and Mily Balakirev in your list too?
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Re: Important composers not considered "great" today ...

Post by absinthe » Fri Dec 30, 2011 10:15 am

You could put Villa-Lobos in this category. He put Brazillian music on the map but is rarely heard now
possibly because it's difficult and expensive to perform. He did himself no favours by performing his
own stuff either.

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Re: Important composers not considered "great" today ...

Post by Jared » Fri Dec 30, 2011 10:32 am

Lance wrote:Johann Nepomuk Hummel [1778-1837]
Most importantly, LvB held him in high esteem... slightly less importantly, so do I... :wink:

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Re: Important composers not considered "great" today ...

Post by Ted Quanrud » Fri Dec 30, 2011 12:21 pm

Giacomo Meyerbeer -- In the 1830s and 1840s, he was arguably the most famous and successful composer in the world. Today, he is a virtual unknown, even to many people who consider themselves classical music buffs. They may have heard of his name, but none of his music. He does live on in various threads on CMG.

Likewise, Luigi Cherubini -- Beethoven considered him the greatest of his contemporaries, yet he is mostly a musical footnote today.

Antonio Salieri -- perhaps the most powerful musician in Vienna at the time of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, he is now almost exclusively remembered for something he didn't do, namely murder Mozart.

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Re: Important composers not considered "great" today ...

Post by THEHORN » Fri Dec 30, 2011 12:34 pm

Also : Zdenek Fibich . Hans Pfitzner . Franz Schmidt . Alberic Magnard .
Alexander von Zemlinsky . George Whitefield Chadwick . John Knowles Paine .
Charles Villiers Stanford . Hubert Parry . Arthur Bliss . Johan Svendsen . Hugo Alfven .
Sergei Taneyev . Arnold Bax . Havergal Brian . Erno Von Dohnanyi .
Gheorghe Enescu . Granville Bantock . Wilhelm Stenhammar .

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Re: Important composers not considered "great" today ...

Post by Len_Z » Fri Dec 30, 2011 11:46 pm

Joseph Marx who was the most performed living composer in Austria and Germany during the Nazi era but is rarely heard today, even though his music has been getting more recognition lately, especially his wonderful Lieder.

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Re: Important composers not considered "great" today ...

Post by Lance » Sat Dec 31, 2011 2:01 am

Well, Evgeny Mravinsky was an excellent conductor. I'm not aware of him as a composer. However, Mily Balakirev could be on the list, sure!
Seán wrote:I do like Berwald.

Lance, would you consider including the Russian composers, Yevgeny Mravinsky and Mily Balakirev in your list too?
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Re: Important composers not considered "great" today ...

Post by Lance » Sat Dec 31, 2011 2:02 am

All good additions. I am and have been especially fond of Giacomo Meyerbeer's work. His music deserves coming back into the fold. His operas, however, may be too demanding for many singers of our day and age.
Ted Quanrud wrote:Giacomo Meyerbeer -- In the 1830s and 1840s, he was arguably the most famous and successful composer in the world. Today, he is a virtual unknown, even to many people who consider themselves classical music buffs. They may have heard of his name, but none of his music. He does live on in various threads on CMG.

Likewise, Luigi Cherubini -- Beethoven considered him the greatest of his contemporaries, yet he is mostly a musical footnote today.

Antonio Salieri -- perhaps the most powerful musician in Vienna at the time of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, he is now almost exclusively remembered for something he didn't do, namely murder Mozart.
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Re: Important composers not considered "great" today ...

Post by rogch » Sat Dec 31, 2011 7:50 am

I agree about Berwald. I believe many people agree when he is talked about, but he is not mentioned as often as many others.

Other names from the top of my head: Georg Muffat, Leopold Kozeluch, Joseph Lanner, Fartein Valen, Ernst Krenek
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Re: Important composers not considered "great" today ...

Post by absinthe » Sat Dec 31, 2011 8:51 am

Lance wrote:All good additions. I am and have been especially fond of Giacomo Meyerbeer's work. His music deserves coming back into the fold. His operas, however, may be too demanding for many singers of our day and age.
That says it all really. There aren't the singers - not to mention those roles written for specific singers such as Carolina Bassi as Semiramide, requiring both a soprano and contralto voice. Such capabilities are probably one in many millions. It isn't as if he (and others such as Donizetti and Bellini) have been forgotten, just that their wares aren't so culturally relevant at the moment. Their names are preserved by a growing number of aficionados thankfully. Who knows but their day will come again. Operas from that era are increasingly finding their way onto record.

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Re: Important composers not considered "great" today ...

Post by diegobueno » Sat Dec 31, 2011 9:39 am

Lance wrote:This seems appropriate as a counter to Garrett's (Iced Note's) post taking the opposite approach.

There are many, but I might mention these initally:

Johann Nepomuk Hummel [1778-1837]
Karl Stamitz [1745-1801]
Charles Valentin Alkan (Morhange) [1813-1888]
Anton Arensky [1861-1906]
Franz Berwald [1796-1868]
Ludwig (Louis) Spohr [1784-1859]
This is a list of has-been composers. They were important in their day, but are now just minor figures of little importance.

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Re: Important composers not considered "great" today ...

Post by John F » Sat Dec 31, 2011 10:21 am

If "important" means "historically important," which is what I take it to mean, then it's enough that a composer was important in his day. But I'd question the historical importance of most of these. What impact did they have on other composers then or since, or on the taste of their times? There's a miscellaneous quality to some of the later additions to this thread that takes it rather off-topic.
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Re: Important composers not considered "great" today ...

Post by lennygoran » Sat Dec 31, 2011 11:01 am

>Their names are preserved by a growing number of aficionados thankfully.<

That's me--I've been to Boston several times now for Donizetti operas--may they do some more of them--ah that Maria Padilla! Regards, Len :)

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Re: Important composers not considered "great" today ...

Post by diegobueno » Sat Dec 31, 2011 11:55 am

I don't think we can even say what constitutes "historically important", and the lack of definition is probably going to sink this discussion into meaninglessness, if it ever had any meaning to begin with. Oh well...

Most people here seem to think being historically important means innovative and influential. Composer X was the first person to do A, and that caused composer Y and Z to do something similar, and composer Z to do B. I think anyone who's exceptional enough to write music that moves people to want to play it and listen to it long after the composer's death is important whether or not he/she influences anything. Therefore I don't see the distinction between "great" and "important". But, we wouldn't have much of a forum if we didn't have issues like this to bandy about I suppose.

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Re: Important composers not considered "great" today ...

Post by Seán » Sat Dec 31, 2011 12:11 pm

Lance wrote:Well, Evgeny Mravinsky was an excellent conductor. I'm not aware of him as a composer. However, Mily Balakirev could be on the list, sure!
Seán wrote:I do like Berwald.

Lance, would you consider including the Russian composers, Yevgeny Mravinsky and Mily Balakirev in your list too?
My apologies, I wrote 'Mravinsky' when I meant 'Nikolai Yakovlevich Myaskovsky' instead. :oops:
Seán

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Re: Important composers not considered "great" today ...

Post by John F » Sat Dec 31, 2011 12:21 pm

diegobueno wrote:I don't think we can even say what constitutes "historically important"
Oh, sure we can, if we've an adequate grasp of the history of music. A large part of it is what you say, "innovative and influential" - or either of them. We can trace the development of various elements of music - genre, form, harmony, counterpoint, instrumentation, and so on - in composers' works. Influence may be exerted through powerful originality in the music itself, or through the popularity of a particular work or composer making the genre or style attractive to others who want to succeed.
diegobueno wrote:I think anyone who's exceptional enough to write music that moves people to want to play it and listen to it long after the composer's death is important whether or not he/she influences anything.
In effect, then, lasting popularity is a measure of importance. It's not a measure I would use, I think of importance as more than a matter of taste pure and simple, but if that's your definition, fair enough.

The difference between "great" and "important" is that importance is measured by objective criteria, though we may not agree on what those criteria are; "great" is a subjective judgment.
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Re: Important composers not considered "great" today ...

Post by jbuck919 » Sat Dec 31, 2011 3:03 pm

Seán wrote:
Lance wrote:Well, Evgeny Mravinsky was an excellent conductor. I'm not aware of him as a composer. However, Mily Balakirev could be on the list, sure!
Seán wrote:I do like Berwald.

Lance, would you consider including the Russian composers, Yevgeny Mravinsky and Mily Balakirev in your list too?
My apologies, I wrote 'Mravinsky' when I meant 'Nikolai Yakovlevich Myaskovsky' instead. :oops:
Well I've never made a mistake like that. :roll: :wink:

Someone already mentioned Stamitz, and certainly the inventors of the Classical style were not great but were important as precursors of Haydn and Mozart. The same might be said of the precursors of Bach and Handel who invented the various forms they brought to fruition. One is tempted to generalize that all forms and all periods had important precursors who were not great, but it doesn't take two seconds' thought to realize that this is not true. Mature Renaissance style, early Baroque operatic style, and the string quartet are three examples of musical edifices whose inventors (with some room for slight quibbling) are among the greatest masters (in the case of Monteverdi, the only one). A fun situation to comment on, but it doesn't help people who like to have things pinned down in neat little schemes.

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Re: Important composers not considered "great" today ...

Post by Seán » Sat Dec 31, 2011 8:09 pm

jbuck919 wrote:
Seán wrote:
Lance wrote:Well, Evgeny Mravinsky was an excellent conductor. I'm not aware of him as a composer. However, Mily Balakirev could be on the list, sure!
Seán wrote:I do like Berwald.

Lance, would you consider including the Russian composers, Yevgeny Mravinsky and Mily Balakirev in your list too?
My apologies, I wrote 'Mravinsky' when I meant 'Nikolai Yakovlevich Myaskovsky' instead. :oops:
Well I've never made a mistake like that. :roll: :wink:
Well JB, some of us are not perfect, don't you know. :wink:
Seán

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Re: Important composers not considered "great" today ...

Post by bricon » Sat Dec 31, 2011 9:41 pm

Ted Quanrud wrote:Giacomo Meyerbeer -- In the 1830s and 1840s, he was arguably the most famous and successful composer in the world. Today, he is a virtual unknown, even to many people who consider themselves classical music buffs. They may have heard of his name, but none of his music. He does live on in various threads on CMG.
Most opera buffs (rather than classical music buffs) have certainly heard of Meyerbeer and have probably heard (at least parts of) Les Huguenots.

As far as influence goes, Meyerbeer was certainly an influence on early Wagner - von Bülow described Rienzi "Meyerbeer's best opera". A backhanded slap to both Wagner and Meyerbeer to be sure but a statement with some merit none the less.

Others have commented on a lack of Meyerbeerian singers today - it also should be noted that most operas by Meyerbeer (and French Opera Grande in general) are MASSIVELY expensive to stage.

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Re: Important composers not considered "great" today ...

Post by John F » Sat Dec 31, 2011 10:33 pm

Meyerbeer's influence, as the foremost composer of Parisian spectacular grand opéra, was broader than such early Wagner operas as "Rienzi." Verdi's "Les vêpres siciliennes" and "Don Carlos," composed for Paris, and "Aida," based on a scenario by the Frenchman Auguste Mariette, emulate Meyerbeer, as do less well-known works by other composers.
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Re: Important composers not considered "great" today ...

Post by absinthe » Sat Dec 31, 2011 11:20 pm

bricon wrote: Others have commented on a lack of Meyerbeerian singers today - it also should be noted that most operas by Meyerbeer (and French Opera Grande in general) are MASSIVELY expensive to stage.
All true and the Paris operas are grand indeed. Even the smallest - Dinorah - needs very good soloists and sets. I would sooner his operas remained infrequently performed than succumb to the minimalist production we hear about these days. Of course on CD, stage production is less of an issue.

But it's great to find several CGM members now emerging in his support. I'm not so sure he influenced Wagner. He helped Wagner with Rienzi for which he was repaid with scorn eventually. (Interesting musically to note that Wagner was engaged on The Flying Dutchman at the same time.) Wagner earlier tried an opera for Paris that failed - Das Liebesverbot. That, to me, seemed closer to Donizetti than Meyerbeer. (I'm not claiming he was equal or superior to Donizetti but the style strikes me.)

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Re: Important composers not considered "great" today ...

Post by John F » Sun Jan 01, 2012 12:42 am

Frankly, I don't believe the Meyerbeer operas would be all that difficult to cast today, even "Les Huguenots." (The Bard College SummerScape Festival production of 2009, with only one kind-of name singer in the cast, was well reviewed. Did anyone here see it?) Young singers nowadays are trained for vocal agility as those of much of the last century were not, and as for sheer vocal size and strength, the demands of Wagner's "Ring" far exceed those of Meyerbeer, yet "Ring" productions are a dime a dozen the world around. And with today's economical and often revisionist approach to operatic stage direction, even the most faithful productions of nonstandard repertory often make do with simplified and even unit sets.

No, I'm sure it's the lack of interest among singers and conductors, and of demand from the opera audience, that's why Meyerbeer's operas are so rarely taken off the shelf. Every decade or so, a major opera house will venture one of the most famous operas, and achieve artistic success with it - the Met staged "Le Prophete" in 1977, San Francisco "L'Africaine" in 1988 - but none of these have set a Meyerbeer bandwagon in motion. Evidently the time is not ripe - if it ever will be.
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Re: Important composers not considered "great" today ...

Post by CharmNewton » Sun Jan 01, 2012 11:58 am

Where would CMGers place composers like Lehar, Johann Strauss Jr or John Philip Sousa?

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Re: Important composers not considered "great" today ...

Post by jbuck919 » Sun Jan 01, 2012 12:35 pm

CharmNewton wrote:Where would CMGers place composers like Lehar, Johann Strauss Jr or John Philip Sousa?

John
Oh come on! :roll:

also John

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.
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Re: Important composers not considered "great" today ...

Post by CharmNewton » Sun Jan 01, 2012 1:11 pm

jbuck919 wrote:
CharmNewton wrote:Where would CMGers place composers like Lehar, Johann Strauss Jr or John Philip Sousa?

John
Oh come on! :roll:

also John
Their music is also melodically beautiful, skillfully and colorfully orchestrated, and harmonically rich. It was (and still is) loved by many. The same could be said of the Italian verismo composers.

John

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Re: Important composers not considered "great" today ...

Post by jbuck919 » Sun Jan 01, 2012 1:32 pm

CharmNewton wrote:
jbuck919 wrote:
CharmNewton wrote:Where would CMGers place composers like Lehar, Johann Strauss Jr or John Philip Sousa?

John
Oh come on! :roll:

also John
Their music is also melodically beautiful, skillfully and colorfully orchestrated, and harmonically rich. It was (and still is) loved by many.

John
Look at my official CMG title. I'm second to none in my admiration for the music of John Philip Sousa, and Johann Strauss Jr. is probably the best composer of lighter music that is still decidedly classical. But is this the right thread for your post? Those composers were neither great nor influential, in their own day or any other.

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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Re: Important composers not considered "great" today ...

Post by lennygoran » Sun Jan 01, 2012 1:39 pm

>The same could be said of the Italian verismo composers.<

Now we're talking--no way guys like schoenberg and ligetti can match the compositions of Pietro Mascagni, Ruggiero Leoncavallo, Umberto Giordano and Giacomo Puccini. Sousa, well that may be another matter! Regards, Len :)

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Re: Important composers not considered "great" today ...

Post by absinthe » Sun Jan 01, 2012 1:55 pm

lennygoran wrote:>Their names are preserved by a growing number of aficionados thankfully.<

That's me--I've been to Boston several times now for Donizetti operas--may they do some more of them--ah that Maria Padilla! Regards, Len :)
I have never seen that opera but have a recording from Opera Rara and it's a wonderful work indeed.
John F wrote:No, I'm sure it's the lack of interest among singers and conductors, and of demand from the opera audience, that's why Meyerbeer's operas are so rarely taken off the shelf. Every decade or so, a major opera house will venture one of the most famous operas, and achieve artistic success with it - the Met staged "Le Prophete" in 1977, San Francisco "L'Africaine" in 1988 - but none of these have set a Meyerbeer bandwagon in motion. Evidently the time is not ripe - if it ever will be.
Maybe but you could say the same of Donizetti apart from Lucia and L'Elisir, maybe Fille (from around 70 operas) Rossini and Bellini. On the Italian front, Verdi and Puccini have the hold. But it's difficult to assess demand. If the "company" doesn't accede to demand then it may never be known. I'm reminded of a (well-known) retailer. I asked for a certain product; response: "Sorry, we don't stock that. There isn't the demand." Me: "Well, if you don't sell it how can the people upstairs know if there's demand?"

I'll bet opera buffs would be happier with minimalist Verdi or Wagner rather than their troupe fold up because it can't afford to stage Il Crociato or Dinorah (bearing in mind that opera is losing fans becaise of trashy and minimalist productions).
Last edited by absinthe on Sun Jan 01, 2012 1:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Important composers not considered "great" today ...

Post by jbuck919 » Sun Jan 01, 2012 1:57 pm

lennygoran wrote:>The same could be said of the Italian verismo composers.<

Now we're talking--no way guys like schoenberg and ligetti can match the compositions of Pietro Mascagni, Ruggiero Leoncavallo, Umberto Giordano and Giacomo Puccini. Sousa, well that may be another matter! Regards, Len :)
Shame on you! :wink:



(In case anyone is wondering, the language they're singing in is English.)

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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Re: Important composers not considered "great" today ...

Post by John F » Sun Jan 01, 2012 2:18 pm

absinthe wrote:
John F wrote:No, I'm sure it's the lack of interest among singers and conductors, and of demand from the opera audience, that's why Meyerbeer's operas are so rarely taken off the shelf. Every decade or so, a major opera house will venture one of the most famous operas, and achieve artistic success with it - the Met staged "Le Prophete" in 1977, San Francisco "L'Africaine" in 1988 - but none of these have set a Meyerbeer bandwagon in motion. Evidently the time is not ripe - if it ever will be.
Maybe but you could say the same of Donizetti apart from Lucia and L'Elisir, maybe Fille (from around 70 operas) Rossini and Bellini. On the Italian front, Verdi and Puccini have the hold. But it's difficult to assess demand. If the "company" doesn't accede to demand then it may never be known. I'm reminded of a (well-known) retailer. I asked for a certain product; response: "Sorry, we don't stock that. There isn't the demand." Me: "Well, if you don't sell it how can the people upstairs know if there's demand?"
No, you can't say the same of Donizetti, Rossini, and Bellini, because as you observe, several operas by each are popular with audiences and staples of the standard repertoire. Also, some leading singers want to sing the leading roles, which motivates the major opera houses to stage the less popular operas for them - this season, for example, Donizetti's "Anna Bolena" at the Met for Anna Netrebko, and last season's "Armida" (Rossini) for Renée Fleming. Such singers have leverage because their star quality draws thousands of opera-goers to the box office. So the demand by star singers and audiences is not so difficult to assess as you suppose. Meyerbeer, by contrast, is definitely out in the cold.
John Francis

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Re: Important composers not considered "great" today ...

Post by John F » Sun Jan 01, 2012 2:23 pm

lennygoran wrote:>The same could be said of the Italian verismo composers.<

Now we're talking--no way guys like schoenberg and ligetti can match the compositions of Pietro Mascagni, Ruggiero Leoncavallo, Umberto Giordano and Giacomo Puccini. Sousa, well that may be another matter! Regards, Len :)
Ten years ago NY City Opera staged Sousa's operetta "The Glass Blowers," in a production picked up from Glimmerglass. A tuneful and professionally made piece, but neither important nor influential. And not really classical music either. Irrelevant to our topic, then.
John Francis

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Re: Important composers not considered "great" today ...

Post by CharmNewton » Sun Jan 01, 2012 2:31 pm

jbuck919 wrote:
CharmNewton wrote:
jbuck919 wrote:
CharmNewton wrote:Where would CMGers place composers like Lehar, Johann Strauss Jr or John Philip Sousa?

John
Oh come on! :roll:

also John
Their music is also melodically beautiful, skillfully and colorfully orchestrated, and harmonically rich. It was (and still is) loved by many.

John
Look at my official CMG title. I'm second to none in my admiration for the music of John Philip Sousa, and Johann Strauss Jr. is probably the best composer of lighter music that is still decidedly classical. But is this the right thread for your post? Those composers were neither great nor influential, in their own day or any other.
Audiences have found these composers great, which is admittedly subjective, and why I mentioned other traditional musical measures such as melody and harmony. Perhaps the success of these composers was influential in that it reminds composers that it is important to please audiences.

John

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Re: Important composers not considered "great" today ...

Post by John F » Sun Jan 01, 2012 3:02 pm

CharmNewton wrote:Audiences have found these composers great
Johann Strauss II? John Philip Sousa? Obviously their music appeals to people, but that's not the same thing as their being great composers, or audiences believing they are. Where would one find evidence that they do?
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Re: Important composers not considered "great" today ...

Post by bricon » Sun Jan 01, 2012 5:09 pm

John F wrote: No, I'm sure it's the lack of interest among singers and conductors, and of demand from the opera audience, that's why Meyerbeer's operas are so rarely taken off the shelf. Every decade or so, a major opera house will venture one of the most famous operas, and achieve artistic success with it - the Met staged "Le Prophete" in 1977, San Francisco "L'Africaine" in 1988 - but none of these have set a Meyerbeer bandwagon in motion. Evidently the time is not ripe - if it ever will be.
Operatic styles fall in and out of favour, which is not necessarily related to their musical or theatrical quality. Baroque operas were (largely) out of favour for 200 years until their re-emergence in the latter part of the 20th century; Cosi fan tutte didn’t receive its US premiere until 1922. Apart from Onegin and Spades Tchaikovsky’s other (12) operas are rarely heard in the West. Janacek wasn’t widely known in his own lifetime or for 50 years after his death, now his operas are widely known and performed. There are dozens of such examples.

There wasn't a great demand for bel canto operas (apart from a few) until the 1950s - the emergence of Callas and Sutherland was the catalyst for a bel canto boom that hasn't waned in the past half century.

Who knows if French Grand Opera will ever make a comeback? If the public eventually tires of minimalistic stagings maybe the excesses of the style may well wet the public's appetite.

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Re: Important composers not considered "great" today ...

Post by CharmNewton » Sun Jan 01, 2012 5:11 pm

John F wrote:
CharmNewton wrote:Audiences have found these composers great
Johann Strauss II? John Philip Sousa? Obviously their music appeals to people, but that's not the same thing as their being great composers, or audiences believing they are. Where would one find evidence that they do?
There are estimates of a quarter-million people attending outdoor concerts of Sousa, and the Sousa Band was probably the most recorded ensemble in the early days of recording, over a period lasting nearly 40 years. Two of the principals from that Band, Herbert Clarke and Arthur Pryor, were very well known to the public.

Why is the appeal of music not evidence of its greatness? There's the story that when Bruno Walter asked Brahms for his autograph, Brahms penned a few bars of "On the Beautiful Blue Danube". Brahms certainly loved Strauss, Jr.'s music. Is that evidence he considered him great? I don't know. But greatness isn't just an idea expressed by other composers in words. Audiences express it too--by coming to concerts, listening to music and liking it enough, or even loving it, to hear it again.

For me, this would be evidence to me that these Sousa and Strauss were considered great in their day. Today, I still find their music fresh and enjoyable.

John

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Re: Important composers not considered "great" today ...

Post by Wallingford » Sun Jan 01, 2012 7:20 pm

...and then there's our "dearly departed" member Jack Kelso's big fave--JOACHIM RAFF!

Remember all Jack's testimonials to Raff's "genius"?
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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Re: Important composers not considered "great" today ...

Post by lennygoran » Mon Jan 02, 2012 8:42 am

>Shame on you! <

Okay I take it back--Sousa is more important and much better than ligetti and Schoenberg too! Regards, Len :)

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Re: Important composers not considered "great" today ...

Post by lennygoran » Mon Jan 02, 2012 8:45 am

>Ten years ago NY City Opera staged Sousa's operetta "The Glass Blowers," in a production picked up from Glimmerglass. <

Yeah we saw it up there--it made for a nice summer outing but it wasn't such a good opera--still it had some cute moments. Regards, Len :)

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Re: Important composers not considered "great" today ...

Post by John F » Mon Jan 02, 2012 12:51 pm

CharmNewton wrote:
John F wrote:
CharmNewton wrote:Audiences have found these composers great
Johann Strauss II? John Philip Sousa? Obviously their music appeals to people, but that's not the same thing as their being great composers, or audiences believing they are. Where would one find evidence that they do?
Why is the appeal of music not evidence of its greatness?
If it were, then the mewling of Lady Gaga would rate as greater than the Eroica Symphony and all other classical music. I say it's not. If you really feel that it is, are you willing to take that view to its logical "Roll over Beethoven" conclusion?
John Francis

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Re: Important composers not considered "great" today ...

Post by keyboardkat » Mon Jan 02, 2012 5:14 pm

Julius Reubke, a composition student of Liszt. He was an organist and organ builder. He died very young and would probably be forgotten today were it not for his organ sonata, which organists love to play. His B-flat minor piano sonata, which I have studied, is a remarkable work, although quite difficult and technically treacherous in places. The second movement is like Wagner. The last movement ties together themes from the first two movements. One wonders what he would have achieved had he lived longer.

I find it more difficult technically and musically than the B minor sonata of his teacher, Liszt, although the Liszt sonata is the work of a more mature, experienced composer and is better constructed, with more economy of means.

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Re: Important composers not considered "great" today ...

Post by diegobueno » Mon Jan 02, 2012 7:11 pm

John F wrote:
diegobueno wrote:I don't think we can even say what constitutes "historically important"
Oh, sure we can, if we've an adequate grasp of the history of music. A large part of it is what you say, "innovative and influential" - or either of them. We can trace the development of various elements of music - genre, form, harmony, counterpoint, instrumentation, and so on - in composers' works. Influence may be exerted through powerful originality in the music itself, or through the popularity of a particular work or composer making the genre or style attractive to others who want to succeed.
diegobueno wrote:I think anyone who's exceptional enough to write music that moves people to want to play it and listen to it long after the composer's death is important whether or not he/she influences anything.
In effect, then, lasting popularity is a measure of importance. It's not a measure I would use, I think of importance as more than a matter of taste pure and simple, but if that's your definition, fair enough.

The difference between "great" and "important" is that importance is measured by objective criteria, though we may not agree on what those criteria are; "great" is a subjective judgment.
One person's assessment of greatness may be subjective, but I would say that the affection that musicians and audiences have for a composer over a span of generations is also something that can be measured objectively. It can be measured in terms of frequency of performances and recordings, in terms of the range of repertory performed, in the amount of critical and scholarly attention paid to a composer.

But your differentiation between "great" and "important" does have merit. For one thing, it answers Garrett's question concerning the greatness of Tchaikovsky despite his apparent lack of innovations (outside the field of ballet) to carry on the progress of the musical language. Since "greatness" and "importance" are considered independently, Tchaikovsky can still be a great composer even if he lacks these usual hallmarks of historical importance.

The lure of "objective criteria" can be seductive, though. We tend to trust things which can be objectively proven over those which rely on subjective judgment. If it can be proven objectively that a composer is important, but not that a composer is great there's a tendency to question whether or not the composer really is all that great. This is the kind of thinking that lay behind Garrett posing the question about Tchaikovsky. In fact there's a strong tendency to construe these historically important innovations as defining the greatness of a composer. For instance I recall hearing from one of my Cornell classmates (who had gotten this from one of his composition professors) that Schoenberg was a greater composer than Stravinsky because he invented the 12-tone system which was taken up by his students Berg and Webern and then adopted by all the post-war composers worth taking seriously, including Stravinsky himself. Stravinsky's own conversion to dodecaphony was the final proof of Schoeberg's superiority.* We see the equation of innovation with greatness most keenly in discussions of modern composers. My feeling is that a lot of what has passed for innovation in music of the past 60 would fall more honestly in the category of gimmickry, so I resist that kind of thinking. But time will provide a more definitive answer than I can.


* I replied that Stravinsky was no slouch in the innovation department and his impact on music in the 20th century was every bit as influential, but you see, "12-tone" is such a concrete handle. The row content of a piece is easy to verify, whereas it takes more effort to observe mixed meters and displaced accents and all the other distinctive Stravinsky fingerprints. I think most musicians today would consider the two equally important and equally great.

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Re: Important composers not considered "great" today ...

Post by John F » Mon Jan 02, 2012 8:46 pm

diegobueno wrote:One person's assessment of greatness may be subjective, but I would say that the affection that musicians and audiences have for a composer over a span of generations is also something that can be measured objectively.
Whether this "affection" is a measure of either importance or greatness, is a good question. It's certainly a measure of collective musical taste, which is a significant aspect of the history of music. Taste sometimes directs the kind of music that's composed at a given time, and sometimes it doesn't; the avant-garde has as its mission the flouting of the collective taste of the day. When we speak of taste, we aren't talking about the works themselves but about people's subjective feelings toward them. This may have to do with our individual and collective sense of greatness, but I'd argue that it's not about importance.
diegobueno wrote:The lure of "objective criteria" can be seductive, though. We tend to trust things which can be objectively proven over those which rely on subjective judgment. If it can be proven objectively that a composer is important, but not that a composer is great there's a tendency to question whether or not the composer really is all that great.
Not if you accept the distinction I've made about the nature of importance and of greatness, which I thought you had. There's nothing wrong with questioning whether a composer or a work "really is all that great," for whatever reason; either way, we're saying what we feel subjectively. It's one of those things people can disagree about but can't really debate. Importance, on the other hand, is debatable, or so I say; merely to feel that something is or isn't important, isn't good enough.
diegobueno wrote:I recall hearing from one of my Cornell classmates (who had gotten this from one of his composition professors) that Schoenberg was a greater composer than Stravinsky because he invented the 12-tone system which was taken up by his students Berg and Webern and then adopted by all the post-war composers worth taking seriously, including Stravinsky himself.
Your classmate and his professor made the categorical error, which we're trying to sort out in this thread, of identifying importance and greatness as the same. Schoenberg's importance is beyond dispute; the greatness much of his music is far from a settled question. You were right to point out that Stravinsky too was a very important composer, in terms of innovation and influence. Trying to keep score between them as to which was the more important seems to me pretty pointless.

(Oh, and by the way, if Stravinsky took up serial composition late in life, Schoenberg took up neoclassicism rather earlier. His neoclassical works sound nothing like Stravinsky's, while Stravinsky's 12-tone works sound nothing like Schoenberg's.)
John Francis

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Re: Important composers not considered "great" today ...

Post by Istvan » Tue Jan 03, 2012 9:30 am

I think Johann Strauss II should be counted a great composer within his particular field: he was a splendid and imaginative orchestrator; he had a superb feeling for rythm and melody and he has more than stood the test of time. This is not to say he is as great as Brahms or Verdi, who went wider and deeper: I would put him high up in the Second Eleven.
Cheers

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Re: Important composers not considered "great" today ...

Post by John F » Tue Jan 03, 2012 12:42 pm

Istvan wrote:I think Johann Strauss II should be counted a great composer within his particular field
Greatness is in the ear of the beholder, so you can count any or all of the Strausses (Strice?) as great composers if you like. Of course anybody and everybody can disagree if they like.
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Re: Important composers not considered "great" today ...

Post by dulcinea » Tue Jan 03, 2012 9:35 pm

'twas not that long ago that a German with the initials GPT and an Italian with the initials AV were dismissed as Baroque curiosities not worth anybody's attention.
Allow me some Dennis-the-Menaceness: which eminent modern composers now deceased are losing the prestige they enjoyed during their lives?
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Re: Important composers not considered "great" today ...

Post by Bro » Tue Jan 03, 2012 10:04 pm

dulcinea wrote: a German with the initials GPT and an Italian with the initials AV were dismissed as Baroque curiosities not worth anybody's attention.
The Baroque has made a comeback in the last 40 years or so. Perhaps someday Telemann and Vivaldi will, once again, attain the nonentitieness they so richly deserve.. :wink:



dulcinea wrote: which eminent modern composers now deceased are losing the prestige they enjoyed during their lives?
No idea. Stockhausen, maybe ? Bernstein ?


Bro

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Re: Important composers not considered "great" today ...

Post by dulcinea » Wed Jan 04, 2012 1:25 am

Bro wrote:
dulcinea wrote: a German with the initials GPT and an Italian with the initials AV were dismissed as Baroque curiosities not worth anybody's attention.
The Baroque has made a comeback in the last 40 years or so. Perhaps someday Telemann and Vivaldi will, once again, attain the nonentitieness they so richly deserve.. :wink:



dulcinea wrote: which eminent modern composers now deceased are losing the prestige they enjoyed during their lives?
No idea. Stockhausen, maybe ? Bernstein ?


Bro
Last 40 years or so?
I'm 57, which means that I remember that, in my 1964 WORLD BOOK ENCYCLOPEDIA, Telemann was totally omitted, Vivaldi was only identified as the author of the music of Frankie Valli's group, and CPE Bach and JC Bach were mentioned as sons of JSB but their music was totally ignored.
Let every thing that has breath praise the Lord! Alleluya!

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Re: Important composers not considered "great" today ...

Post by John F » Wed Jan 04, 2012 2:27 am

dulcinea wrote:
Bro wrote:
dulcinea wrote: a German with the initials GPT and an Italian with the initials AV were dismissed as Baroque curiosities not worth anybody's attention.
The Baroque has made a comeback in the last 40 years or so. Perhaps someday Telemann and Vivaldi will, once again, attain the nonentitieness they so richly deserve.. :wink:
Last 40 years or so?
I'm 57, which means that I remember that, in my 1964 WORLD BOOK ENCYCLOPEDIA, Telemann was totally omitted, Vivaldi was only identified as the author of the music of Frankie Valli's group, and CPE Bach and JC Bach were mentioned as sons of JSB but their music was totally ignored.
That's more a commentary on the World Book than on the state of musical knowledge and appreciation at the time. I still have a Schwann Long Playing Record Catalog from June 1956 which lists eight commercially available recordings of "The Four Seasons" and complete recordings of Vivaldi's op. 3, 8, and 9 (two versions), products of the big Italian Baroque revival of the 1950s. As for Telemann, he had the disadvantage of not being Italian, :) but even so there were recordings of 16 works - concertos, sonatas, cantatas, even operas, mostly on major labels. The junior Bachs are also represented with a dozen or more recorded works each. These recordings wouldn't have been made if there hadn't been a substantial audience for them.
John Francis

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