Guess Who the Richest Composer Was?

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Ralph
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Guess Who the Richest Composer Was?

Post by Ralph » Tue Aug 30, 2005 9:45 am

Gershwin leads composer rich list

Kirsty Scott
Monday August 29, 2005

Guardian

The music of George Gershwin has delighted millions of people across the world and he made a multi-million pound fortune from it. Now the creator of such classics as Summertime, Rhapsody In Blue and I Got Rhythm has topped a list of the richest composers of all time.

Gershwin eclipsed such classical greats as Strauss, Verdi and Handel in the poll for Classic FM.

The classical music station drew up the rich list based on estimates of earnings accrued in a composer's lifetime.

Gershwin made a multi-million pound fortune from hit musicals, including Porgy and Bess and Funny Face. He invested his money in art and left a substantial estate when he died in 1937.

Second on the list is Johann Strauss, who charged more than £30,000 a time by today's prices for public appearances and an astonishing £830,000 for one conducting job in the US.

Verdi came third, taking a commissioning fee of £166,000 for his everlasting opera Aida.

Others on the list include Italian composer Rossini, who charged more than £3,000 for a single lesson, Rachmaninov, Puccini and Tchaikovsky.

Mozart, however, is absent. Despite enjoying fame during his lifetime, financial mismanagement left the composer penniless when he died at 35.

Full details of the composers' fortunes will be revealed in Composers' Notes, a new Classic FM series presented by John Suchet beginning on September 4.

Top 11

1 George Gershwin

2 Johann Strauss II

3 Verdi

4 Rossini

5 Handel

6 Haydn

7 Rachmaninov

8 Puccini

9 Paganini

10 Tchaikovsky

11 Ditters von Dittersdorf
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Re: Guess Who the Richest Composer Was?

Post by johnQpublic » Tue Aug 30, 2005 10:19 am

Ralph wrote:
11 Ditters von Dittersdorf
I smell a ringer!! :lol:

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Post by pizza » Tue Aug 30, 2005 10:26 am

I'm surprised that Ives wasn't mentioned. He made his fortune in the insurance business, not at music, but he was still a very rich man and a composer.

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Post by jbuck919 » Tue Aug 30, 2005 10:58 am

pizza wrote:I'm surprised that Ives wasn't mentioned. He made his fortune in the insurance business, not at music, but he was still a very rich man and a composer.
And a classical composer, which most certainly George Gershwin was not (my point being that he doesn't belong on that list with the others--I'm sure Richard Rodgers and Irving Berlin died rich too).

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Post by Barry » Tue Aug 30, 2005 11:04 am

I would have guessed Richard Strauss would have made the list with his decades of world wide fame and a wife who pushed him to make money.
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Post by jbuck919 » Tue Aug 30, 2005 11:16 am

Barry Z wrote:I would have guessed Richard Strauss would have made the list with his decades of world wide fame and a wife who pushed him to make money.
Yes, I was also surprised at the omission of someone who didn't mind being a department store window display as long as someone paid him enough.

There is also the issue of comparison across centuries. Haydn and Handel on this list? I have to wonder.

Edit: The more I look at the list, the more suspicious I get. Are we sure the Guardian's editors knew the difference between Johann and Richard Strauss? If their source just said Strauss....

Also, who exactly was "polled" for this information?

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Post by lmpower » Tue Aug 30, 2005 11:58 am

My first thought was that John Lennon was the richest composer.

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Post by Peter Schenkman » Tue Aug 30, 2005 12:04 pm

Then there’s always the cute story of Gershwin (experts split on which composer) approaching Stravinsky or Ravel for composition lessons. When asked how much money he made per year Gershwin replied $250,000.00 (which back then was a lot). Stravinsky or Ravel shot back at once with “How much do you charge for lessons”?

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Post by MaestroDJS » Tue Aug 30, 2005 1:20 pm

Supposedly Igor Stravinsky sometimes signed his name by placing his English initials, I and S, over one another, which created a US dollar sign ($). When asked why he charged high fees for his music, Stravinsky replied that it was "on behalf of my brother composers, Schubert and Mozart, who died in poverty."

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Gregory Kleyn

Post by Gregory Kleyn » Tue Aug 30, 2005 4:40 pm

Who might the richest conductor be?

Karajan?

And who is the mosty highly paid among presently active conductors?

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Post by jbuck919 » Tue Aug 30, 2005 4:55 pm

Gregory Kleyn wrote:Who might the richest conductor be?

Karajan?

And who is the mosty highly paid among presently active conductors?
Gregory, why don't you start a new thread? Just ask the same subject. I was dying to ask the same thing (I am an ignoramus on the subject) and you beat me to it.

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Post by MahlerSnob » Tue Aug 30, 2005 6:22 pm

When asked how much money he made per year Gershwin replied $250,000.00 (which back then was a lot).
Back then???? Even now that's quite a bit of money.

As for highest-paid conductor today - probably Levine. The man splits his icome between the Met and the BSO, two of the world wealthiest musical organizations. Add to that all of his guest conducting, and he probably takes in close to $4 mil. a year. As for richest of all time, that's hard to say. Off the top of my head, von Bulow is a good bet. So is Karjan. Bernstein wasn't poor either.
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Post by Brendan » Tue Aug 30, 2005 6:52 pm

How many orchestras did Beecham start financed off the back of the famous pills? And I'd say that Paul McCartney, with his work with Wings, would have had a greater fortune than Lennon.

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Post by Auntie Lynn » Tue Aug 30, 2005 6:54 pm

Right - a couple of years ago, McCartney was Fortune Magazine's Big Bux topper with about $48,000,000 for the year...

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Post by diegobueno » Tue Aug 30, 2005 8:37 pm

jbuck919 wrote:
pizza wrote:I'm surprised that Ives wasn't mentioned. He made his fortune in the insurance business, not at music, but he was still a very rich man and a composer.
And a classical composer, which most certainly George Gershwin was not (my point being that he doesn't belong on that list with the others--I'm sure Richard Rodgers and Irving Berlin died rich too).
Except that Richard Rodgers and Irving Berlin didn't write orchestral scores, not to mention an opera which ranks as one of the greatest of the 20th century.

I'd leave Gershwin on the list for Porgy alone.
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Post by pizza » Tue Aug 30, 2005 11:01 pm

diegobueno wrote: Except that Richard Rodgers . . . . didn't write orchestral scores . . . . .
He wrote the scores for Victory at Sea, Slaughter on 10th Avenue, Ghost Town, La Princess Zenobia, The Valiant Years, etc.

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Post by jbuck919 » Tue Aug 30, 2005 11:59 pm

diegobueno wrote:
jbuck919 wrote:
pizza wrote:I'm surprised that Ives wasn't mentioned. He made his fortune in the insurance business, not at music, but he was still a very rich man and a composer.
And a classical composer, which most certainly George Gershwin was not (my point being that he doesn't belong on that list with the others--I'm sure Richard Rodgers and Irving Berlin died rich too).
Except that Richard Rodgers and Irving Berlin didn't write orchestral scores, not to mention an opera which ranks as one of the greatest of the 20th century.

I'd leave Gershwin on the list for Porgy alone.
It's still a glorified Broadway musical, or the great classic musicals are versions of operettas, depending on how you want to look at it.

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 diegobueno » Wed Aug 31, 2005 9:56 am

It's still a glorified Broadway musical, or the great classic musicals are versions of operettas, depending on how you want to look at it.
You obviously don't know Porgy and Bess beyond the famous songs. There's a lot of very sophisticated writing in there, and a lot of it was never performed until the 1970s, which was when the first complete recording was made. We're just beginning to appreciate Gershwin's achievement.
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Post by jbuck919 » Wed Aug 31, 2005 10:25 am

diegobueno wrote:
It's still a glorified Broadway musical, or the great classic musicals are versions of operettas, depending on how you want to look at it.
You obviously don't know Porgy and Bess beyond the famous songs. There's a lot of very sophisticated writing in there, and a lot of it was never performed until the 1970s, which was when the first complete recording was made. We're just beginning to appreciate Gershwin's achievement.
Oh, that's right, I forgot. Wozzeck is also a sophisticated work except for all those famous songs.

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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Post by MaestroDJS » Wed Aug 31, 2005 10:28 am

diegobueno wrote:You obviously don't know Porgy and Bess beyond the famous songs. There's a lot of very sophisticated writing in there, and a lot of it was never performed until the 1970s, which was when the first complete recording was made. We're just beginning to appreciate Gershwin's achievement.
Agreed. After Loren Maazel conducted his complete recording in 1976, it was amazing to dicsover how much depth is in Porgy and Bess. A lot of people probably denigrate it because this opera is usually chopped up into strings of popular songs -- and of course anything based on popular idioms can't possibly be any good, unless it's by an 18th- or 19th-Century European composer. But when Gershwin's entire opera is heard in its proper context, the dramatic flow and rich thematic invention and development are superb. Sometimes the dialect throws people, but it's really not that much different from the Viennese dialects thrown at us in parts of Der Rosenkavalier.

Whatever his idiom, George Gershwin sure knew how to compose great music, as Maurice Ravel and Igor Stravinsky readily admitted.

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Post by jbuck919 » Wed Aug 31, 2005 10:42 am

MaestroDJS wrote:
diegobueno wrote:You obviously don't know Porgy and Bess beyond the famous songs. There's a lot of very sophisticated writing in there, and a lot of it was never performed until the 1970s, which was when the first complete recording was made. We're just beginning to appreciate Gershwin's achievement.
Agreed. After Loren Maazel conducted his complete recording in 1976, it was amazing to dicsover how much depth is in Porgy and Bess. A lot of people probably denigrate it because this opera is usually chopped up into strings of popular songs -- and of course anything based on popular idioms can't possibly be any good, unless it's by an 18th- or 19th-Century European composer. But when Gershwin's entire opera is heard in its proper context, the dramatic flow and rich thematic invention and development are superb. Sometimes the dialect throws people, but it's really not that much different from the Viennese dialects thrown at us in parts of Der Rosenkavalier.

Whatever his idiom, George Gershwin sure knew how to compose great music, as Maurice Ravel and Igor Stravinsky readily admitted.
I would like to point out that I am not poo-pooing Gershwin by classifying him differently from, well, Ravel and Stravinsky. The tradition of music of which he is the epitome is the only other kind besides classical in which I take any interest. There may be composers in a gray area (Bernstein might be deemed another), but I can't think of one whose achievement when he leaned classical outweighed his achievement when he leaned popular. In truth, committed classical composers don't devote their time to popular idioms, no matter how much they may joke about being envious of the money.
Last edited by jbuck919 on Wed Aug 31, 2005 10:54 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by diegobueno » Wed Aug 31, 2005 10:48 am

pizza wrote:
diegobueno wrote: Except that Richard Rodgers . . . . didn't write orchestral scores . . . . .
He wrote the scores for Victory at Sea, Slaughter on 10th Avenue, Ghost Town, La Princess Zenobia, The Valiant Years, etc.
You have Robert Russell Bennet to thank for those scores. Rodgers provided the tunes and Bennet worked them up.

Gershwin did his own orchestration for the Piano Concerto, American in Paris, Cuban Overture, 2nd Rhapsody, I've Got Rhythm Variations, and Porgy & Bess.
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Post by pizza » Wed Aug 31, 2005 10:50 am

For anyone interested in the subject in depth, Hollis Alpert wrote a marvellous book titled The Life and Times of Porgy & Bess -- The Story of an American Classic. It was published by Knopf about 1990 and is probably now OP but well worth the effort to find it.

The major productions of the work in recent times were all by opera companies and competition to produce it is fierce.

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Post by 12tone » Wed Aug 31, 2005 2:00 pm

Gershwin? I never did like his music. I never did much like Broadway style musicals...except maybe the most popular songs. Never much appealed.

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Post by jbuck919 » Wed Aug 31, 2005 3:20 pm

12tone wrote:Gershwin? I never did like his music. I never did much like Broadway style musicals...except maybe the most popular songs. Never much appealed.
Out of the mouths of babes.... :wink:

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Post by diegobueno » Wed Aug 31, 2005 7:08 pm

jbuck919 wrote:
12tone wrote:Gershwin? I never did like his music. I never did much like Broadway style musicals...except maybe the most popular songs. Never much appealed.
Out of the mouths of babes.... :wink:
And what's your excuse, jbuck?
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Post by jbuck919 » Thu Sep 01, 2005 2:36 am

diegobueno wrote:
jbuck919 wrote:
12tone wrote:Gershwin? I never did like his music. I never did much like Broadway style musicals...except maybe the most popular songs. Never much appealed.
Out of the mouths of babes.... :wink:
And what's your excuse, jbuck?
You mean for speaking hurls of wisdom?

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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Post by diegobueno » Thu Sep 01, 2005 8:29 am

I think the word "hurls" is quite fitting.
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