The CMG 'Greatest Composer' Poll - 2005 Edition!!!!!

DanielFullard
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The CMG 'Greatest Composer' Poll - 2005 Edition!!!!!

Post by DanielFullard » Thu Dec 01, 2005 2:44 pm

Okay...I know Im new here but to help get me integrated into the community I am going to run a poll whereby each member of the board will vote for thier top 20 Composers of all time...I will then tally the scores and present the results in a series of threads in January. Ill probably present a Top 50 depending on how many votes I get in.

Here are the rules.....

1) Select your Top 20 Composers and then send me PM with them ranked from 1st to 20th

2) The scoring will be as follows.....

1st - 21 points
2nd - 19 points
3rd - 18 points
4th - 17 points
5th - 16 points
6th - 15 points
7th - 14 points
8th - 13 points
9th - 12 points
10th - 11 points
11th - 10 points
12th - 9 points
13th - 8 points
14th - 7 points
15th - 6 points
16th - 5 points
17th - 4 points
18th - 3 points
19th - 2 points
20th - 1 point

3) You must Choose Twenty Composers

4) You can if you wish provide brief comments some or all of the composers you choose and I will use some of them (giving credit to the author) in the presentation of the results

5) The Deadline is the 31st December 2005 at Midnight UK Time

6) Results must be PM'ed to me to count.....but you can post them on here if you want to tell others

Any questions just ask?

Get voting

karlhenning
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Post by karlhenning » Thu Dec 01, 2005 2:50 pm

Banana!

:-)
Karl Henning, PhD
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DanielFullard
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Post by DanielFullard » Thu Dec 01, 2005 2:53 pm

karlhenning wrote:Banana!

:-)
Pardon?

jbuck919
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Post by jbuck919 » Thu Dec 01, 2005 3:35 pm

DanielFullard wrote:
karlhenning wrote:Banana!

:-)
Pardon?
That's a thing from the other board (the Good Music Guide) meaning that the icon dancing banana is a better choice than trying strict rankings. I have gotten into trouble over there even for maintaining the common opinion that Beethoven, Mozart, and Bach are the top three. I doubt that you will find any musician who can or wants to go as far as 20 in order. I might trust myself up to a top 7 and even then order would become problematic after number 1 (Beethoven) and again after number 3.

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 karlhenning » Thu Dec 01, 2005 4:10 pm

jbuck919 wrote:I have gotten into trouble over there even for maintaining the common opinion that Beethoven, Mozart, and Bach are the top three.
We'll try to keep you out of trouble, jbuck! :-)

That's a reasonably common opinion, but there are other views, too.
I doubt that you will find any musician who can or wants to go as far as 20 in order.
I could see naming a list of the twenty greatest composers; why not? Clearly there are both elements of 'one's own opinion' and some manner of consensus.

But a ladder ranking of "composer B is not so great as composer A, but greater than composer C" -- and such an arbitrary ladder running twenty deep?

Again I say:

Banana!
Karl Henning, PhD
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Huckleberry
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Post by Huckleberry » Thu Dec 01, 2005 7:22 pm

Daniel, you're relatively new here. Welcome to CMG. :)

We'll participate in your poll. Why not? We could bear all of the caveats in mind when voting, and you could present the results in a harmless manner:

For example, the ratings of 29 members of CMG, polled between December 1 and December 31, were Such-&-Such ...

Some of these fellows are only pulling your leg. :-)

Marina
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Post by mahlerfan » Fri Dec 02, 2005 2:46 am

Karl message boards are kind of like Vegas... what happens in gmg stays in gmg. :)

Over there the banana thing is cute, over here one shouting banana! comes off like a loony! :P

Anyway tops for me... Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, Brahms. :)

Vaseena
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Post by Vaseena » Fri Dec 02, 2005 3:52 am

Richard Wagner is the greatest composer in Western music.

Case closed.

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Post by MaestroDJS » Fri Dec 02, 2005 7:51 am

karlhenning wrote:But a ladder ranking of "composer B is not so great as composer A, but greater than composer C" -- and such an arbitrary ladder running twenty deep?

Again I say:

Banana!
You slippery devil you! Agreed. Greatest composer? Once we reach a certain level of excellence, rating composers is just plain silly. So, in that spirit... :D

WARNING: The following musical satire is intended for amusement only. Persons who take this seriously probably deserve to do so.
mahlerfan wrote:Anyway tops for me... Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, Brahms. :)
When will an intrepid record company bring us music of real value? Forget Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms. These has-been composers have hogged the spotlight long enough. Without doubt the greatest composer of all is Heinrich Schlemiel, who composed 62 beautiful quintets for piccolo, bagpipes, banjo, tuba, slapstick and seltzer bottle. Such fine music does not deserve to be shrouded in obscurity.
Vaseena wrote:Richard Wagner is the greatest composer in Western music. Case closed.
Whenever I hear his music, I want to shout: "Die, Meistersinger!" :D

One of the greatest discoveries of recent years was the hitherto unknown music of 18th, 19th and 20th Century Italian composer Alfonso Zucchini (1732-1964). At first glance, his lifespan of 232 years seems incredible. However, he was born on a February 29 and died on his 56th birthday, which isn't so incredible after all. In fact, he would have lived to his 58th birthday, but 1800 and 1900 were not leap years according to the Gregorian calendar. He was cheated.

Zucchini was one of the least known of the zillions of unknown composers of his time, and clearly his single opera I Plagiari (The Plagiarists) shows us why. It contains some of the finest melodies ever written. These melodies appear in almost every other opera now before the public, so all other would-be composers owe Zucchini a profound debt. Composed throughout most of his life, a discussion of the merits of this opera would fit into the period at the end of this sentence. We'd better let it go at that.

Dave

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DavidRoss
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Post by DavidRoss » Fri Dec 02, 2005 8:56 am

Vaseena wrote:Richard Wagner is the greatest composer in Western music.

Case closed.
It's always nice to start the day with hearty laughter. Thanks, Vaseena, you're a droll satirist, indeed!
"Most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives." ~Leo Tolstoy

"It is the highest form of self-respect to admit our errors and mistakes and make amends for them. To make a mistake is only an error in judgment, but to adhere to it when it is discovered shows infirmity of character." ~Dale Turner

"Anyone who doesn't take truth seriously in small matters cannot be trusted in large ones either." ~Albert Einstein
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Post by karlhenning » Fri Dec 02, 2005 9:28 am

Vaseena wrote:Richard Wagner is the greatest composer in Western music.

Case closed.
You misspelt Igor Stravinsky

:-)
mahlerfan wrote:Over there the banana thing is cute, over here one shouting banana! comes off like a loony!
Have I ever seemed to you shy of being loony? :-)
jbuck wrote:We've had this discussion before. Sometimes you just can't help being nasty, can you?
Point, jbuck!
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DavidRoss
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Re: The CMG 'Greatest Composer' Poll - 2005 Edition!!!!!

Post by DavidRoss » Fri Dec 02, 2005 9:43 am

Alberich wrote:Migod - the product of an idle mind. Why not buy yourself a gameboy and stay entertained that way? Or, follow Herman's good advice. Whatever - just stop clogging up this adult site with kiddy drool.
Yes, he's a kid, recently hooked on classical music and very enthusiastic about it. I'll take such good-hearted juvenilia over the self-righteous nastiness of a stunted soul any day.
"Most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives." ~Leo Tolstoy

"It is the highest form of self-respect to admit our errors and mistakes and make amends for them. To make a mistake is only an error in judgment, but to adhere to it when it is discovered shows infirmity of character." ~Dale Turner

"Anyone who doesn't take truth seriously in small matters cannot be trusted in large ones either." ~Albert Einstein
"Truth is incontrovertible; malice may attack it and ignorance may deride it; but, in the end, there it is." ~Winston Churchill

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DanielFullard
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Re: The CMG 'Greatest Composer' Poll - 2005 Edition!!!!!

Post by DanielFullard » Fri Dec 02, 2005 12:18 pm


Migod - the product of an idle mind. Why not buy yourself a gameboy and stay entertained that way? Or, follow Herman's good advice. Whatever - just stop clogging up this adult site with kiddy drool
Well if youre such an 'adult' why do you feel the need to post multiple 'nasty' and patronising comments to a newbie?

DanielFullard
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Re: The CMG 'Greatest Composer' Poll - 2005 Edition!!!!!

Post by DanielFullard » Fri Dec 02, 2005 12:18 pm

DavidRoss wrote:
Alberich wrote:Migod - the product of an idle mind. Why not buy yourself a gameboy and stay entertained that way? Or, follow Herman's good advice. Whatever - just stop clogging up this adult site with kiddy drool.
Yes, he's a kid, recently hooked on classical music and very enthusiastic about it. I'll take such good-hearted juvenilia over the self-righteous nastiness of a stunted soul any day.
Recent = 2 years

Cyril Ignatius
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Post by Cyril Ignatius » Fri Dec 02, 2005 2:52 pm

Quite the debate here. I can't solve these many issues, but I do think DanielFullard's question is intriguing anyway. No, I won't attempt to provide my top 20 ranked, I wouldn't know how to arrive at any definitive ranking. What shapes the popularity of a composer's works?

We do seem to have a canon of some sorts that at least implicitly ranks composers - whose compositions are being played most often, both overall, and in certain times and places. How/why does this play out the way it does? For example Bruckner and Mahler received much less attention for mayber 2/3 of the 20th century but now are played more, particularly Mahler. Yet Beethoven, Mozart and Brahms, etc, have been staples for a long time. Why is this? Why is Handel's Messiah sung hundreds of times for every time Rachmaninov's Vespers, or Bruckner's Motets are performed? It isn't the result of quality differences, is it?

Or another issue, Anton Rubinstein wrote some of the greatest piano concertos (my bias?) ever, but why, save for the efforts of Joseph Banowitz, is he largely neglected today? Why are many of Vaughn-Williams greatest works almost never played in the concert halls?

And when mentions were made by many of great composers, why little or no mention of Tchaikovsky?
Cyril Ignatius

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Post by Corlyss_D » Fri Dec 02, 2005 5:46 pm

Herman's and Albrecht's snotty posts have been moved to the Pub. Anyone interested in pursuing them can find them over there.

My votes for greatest composers are The Notre Dame School, Monteverdi, Handel, and Mozart. If I had to come up with 20, I'm sure they would mostly be Anonymous.
Corlyss
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Gary
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Post by Gary » Fri Dec 02, 2005 5:47 pm

Welcome back, Corlyss! :D
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Post by Gary » Fri Dec 02, 2005 5:51 pm

How is Gitano?
Last edited by Gary on Fri Dec 02, 2005 6:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by jbuck919 » Fri Dec 02, 2005 5:56 pm

OMG there she is. Icon for wipe sweat off brow please.

Ralph posted something very intelligent about false sense of community here, but I think we are victims of geographic separation when in fact many of us would bond in spite of the limits of the Internet. We can hide aspects of ourselves and even lie, but in the end I think we know who might be and indeed should be a friend.

Dear Corlyss, I don't expect you to go back through every post, but I just guessed it was your dog, and I hope (she?) is all right. Do you know how I know you had a beloved dog? Not because of anything you ever said on this board. It was because I searched the unlikely name Corlyss Drinkard (a long time ago) and found your site about your little family.

With kindest wishes, welcome back.

John
Last edited by jbuck919 on Fri Dec 02, 2005 5:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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

Corlyss_D
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Post by Corlyss_D » Fri Dec 02, 2005 5:57 pm

Gary wrote:Welcome back, Corlyss! :D
Thanks, Gary. Gitano is almost 100% now.
Corlyss
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Alban Berg

Post by Alban Berg » Fri Dec 02, 2005 7:48 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:Herman's and Albrecht's snotty posts have been moved to the Pub. Anyone interested in pursuing them can find them over there.
Does that mean snotty posts are acceptable in the Pub but not in the Chatterbox?

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Post by Lance » Fri Dec 02, 2005 9:16 pm

Alban Berg wrote:
Corlyss_D wrote:Herman's and Albrecht's snotty posts have been moved to the Pub. Anyone interested in pursuing them can find them over there.
Does that mean snotty posts are acceptable in the Pub but not in the Chatterbox?
Snotty posts? Here on the Classical Music Guide forums? Oh no! I don't believe it. It can't be true. This is the time of year when our fellow brothers and sisters usually illustrate good will and feelings coming directly from their hearts, wanting to share and be kind. We should be so glad that we are present to hear great music and to talk about it—without Gestapo-type tactics. And then, this good will and these good feelings should be felt throughout the year. Perhaps I am an antique in society and am not connected with the demeanor of today's people. Tell me I'm wrong. Civility. What's happened to it? I swear, I have seen more decadence and disrespect on so many planes in the USA in the last 10 years than I have ever seen before. You know what happened to the Roman Empire? It could happen to us! What is it going to take to wake up the American people before it's too late altogether?
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Post by Werner » Fri Dec 02, 2005 10:42 pm

No talk of defeatist Democratic rabble here, right?
Werner Isler

Alban Berg

Post by Alban Berg » Fri Dec 02, 2005 11:00 pm

Lance wrote:
Alban Berg wrote:
Corlyss_D wrote:Herman's and Albrecht's snotty posts have been moved to the Pub. Anyone interested in pursuing them can find them over there.
Does that mean snotty posts are acceptable in the Pub but not in the Chatterbox?
Snotty posts? Here on the Classical Music Guide forums? Oh no! I don't believe it. It can't be true. This is the time of year when our fellow brothers and sisters usually illustrate good will and feelings coming directly from their hearts, wanting to share and be kind...
Guess you haven't spent much time in the Corner Pub lately.

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Post by Lance » Fri Dec 02, 2005 11:17 pm

Alban Berg wrote:
Lance wrote:
Alban Berg wrote:
Corlyss_D wrote:Herman's and Albrecht's snotty posts have been moved to the Pub. Anyone interested in pursuing them can find them over there.
Does that mean snotty posts are acceptable in the Pub but not in the Chatterbox?
Snotty posts? Here on the Classical Music Guide forums? Oh no! I don't believe it. It can't be true. This is the time of year when our fellow brothers and sisters usually illustrate good will and feelings coming directly from their hearts, wanting to share and be kind...
Guess you haven't spent much time in the Corner Pub lately.
No, I tend to avoid that area, and on purpose. It seems a lot of hatred, discontentment, and holier-than-thou type attitudes prevail there, not by everyone, but certain ones. I'd rather spend my time with music, music, and more music. Not that I don't appreciate a good discussion on topics other than music, but it seems to get out of hand with many of our otherwise fabulous membership. People's tempers seem to get riled there. Do you spend much time at the Pub? Hey, it matters not what people want to get riled up about as long as there is always respect, no name-calling, or calling attention to others, using actual names, on the board, etc. Life really is too short when you stop to think about it.
Lance G. Hill
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rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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karlhenning
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Post by karlhenning » Mon Dec 05, 2005 5:22 pm

karlhenning wrote:But a ladder ranking of "composer B is not so great as composer A, but greater than composer C" -- and such an arbitrary ladder running twenty deep?
Well, why not?

1st: Stravinsky - 21 points
2nd: Schoenberg - 19 points
3rd: Prokofiev - 18 points
4th: Shostakovich - 17 points
5th: Sibelius - 16 points
6th: Berlioz - 15 points
7th: Debussy - 14 points
8th: Tchaikovsky - 13 points
9th: Bartok - 12 points
10th: Chopin - 11 points
11th: Dvorak - 10 points
12th: Brahms - 9 points
13th: Rakhmaninov - 8 points
14th: Ravel - 7 points
15th: Monteverdi - 6 points
16th: Bach - 5 points
17th: Verdi - 4 points
18th: Webern - 3 points
19th: Beethoven - 2 points
20th: Handel - 1 point


Although, maybe I should have ranked Handel higher than Beethoven?

Fie upon the foolishness of second thoughts! :-)
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Jack Kelso
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Post by Jack Kelso » Tue Dec 06, 2005 5:41 am

I'm well-known elsewhere on this site for not believing in the
"a-greatest-composer-of-all-time" jingle. But there are "groups" of greatest, very great, great, highly gifted, etc. My list pretty much follows this consensus, with the usual "personal preferences" everybody has thrown in:

1st: SCHUMANN (greatest after Beethoven--changed course of harmonic/rhythmic/melodic expression)
2nd: BEETHOVEN (changed course of expression/musical form)
3rd: HANDEL (greatest in baroque opera & oratorio)
4th: W.A. MOZART (greatest in classical concerti, opera, etc.)
5th: J.S. BACH (greatest in baroque church music & concerto)

6th: WAGNER

7th: HAYDN
8th: BRUCKNER
9th: SCHUBERT
10th: BRAHMS
11th: R. STRAUSS
12th: TSCHAIKOWSKY
13th: MENDELSSOHN (composed many wonderful chamber works)

14th: BERLIOZ
15th: ELGAR
16th: CHOPIN
17th: HINDEMITH
18th: STRAVINSKY
19th: PROKOFIEV
20th: BARTOK

The "greatest" composers were simply those with the highest inspiration, intensity, integrity and expressive individuality. Each brought something wonderful to the art that no one else could duplicate, thus Handel, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and Schumann (arguably also Wagner).

P.S.: Karl---sorry about the "clumping" of the 20th century masters together....but it's the way I feel this week---perhaps next week some will disperse....

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

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Post by karlhenning » Tue Dec 06, 2005 9:00 am

Jack Kelso wrote:P.S.: Karl---sorry about the "clumping" of the 20th century masters together....but it's the way I feel this week---perhaps next week some will disperse....
Not to worry, Jack! I know the limitations of pursuing such an exercise :-)

Cheers,
~Karl
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my opinions of top 20

Post by brianhanson » Tue Dec 06, 2005 10:45 am

1 Ludwig Van Beethoven
2 Johannes Brahms
3 Tchaikovsky
4 J. S. Bach
5 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
6 Mahler
7 Richard Wagner
8 Stravinsky
9 Haydn
10 Schubert
11 Debussy
12 Schumann
13 Chopin
14 Richard Strauss
15 Handel
16 Rakhmaninov
17 Prokofiev
18 Mendelssohn
19 Palestrina
20 Hindemith



This is what I think, I love doing these type of things but they really serve no point.

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Post by Cyril Ignatius » Tue Dec 06, 2005 11:01 am

An impressive posting by Jack Kelso. It might be a pretty solid assessment. I have a few questions, maybe stemming from my own preferences, maybe not. See what yiu think:

1) Why is Schumann placed so High? Granted he has a great piano concerto, but I would argue that Anton Rubinstein had several great concertos, but seldom makes any lists anywhere. What other pieces are usually cited as central to Schumann's greatness? Perhaps this is my own ignorance more than anything. (And why Handel in the topmost category?)

2) Doesn't Tchaikovsky belong in the top group, considering his incredible mastery of so many domains - symphony, concerto, solo pieces, ballet music etc...?

3) And why isn't Mahler the Great on the list? Granted, he does not seem to have left us much in the concerto and solo realms - but many of his symphonies were such monumental achievements. In particular I would cite his symphonies # 1, 2, 3, 4, 9, and the adagio we have of # 10, which at 28 minutes or so, is a symphony unto itself as the symphonic world goes. Some experts look to 5, 6, and 8 as among his greatest - I don't - but maybe that's just my own preference. And while some of his songs seem a little too dissonant or shrill (at least to my own tastes), others of his songs are simply masterful, embodying the very height of art song.

4) And Chopin. Can you move him up a category - or two? He pushed the expressive realm of the piano dramatically forward; granted, a project others, including John Field before him, had already started. Chopin is monumental.
Cyril Ignatius

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Post by karlhenning » Tue Dec 06, 2005 11:37 am

Cyril Ignatius wrote:An impressive posting by Jack Kelso. It might be a pretty solid assessment.
Well, Cyril, I won't let it hurt my feelings that you're not singing the praises of my assessment :-)

But since you're beating Jack's drum (so to speak), maybe you can explain a curious feature of his list?--
Jack Kelso wrote:1st: SCHUMANN (greatest after Beethoven--changed course of harmonic/rhythmic/melodic expression)
2nd: BEETHOVEN (changed course of expression/musical form)
If Schumann (as Jack notes here) is "greatest after Beethoven," why is Schumann 1st, and Beethoven 2nd?

Cheers,
~Karl
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Post by karlhenning » Tue Dec 06, 2005 4:01 pm

mahlerfan wrote:Karl message boards are kind of like Vegas... what happens in gmg stays in gmg. :)
There goes the neighborhood! Image
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Brendan

Post by Brendan » Tue Dec 06, 2005 6:10 pm

It's all just personal biases and opinions, so I'll add mine concerning the genius of Schubert - the guy who assimilated and transcended Beethoven's lieder, late quartets and symphonies in no time flat and whose short life left us with near on a thousand catalogued works. I think it was Brendel who said that not a day went by when he wasn't furious about the early death of Schubert. As some say, if Mozart or Beethoven had died at the same age they would be mere footnotes to music and its history.

The list is utterly biased and subjective, and would be different if I did it an hour from now:

1 Schubert
2 Beethoven
3 Mozart
4 Haydn
5 Brahms
6 Tchaikovski
7 Schumann
8 Monteverdi
9 Bruckner
10 Chopin
11 Rimsky-Korsakov
12 Prokofiev
13 Liszt
14 Bach
15 Purcell
16 Handel
17 Dvorak
18 Sibelius
19 Mahler
20 Wagner

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Post by Werner » Tue Dec 06, 2005 7:28 pm

Brendan, I was not about to enter a discussion with that theme, thinking that such efforts of ranking are not worth while. But I certainly appreciate your comments about Schubert, whose eloquent simplicity - with all those wonderful modulations along the way - creates a world one doesn't want to leave. So I think I understand your point there.

Past the first place - which I may or may nor have placed the same way had I done this spontaneously - I'm really not concerned whether Mpzart, Schumann, Brahms, Haydn et al occupy one rung higher or lower. My point is that when I hear something that gives me the musical pleasure, inspiration, or whatever to fill the moment, I'm happy. And If the next day I get the same satisfaction from another composer, performer, or genre, I have no complaint.
Werner Isler

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Post by Corlyss_D » Tue Dec 06, 2005 8:35 pm

karlhenning wrote:If Schumann (as Jack notes here) is "greatest after Beethoven," why is Schumann 1st, and Beethoven 2nd?
Because Schumann was chronologically after Beethoven?

There goes the neighborhood! Image
This could start a trend . . .
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Brendan

Post by Brendan » Tue Dec 06, 2005 10:44 pm

Werner,

I quite agree, but am on a Schubert binge at the moment when not listening to anonymous medieval works, so thought I'd better rattle off 19 other recognizable names in no particular order just to post my rant re Schubert and the "inexhaustible flood" of his talent.

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Post by Jack Kelso » Wed Dec 07, 2005 1:59 am

Cyril Ignatius wrote:An impressive posting by Jack Kelso. It might be a pretty solid assessment. I have a few questions, maybe stemming from my own preferences, maybe not. See what yiu think:

1) Why is Schumann placed so High? Granted he has a great piano concerto, but I would argue that Anton Rubinstein had several great concertos, but seldom makes any lists anywhere. What other pieces are usually cited as central to Schumann's greatness? Perhaps this is my own ignorance more than anything. (And why Handel in the topmost category?)

2) Doesn't Tchaikovsky belong in the top group, considering his incredible mastery of so many domains - symphony, concerto, solo pieces, ballet music etc...?

3) And why isn't Mahler the Great on the list? Granted, he does not seem to have left us much in the concerto and solo realms - but many of his symphonies were such monumental achievements. In particular I would cite his symphonies # 1, 2, 3, 4, 9, and the adagio we have of # 10, which at 28 minutes or so, is a symphony unto itself as the symphonic world goes. Some experts look to 5, 6, and 8 as among his greatest - I don't - but maybe that's just my own preference. And while some of his songs seem a little too dissonant or shrill (at least to my own tastes), others of his songs are simply masterful, embodying the very height of art song.

4) And Chopin. Can you move him up a category - or two? He pushed the expressive realm of the piano dramatically forward; granted, a project others, including John Field before him, had already started. Chopin is monumental.
Thanks, Cyril---for the questions. Due to the "rediscovery" of so many Schumann masterpieces (the great choral works, the Konzertstück for 4 Horns & Orch., chamber works, etc.) it is now necessary to re-evaluate his position in music history. He wrote great works in every field: song-cycles "Dichterliebe"; "Frauen Liebe und Leben"; chamber works Piano Quartet, op. 47, Trio No. 1 in D Minor, Piano Quintet, op. 44; the 3 string quartets, etc. All four symphonies are fantastic; the A Minor Piano Concerto; the 'Cello Concerto; "Manfred" Overture; both oratorios ("Das Paradies und die Peri" and "Der Rose Pilgerfahrt") as well as "Szenen aus Goethes 'Faust'"; and these are only the tip of a deep iceberg. Although he probably is my personal favorite, I do not consider him "greater" than Handel, Bach, Mozart or Beethoven. With them he scaled the heights of inspiration and plumbed to new spiritual depths (e.g., the Violin Concerto).

Rubinstein does have some nice works, but they are too often spoiled by a lack of consistently intense concentration. That is to say, "dull". Yet his 'cello concerti and Sixth Symphony do deserve to be heard more often. I would rank him just slightly below Raff.

Handel is in the topmost category because, like Beethoven and Schumann, he deserves it. No human ever wrote more glorious music for solo or chorus than he did. Only a genius of the highest order could have composed "Messiah", "Saul", "Samson" or "Judas Maccabaeus" (among others).

Tschaikowsky has wonderful works...but, compared to Schumann or Beethoven or Brahms, some pretty weak ones, too. Much of his attractive music lacks real spiritual depth, but his "incredible mastery" of melodic and orchestral elements cannot be denied.

I used to LOVE Mahler....but I went back to Bruckner. Mahler's first 6 symphonies and the Ninth express a great deal which is dramatically searching, spiritual, intense--- but I don't feel there's enough there for a higher appraisal. A half dozen or so works ---some quite inconsistent--- aren't enough for me to put him in the uppermost realm. (One could also argue the same of Bruckner---but I prefer him personally.)

Certainly Chopin --on a list of piano music composers-- belongs with the best (Beethoven, Schumann, Debussy). But his relatively small world, as beautiful as it is, cannot compare with a Bachian or Mozartian one. Yes, Chopin is a monument. And Schubert is, too. That's the trouble with making lists....not everyone can make it to "the top"!

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

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Post by Corlyss_D » Wed Dec 07, 2005 2:12 am

Brendan wrote:Werner,

I quite agree, but am on a Schubert binge at the moment when not listening to anonymous medieval works
Interesting juxtaposition. Does one illuminate the other? Are their similarities?
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Post by val » Wed Dec 07, 2005 3:27 am

1 Beethoven
2 JS Bach
3 Mozart
4 Schubert
5 Bruckner
6 Wagner
7 Brahms
8 Debussy
9 Dufay
10 Haydn
11 Schönberg
12 Stravinsky
13 Schumann
14 Verdi
15 Schütz
16 Monteverdi
17 Webern
18 Mussorgski
19 Berlioz
20 Bartok

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Post by Jack Kelso » Wed Dec 07, 2005 3:30 am

I feel a bit compelled to explain why my listing left off Franz Liszt, as well as a group of illustrious "nationalist" composers (Borodin, Smetana, Mussorgsky, Dvorak, Grieg, Rimsky-Korsakov, etc.).

To my mind (and ears!), some of these could come directly after number 20----and therefore do not possess that indefinable spirituality and abstract expression(ism) of most of those listed before them.

With the possible exceptions of Liszt, Smetana and Mussorgsky, these men lacked the inner turmoil and struggle that separated the greatest geniuses from those writing attractive and picturesque works (why do Verdi and Wagner go beyond Massenet..?!) filled with lovely imaginative tunes and rhythms of their homeland.

I love Liszt's tone poems. They're pompous, brilliant, have dull moments, are fresh, often superficial, exciting and extroverted. A marriage of the angelic and demonic, like "Eine Faust-Sinfonie". Yet in all good conscience I cannot put Liszt "up there" with the top 20, even though I enjoy these works tremendously (and very subjectively).

Among the "top 5", I chose Schumann as my personal favorite number one because his music speaks to me most deeply, impassioned and humanly.

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

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Post by DavidRoss » Wed Dec 07, 2005 8:10 am

This general topic appears frequently, but the exercise seems pointless without first agreeing on how to measure a composer’s greatness. (Maybe it’s pointless anyway.)
The following criteria are mine, applied in no systematic way: Consistent excellence in a major genre; significant innovation; influence; breadth and depth of accomplishment; beauty; place in the standard repertoire; craftsmanship; and general critical regard.

1) Beethoven
2) Mozart
3) Bach
4) Stravinsky
5) Sibelius
6) Prokofiev
7) Brahms
8- Debussy
9) Haydn

And I can go no farther. These nine seem giants. After them come at least 20 names of nearly equal merit. Whom should I neglect? Chopin? Verdi? Mahler? Schumann? Wagner? Shostakovich? Berlioz? Tchaikovsky? Handel? Gluck? Puccini? Telemann? Mendelssohn? Schubert? Vivaldi? Rossini? Monteverdi? Dvorak? Vaughan Williams? Schoenberg? Etc., etc., etc.

And then there’s the problematic 20th Century. It’s proximity makes it very difficult if not impossible to evaluate. We haven’t the benefit of a century or more of hindsight to put it into an historical context. And many folks today still have such powerful prejudices against post-romantic composers that they refuse to investigate them sufficiently to make informed judgments about their worth.

Still, I find exercises like this of some personal interest, for they offer an opportunity to remind myself of the divide between my personal preferences and objective judgments re. "greatness." For instance, I seldom listen to Debussy or Haydn, but that is no reflection on their quality and significance. And though I do not care for Wagner, or for much of Schoenberg’s output, I would not deny them “greatness” based solely on my personal taste.
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Post by karlhenning » Wed Dec 07, 2005 8:59 am

Werner wrote:Brendan, I was not about to enter a discussion with that theme, thinking that such efforts of ranking are not worth while. But I certainly appreciate your comments about Schubert, whose eloquent simplicity - with all those wonderful modulations along the way - creates a world one doesn't want to leave. So I think I understand your point there.
To beat a drum which I've beaten before . . . such an exercise is some blend of individual perspective (it isn't purely subjective) and external cultural standard (it cannot be entirely objective, either).

Cheers,
~Karl
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Post by karlhenning » Wed Dec 07, 2005 9:09 am

Jack Kelso wrote:Certainly Chopin --on a list of piano music composers-- belongs with the best (Beethoven, Schumann, Debussy). But his relatively small world, as beautiful as it is, cannot compare with a Bachian or Mozartian one. Yes, Chopin is a monument. And Schubert is, too. That's the trouble with making lists....not everyone can make it to "the top"!
Jack, great post, even while I perceive the degree to which it is a matter of your own personal enthusiasms (I don't know how keenly the larger musical world will feel any compulsion to revise Where Schumann Fits In, e.g.) And I must say, I've enjoyed both recent refreshed listening to the Third and Fourth Symphonies, and even a semi-pro reading of the First, through which the piece's real merits shone.

But . . . DavidRoss's point is very well taken:
DavidRoss wrote:This general topic appears frequently, but the exercise seems pointless without first agreeing on how to measure a composer’s greatness. (Maybe it’s pointless anyway.)
"Greatness" is slippery, and each of us will likely apply whatever actual ideas we may agree upon, in different ways.

Myself, I cannot agree that the fact that the overwhelming majority of what Chopin wrote is for piano solo, in any way "disqualifies" him from a rank of greatness alongside Bach or Mozart (whose respective deifications are interesting discussions in their own right).

Best,
~Karl
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Post by Jack Kelso » Wed Dec 07, 2005 9:18 am

karlhenning wrote: To beat a drum which I've beaten before . . . such an exercise is some blend of individual perspective (it isn't purely subjective) and external cultural standard (it cannot be entirely objective, either).

Cheers,
~Karl
Right on, Karl. I see on some listings Liszt or Ravel above Bach and Mozart, so there is a tendency toward subjectivity, probably based more on lack of exposure to certain masters than anything else.

I am, however, quite astounded that I am the ONLY one so far to place Schumann above Brahms, whose popularity in Anglo-Saxon countries has always been (like Sibelius) enormous. My German music-loving friends who adore Brahms don't know Schumann's music very well.....but the other "Schumannians" ALL know Brahms really well. Here (on radio) they are almost equally often played (perhaps Schumann a bit more).

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

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Post by Cyril Ignatius » Wed Dec 07, 2005 4:23 pm

Karlhenning's point hits the target - discerning the greatest composers is a combination of individual judgements, which are partly subjective, together with larger external standards. DavidRoss' comments on these standards are very useful.

And I think this is why the names Beethoven, Mozart Bach and a few others consistantly appear at or near the top, and why the remainder of lists very a great deal, some more ealy classical, others more romantic and still others heavily modern. Although in for modern I shrink from saying "20th Century" because the so much of the vaguely "romantic" music I love was actually written in the first several decades of the 20th Century.

I will have to explore Jack Kelso's, and now others assertions of Schumann's greatness. Beyond the obviously great piano concerto, which particular pieces or recordings would the Schumannites point to as embodying the Master's genius?

Brendan has made a strong case for Schubert's greatness. His leider set new standards, he seems to have far and away exceeded those before him in this realm, and I guess, most of those who followed. Also the works for solo piano. And the 8th and 9th Symphonies should be on any list of the great ones. His own biographers, however, do acknowledge his overall symphonic output being of widely varying quality, in part, because he wasn't given some of positions and support that would have helped him in this realm. The same situation appears to hold with his concerto output.

I am unable to understand the high placement of Stravinsky. In what way does his compositional output even approach, much less exceed that of Tchaikovsky?

Jack Kelso's comments on Mahler and Bruckner are pretty good. Mahler's impressive symphonic achievement (and art song, I would add) still don't leave hime in the same realm as a Beethoven at the end of the day for overall compositonal output. I also am a devotee of Bruckner. It seems to me that the case for his his greatness rests most heavily on his symphonies 4-9, each of them large and simply majesterial works. I would also add his motets to this, which are seldom mentioned and rarely recorded. But of course, he doesn't have the concertos, operas, etc.. Both Mahler and Bruckner really did dramatic and beautiful things to the symphony.

Brianhanson's list is pretty interesting. But why Palestrina and Hindemith?
Cyril Ignatius

Brendan

Post by Brendan » Wed Dec 07, 2005 6:33 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:
Brendan wrote:Werner,

I quite agree, but am on a Schubert binge at the moment when not listening to anonymous medieval works
Interesting juxtaposition. Does one illuminate the other? Are their similarities?
Corlyss,

Actually, it was just that I was on a Schubert kick (I put on one - 1- little lieder and decided I had to work through Moore and Diskau's entire set) when a package of medieval music appeared in my mail that demanded my attention.

The juxtaposition works for me. Chant and plainsong on one hand then something like Schubert's elequent simplicity in Ave Maria really illuminates the contrasting styles and structures. I find they feed into each other and make the experience of each other even greater - but I'm into the theology of unity through the coincidence of opposites, so find both illuminated by and illuminating to my reading.

Then I just blow my brains out with Bruckner's 8th or something before bed and go to work the next day.

Ted

Post by Ted » Wed Dec 07, 2005 8:07 pm

Not even close
LvB
He reaches something that goes beyond the musical soul

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Post by Jack Kelso » Thu Dec 08, 2005 1:37 am

Cyril Ignatius wrote: I will have to explore Jack Kelso's, and now others assertions of Schumann's greatness. Beyond the obviously great piano concerto, which particular pieces or recordings would the Schumannites point to as embodying the Master's genius?
In a previous posting on this thread I made a good "starter" list of compositions by Schumann, some of which might be too difficult for someone not familiar with his intense style. But for a beginning, you can't go wrong with:

Symphony No. 1 in B-Flat ("Spring"), op. 38
Piano Quintet in E-Flat, op. 44
"Dichterliebe" (song-cycle), op. 48
"Carnaval", op. 9 (solo piano)
"Kinderszenen", op. 15 (solo piano)
Piano Quartet in E-Flat, op. 47
Symphony No. 4 in D Minor, op. 120 (try to get Klemperer for this! It's a gorgeous recording!!)
...and, of course, the Piano Concerto in A Minor, op. 54

With Schumann it is especially important to get really high-quality performances, as his piano, chamber and orchestral works don't just "play themselves". For piano Rubinstein, Serkin (Concerto), Sviataslav Richter, Martha Argerich, Geza Anda and sometimes Andras Schiff. Conductors Wolfgang Sawallisch, Szell (for No. 1), Giulini (for No. 3), Klemperer (No. 4) and even Karajan, Levine and Muti turn out fine performances of individual symphonies.

But----you can't go wrong with anything by Schumann (if it's at all recorded!). As Andras Schiff said in an interview, "Everything of Schumann's is absolutely wonderful!"

One must know his music very intimately to be able to state that.

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

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Post by markhedm » Thu Dec 08, 2005 3:20 am

1 Bach
2 Beethoven
3 Mozart
4 Brahms
5 Wagner
6 Schubert
7 Schumann
8 Haydn
9 Handel
10 Chopin
11 Tchaikovsky
12 Debussy
13 Verdi
14 Stravinsky
15 Mendelssohn
16 Liszt
17 Bartok
18 Palestrina
19 Monteverdi
20 Mahler

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Post by karlhenning » Thu Dec 08, 2005 8:13 am

Ted wrote:LvB
He reaches something that goes beyond the musical soul
That is exactly how I feel about some 15 composers, besides Beethoven!
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