Your Favourite 'Small-Catalogue' Composer

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Ken
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Your Favourite 'Small-Catalogue' Composer

Post by Ken » Fri Jul 07, 2006 1:48 pm

Hello, all!

I was listening to excerpts from Prince Igor today and had a thought for a new thread on this forum.

As most of you know, Alexander Borodin (sorry, I don't know how to get the proper accents for his name) was a full-time chemist and also worked as a conductor. He composed very little (we know of only 21 pieces in total) but has achieved much notoriety throughout the classical music world.

J.S. Bach has a catalogue that numbers 972 pieces, while Franz Schubert composed 1,009 pieces in his short lifetime. Franz Joseph Haydn wrote more symphonies than many highly-regarded composers wrote total pieces. Here is a short list of a few notorious composers with very sparse catalogues (i.e., < 100):

Alexander Borodin: 21
Anton Bruckner: 36
Edward Elgar: 79
Manuel de Falla: 25
Cesar Frank: 97
Edvard Grieg: c.80
Gustav Mahler: 18
Modest Mussorgsky: c.50
Giacomo Puccini: 38
Sergei Rachmaninov: 96
Maurice Ravel: 88 (unsure whether this counts his orchestrations)
Ottorino Respighi: c.35
Giuseppe Verdi: 42
Ralph Vaughan Williams: 82
Richard Wagner: 43
Anton Webern: 31

Who is your favourite 'small-catalogue' composer? Personally, I am a fan of the Russian Nationalist School, and I am particular to Borodin's music... Pretty impressive for someone who spent most of his time mixing chemicals in a lab! His two and a half symphonies are amongst my favourite 'short' symphonies -- much rigour!

Cheers,

- Ken
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Post by Lark Ascending » Fri Jul 07, 2006 2:53 pm

keninottawa, mine are Vaughan Williams and Ravel, who are on your list, and also Gerald Finzi (50) and George Butterworth (a mere 15 as a result of his death during the Battle of the Somme in 1916).
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Post by Corlyss_D » Fri Jul 07, 2006 3:21 pm

Kalinnikov
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Post by Wallingford » Fri Jul 07, 2006 3:46 pm

MUST include Paul Dukas: 13 (at last count)......the most recently uncovered one was the song with orchestra "The Mermaid & The Fisherman." Dawn Upshaw did it live w/Alistair Neale & the SFSO ('91-92 season).
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Post by Ken » Fri Jul 07, 2006 7:32 pm

Yes, my list was haphazardly assembled while I quickly flipped through the pages of DK's Classical Music Encyclopedia. Any notable omissions are probably due to the fact that I had food in the microwave and I wanted to post in a hurry! :oops:
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Post by jserraglio » Fri Jul 07, 2006 7:38 pm

Telemann: 3,000? oops, I meant Arriaga: 30.

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Post by Febnyc » Fri Jul 07, 2006 8:27 pm

Ditto: Kalinnikov
Second: Karlowicz

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Post by Ralph » Fri Jul 07, 2006 10:21 pm

Holst, anyone?
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Post by Werner » Fri Jul 07, 2006 11:24 pm

I was interesteed to note Wagner listed as a "small catalog" composer, althoughI understand the reason. But isn't it paradoxical to include the creator of giasnt-scale works like Wagner's in this group? Yes, he did write the "Wesendonck" songs as well as a few works for solo piano - but that's hardly the essence of his oeuvre. How many songs waltzes, or chamber works would it take to add up to the total time required for his works (not that it metters)?
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Post by Lance » Fri Jul 07, 2006 11:30 pm

I choose two:

[1] Charles Valentin Alkan
[2] Vassily Sergeyvitch Kallinikov [1st Symphony, especially]

Thanks for reminding me of Kallinkov, Lyssie! I might not have thought of him if you hadn't mentioned him - and he is most worthy of our thoughts!

Alkan wrote a lot of piano music and some other material, but not as much as Liszt nor Chopin nor Schumann, his dear friends. That's why I selected him.
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Post by RebLem » Sat Jul 08, 2006 12:43 am

I like Alberic Magnard. Actually, he was fairly prolific, but few of his works were published during his lifetime. In 1914, he moved out of Paris to a country home, taking all his unpublished manuscripts with him. He apparently had some kind of a John Wayne complex, and foolishly decided to take on the advancing German troops all by his little ole lonesome self. He was killed, and his house and manuscripts were burned for his pains by the German Army, so we are left only with a little more than a handful of works that were published in his lifetime.

I guess my favorite American small catalogue composer is Carl Ruggles.
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Post by Kevin KW Cheng » Sat Jul 08, 2006 5:32 am

Holst and Borodin!

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Post by Ken » Sat Jul 08, 2006 9:59 am

I excluded Holst from the list because he wrote a whopping 120 pieces.
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Post by Ken » Sat Jul 08, 2006 10:04 am

Werner wrote:I was interesteed to note Wagner listed as a "small catalog" composer, althoughI understand the reason. But isn't it paradoxical to include the creator of giasnt-scale works like Wagner's in this group? Yes, he did write the "Wesendonck" songs as well as a few works for solo piano - but that's hardly the essence of his oeuvre. How many songs waltzes, or chamber works would it take to add up to the total time required for his works (not that it metters)?
I was reluctant to include Opera composers in this list, especially Wagner. The Ring Cycle probably counts as 4 separate pieces according to my source, but obviously required much more mental effort to assemble than other compositions. Meanwhile, not far away, Franz Liszt could sit down at the keyboard after his morning coffee and diddle away a few new numbers and have them published later in the afternoon.
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Post by Ralph » Sat Jul 08, 2006 10:30 am

And then there's Bizet.
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Post by Blip » Sat Jul 08, 2006 10:53 am

Carl Ruggles has been mentioned. My other favorite very, very small catalogue composer would have to be Edgard Varese. His entire output is available on 2 CDs --- 16 pieces, including two versions of the same piece --- but it's still life changing.

I will have to do a catalgue count of Elliott Carter, because I think that even with the recent small pieces, he may qualify at fewer than 100.
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Post by Blip » Sat Jul 08, 2006 11:08 am

Mr. Carter is right on the cusp. Schirmer lists 37 published works, and Boosey lists 75, for a total of 112. Even weeding out redundancies -- for example, counting each of the Three Occasions or Three Illusions for orchestra individually without counting the suites themselves as single works (each movement may be played alone) -- we get 66, which means the total is still 103. And there is more to come.
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Post by Blip » Sat Jul 08, 2006 11:12 am

Werner wrote:I was interested to note Wagner listed as a "small catalog" composer, although I understand the reason. But isn't it paradoxical to include the creator of giant-scale works like Wagner's in this group? Yes, he did write the "Wesendonck" songs as well as a few works for solo piano - but that's hardly the essence of his oeuvre. How many songs waltzes, or chamber works would it take to add up to the total time required for his works (not that it metters)?
By this standard, Mahler, too, would be counted as a small catalogue composer. Nine completed Symphonies, Das Lied, Des Knaben Wunderhorn, Ruckert Lieder, Lieder Eines Fahrenden Gesellen --- that's 13. Even counting the songs individually, you don't get many more.

What else am I leaving out?
One's reponse to blips qua blips depends of course on one's taste in blippification, but I think most would agree that with a blippic approach, form arises not from individual blippicality, but from the accumulation of
blippage.

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Post by Ralph » Sat Jul 08, 2006 1:31 pm

Blip wrote:
Werner wrote:I was interested to note Wagner listed as a "small catalog" composer, although I understand the reason. But isn't it paradoxical to include the creator of giant-scale works like Wagner's in this group? Yes, he did write the "Wesendonck" songs as well as a few works for solo piano - but that's hardly the essence of his oeuvre. How many songs waltzes, or chamber works would it take to add up to the total time required for his works (not that it metters)?
By this standard, Mahler, too, would be counted as a small catalogue composer. Nine completed Symphonies, Das Lied, Des Knaben Wunderhorn, Ruckert Lieder, Lieder Eines Fahrenden Gesellen --- that's 13. Even counting the songs individually, you don't get many more.

What else am I leaving out?
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Post by Corlyss_D » Sat Jul 08, 2006 2:18 pm

Blip wrote:What else am I leaving out?
His performing arrangements of Bach, Bruchner, and operas by Mozart and Weber.
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Post by Ralph » Sat Jul 08, 2006 8:41 pm

And then, of course, there's the sad case of Hans Rott who supposedly ate a number of his scores in the lunatic asylum.
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Post by Ralph » Sat Jul 08, 2006 8:42 pm

This by the way is a very good, recent performance of Rott's one big almost-hit:

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Post by Mark Antony Owen » Sun Jul 09, 2006 4:22 am

I'm pretty certain that Gerald Finzi didn't compose all that much (a shame, IMO), so I'll go for him.
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Post by Ken » Sun Jul 09, 2006 7:01 am

Blip wrote: By this standard, Mahler, too, would be counted as a small catalogue composer. Nine completed Symphonies, Das Lied, Des Knaben Wunderhorn, Ruckert Lieder, Lieder Eines Fahrenden Gesellen --- that's 13. Even counting the songs individually, you don't get many more.

What else am I leaving out?
I listed Mahler, I think he's at 16 or 18 in total (and I'm too lazy to scroll back and find out!) ;)
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Post by Ralph » Sun Jul 09, 2006 7:19 am

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Her ouerve isn't very large, is it?

Of course you all know who she is.
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Post by DavidRoss » Sun Jul 09, 2006 9:02 am

Bizet's a contender, for sure. To my way of thinking, most of those on the initial list published too many works to be regarded as having a small catalog. More than 50 works for a composer of orchestral and chamber music, or more than half a dozen operas, seems like a lot--and would leave Ms Beach out of the running. Contemporary composers seem out of bounds, too, since they are still adding to their ouvre.

Mahler seems a shoe-in, by my criteria, but though he was an interesting symphonist and fine writer of songs, I would probably choose Samuel Barber as my favorite, instead.
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Post by Jack Kelso » Wed Jul 12, 2006 4:45 am

I'll have to take Bruckner---with his (mere) 11 symphonies, although I really love only 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9. His masses and "Te Deum" are also fine.

Johann Svendsen, a friend and colleague of Grieg's, wrote only about 40 works, generally of high quality---and quit composing after his wife, an American actress, threw his newly completed Third Symphony into the burning fireplace. I believe he was too heartbroken to re-write it.

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Post by val » Wed Jul 12, 2006 5:14 am

Duparc.

A cello Sonata. Leonora, a tone poem. 12 songs.

And among the 12 songs only 3 or 4 masterpieces. But those masterpieces are the greatest songs of French Music (with perhaps Ravel's Histoires Naturelles").

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Post by greymouse » Wed Jul 12, 2006 8:54 am

Anton Webern.

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Post by mourningstar » Wed Jul 12, 2006 8:56 am

Modest Mussorgsky

i like his Picture on a Exhibition.. he has some nice russian pieces, but his alchohilism has taken an hold on him, its a shame
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