Clementi and Beethoven -- Can you love Beethoven?

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diegobueno
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Clementi and Beethoven -- Can you love Beethoven?

Post by diegobueno » Fri Feb 16, 2007 1:05 am

I recently heard a recording of Horowitz playing a piano sonata by Muzio Clementi and I wondered why do we not hear more music by this neglected master? This is all the more remarkable since you can go to any piano recital on earth and hear those rattletrap Beethoven monstrosities. Now I think Beethoven was a very talented man, and his music is certainly very interesting in an intellectual kind of way, but can you really love this music?
I think not.

I think there is a group of elite intellectuals trying to promote Beethoven to show how clever they are. They forget that music has to express feeling. But they think they can substitue cerebral theories. All these gross fugues and random trills, hammering the clavier until it's ready to burst. In fact Beethoven did burst the piano strings when he played, that's how little concern he had for beauty.

Now take this String Quartet in C# minor. Plenty of arid passages which look good on paper, but where's the heart? Look, the Eroica Symphony was novel in its day, but there are many more beautiful works out there which sound good too, and have heart. Pieces like the Great National Symphony of Clementi, with its stirring setting of "God Save the King", now that's REAL music!

Intergamer

Re: Clementi and Beethoven -- Can you love Beethoven?

Post by Intergamer » Fri Feb 16, 2007 3:29 am

Is this a joke? I never thought someone could criticize Beethoven's music for not expressing feeling, lacking heart, or having little concern for beauty. :?

In answer to your question of course I can love Beethoven's music, as it is utterly sublime. 8)

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Post by Gary » Fri Feb 16, 2007 4:36 am

diegobueno wrote:Now I think Beethoven was a very talented man, and his music is certainly very interesting in an intellectual kind of way, but can you really love this music? I think not.

Clementi...now that's REAL music!
Agreed. Though great as Clementi was even he trembled in the presence of Dittersdorf. :)

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Post by Heck148 » Fri Feb 16, 2007 8:57 am

LOL!! :lol:

you're right - Beethoven is nearly as cold and heartless as Stravinsky!! :P :roll: :D

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Re: Clementi and Beethoven -- Can you love Beethoven?

Post by johnshade » Fri Feb 16, 2007 9:00 am

Intergamer wrote:...of course I can love Beethoven's music, as it is utterly sublime.
What could be more sublime than the piano sonatas, especially the slow movements.
The sun's a thief, and with her great attraction robs the vast sea, the moon's an arrant thief, and her pale fire she snatches from the sun... (Shakespeare)

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Re: Clementi and Beethoven -- Can you love Beethoven?

Post by D » Fri Feb 16, 2007 9:06 am

johnshade wrote:
Intergamer wrote:...of course I can love Beethoven's music, as it is utterly sublime.
What could be more sublime than the piano sonatas, especially the slow movements.
Yeah. Is this thread some sort of joke?

Not that I've heard much Clementi.

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Post by Ralph » Fri Feb 16, 2007 9:27 am

I may be one of the very few here who actually heard Horowitz perform Clementi in recital. As with all his performances, nuanced, idiosyncratic and exciting.

I have a number of discs of Clementi's music and I certainly concur that more public performances are merited. But I don't see why enjoying Clementi in any way should lead to less love of and respect for the works of Beethoven. What marks Beethoven's evolution in music is his audacity as he slips away from the heritage of Haydn, Mozart and, yes, Clementi, to a new musical idiom.

So, Clementi, for sure but Beethoven above all.
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Post by Sergeant Rock » Fri Feb 16, 2007 9:54 am

Mark's tongue is so firmly implanted in cheek I'm surprised most of you didn't understand his post as satire. His post is a comment on recent posts here by the rabid conservative element that were critical of modern masters like Stravinsky and Bartok.

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Post by D » Fri Feb 16, 2007 10:00 am

Sergeant Rock wrote:Mark's tongue is so firmly implanted in cheek I'm surprised most of you didn't understand his post as satire. His post is a comment on recent posts here by the rabid conservative element that were critical of modern masters like Stravinsky and Bartok.

Sarge
Now, that makes sense.

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Post by Ralph » Fri Feb 16, 2007 10:04 am

Gary wrote:
diegobueno wrote:Now I think Beethoven was a very talented man, and his music is certainly very interesting in an intellectual kind of way, but can you really love this music? I think not.

Clementi...now that's REAL music!
Agreed. Though great as Clementi was even he trembled in the presence of Dittersdorf. :)
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A perfectly understandable reaction.
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Post by karlhenning » Fri Feb 16, 2007 10:09 am

Heck148 wrote:LOL!! :lol:

you're right - Beethoven is nearly as cold and heartless as Stravinsky!! :P :roll: :D
That Grosse Fuge! No soul! Zip, zero, nada, bupkiss!
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Post by Gurn Blanston » Fri Feb 16, 2007 10:22 am

Thanks, Diego, for my laugh of the day. :D

And anyway, I am as big a fan of Clementi as there is here, I have nearly all his piano music, symphonies and his meager other output, and play them frequently.

Of course, I have ALL of Beethoven's works... :roll:

8)
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Post by karlhenning » Fri Feb 16, 2007 10:46 am

Gurn Blanston wrote:And anyway, I am as big a fan of Clementi as there is here, I have nearly all his piano music, symphonies and his meager other output, and play them frequently.
My friend Aaron played a Clementi Sonata on his Master's recital; lovely little morceau!

Cheers,
~Karl
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Post by Heck148 » Fri Feb 16, 2007 12:29 pm

karlhenning wrote:
Heck148 wrote:LOL!! :lol:

you're right - Beethoven is nearly as cold and heartless as Stravinsky!! :P :roll: :D
That Grosse Fuge! No soul! Zip, zero, nada, bupkiss!
right - the last 4tets, the 9th symphony, the 5th symphony, Leonore #3 - all interesting technically, but utterly devoid of expressive content....musical "dead fish". :wink: :roll:

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Re: Clementi and Beethoven -- Can you love Beethoven?

Post by Joe Barron » Fri Feb 16, 2007 2:11 pm

diegobueno wrote:I think there is a group of elite intellectuals trying to promote Beethoven to show how clever they are.
Of course it's joke. Just about anyone who has ever expressed a liking for modernism has been confronted with this theory — as though we have nothing better t do than to listen to music we can't stand and then pat ourselves on the back for being smart.

As for Beethoven, I listened to two of his violin sonatas before work this morning, and I'd say my reaction was love.

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Post by karlhenning » Fri Feb 16, 2007 2:14 pm

Well, the object of the parody may not realize how close he treads to Planet Pink Harp ("Nobody can love music the way I love music . . . ."
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Post by Sapphire » Fri Feb 16, 2007 3:42 pm

Karl

Do you know what's happened to our former Beethoven hater?


Saphire

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Re: Clementi and Beethoven -- Can you love Beethoven?

Post by RebLem » Fri Feb 16, 2007 4:25 pm

diegobueno wrote:This is all the more remarkable since you can go to any piano recital on earth and hear those rattletrap Beethoven monstrosities. Now I think Beethoven was a very talented man, and his music is certainly very interesting in an intellectual kind of way, but can you really love this music?
I think not.

I think there is a group of elite intellectuals trying to promote Beethoven to show how clever they are. They forget that music has to express feeling. But they think they can substitue cerebral theories. All these gross fugues and random trills, hammering the clavier until it's ready to burst. In fact Beethoven did burst the piano strings when he played, that's how little concern he had for beauty.
Somehow or other, you have unaccountably gotten Beethoven confused with Arnold Schoenberg, Alban Berg, Anton Webern, and Elliott Carter. :roll: :twisted: :roll:
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Re: Clementi and Beethoven -- Can you love Beethoven?

Post by Joe Barron » Fri Feb 16, 2007 4:37 pm

RebLem wrote:
diegobueno wrote:This is all the more remarkable since you can go to any piano recital on earth and hear those rattletrap Beethoven monstrosities. Now I think Beethoven was a very talented man, and his music is certainly very interesting in an intellectual kind of way, but can you really love this music?
I think not.

I think there is a group of elite intellectuals trying to promote Beethoven to show how clever they are. They forget that music has to express feeling. But they think they can substitue cerebral theories. All these gross fugues and random trills, hammering the clavier until it's ready to burst. In fact Beethoven did burst the piano strings when he played, that's how little concern he had for beauty.
Somehow or other, you have unaccountably gotten Beethoven confused with Arnold Schoenberg, Alban Berg, Anton Webern, and Elliott Carter. :roll: :twisted: :roll:
See?

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Re: Clementi and Beethoven -- Can you love Beethoven?

Post by Opus132 » Fri Feb 16, 2007 9:22 pm

RebLem wrote: Somehow or other, you have unaccountably gotten Beethoven confused with Arnold Schoenberg, Alban Berg, Anton Webern, and Elliott Carter. :roll: :twisted: :roll:
What's wrong with those composers? :evil:

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Post by diegobueno » Fri Feb 16, 2007 11:30 pm

Clementi : Beethoven :: Respighi : Stravinsky

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Post by CharmNewton » Fri Feb 16, 2007 11:38 pm

karlhenning wrote:Well, the object of the parody may not realize how close he treads to Planet Pink Harp ("Nobody can love music the way I love music . . . ."
Is Planet Pink Harp one of your regular haunts?

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Post by val » Sat Feb 17, 2007 8:34 am

The fact that Clementi's Sonatas are nice, in special when played by Horowitz (most of us, I am sure have already played some of Clementi's piano music and know that it is very well written for the fingers and very agreable) has nothing to do with the sublime quality of Beethoven Sonatas.
Admiring a composer doesn't mean to dispise another composer.

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Post by slofstra » Sat Feb 17, 2007 12:01 pm

But is Clementi as good as Respighi?

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Post by diegobueno » Sat Feb 17, 2007 1:40 pm

val wrote: Admiring a composer doesn't mean to despise another composer.
I'm glad you feel that way, and I'm hoping others will reach the same conclusion.

In case there's anyone who hasn't figured this out, the whole point of this thread is to show the Stravinsky- and Bartók bashers how ridiculous their comments look. I didn't make up anything in the initial post of this thread. I took it all from comments made here about modern music.

And I think there are some modernists who could heed these words of val also.

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Post by Ralph » Sat Feb 17, 2007 1:44 pm

slofstra wrote:But is Clementi as good as Respighi?
*****

But just what does "as good as" mean?
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Post by slofstra » Sat Feb 17, 2007 2:27 pm

the whole point of this thread is to show the Stravinsky- and Bartók bashers how ridiculous their comments look
diegobueno, As much as I mostly agree with your sentiments, I would take issue with some aspects of it. First of all, I agree with you that it's usually better to 'reserve opinion' when you encounter something of which you know not. I have been reserving opinion on atonal music for most of my life.
But just what does "as good as" mean?
Exactly, Ralph. One could extrapolate from diegobueno's comments that there is a hallowed pantheon of classical greats, and no, we should never dis' any one of them. But subjective responses to music are highly varied, and that is something we should also respect. I now have my eyes and ears open for more Respighi, because more than one person has indicated a passion for that music. And, to put it somewhat mildly, the ears do need to be trained for Stravinsky. (I'd add that there's nothing that can open the ears to a new piece like a live performance.)

Finally, in a forum environment 'strong' statements do get people's attention, and can spark some lively debate. Any statement regarding the relative merits of different music is always based on limited knowledge - that shouldn't prevent people from making them.

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Post by Sapphire » Sat Feb 17, 2007 3:00 pm

slofstra wrote:But is Clementi as good as Respighi?
The original formula by diegobueno (see above) states:

Clementi : Beethoven :: Respighi : Stravinsky

That is: "Clementi is to Beethoven as Respighi is to Stravinsky".

Using symbols: C/B = R/S (where the symbols refer to the quality of each composer identified by his initial, and / means divide).

Hence: C/R = B/S (by cross-multiplication)

Now assuming that B/S > 1 (i.e. Beethoven is greater than Stravinsky), this means that C/R > 1 which means C > R.

Hence Clementi is greater than Respighi, if you trust diegobueno's original assessment.

BTW who is Clementi?


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Post by slofstra » Sat Feb 17, 2007 3:15 pm

I think you are on to something. Note that the conclusion only holds if you value Beethoven above Stravinsky. Conversely, if you like Stravinsky more than Beethoven, you're just not going to like Clementi all that much.

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Post by diegobueno » Sat Feb 17, 2007 8:06 pm

slofstra wrote: I now have my eyes and ears open for more Respighi, because more than one person has indicated a passion for that music. And, to put it somewhat mildly, the ears do need to be trained for Stravinsky.
One often says the same thing about Mozart, or any classical music -- that it needs training to listen to it, and that if they had more music education in the schools people would appreciate classical music all that much more. And I don't doubt this is true. But you know what? When I was 5 years old and got my first recording of the Firebird Suite, I didn't need any training to know I was listening to exciting music that captivated me like nothing else I had ever heard. And I didn't need to take a music class to know that the Symphony of Psalms on the other side represented some deep spiritual mystery, like ghosts, or voices from the Great Beyond (my grandfather had just died, you see, and I when I heard this music I imagined Grandpa up in heaven listening to all these angels singing. It was terrifying like death, but glorious like Heaven).

And when I was 14, with naught but a smattering of piano lessons for training, I listened to Les Noces daily, compulsively, as if it were the latest rock album. And then the Rite of Spring hit me and I knew I had to devote my life to music as soon as I heard it.

You say you're interested in Respighi because more than one person has indicated a passion for his music? Well, more than one person here has indicate a passion for Stravinsky. WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT??? If you have any sense, you'll listen to Stravinsky some more until it hits you why his music has been regarded as the best the 20th century has to offer for the past 90 years.


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Post by slofstra » Sun Feb 18, 2007 2:33 pm

I already do listen to Stravinsky. I don't listen to Respighi all that much. Actually, if you look at the Respighi-Stravinksy session, I asked for and received some great advice on further adventures with Stravinksy.

But I've listened to the Rite of Spring, and Petrouchka many many times, and seen both in performance numerous times. Last year I saw a performance of 'The Soldier's Tale' (or is it 'A Soldier's Tale') with the K W Symphony that was very impressive. Definitely Stravinsky was one of the great intuitive musical geniuses; you just hear that in his music - it's a cornucopia. That was our impression of 'Soldier's Tale'. The other pieces in that performance paled by comparison. I've wanted to go through more of Stravinsky's work based on hearing that piece and purchased a 2 CD compilation of Stravinsky -- too many short snippets, so that didn't get me too far. But I plan on purchasing the 3 CDs recommended in that thread.

I'm very impressed with your personal history. I know when I was 5 or 6 at school on the Canadian Prairies, we were 'made', as a class, to listen to classical music on the CBC. I didn't have a clue what was going on with Mozart, let alone listen to Stravinsky. My family wasn't inordinately musical, but even as immigrant labourers had a great respect for the classical tradition. But I think Strauss and Kreisler was as far as the listening went beyond polkas and other Dutch type music. So I have mixed feelings about pushing it too much in the schools. Those that want it will come to it. Our kids, on the other hand, have gone quite a ways with piano, classical guitar and voice lessons. For most people classical music is an acquired taste; some effort is required but the rewards are well worth it.

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Post by diegobueno » Sun Feb 18, 2007 11:08 pm

slofstra wrote:I already do listen to Stravinsky. I don't listen to Respighi all that much. Actually, if you look at the Respighi-Stravinksy session, I asked for and received some great advice on further adventures with Stravinksy.
OK. I see I got out my flamethrower prematurely. I'll redirect the flames elsewhere.
I know when I was 5 or 6 at school on the Canadian Prairies, we were 'made', as a class, to listen to classical music on the CBC.
My mother was clever. She just stuck the records in the room for me and my brother to listen to, and we didn't know we weren't supposed to like them. Or she'd take us to a record store and let us pick out records based on the picture on the cover (all the while directing us towards the classical section). That's how I got the Stravinsky Firebird/Symphony of Psalms record. It had a picture of a big bird with flames on its wingtips, and an angel blowing a long trumpet.

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Post by piston » Sun Feb 18, 2007 11:23 pm

diegobueno wrote:
slofstra wrote:I already do listen to Stravinsky. I don't listen to Respighi all that much. Actually, if you look at the Respighi-Stravinksy session, I asked for and received some great advice on further adventures with Stravinksy.
OK. I see I got out my flamethrower prematurely. I'll redirect the flames elsewhere.
I know when I was 5 or 6 at school on the Canadian Prairies, we were 'made', as a class, to listen to classical music on the CBC.
My mother was clever. She just stuck the records in the room for me and my brother to listen to, and we didn't know we weren't supposed to like them. Or she'd take us to a record store and let us pick out records based on the picture on the cover (all the while directing us towards the classical section). That's how I got the Stravinsky Firebird/Symphony of Psalms record. It had a picture of a big bird with flames on its wingtips, and an angel blowing a long trumpet.
And they really were beautifully crafted LPs! Interestingly, though, there is little or no mention of the cover artists on these fifties to sixties records. I hold the Columbia ML 5277 record of Bernstein's Sacre du Printemps. Absolutely gorgeous cover painting(?) but not a single word about the artist or the name of the drawing on the record! Not so with Monteux' RCA Victor LSC=2085 because it's Henri Rousseau's Le Douanier (not sure about the relevance, though). Ormandy's Rite of Spring and Petrouchka suite, Columbia ML 5030, simply states "painting by Doris Lee." Ansermet's Petrushka, London CS 6009, not a clue about the cover artist! Ansermet's Petrushka "Richmond High Fidelity" ($1.98 Long Play!) B 19105 ditto!
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Re: Clementi and Beethoven -- Can you love Beethoven?

Post by burnitdown » Tue Feb 20, 2007 12:29 am

diegobueno wrote:Now I think Beethoven was a very talented man, and his music is certainly very interesting in an intellectual kind of way, but can you really love this music?
Of course you can, and probably not for "intellectual" reasons. It's awesome art. Pure power, beauty, love and fear. Excellent!

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