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#1333592 - 12/25/09 02:32 PM Greatest Russian composer for piano  
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For starters, I understand that some certainly think it is silly or pointless to try to answer this question and perhaps not without good reason. Since this kind of response has been given to almost every "greatest" thread at PW, maybe it can be avoided here? Also, please define "greatest" however you want to. If it means "favorite" for you use that definition etc.

I mean this thread to be based on the composer's piano works(solo and concerti)only, so please only consider those in your ranking.

IMO there are only three candidates:Rachmaninov, Scriabin, Prokofiev.
I guess a few might say Medtner, Shostakovich, Stravinsky, or even Mussorgsky but for various reasons I wouldn't put them in the same category.

As much as I like the three I gave as my top ones, my top two would be definitely be Scriabin and Prokofiev. If I had to choose one it would be Prokofiev. My reason(I hope you'll give yours also)is I think he wrote at least three great piano concerti(I don't know #4 and #5)and Scriabin's only concerto is almost never performed(I don't know it either). Or maybe it's because I just finished watching this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YfkE6pFr4QE&feature=related

So please give us your vote, preferably with your thinking on the matter.

I guess it's only natural, but I've found Russian pianists particularly love these composers.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 12/25/09 03:24 PM.
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#1333595 - 12/25/09 02:36 PM Re: Greatest Russian composer for piano [Re: pianoloverus]  
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None of them would've been possible without Tchaikovsky! (And his piano works are unjustly neglected outside Russia.)


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#1333597 - 12/25/09 02:40 PM Re: Greatest Russian composer for piano [Re: pianoloverus]  
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As someone who's been immersed in Scriabin, the main thing I wondered when I saw the thread was whether you'd even include him. I'm pleased to see that you have him among the "finalists."

If, as you say, we can define "greatest" however you want, that leaves it wide open. It seems that most "serious" musicians define it mainly in terms of influence. Certainly most music historians do, probably most musicologists too, and I think most performers as well.

Most of the public, on the other hand, probably sees it as, who wrote the music they love the most. Maybe a lot of people would put it in terms of "most beautiful."

So, I think there's little doubt that the "public vote" would be won by Rachmaninoff -- who would probably be in last place in the vote of historians and musicologists.
[edit: After seeing Kreisler's post, I realize that I just "forgot" about Tchaikovsky!! He'd vie with Rachmininoff for the "public" vote. And he'd be pretty low on the historian/musicologist vote too.]

I think Scriabin was the most "creative" and most original. Was he "influential"? I don't really think so. I think it's much like late Beethoven -- how much did that influence anyone? I guess it's hard to tell. Scriabin may have had more influence on jazz than on "classical" music, although I'm not sure about that either, and if so, that adds to his "greatness."

I think among "serious musicians," the top 2 would be Stravinsky and Shostakovich, probably in that order.

Oh.......I'm supposed to VOTE? smile

I can't really, because I don't know how to define it. But since the one who interests me the most is Scriabin, by far, I guess I'll say him.

One for Scriabin. smile

#1333598 - 12/25/09 02:41 PM Re: Greatest Russian composer for piano [Re: Kreisler]  
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Originally Posted by Kreisler
None of them would've been possible without Tchaikovsky! (And his piano works are unjustly neglected outside Russia.)

Holy moly!!! I didn't even notice he was missing!!

I better add him to who might win the vote among "the public."
For sure it would be between him and Rachmaninoff.

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#1333602 - 12/25/09 02:49 PM Re: Greatest Russian composer for piano [Re: Mark_C]  
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Why, oh, why do these lists always exclude Bortkiewicz? frown He's not the best known, but certainly deserves to be.


Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.
#1333612 - 12/25/09 02:58 PM Re: Greatest Russian composer for piano [Re: Horowitzian]  
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Originally Posted by Horowitzian
Why, oh, why do these lists always exclude Bortkiewicz? frown He's not the best known, but certainly deserves to be.


Well, H., the thread is in its early stages; give it some time, and I'm sure that someone will mention Bortkiewicz! smile

Regards,


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#1333614 - 12/25/09 02:59 PM Re: Greatest Russian composer for piano [Re: Kreisler]  
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Originally Posted by Kreisler
None of them would've been possible without Tchaikovsky! (And his piano works are unjustly neglected outside Russia.)


Haha! I forgot to list him even as a possibility even though I recently started two threads about his music(6H Romance and Pletnev's version of the Seasons, which I think are a mixed bag compositionally).

#1333615 - 12/25/09 02:59 PM Re: Greatest Russian composer for piano [Re: Mark_C]  
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I only know a serious amount of piano music by Rachmaninov and Scriabin. I already knew quite some Rachmaninov, before I discovered Scriabin. Out of these two, I can't really choose.
As for solo piano music I really adore a number of etudes by Scriabin that I just can't stop listening to. Then again, some preludes and etudes by Rach are just as great and express similar deep feelings. Prelude 32/10, 32/12 or etude 39/6 are just as wonderful and exotic as my favorite Scriabin etudes.
Both are great in their own way, but I must say I don't like later Scriabin (yet).

#1333618 - 12/25/09 03:02 PM Re: Greatest Russian composer for piano [Re: Horowitzian]  
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Originally Posted by Horowitzian
Why, oh, why do these lists always exclude Bortkiewicz? frown He's not the best known, but certainly deserves to be.


Perhaps he deserves to be better known, but I don't think he's anywhere near the six I mentioned plus Tchaikowsky.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 12/25/09 05:48 PM.
#1333623 - 12/25/09 03:05 PM Re: Greatest Russian composer for piano [Re: pianoloverus]  
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He can definitely be argued to be the equal of the ones you listed.


Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.
#1333628 - 12/25/09 03:12 PM Re: Greatest Russian composer for piano [Re: Horowitzian]  
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Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.
#1333631 - 12/25/09 03:15 PM Re: Greatest Russian composer for piano [Re: Horowitzian]  
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Originally Posted by Horowitzian
He can definitely be argued to be the equal of the ones you listed.


It's possible to make an argument about anything, but whether it will convince many people is another thing. Scriabin, Prokofiev, and Rachmaninov have been performed regularly by the greatest pianists since their works appeared.

Do you think Bortkeiwicz is some totally neglected but genius oomposer?

(Thracozaag plays some Bortkiewicz, but I bet if you ask him where he ranks Bortkiewicz it wouldn't very high)

Last edited by pianoloverus; 12/25/09 03:17 PM.
#1333633 - 12/25/09 03:20 PM Re: Greatest Russian composer for piano [Re: Mark_C]  
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Originally Posted by MarkCannon
I think among "serious musicians," the top 2 would be Stravinsky and Shostakovich, probably in that order.


I think you mean considering their entire output. I meant my post to be considering their piano works only and I'll edit it to make that clear.

#1333635 - 12/25/09 03:21 PM Re: Greatest Russian composer for piano [Re: pianoloverus]  
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His lack of recognition had a lot more to do with life circumstances than any lack of genius. Could you possibly provide any counter examples to the ones above?

Website devoted to Bortkiewicz



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#1333636 - 12/25/09 03:25 PM Re: Greatest Russian composer for piano [Re: Horowitzian]  
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Originally Posted by Horowitzian
His lack of recognition had a lot more to do with life circumstances than any lack of genius. Could you possibly provide any counter examples to the ones above?

Website devoted to Bortkiewicz


Counterexamples to a subjective opinion?

#1333638 - 12/25/09 03:31 PM Re: Greatest Russian composer for piano [Re: Horowitzian]  
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Hmmmmmm....try that again.

Originally Posted by Horowitzian
[...] Could you possibly provide any counter examples to the ones [i.e. EXAMPLES] above?

[...]



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#1333639 - 12/25/09 03:45 PM Re: Greatest Russian composer for piano [Re: Horowitzian]  
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I'll have to check out Bortkiewicz. I know nothing about him, but he seems to be highly regarded.


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#1333651 - 12/25/09 04:46 PM Re: Greatest Russian composer for piano [Re: babama]  
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Originally Posted by babama
.....I must say I don't like later Scriabin (yet).

Why not check out this piece.....
Scriabin 9th sonata played by somebody or other ha

It took me decades to even start to "get" late Scriabin.

P.S. If you want an "even better" performance smile ....check out Horowitz or Sofronitsky, but that's no fun. smile

#1333653 - 12/25/09 04:51 PM Re: Greatest Russian composer for piano [Re: Horowitzian]  
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Originally Posted by Horowitzian
He can definitely be argued to be the equal of the ones you listed.

Maybe you're right, I don't know.....but how come most people never heard of him? (Bort... whatever his name is.) smile
I never heard of him till the other day (when I saw his name here).

BTW......I can't tell if this stuff about him is serious.

#1333658 - 12/25/09 05:13 PM Re: Greatest Russian composer for piano [Re: pianoloverus]  
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus

Do you think Bortkeiwicz is some totally neglected but genius oomposer?


Unfairly neglected and certainly first-rate, for me, along with other wonderful composers such as Blumenfeld, Liadov, Liapunov, Feinberg, and countless others consigned to some sort of weird oblivion due to laziness and ignorance. I'm convinced that Scriabin would also be somewhat relegated to an also-ran composer, were it not for Horowitz's vigorous championing--and Horowitz certainly could have done much to heighten Medtner's reputation here in the States, but sadly never publicly performed any of his major compositions.


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#1333663 - 12/25/09 05:18 PM Re: Greatest Russian composer for piano [Re: Thracozaag]  
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Rubinstein don't get no love.

#1333665 - 12/25/09 05:20 PM Re: Greatest Russian composer for piano [Re: Thracozaag]  
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Originally Posted by Thracozaag
Originally Posted by pianoloverus

Do you think Bortkeiwicz is some totally neglected but genius oomposer?

Unfairly neglected and certainly first-rate, for me, along with other wonderful composers such as Blumenfeld, Liadov, Liapunov, Feinberg, and countless others consigned to some sort of weird oblivion due to laziness and ignorance.....

I don't know enough about any of those composers to really know, but I'm wondering if you aren't now thinking of "first-rate" in an extremely-broadly-defined sense.

We got into this sort of thing a little bit when we were discussing which pieces are or aren't "at the highest level of difficulty," and I noted that it depends somewhat on how broad we think a "level" is.

Do you truly put those people up there with composers like Stravinsky, Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Scriabin, and the other better-known composers?

#1333666 - 12/25/09 05:24 PM Re: Greatest Russian composer for piano [Re: Thracozaag]  
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Originally Posted by Thracozaag
Originally Posted by pianoloverus

Do you think Bortkeiwicz is some totally neglected but genius oomposer?


Unfairly neglected and certainly first-rate, for me, along with other wonderful composers such as Blumenfeld, Liadov, Liapunov, Feinberg, and countless others consigned to some sort of weird oblivion due to laziness and ignorance. I'm convinced that Scriabin would also be somewhat relegated to an also-ran composer, were it not for Horowitz's vigorous championing--and Horowitz certainly could have done much to heighten Medtner's reputation here in the States, but sadly never publicly performed any of his major compositions.


Which is unfortunate because he knew virtually all of Medtner's corpus.


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#1333667 - 12/25/09 05:25 PM Re: Greatest Russian composer for piano [Re: Mark_C]  
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I would put any of Bortkiewicz's BEST compositions up with Rachmaninoff. Personally I prefer his music to that of Stravinsky, Shostakovich, and Prokofiev, but that's simply a matter of taste, since I readily admit his influence and innovation is nowhere near on their level--to say nothing of Scriabin. I also admit to a lot of burn-out hearing the same composers and compositions ad infinitum through the years, so discovering new voices is something extremely interesting to me, particularly when they're of the skill level of the composers I mentioned above.


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#1333668 - 12/25/09 05:27 PM Re: Greatest Russian composer for piano [Re: Thracozaag]  
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And to this day, even a complete masterpiece like Scriabin's piano concerto is virtually never performed--sad.


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#1333669 - 12/25/09 05:33 PM Re: Greatest Russian composer for piano [Re: Thracozaag]  
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Originally Posted by Thracozaag
.....Bortkiewicz......I prefer his music to that of Stravinsky, Shostakovich, and Prokofiev, but that's simply a matter of taste, since I readily admit his influence and innovation is nowhere near on their level--to say nothing of Scriabin.....

I'd love to think Scriabin has been "influential" but, as I said above, I don't know that he has been. My basic impression has been that perhaps somewhat like late Beethoven, Scriabin's music was mostly a thing of its own that didn't find its way into much else. But because of how much I love Scriabin, I'd love to learn that I've been wrong. (And of course I could be very wrong about late Beethoven in this respect too; it's just my impression based on what I know.)

Quote
I also admit to a lot of burn-out hearing the same composers and compositions ad infinitum through the years, so discovering new voices is something extremely interesting to me, particularly when they're of the skill level of the composers I mentioned above.

Agree totally, and I would say the same about lesser-known pieces of the well-known composers, like when I "discovered" a couple of little-known Chopin polonaises a couple of years ago and then had the greatest time working on them. But that doesn't particularly relate to the "greatness" of those composers, does it.....

P.S. Agree also about the Scriabin concerto, which I love. I mentioned recently that when I was co-hosting a local radio show, I ran the last movement of it as a "mystery piece" for people to guess what it was. Nobody knew or guessed.

BTW......we sometimes think of Scriabin having become "crazy" in his last years, if not sooner, and maybe that's sort of right. But I recently learned that he continued performing the concerto in those late years, and not only isn't that a "crazy" piece (it's early) but also you usually have to be somewhat sane (I think) to go around playing with orchestras. Also his letters during those years sound quite sane, from what I've seen, but that's another discussion......

#1333670 - 12/25/09 05:37 PM Re: Greatest Russian composer for piano [Re: Mark_C]  
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"Greatness" is always going to be a completely subjective matter. I consider Scriabin to be the "greatest" of all russian composers, but is totally a matter of taste, of course--one could make a serious case for a entire slew of composers. The whole, "I haven't heard of it, so how can it possibly be any good" argument I get from a lot of musicians irritates me to no end. I continually curse my own level of ignorance when it comes to matters of repertoire.


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#1333671 - 12/25/09 05:42 PM Re: Greatest Russian composer for piano [Re: Thracozaag]  
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BTW.....please see my "edit" of the prior post; I added stuff about the Scriabin concerto.

#1333672 - 12/25/09 05:43 PM Re: Greatest Russian composer for piano [Re: Thracozaag]  
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Originally Posted by Thracozaag
And to this day, even a complete masterpiece like Scriabin's piano concerto is virtually never performed--sad.


One of the highlights of my time in Michigan was Igor Zhukov's performance of the Scriabin concerto with the Detroit symphony.


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#1333674 - 12/25/09 05:46 PM Re: Greatest Russian composer for piano [Re: Mark_C]  
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As per your final PS, I agree and I think Scriabin's "craziness" was greatly exaggerated, or at least augmented throughout posterity. Obviously he had megalomaniacal tendencies, which manifested themselves in ways, certainly compositionally. But, as you pointed out, his letters are eminently lucid, and certainly the music is glorious. A shame he was not able to fully realize the Mysterium--I bet it would've been something else to behold!


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