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#2036767 - 02/21/13 06:11 AM Re: Do you think there will ever be another great composer? [Re: JoelW]  
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Needless to say, even the composers who are now considered great were neither recognized as such nor widely performed in their own time. Beethoven's premieres of masterpieces such as his 4th piano concerto failed miserably; Bach was known regionally as a great organist and kapellmeister during his lifetime, but he was essentially forgotten before Mendelssohn rescued him from obscurity nearly 100 years after his death!
As for availability of scores and access to the music, it is worth remembering that composers in the eighteenth and nineteenth century were essentially dependent on wealthy patrons for their survival, and their music was heard largely by the elite and the upper middle class in live public concerts or, more commonly, within the confines of great homes and palaces . No Spotify or even CD printing.

Having said that, I think that there are many contemporary composers who are likely to be remembered and performed 100 years from now. Some were already mentioned. I would add Thomas Ades who has produced extraordinarily beuatiful works, most of which have been reviewed very successfully. His sonata for piano and cello, titled Lieux retrouvés, is brilliant, if extrmely challenging to play: he premiered it but other pianists (Denk) are also planning to perform it. The score is available for about $30. Other composers (alive or just recently dead) such as Ligeti, Kyurtag or Elliott Carter are already fairly renowned and their works are performed with reasonable frequency. Perhaps not as often as Beethoven's Fifth symphony, but they have not been aorund that long either.
I should also mention Stephen Hough, a pianist-composer in the tradition of the classical and romantic period. He is about to premiere his second piano sonata, Notturno Luminoso, in NY, and many people, moi included, are looking forward to it. I thought that his first sonata was very promising of greater works to come. So, as always, good and may be great things are out there. You just have to 1)look for them 2) listen with an open mind even if you will still tune in to Landowska playing your Bach favorites ar the end of the day.

By the way, Kudos to the performers who dare to perform contemporary works and even commission them. For instance, Hilary Hahn commissioned 27 short pieces for violin and piano from 27 different composers; Jennifer Koh, another brilliant violinist, has also premiered and commissioned new pieces etc. As you probably know, there are quite a few pianists who "specialize" in modern and contemporary works, like Ursula Oppens. I think that lack of awareness of contemporary composers contributes significantly to the general impression of greatness in music being desperately dead. In my mind, conservatories and teachers take a major share of the blame. They keep cranking performers, professional and amateurs, who are steeped in the old traditions and greaty discouraged if not frightened to approach and present more modern composers.
I have digressed a bit from the original question, but I think that recognition of greatness takes some work, not to mention some familiarity with what is being produced.

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#2036787 - 02/21/13 07:53 AM Re: Do you think there will ever be another great composer? [Re: Kreisler]  
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Originally Posted by Kreisler


I was thinking about something today - many of the composers we regard as great were masters of a particular musical structure and venue. For Beethoven and Brahms, it was sonata form and the concert hall. For Chopin, it was the salon and dance/story forms. For Schubert, it was the salon and song. For Bach, it was counterpoint and the church. For Puccini, it was opera. For Haydn, it was the symphony and string quartet in the court. Mozart could pretty much do it all. Stravinsky had ballet. (Yeah, he did lots of other stuff, but let's face it, his fame rests largely on Rite, Firebird, and Petrushka.)



Yes, sort of, but that's oversimplifying things too much, I think.

For example - what about variation form? Most of the composers you name did masterful variation sets. And too, how we remember them isn't necessarily how the composers themselves and their contemporaries saw things.

Quote


Today, the structures and venues have changed. John Williams writes a great film score. Sondheim writes a great musical. Jason Robert Brown writes a great cabaret song. Pink Floyd was a master of the album. The Grateful Dead and Phish mastered the jam band.



Your jump from art music to pop music is making my head hurt. Can't we deal with them more or less as separate categories?

Yes, I know, Italian opera was more or less a form of pop music in its day, but that's a special and unusual case (and Italian concert music suffered because of it, Paganini notwithstanding).

But to me, there's a pretty big difference between "great" when applied to music from the classical tradition and when applied to other traditions and forms. It's not that classical music is ipso facto "better", but it is coming from a different cultural stream.

Quote


Today's "classical" scene is fractured. There's no single structure or venue. Symphonies are freer in form, as is solo piano music. Composers experiment more with different ensembles (thanks in large part to Pierrot Lunaire.)

This makes it far more difficult to compare composers. We can say that Beethoven is great in part because lots of composers wrote symphonies and his symphonies, by comparison, are deemed artful. We can say Chopin was great because lots of people wrote waltzes and mazurkas and etudes and, by comparison, his are deemed artful.

But it's very difficult to say that someone today is a great composer of piano sonatas because very few are doing it, and the form isn't standardized. It's difficult to compare the piano sonatas of Tippett, Vine, Liebermann, and Hough because they aren't structurally similar (at least not in the way Beethoven's sonatas were similar to Haydn, Mozart, Dussek, Kuhlau, Field, etc...)



Yes, I think you are right about the amazing diversity in points of view from composers of art music today. It seems to be settling down a bit, in the sense that there are no new major trends stirring things up. Seems like the last one was spectralism, and that has been around for a while.

As far as comparing them to come up with who is really great... I think it may be more about who not only masters their idiom, but has something to say. Having other composers around to provide a scale that shows why the greats are great is useful, but I'm not sure it's required. Something to think about...





#2036791 - 02/21/13 08:02 AM Re: Do you think there will ever be another great composer? [Re: JoelW]  
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Yes. Anders Hillborg for instance.

http://www.hillborg.com/

Last edited by chrisbell; 02/21/13 08:03 AM.
#2036806 - 02/21/13 08:55 AM Re: Do you think there will ever be another great composer? [Re: JoelW]  
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Originally Posted by JoelW
Originally Posted by Nikolas
Hem...

John Williams IS considered a great composer for film. The best out there... (living).

Now, I'd like to think that some recent composers were all "Great". Messiaen, Ligeti for example. Stravinsky. Heck all these died less than 30 years ago (a bit more some, a lot less for others). And they are "great" for me.

So my answer is a resounding YES! There will be more "greats". Unless one wishes to be focused only to very specific aesthetics and ideas in music, in which case I'd say that there's no hope for them to find the greatness in newer stuff.

___________________

There is one band that I consider "GREAT" right now. Radiohead! If you don't know them, check them out.


Okay, okay... John Williams might be 'great' but I don't know how I can respect him when he blatantly rips music straight from the mighty masters of the past and doesn't even do so much as to change the tempo or key. C'mon!


Sorry if this has been touched on already, I'm just now reading through this thread. But there are some things about film composing I'd like to point out:

-All of them have teams that work on the music. It's not all John Williams, but he gets the credit.
-Writing music that is dictated by what is going on the screen is a far different being than writing an opera (which the composer dictates what happens) or a symphony (the composer has much more freedom). I think this does mean less development of themes, or who knows what direction the composer would have gone if they didn't cut short the love scene? Stuff like this bothers me and it's why I rarely listen to soundtracks. I can enjoy them in a movie, but that's about it. I can listen to an opera without seeing it though, and love it and appreciate it.

I think these 2 points really in my mind change how I feel about film music. John Williams may be a great film composer, that's about all I can give him.


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#2036845 - 02/21/13 10:37 AM Re: Do you think there will ever be another great composer? [Re: Morodiene]  
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Agreed. I was part of a two man team that scored a documentary last year called Cruzin... A cycling film set in Vietnam. The main challenge was academic from a musical standpoint. It was a small challenge to develop a theme, but once locked in, cues and timing were the main obstacle. I realized the restrictions would likely drive me mad if I did it for a living (which I don't, thankfully). It's definitely a skill that requires as much technical ability as creative ability.... Probably more the former wink

#2036940 - 02/21/13 01:31 PM Re: Do you think there will ever be another great composer? [Re: JoelW]  
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Will new age music in 100 years be classical?

Does anyone have the ability to write like Bach, Chopin and the like today?


#2036991 - 02/21/13 03:06 PM Re: Do you think there will ever be another great composer? [Re: JoelW]  
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Just diving into this thread perhaps a bit late so I have a few points to make.

John Williams is a very skilled composer. His mastery of orchestration builds on the genius of Mahler. If you haven't heard his piece American Journey (i.e. not film music, but certainly programmatic) then you haven't heard the man at his best. The challenge of film music is that the music must support must always be secondary to the action on the screen. By definition film music cannot be truly great for that reason, although it can certainly be very good (as Williams IMO accomplishes). As for JW's being derivative, I heard that when Star Wars was first mocked up they used Mars from Holst's t The Planets. The marching orders were to write something exactly like that.

More recent discussion has focused on whether we can recognize greatness in our own time. I believe we can because information travels much faster now than even 50 years ago. However, the vetting process still takes some time, but more people are aware of what's being composed now than have previous times have had awareness of their own times.

As I've posted before there is much truly great choral music being composed now. I've mentioned Eric Whitacre and Morten Lauridsen before, both have been recognized by the ACDA (American Choral Director's Association) and Whitacre's virtual choirs have attracted thousands of participants. Choral music requires that capable singers be able to understand the music which tends to make it easier on the ears of unsophisticated audiences. It's too bad so few pianists sing or folks here would be more familiar with this repertoire.

The issue of venues is valid. It seems to me the most creative music doesn't necessarily fit into a particular mold. It seems networking (social and virtual) is the new route to becoming known. With that in mind there's more opportunity now than there has ever been, the challenge is to distinguish and differentiate oneself. But that's always been the challenge. Still the realm of art music is has been fighting the hangover from serialism and dodecaphony and the summary dismissal of the audience for the past 60 years.

#2036994 - 02/21/13 03:14 PM Re: Do you think there will ever be another great composer? [Re: JoelW]  
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Originally Posted by JoelW
. . . do you think there will ever be another 'great' composer in the classical scene?


As much as I love contemporary music, I think the short answer clearly has to be: No, not for us.

Long answer: In my long ago, misspent youth, back in the days when any respectable rock tune had to include the obligatory improvised guitar solo, I spent long hours in various studios in search of that elusive pop hit.

When it came time for that solo, some ill prepared borderline-incompetent guitarist would come in and starting recording a bunch of semi-random blues-scale riffs over the track. After countless punch-ins and endless frustration, something vaguely resembling coherence would start to emerge, at which point the exhausted string picker would be sent home with the idea that we would come back to this later after he had done some homework and come up with something better.

But then, almost every time, a mysterious but well-known process would kick in: As we continued work on other parts of the track, and in the process listened to that half-assed solo dozens or even hundreds of times, it would get better and better, until it achieved a state of near perfection. If the guitarist ever did return, nothing he could do could possibly approach the perfection of the track he had already laid down, which was now the only thing that could possibly work on that song.

Now, replace the near-illiterate string picker with a brilliant composer who actually is one of the finest musical minds of his generation, a person whose natural talent has been refined by years of intense devotion to his craft and studies with other brilliant musical minds. Replace the string of clichéd blues scale riffs with a deeply considered and refined expression of his deepest feelings and musical thoughts brought to life through a long and perhaps agonizing compositional process.

So far, so good. But now replace our distracted hearing of the solo a few dozen times with decades or centuries of intense attention by the finest interpreters and musicologists of the of the intervening years, all looking deeply for structure and meaning, often spending far more time and energy in this search than the composer did in the actual composition. Top this off with our own experience, growing up and hearing this piece repeatedly at a time when the musical synapses in our brains are still being formed, endless reading and discussions in which the perfection and genius of the music is discussed and pointed out.

Now, how could any modern piece ever possibly be that good?

K.

#2036997 - 02/21/13 03:27 PM Re: Do you think there will ever be another great composer? [Re: Mark...]  
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Originally Posted by Mark...
Will new age music in 100 years be classical?

Does anyone have the ability to write like Bach, Chopin and the like today?




1-No

2-Yes

#2037005 - 02/21/13 03:38 PM Re: Do you think there will ever be another great composer? [Re: Andromaque]  
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Maybe I'm a hopeless philistine, but the most extraordinary composition I've heard from the last 10 years has been the entirety of the Sufjan Stevens album "Illinoise." I suspect that many folks here will wrinkle their nose to it because it's primarily pop but I think it's worth a few listens. It's rich and multi-layered. Every time I put it on I hear something new in it.

Last edited by Brad Hoehne; 02/21/13 05:10 PM.

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#2037008 - 02/21/13 03:41 PM Re: Do you think there will ever be another great composer? [Re: Andromaque]  
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Originally Posted by Andromaque
Originally Posted by Mark...
Will new age music in 100 years be classical?

Does anyone have the ability to write like Bach, Chopin and the like today?




1-No

2-Yes


#1, I can't hum any Yanni or John Tesh melodies.... my fault. And, for question 2, given the evolution of music and the body of knowledge added through analysis, it's a fairly safe bet there are those with an increased level of ability. They just need to find a really good PR firm wink

#2037015 - 02/21/13 03:50 PM Re: Do you think there will ever be another great composer? [Re: RBMusik]  
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Originally Posted by RBMusik


#1, I can't hum any Yanni or John Tesh melodies.... my fault.


I cant really hum most Schoenberg but it's definitely classical and definitely great. I think I'd become a hermit the day that Yanni is considered a great composer.


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Currently working on:
Chopin Etude op 25 #2 and op 10 #5
Schubert Op 90 #2, #3
Playing by ear and "filling out" pop tunes
#2037026 - 02/21/13 04:29 PM Re: Do you think there will ever be another great composer? [Re: JoelW]  
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I think Wim Statius Muller's Antillean Dances are gorgeous. But then, I'm still working on my exposure to different composers, so I don't know if he's taking from anyone else. When I've got the classical station on, I always stop when I hear his pieces.







#2037027 - 02/21/13 04:31 PM Re: Do you think there will ever be another great composer? [Re: JoelW]  
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I think American composer William Gillock as a recent great composer.

#2037028 - 02/21/13 04:31 PM Re: Do you think there will ever be another great composer? [Re: didyougethathing]  
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Originally Posted by didyougethathing


I consider Bernard Herrmann one of the all-time great film composers as well.


I'd place a vote for Bernard Herrmann, too. His "Vertigo" soundtrack is a great piece independent of the movie. "Obsession" and "Taxi Driver" are pretty awesome as well.


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Currently working on:
Chopin Etude op 25 #2 and op 10 #5
Schubert Op 90 #2, #3
Playing by ear and "filling out" pop tunes
#2037072 - 02/21/13 05:54 PM Re: Do you think there will ever be another great composer? [Re: JoelW]  
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If were naming off movie composers, I've always liked what Dany Elfman did for the Simpsons and the Spider-man films. I also like the soundtrack for Signs, by James Newton Howard.

#2037088 - 02/21/13 06:14 PM Re: Do you think there will ever be another great composer? [Re: JoelW]  
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His mastery of orchestration!? He employs other people to do that for him. As do a most film composers.

#2037159 - 02/21/13 08:04 PM Re: Do you think there will ever be another great composer? [Re: Mark...]  
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Originally Posted by Mark...
Will new age music in 100 years be classical?

Does anyone have the ability to write like Bach, Chopin and the like today?




No..and no!


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#2037160 - 02/21/13 08:07 PM Re: Do you think there will ever be another great composer? [Re: Mark...]  
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Originally Posted by Mark...
Will new age music in 100 years be classical?


Not as a genre. But, theoretically, it's possible that a composer who is writing music that is currently dubbed "new age" (possibly not by the composer herself) will have somehow transitioned over to "classical". Assuming there will be a "classical" category 100 years from now, which may not be true.

Quote


Does anyone have the ability to write like Bach, Chopin and the like today?



What do you mean? Certainly there are many composers who have the skill and talent to write art music at a very advanced level, if that's what you are talking about.

#2037165 - 02/21/13 08:21 PM Re: Do you think there will ever be another great composer? [Re: wr]  
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Originally Posted by wr

Quote


Does anyone have the ability to write like Bach, Chopin and the like today?



What do you mean? Certainly there are many composers who have the skill and talent to write art music at a very advanced level, if that's what you are talking about.


I think Bach and Chopin were a little more than the above description.

#2037166 - 02/21/13 08:21 PM Re: Do you think there will ever be another great composer? [Re: Mark...]  
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Originally Posted by Mark...
Will new age music in 100 years be classical?


Well, not classical (because "classical music" indicates a certain genre, including of course music which is not of the "classical period"), but it certainly won't be "new" any more...



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#2037170 - 02/21/13 08:27 PM Re: Do you think there will ever be another great composer? [Re: JoelW]  
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Originally Posted by JoelW
Originally Posted by wr

Quote


Does anyone have the ability to write like Bach, Chopin and the like today?



What do you mean? Certainly there are many composers who have the skill and talent to write art music at a very advanced level, if that's what you are talking about.


I think Bach and Chopin were a little more than the above description.



Imagine bringing them forward in time to hear the pop music in the charts today- they'd be sick!


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#2037172 - 02/21/13 08:32 PM Re: Do you think there will ever be another great composer? [Re: EdwardianPiano]  
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Originally Posted by EdwardianPiano
Originally Posted by JoelW
Originally Posted by wr

Quote


Does anyone have the ability to write like Bach, Chopin and the like today?



What do you mean? Certainly there are many composers who have the skill and talent to write art music at a very advanced level, if that's what you are talking about.


I think Bach and Chopin were a little more than the above description.



Imagine bringing them forward in time to hear the pop music in the charts today- they'd be sick!


They would be happy not to have been born in our time!



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#2037179 - 02/21/13 08:42 PM Re: Do you think there will ever be another great composer? [Re: debrucey]  
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Originally Posted by debrucey
His mastery of orchestration!? He employs other people to do that for him. As do most film composers.

But not Erich Wolfgang Korngold. He always did his own orchestrations, and if you listen to his deliciously scored soundtracks, there is no way anyone else could have accomplished that.

What a pity the most talented composer after Mozart was reduced to a mere Hollywood hack, though I suppose he enjoyed the sunny climate.

Korngold knew Max -Gone-with-the Wind- Steiner of course, and there is an anecdote:

Steiner: Ah Erich! Why is it that my music is getting so much better, though your music is getting worse?

Korngold: That is because you have been copying me, and I have been copying you!


Jason
#2037181 - 02/21/13 08:46 PM Re: Do you think there will ever be another great composer? [Re: argerichfan]  
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Little bits of compositional genius exist, like Glenn Gould's cadenzas for Beethoven's PC 1.

#2037187 - 02/21/13 08:58 PM Re: Do you think there will ever be another great composer? [Re: ChopinAddict]  
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Originally Posted by ChopinAddict
Originally Posted by EdwardianPiano
Originally Posted by JoelW
Originally Posted by wr

Quote


Does anyone have the ability to write like Bach, Chopin and the like today?



What do you mean? Certainly there are many composers who have the skill and talent to write art music at a very advanced level, if that's what you are talking about.


I think Bach and Chopin were a little more than the above description.



Imagine bringing them forward in time to hear the pop music in the charts today- they'd be sick!


They would be happy not to have been born in our time!


Indeed - being born outside of one's own time must be so jarring.

OTOH, their medical issues might not have been so devastating...

#2037208 - 02/21/13 09:33 PM Re: Do you think there will ever be another great composer? [Re: johnlewisgrant]  
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Originally Posted by johnlewisgrant
Little bits of compositional genius exist, like Glenn Gould's cadenzas for Beethoven's PC 1.

And perhaps Schnittke's cadenza to the Beethoven violin concerto?

Could be, though one could argue that neither is particularly relevant to musical matters at hand, though I am not adverse to cadenzas 'out of the sound world' of the concerto. I guess it depends how far out we go.

For that matter, Beethoven's 3rd cadenza to his first concerto (admittedly unedited by the composer) is too over-the-top with its excessive diminished 7th chords and general empty rhetoric, though it is certainly a technical tour de force. No wonder pianists like it, though the 2nd cadenza makes the most musical sense, given context.

But of course I seem to be alone on this board in preferring the more modest cadenza in Rachmaninov 3. The BIG one screams a lot -must be where the money is- but neither the composer, Horowitz, Weissenberg or Argerich ever used it.

Sorry for OT!


Jason
#2037300 - 02/22/13 02:54 AM Re: Do you think there will ever be another great composer? [Re: EdwardianPiano]  
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Originally Posted by EdwardianPiano
Imagine bringing them forward in time to hear the pop music in the charts today- they'd be sick!


I don't know.
Shocked because of their old ears, but probably not any more sick than hearing the contemporary popular music being sung at the local biergarten.

#2037306 - 02/22/13 03:17 AM Re: Do you think there will ever be another great composer? [Re: JoelW]  
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Okay, okay... so obviously the maestros of the past would most likely be sick to hear the noise that passes off as music these days, but what about before music got horrible? (<-- my opinion of course)

What do you think some of the great composers from the 1800's and prior would think if they heard In The Mood by Glenn Miller's Orchestra? I think we can all agree that's a pretty darn good tune...

#2037320 - 02/22/13 04:12 AM Re: Do you think there will ever be another great composer? [Re: argerichfan]  
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Originally Posted by argerichfan


Steiner: Ah Erich! Why is it that my music is getting so much better, though your music is getting worse?

Korngold: That is because you have been copying me, and I have been copying you!


Nice!

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