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Re: Importance of composers [Re: Orange Soda King] #2483984
11/24/15 10:43 AM
11/24/15 10:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Orange Soda King
Originally Posted by JoelW

Late Chopin is greater than many a symphony, so it really can't be said that Brahms is the greater composer based on that alone.


Have fun telling any non-pianist and any conductor that. As great as late Chopin is, I think hardly anyone outside the piano world will say late Chopin is greater than late Mahler or Brahms or Bruckner. Or Beethoven, for that matter.

Mahler and Brahms and Bruckner are not even in the same universe as Beethoven.


Regards,

Polyphonist
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Re: Importance of composers [Re: JoelW] #2483987
11/24/15 10:48 AM
11/24/15 10:48 AM
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Hi, Joel! OK, here's my top-10 list:

J S Bach
Haydn
Mozart
Beethoven
Brahms
Stravinsky
Handel
Debussy
Chopin
Schubert

For me, the first eight are unquestionable. My criterion is the number of significant works they provided across many musical forms of expression. The last two were tough -- I'd be more inclined to group them amidst a second tier of 8 - 12 composers or so who were unquestionably significant, but with not quite the same range of influence. Besides Chopin and Schubert, I'd put

Liszt
Wagner
Dvorak
Schumann
Ravel
Copland
Faure
Mendelssohn
Tchaikovsky
Shostakovich
Prokofiev

in this second category.

Last edited by Tim Adrianson; 11/24/15 11:01 AM.
Re: Importance of composers [Re: JoelW] #2483993
11/24/15 11:08 AM
11/24/15 11:08 AM
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People's lists are beginning to frighten me.


Regards,

Polyphonist
Re: Importance of composers [Re: JoelW] #2483994
11/24/15 11:10 AM
11/24/15 11:10 AM
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I think Liszt deserves more credit on here. He gets such a bad reputation for his earlier fluff pieces but there is incredible maturity as he gets older and he really helps close the gap between romanticism and modernity/impressionism.


"I was obliged to be industrious. Whoever is equally industrious will succeed equally well."

J.S. Bach
Re: Importance of composers [Re: JoelW] #2483996
11/24/15 11:11 AM
11/24/15 11:11 AM
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JoelW Offline OP
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Here is my list in order.

Chopin
Mozart
Tchaikovsky
Bach
Beethoven
J.S. Bach
Alkan
Verdi
Fritz Kreisler
Faure

Re: Importance of composers [Re: bennevis] #2484023
11/24/15 12:30 PM
11/24/15 12:30 PM
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SiFi Offline
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Originally Posted by bennevis
Originally Posted by SiFi
Originally Posted by Cheeto717
Chopin's ideas transcend the piano, and anyone who seriously studies the great composers will place him among the greatest.


I agree with this. In the past few decades, Chopin research and analysis has become virtually its own musicological publishing industry: .......................
And he wrote some of the finest music not only of the Romantic period but of any period, again whichever way you look at it.

It's easy for us pianists to have a completely skewed view of the importance of Chopin in the classical music world.

Let's remember that Chopin is heavily promoted in Poland, and they (very successfully) export him around the world. . . .

Elgar is only known in Britain for 'Land of Hope and Glory'. [Say what now? Enigma Variations? Cello Concerto? "Dream of Gerontius"? The symphonies?] . . .

I studied music as an academic subject at high school - Chopin was only mentioned as a sideline, well below even the likes of Handel and Mendelssohn, much less the towering figures of the three B's and Mozart. . . .

So, let's get some perspective of Chopin in classical music, in the non-pianistic world.

Having studied for a BA in music at Oxford University and a PhD at Cambridge, I think I can claim to have at least a modicum of perspective on this, despite the fact that I play the piano as an amateur. So I will state confidently that any academic course in music, musicology, music history, or music theory that only mentions Chopin as a sideline is deficient.

None of the scholars I mentioned in my post, including (especially!) Schenker, could be said to have a "piano-centric" view of the musical universe, nor can Gerald Abraham, Alan Walker, Roy Howat, John Rink, or a slew of other academics and researchers who have shared their valuable insights and knowledge of Chopin with the world. (Roy happens to be a professional pianist, but that in no way circumscribes his academic interests. You should read his chapter "Chopin's influence on the fin de siècle and beyond" in The Cambridge Companion to Chopin; it's fascinating.) So all this is not just my opinion. It is almost universally acknowledged throughout academia and by most of the concert-going public.

Just to show my impartiality, I will list my top 10 after giving it some more thought. Chopin will definitely be there, but so will Palestrina (or maybe Thomas Tallis), Bach of course, possibly Monteverdi, Wagner, and likely others who wrote little piano music or none at all.


SRF
Re: Importance of composers [Re: wr] #2484030
11/24/15 12:46 PM
11/24/15 12:46 PM
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Originally Posted by wr
Originally Posted by Cheeto717


"Chopin is the greatest of all, for with the piano alone he discovered everything."

-Debussy


Yeah, but Debussy didn't think much of Beethoven, so I'm not sure that his opinion is a very reliable measure of anything. smile


An interesting opinion by Debussy, but that shouldn't mean we can automatically dismiss everything he has to say.


"I was obliged to be industrious. Whoever is equally industrious will succeed equally well."

J.S. Bach
Re: Importance of composers [Re: Cheeto717] #2484040
11/24/15 01:32 PM
11/24/15 01:32 PM
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phantomFive Offline
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Originally Posted by Cheeto717
Originally Posted by wr
Originally Posted by Cheeto717


"Chopin is the greatest of all, for with the piano alone he discovered everything."

-Debussy


Yeah, but Debussy didn't think much of Beethoven, so I'm not sure that his opinion is a very reliable measure of anything. smile


An interesting opinion by Debussy, but that shouldn't mean we can automatically dismiss everything he has to say.

Debussy had strong opinions about a lot of other composers, as you can see in this post.


Poetry is rhythm
Re: Importance of composers [Re: JoelW] #2484045
11/24/15 01:38 PM
11/24/15 01:38 PM
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Here's mine, in roughly chronological order

Machaut
Bach
Haydn
Beethoven
Schubert
Liszt
Wagner
Stravinsky
Webern
Cage


I have an ice cream. I cannot mail it, for it will melt.
Re: Importance of composers [Re: JoelW] #2484047
11/24/15 01:49 PM
11/24/15 01:49 PM
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Originally Posted by JoelW
Originally Posted by Orange Soda King
Originally Posted by JoelW

Late Chopin is greater than many a symphony, so it really can't be said that Brahms is the greater composer based on that alone.


Have fun telling any non-pianist and any conductor that. As great as late Chopin is, I think hardly anyone outside the piano world will say late Chopin is greater than late Mahler or Brahms or Bruckner. Or Beethoven, for that matter.

Beethoven, sure. But Mahler? Bruckner? Come on. grin

Spoken like a true Chopin obsessive (as your list, with Chopin in No.1 spot proves wink ).

I've had some great experiences in concert halls, where I've come away from the concert in a daze, with the music ringing in my ears; or in a feeling of complete exhilaration and the feeling that all is right in the world after all, in spite of humans' activities. None of these experiences was provided by Chopin, even though I've heard most of the world's great Chopin pianists several times, in all-Chopin recitals.

Mahler provided a few of them: his 'Resurrection' Symphony, and the tragic close of his No.6, the resigned close of his No.9 and Der Abschied of his Das Lied von der Erde. In piano recitals, the only experience that came close was Pollini playing Op.109, Op.110 & Op.111 at the culmination of his Beethoven sonata cycle.

Chopin was essentially a miniaturist, happiest in his lifetime when playing for rich patrons in salons. Nothing wrong with that, but to put him up on a pedestal with the great symphonists like Brahms, Mahler ("The symphony is like the world - it must encompasss everything" and he showed it) and Sibelius would indicate that you probably haven't heard their symphonies.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Importance of composers [Re: SiFi] #2484053
11/24/15 02:23 PM
11/24/15 02:23 PM
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Originally Posted by SiFi
None of the scholars I mentioned in my post, including (especially!) Schenker, could be said to have a "piano-centric" view of the musical universe, nor can Gerald Abraham, Alan Walker, Roy Howat, John Rink, or a slew of other academics and researchers who have shared their valuable insights and knowledge of Chopin with the world.

John Rink is the co-annotator of the new critical edition of Chopin (Peters), and was one of the lecturers in the Chopin Symposium I mentioned earlier. He spoke eloquently about Chopin's many variations of embellishments in his music (including in his E minor concerto), which he played for us on the piano.

BTW, when I said that Chopin was 'mentioned as a sideline' when I was a student, it was in relation to the three B's, Mozart, Schubert, Second Viennese School etc. But he was higher up than the likes of Berlioz, Fauré, Ravel, Prokofiev etc. Or in other words, I believe he was in his rightful position in the music world wink.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Importance of composers [Re: bennevis] #2484055
11/24/15 02:25 PM
11/24/15 02:25 PM
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Solid posts Bennevis; I agree that it's easy to lose sight of the greater classical world when your focus is piano. Chopin's one of my favourite composers, but it doesn't surprise me if he doesn't feature in discussions on the greatest composers of all time.

Re: Importance of composers [Re: WellTemperedPizza] #2484056
11/24/15 02:28 PM
11/24/15 02:28 PM
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Polyphonist Offline
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Originally Posted by WellTemperedPizza
Solid posts Bennevis; I agree that it's easy to lose sight of the greater classical world when your focus is piano.

It would be somewhat difficult for a pianist to lose sight of the greater classical world, given that the piano is the center of the greater classical world.


Regards,

Polyphonist
Re: Importance of composers [Re: bennevis] #2484061
11/24/15 02:46 PM
11/24/15 02:46 PM
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Quote
...to put him up on a pedestal with the great symphonists like Brahms, Mahler ("The symphony is like the world - it must encompasss everything" and he showed it) and Sibelius would indicate that you probably haven't heard their symphonies.

bennevis--

I get it. Chopin doesn't do much for you. That's cool.

Just don't assume that those of us who worship at his alter do so out of ignorance.

I know the four Brahms symphonies really well, and I know Mahler even better. Mahler was the most important composer in my life for decades, and there are moments in his symphonies (I could name 20 of them off the top of my head, some of those certainly coming from the third movement of the 3rd, the last movement of the 3rd, and the last movement of the 6th) that are as fundamental to who I am as anything else. I've also had very great, intense experiences with the Sibelius symphonies I know (1,2,5, and especially 7).

And at the same time: I consider Chopin to be every bit the equal of these great composers; I even consider him to be greater. I don't hear it in every single waltz or rondo, but I do hear it in almost every single etude, ballade, nocturne, mazurka, and prelude. There's a thing there.

If that thing isn't there for you, that's fine. But obviously it is for many of us. Please don't conclude we're therefore ignorant. smile

-J


Beethoven op.110, Chopin op.27/2, Liszt Vallée d'Obermann
Re: Importance of composers [Re: beet31425] #2484063
11/24/15 02:50 PM
11/24/15 02:50 PM
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Originally Posted by beet31425
If that thing isn't there for you, that's fine. But obviously it is for many of us. Please don't conclude we're therefore ignorant. smile

If he does, we can feel free to conclude the same thing about him. whistle


Regards,

Polyphonist
Re: Importance of composers [Re: bennevis] #2484074
11/24/15 03:26 PM
11/24/15 03:26 PM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
BTW, when I said that Chopin was 'mentioned as a sideline' when I was a student, it was in relation to the three B's, Mozart, Schubert, Second Viennese School etc. But he was higher up than the likes of Berlioz, Fauré, Ravel, Prokofiev etc. Or in other words, I believe he was in his rightful position in the music world wink.

Fun fact: the "Three B's", as proposed by Peter Cornelius in 1854, were originally Bach, Beethoven and Berlioz.


Steinway A grand (1919), Richard Lipp grand (1913), Yamaha P2 upright (1983), Casio PX-150 digital (2013)
Re: Importance of composers [Re: beet31425] #2484133
11/24/15 05:35 PM
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Originally Posted by beet31425

bennevis--

I get it. Chopin doesn't do much for you. That's cool.

Just don't assume that those of us who worship at his alter do so out of ignorance.

I know If that thing isn't there for you, that's fine. But obviously it is for many of us. Please don't conclude we're therefore ignorant. smile

-J

So many defensive posts about one composer, so many assumptions about yours truly grin.

If you read my posts carefully, you'll realize I said that Chopin is one of my favorite composers - and if you look at my list of memorized rep (which I posted a few months ago), Chopin has by far the lion's share in number of pieces. And I'm still adding more to it.

What I'm saying is basically the musical truth of Chopin as a composer, as the wider world of classical musicians see it. And I'm not even talking about professional musicians - if you speak to string, woodwind, brass and percussion players (and singers and conductors), you'll find that Chopin hardly features at all in their list of favorite composers, or "important composers".


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Importance of composers [Re: Polyphonist] #2484197
11/24/15 09:39 PM
11/24/15 09:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Polyphonist
It would be somewhat difficult for a pianist to lose sight of the greater classical world, given that the piano is the center of the greater classical world.

Really? I figured that the orchestra was the focus, with piano being the main solo instrument. Not that I have any way to quantify this, just the impression I have.

I almost exclusively listen to solo piano music when it comes to classical, and as a result there are so many famous composers and pieces I'm not so familiar with (thinking mainly orchestral and choral works) that I wonder if I'm not really getting at the core of the genre, even though exploring piano music is giving me a bigger chunk of core works than any other individual solo instrument would.

Re: Importance of composers [Re: WellTemperedPizza] #2484199
11/24/15 09:47 PM
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Originally Posted by WellTemperedPizza
....... I wonder if I'm not really getting at the core of the genre, even though exploring piano music is giving me a bigger chunk of core works than any other individual solo instrument would.

I used to partner a violinist of the same standard as me (in ABRSM grade) when I was at high school.

We went through the violin & piano repertoire of the greats together - Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms. And he introduced me to composers I'd never heard of, but who are well-known to violinists - Kreisler, Sarasate, Wieniawski etc.

He knew their music, but hardly any by Chopin or Liszt.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Importance of composers [Re: WellTemperedPizza] #2484202
11/24/15 09:57 PM
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Originally Posted by WellTemperedPizza
I almost exclusively listen to solo piano music when it comes to classical, and as a result there are so many famous composers and pieces I'm not so familiar with (thinking mainly orchestral and choral works) that I wonder if I'm not really getting at the core of the genre, even though exploring piano music is giving me a bigger chunk of core works than any other individual solo instrument would.


I think you're quite right in your concerns. Not only are there great composers (e.g. Mahler and Wagner) you won't have touched, but among many other composers, you'll have only scratched the surface with their solo piano music. Even if you were deeply familiar with every one of Beethoven's works for piano, you'd only have explored some 25% of his important work (e.g. also symphonies, string quartets, violin sonatas, piano trios...)

I do think the orchestra is at the heart of many composers' output, and many think of their symphonies and their operas as their truly great statements. That said, there's truth to what Polyphonist said too. These statements do not have to be reconciled.

You're like an art lover who, for whatever reason, has only immersed himself in paintings that are mostly orange. I've got good news for you: there's a lot more out there waiting for you!

-J


Beethoven op.110, Chopin op.27/2, Liszt Vallée d'Obermann
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