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My three would be Scarlatti, Mozart, and Haydn, Of course, all these composers wrote some "sad" music but I think those three wrote the highest percentage of happy music.

I got the idea for this thread while listening to Marcelle Meyer's amazing recording of 58! Scarlatti Sonatas:


Who would you vote for?

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Haydn is top of the list, obviously, but I don't think Mozart should be there. Unlike his good friend, Mozart's music is rarely sunny for long. None of his so-called comic operas (opera buffa), certainly not Die Zauberflöte, only a very few of his piano sonatas and other piano music, and violin sonatas and other chamber music, hardly any of his several serenades and divertimenti (supposedly meant to be 'light' music). I remember sight-reading through his Twinkle Twinkle variations as a kid, thinking it's all jolly fun stuff, then suddenly, dark clouds appear out of the blue.......and I wondered how a simple nursery tune can be transformed into something so sad.

On the other hand, Saint-Saëns is predominantly a happy carefree chappie, and had the knack of writing happy music in minor keys, turning Bach into Offenbach, as we know.......


"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."
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Originally Posted by bennevis
Haydn is top of the list, obviously, but I don't think Mozart should be there. Unlike his good friend, Mozart's music is rarely sunny for long. None of his so-called comic operas (opera buffa), certainly not Die Zauberflöte, only a very few of his piano sonatas and other piano music, and violin sonatas and other chamber music, hardly any of his several serenades and divertimenti (supposedly meant to be 'light' music). I remember sight-reading through his Twinkle Twinkle variations as a kid, thinking it's all jolly fun stuff, then suddenly, dark clouds appear out of the blue.......and I wondered how a simple nursery tune can be transformed into something so sad.

On the other hand, Saint-Saëns is predominantly a happy carefree chappie, and had the knack of writing happy music in minor keys, turning Bach into Offenbach, as we know.......
My thread is about a composer's piano music only, not their chamber music or any other genre. As far as Mozart's Twinkle variations go only one variation is in a minor mode and one more is slow and contemplative. so I think that definitely qualifies as a happy piece.

Some of the piano sonatas have a sad or contemplative middle movement(K. 330 and 332 for example) but all but the a minor and c minor are in major keys with joyous first and third movements. Those movements may occasionally modulate to minor keys but IMO are undeniably predominantly happy.

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My #1: Mendelssohn

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But Mozart K 331 (variations with alla turca) definitely starts major and that opening definitely sounds exquisitely wistful, almost sad, to me personally. Potentially dependent on the performance, perhaps.

As for the real point of this thread, who wrote happy music and who wrote the happiest music— not my expertise, and neither is ranking things. A good topic, though.

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Chopin, like always.

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If a piece has significant sections of sadness or tragedy, I don't regard it as a happy piece. Mozart often couched sad and pensive moments within apparently happy exteriors, and in fact, he's the only Classical composer who does that, which is why some of his most well-known music elicits the most diverse range of opinions from learned and famous critics, like Schumann. This ambiguity in so much of his music (and I don't just mean the moments when he switches to the minor key) is part of the reason for its endless fascination for me and many other musicians, and probably a major reason why his star ascended greatly in the past 60 years, with the world teetering on the verge of nuclear annihilation, not to mention proxy wars, even as most of the world's population was becoming more prosperous following recovery from WW2. Music filled with angst (like Mahler) or ambiguity (Mozart) rose in popularity among classical musicians and audiences..........

Of course, I'm totally immune to that kind of soul-searching and navel-gazing. I just like my music to be fifty shades of grey rather than black and white smirk .

Therefore, for me, hardly any of his later piano music is truly happy (like Haydn's major-key sonatas are happy) except for K485.

With Haydn and Beethoven (and certainly with all the Baroque composers), you know where you are almost from the first few seconds.


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Originally Posted by chopinetto
Chopin, like always.


Really? To me, a lot of Chopin would not be labeled as ‘happy’, but reflective, wistful snd close to morose.


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
"I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

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Originally Posted by dogperson
Originally Posted by chopinetto
Chopin, like always.


Really? To me, a lot of Chopin would not be labeled as ‘happy’, but reflective, wistful snd close to morose.
The title of the thread is "who wrote the happiest piano music" not "who wrote the greatest amount of happy piano music". Quality over quantity, Chopin wins. The cute and courtly stuff of the earlier composers is not comparable to the bursting rays of joy Chopin produced from time to time.

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Strauss

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Originally Posted by ranjit
Strauss

On 2nd thought I agree with you.

For example:


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Some of Schumann's 'Florestan' pieces contain the most explosively, obnoxiously, intolerably happy music ever written.


Soli Chopin gloria
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Originally Posted by chopinetto
Chopin, like always.
Trolling.

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Originally Posted by ranjit
Strauss
But the thread is about piano music only.

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Originally Posted by dogperson
Originally Posted by chopinetto
Chopin, like always.


Really? To me, a lot of Chopin would not be labeled as ‘happy’, but reflective, wistful snd close to morose.
Of course.

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Originally Posted by chopinetto
Originally Posted by dogperson
Originally Posted by chopinetto
Chopin, like always.


Really? To me, a lot of Chopin would not be labeled as ‘happy’, but reflective, wistful snd close to morose.
The title of the thread is "who wrote the happiest piano music" not "who wrote the greatest amount of happy piano music". Quality over quantity, Chopin wins. The cute and courtly stuff of the earlier composers is not comparable to the bursting rays of joy Chopin produced from time to time.
Ypu clearly ignored or didn't read my first post where I talked about PERCENTAGE of happy music.

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Originally Posted by bennevis
If a piece has significant sections of sadness or tragedy, I don't regard it as a happy piece. Mozart often couched sad and pensive moments within apparently happy exteriors...
I don't think Mozart does that in most of his major key sonatas in the first and third movements. At least not according to what I would consider "significant" sections.

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Most of Cimarosa piano sonata would fall in that category IMO. Also some of Soler sonata in major as well.



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I can tell you who wrote the happiest piano concerto:



Townley: Piano Concerto No 2 in C Minor Op 2
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AK1WR7oPY44
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Originally Posted by J Joe Townley
I can tell you who wrote the happiest piano concerto:


Sounds good. I didn't know this music. It should be played more!


Soli Chopin gloria
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