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#598651 - 01/17/04 04:21 PM I can't stand this!  
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All these posts about one's favorite sonata by Wolfgang van Debussy brought to mind an article that I read many years ago, back when there were fairly good critics out there. They asked several critics what music they liked the least.

Of course, the piece most often chosen was a piece that I really like. (Any guesses? Hint: 20th century chamber work with keyboard.)

It makes sense that the critics would have chosen pieces that make a strong impression. After all, you forget the truly forgettable. There were a lot of really good musicians in the 19th century who hated Beethoven's 9th Symphony.

How many of you know which works Beethoven was famous for when he was alive? What was Liszt's most popular piece while he was living? What were the most popular symphonies of the 19th century? If you know the answers to these questions, you'll know that asking people what they like is no guarantee of how history will judge them. (I'll let people guess for a while before I give those answers.)

But the big question is: What pieces do you really not like? I'll start with one:

Rachmaninov's 3rd Concerto. I like some of his music, but not all of it. This concerto seems to be a lot of ornamentation in search of a good melody. It's so frustrating that it always seems to be so close to being a good piece, but isn't. I like the other three a lot better.


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#598652 - 01/17/04 05:20 PM Re: I can't stand this!  
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How about pieces. Bruckner's symphonies. Never, ever have I enjoyed them. To be they're utterly boring bombast.

#598653 - 01/17/04 05:29 PM Re: I can't stand this!  
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Quote
Originally posted by BDB:

Rachmaninov's 3rd Concerto. I like some of his music, but not all of it. This concerto seems to be a lot of ornamentation in search of a good melody. It's so frustrating that it always seems to be so close to being a good piece, but isn't. I like the other three a lot better.
Right, I'm not letting this one slip - I can understand people criticising Rachmaninov for being too melodious, such as musicians who have learned to appreciate other aspects of music more, but 'in search of a good melody'?? Where do I start?!

The first 20 or 30 bars of this piece constitute one of the strongest and most memorable melodies the composer ever wrote, whether you like his music or not. A stepwise melody reminiscent of Russian church music, played in simple octaves on the piano, it is the absolute essence of simplicity! As for the other movements, if you look hard enough, there is always a very simple melody at the heart of each, as in almost all his other pieces.

Peter

#598654 - 01/17/04 06:38 PM Re: I can't stand this!  
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BDB, what a great idea! Psychologists know that any decent poll should always ask questions where people are generally forced to reply negatively as human psychology makes us more willing to agree with what someone says than disagree, so a negative response is a more thought-out and realistic one.

I know someone will bash me for this one, and not only have I really tried to like it, but I love almost everything else in the 20th Century...I have never warmed to Hindemith. His music has never moved me emotionally or intellectually in any way.

I hate Philip Glass.

I am starting to hate The Nutcracker and I absolutely DETEST Tchaikovsky's 1st Piano Concerto and deeply dislike the Grieg Piano Concerto.

Can't think of anything else at the moment.

Elena
http://www.concertpianist.com


Schnabel's advie to Horowitz: "When a piece gets difficult, make faces."
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#598655 - 01/17/04 07:55 PM Re: I can't stand this!  
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Quote
Originally posted by Praetorian_AD:
The first 20 or 30 bars of Rachmaninoff's 3rd concerto constitute one of the strongest and most memorable melodies the composer ever wrote, whether you like his music or not.
Yep. But name a catchy theme in the next 600 bars. I can't seem to hear one underneath all the millions of notes of figuration and filigree. smile

Seriously, though. I've always liked the 2nd concerto more.

Okay, pieces I hate:

That HIDEOUS Chorale, Prelude, and Waste of Time by Caesar Franck.

That amorphous pile of slosh that Liszt called Funerailles. (Don't really like the Vallee d'Oberman either...)

Faure's Dolly Suite. It's just plain stupid.


Now, masterpieces that I recognize as being very important and profound works, but that just don't seem to "do it" for me:

Beethoven Op. 111 - too long, I get bored

Beethoven 5th Piano Concerto, last mvt. - I just hate the theme. It's just a damn Eb Major arpeggio. Does nothing for me, I just don't get it...

Schubert's last sonata. (Bb, D. 960) First movement: A-, second movement: A+, third movement: B+, fourth movement: D. I'd rather hear the first two movements twice than have to listen to the second half of this sonata.

The first two Schumann sonatas. How the composer of the wonderous and sublime Opp. 6, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 15, 16, 17, 18, 20, 21, 22, 23, and 26 could have possibly thought Opp. 11 and 14 were a good idea is a mystery to me. More mysterious is why Perahia made a recording of it and yet even more mystifying than that is that people actually purchased it.


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#598656 - 01/17/04 08:24 PM Re: I can't stand this!  
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Quote
Originally posted by EHpianist:
I absolutely DETEST Tchaikovsky's 1st Piano Concerto and deeply dislike the Grieg Piano Concerto.
never understood what people found in those either.
I have never really understood Brahms's second rhapsody op.79, as much as I adore almost everything else he wrote.

The rigoletto Liszt thing drives me up the wall too. (when I was a student, the girl having her lesson before me one year (lesson whose last 15 min. I used to listen too) spent some good weeks on it yawn )

#598657 - 01/17/04 08:50 PM Re: I can't stand this!  
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by Kreisler:
Yep. But name a catchy theme in the next 600 bars. I can't seem to hear one underneath all the millions of notes of figuration and filigree. smile

Hey, they pop up everywhere - I'm singing them for you now but I guess you can't hear me (which is good). I more often than not play only these parts (just for me - I do not perform this concerto) and there are some beautiful melodies.

#598658 - 01/18/04 06:17 AM Re: I can't stand this!  
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by Kreisler:
[QUOTE]

That HIDEOUS Chorale, Prelude, and Waste of Time by Caesar Franck.


LOL. I agree! Also about the Dolly Suite (Sounds like a film crew's hotel room), we have managed to steer clear of it up to now!

Elena
http://www.concertpianist.com


Schnabel's advie to Horowitz: "When a piece gets difficult, make faces."
#598659 - 01/18/04 07:44 AM Re: I can't stand this!  
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My fav are Sea Symphony by Vaughan Williams, Pino Comcerto in Bflat major by Brahms, The Planets by Holst, Vocalise by Rach, Double Concerto for 2 violins by Bach, Brandenburg 2 movement 2 by Bach. Sorry, hard to just name a few. Soooo many wonderful songs...

#598660 - 01/18/04 07:49 AM Re: I can't stand this!  
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Quote
Originally posted by DW_mod:
...The Planets by Holst...
An old favorite of mine from more than 30 years ago. When I heard it last week after many, many years, I was absolutely impressed anew at how powerful and compelling the work really is.

#598661 - 01/18/04 11:53 AM Re: I can't stand this!  
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I think The Planets is only a lesser piece of trash, not true garbage.

Nobody has come up with any answers to my little questions, so I thought I would give a hint on one and the answer to another. The piece most often disliked by the critics is a concerto for keyboard and 5 mixed instruments. The keyboard is not a piano.

Beethoven's most popular pieces in his lifetime were the battle symphony, Wellington's Victory, and his Septet. He rearranged the Septet a couple of times (he had to make money somehow), so that many of you may have played a movement of it. Anyone know as what?

I mentioned elsewhere that I really don't like Schubert's Fantasy in f-minor for piano duet. It just seems to hop from one emotional state to another, without really being particularly definite about any of them. I don't know how it has managed to get so popular for duet teams, given the wealth of better pieces Schubert wrote for that combination.

I agree that Bruckner is pretty boring. I think most of Mahler's Symphonies are a waste of time, too. He wrote some good songs, though.


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#598662 - 01/18/04 12:30 PM Re: I can't stand this!  
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Quote
Originally posted by BDB:
Nobody has come up with any answers to my little questions, so I thought I would give a hint on one and the answer to another. The piece most often disliked by the critics is a concerto for keyboard and 5 mixed instruments. The keyboard is not a piano.
De Falla - harpsichord concerto?

And I strongly dislike (I don't like the word "hate"), amongst others, Tchaikovsky's piano concerto no. 1, the Grieg concerto (both of which have already been mentioned), Brahms' piano concerto no. 2 (it goes on and on and on and on, wasn't it Brahms himself who said: "When in doubt about a musical theme, cut it out"?) and Chopin's piano concerto no. 1 (what I said about the Brahms no. 2 also applies here).

I also don't like the music of Bach and Mozart (with some exceptions: Mozart's symphony no. 40 and Bach's toccata and fugue in d (yes, THAT one)).


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#598663 - 01/18/04 01:08 PM Re: I can't stand this!  
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The minuet of Op.49 No.2 was used in the Septet.

The sonata came before the Septet. It was in fact compsed much earlier than it's opus number suggests: around the time of the Op.2 sonatas.

#598664 - 01/18/04 01:30 PM Re: I can't stand this!  
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I'll probably get shot for this, but I despise Schubert's Wanderer Fantasie.


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#598665 - 01/18/04 02:44 PM Re: I can't stand this!  
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Someones gonna kill me but I find most of Beethoven Sonata's/ Piano Concerto's annoying. Mozarts my man laugh
Never been a big fan of Schubert, Bartok -BLAH-, Weber, Schumann.

#598666 - 01/18/04 04:04 PM Re: I can't stand this!  
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Quote
Originally posted by Classical Player:
Someones gonna kill me but I find most of Beethoven Sonata's/ Piano Concerto's annoying. Mozarts my man laugh
Never been a big fan of Schubert, Bartok -BLAH-, Weber, Schumann.
Which other composers do you like?

#598667 - 01/18/04 04:22 PM Re: I can't stand this!  
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Ok, let's see, what do I ... Well, first off, I don't think it counts if you a piece for being overplayed. This applies for the Grieg and the Tchaikovsky 1.
I want to second Elena's statement about Philip Glass. He writes some of the most boring, ridiculous pieces in existence. I would rather listen to Satie's 840 repititions of Vexations than half a CD of Philip Glass or any of the other composers trying to profit from the so-called "Minimalist" movement, a movement that requires no musical skill, talent or investment.
I also dislike alot of John Cage. He has some good stuff occasionally, but for the most part, I think his "music" is just making a statement which I couldn't care less about.
I dislike many classical symphonies, especially those of Mozart and Haydn. Mozart was writing most of the time to just put food on the table, with a few exceptions (Sonata in Amin, anyone?) and Haydn was pretty much forced to do all 120+, thus, most of them have a forgettable theme and a cut and paste layout. Much of Chopin's Sonatas.
Ravel's Bolero. Ugh, it's cute to stay on the same melody for about 5 minutes, but then I must change to something else.
Telemann keyboard works, he just ed out too many.
CLEMENTI SONATINAS. I had to listen to about 6 different people play the Dmaj one for a JURY. ARGGG. mad

#598668 - 01/18/04 04:50 PM Re: I can't stand this!  
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Quote
Originally posted by BDB:
I mentioned elsewhere that I really don't like Schubert's Fantasy in f-minor for piano duet. It just seems to hop from one emotional state to another, without really being particularly definite about any of them. I don't know how it has managed to get so popular for duet teams, given the wealth of better pieces Schubert wrote for that combination.
BDB, I can understand why you find the Fantasy rather "chopped" though I think bad interpretations of the piece (which, sad to say, are most of them) really kill it. It is a very hard piece to pull off for precisely this reason...but I see it differently. Take into consideration that it was written a few months before his death, (he was already suffering from syphilis)and is dedicated to a student he was purportedly desperately in love with, though nothing would come of it as she was nobility. In Schubert's own words:

In a word, I feel I’m the most unhappy, most wretched man in the world. Imagine a man whose health will never be sound again and who in despair only makes it worse and not better; imagine a man, I say, whose most shining hopes have come to naught, for whom the bliss of love and friendship offers nothing but the greatest pain, for whom the passion (at least something stimulating) for beauty threatens to die away, and ask yourself then if that isn’t one wretched, unhappy man?—“My peace is gone, heavy is my heart, find it again shall I never, never again,” [there are the lyrics to his lieder Gretchen am Spinnrade] this I can certainly sing now every day, for every night when I go to bed I hope I’ll never wake up, and every morning only reminds me of yesterday’s grief.

To me the opening theme has such longing in it, so much weighs in his mind which sometimes pulls him down, other times he tries to forget about it in the beauty of a duet or in the memory of a dance, but the reality of his life is still there and always haunts him throughout the piece (hence the reinstatements of the theme). The very last time the theme is played, there is a change in harmony which is to me one of the most special moments in duet music, so beautiful, just within his reach, but it escapes him and he ends completely resigned to his fate. Structurally speaking it may not be one of his masterpieces but
it is very emotionally charged...for me that is... wink

I'm afraid I have no idea what concerto you are referring to. Am dying to find out!

Elena
http://www.concertpianist.com


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#598669 - 01/18/04 05:21 PM Re: I can't stand this!  
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Well, so far I'm absolutely with Peter on Rachmaninoff's third concerto, easily my favorite of the four.

And Elena's hatred for the works of Phillip Glass, and her sheer tiredness of the work of Tchaikovsky and Grieg made me laugh. Of course they're tiresome. I recently heard Lang Lang's strange reading of the Tchaikovsky. It made me long for Van Cliburn's. But the music can still be very tiresome; the clichés are already more outdated than most of Beethoven. Whoever it was who told Tchaikovsky that his concerto was "vulgar" could have made the same complaint about Grieg's too, especially the first movement, an amputated sonata allegro that set a bad precedent for the future and made it acceptable for composers to skimp on formal considerations especially in a flashy piano concerto. Note that Rachmaninoff didn't do this.

I'm not sure that Caesar Franck was really that great a composer. I don't know. He was an organist. Even though Bach was too, and perhaps the greatest ever, somehow he was far more than just an organist. And Bruckner? Well, he took a very long time for me to even stand. Then I heard he was an organist and I said, "aha, that's it. he wrote symphonies that should be heard as if the orchestra was some vast organ." It doesn't help much, except that Bruckner's ninth is so weird that I just have to like it sometimes.

Of The Planets by Holst, try listening to it for traces of minimalism. I think you'll be amazed. But BDB, and I trust many others, merely accord this work "only a lesser piece of trash."

He says, "I mentioned elsewhere that I really don't like Schubert's Fantasy in f-minor for piano duet. It just seems to hop from one emotional state to another, without really being particularly definite about any of them. I don't know how it has managed to get so popular for duet teams, given the wealth of better pieces Schubert wrote for that combination."

Because in its way and depending on how it's played it's a deep and tragic piece. The emotional changes should be handled with agility and quickness and that includes what the pianists are supposed to express. The piece asks a lot of its performers.

And Mahler is an acquired taste for most people.

Mrenaud doesn't like Brahms' second or Chopin's first concertos. Well, that's too bad, but everything is overplayed compared to any time in history. I don't listen to classical music like top ten radio. Some people do. I think it might spoil one's hearing to hear music all the time.

It seems true though that very often a composer's best pieces are not his big flashy concertos. But why do we have these pieces? For the audience to get a good idea of what the pianist can do physically, not necessarily musically. I'm considering a new compositional style in piano concertos; the pianist just sits there and plays half a dozen notes against the dazzling harmonic shivers of the small orchestra. Might work.

I'm not sure John Cage was really a composer. Not sure what he was.

Vararking seems tired of the whole 18th century set of clichés and getting tired of the 19th's as well. It's a pity that music is such a young art form compared with the others. It's easy to get bored, harder to find (discover) the music that IS music but breaks new ground. Why am I skeptical about finding this new ground among the various "world musics" out there? I don't know, I'm just as likely to get real tired of it.

A lot of other music makes me more tired than classical; rap, hip hop (maybe the same?), most pop music, movie music, sports music, the piano used as a backdrop to some tear jerking bid to get some money out of me for the support of people with MS, or something about children, cupid.com etc.

I think all musicians need to be aware of how their consciousness of music is affected by too much ear trash, including listening to some old overworked warhorse of a piece too often.

I fight boredom every day, musical and otherwise.

#598670 - 01/18/04 05:22 PM Re: I can't stand this!  
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Elena, I really like your comments on the Schubert f minor duet. I've always thought the piece, overall, was mournful (like a lot of his works) but never knew there was a story behind it. Now I can't wait to listen to it again from this new perspective. Thank you!


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#598671 - 01/18/04 06:02 PM Re: I can't stand this!  
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mrenaud is correct. The piece the critics disliked was Manuel De Falla's Harpsichord Concerto. It's a perfect example of a piece that people will either love or hate. Either you can't get into it at all, or you really love its crunchiness. It evokes strong emotions either way.

And of course, the Sonatas of Op. 49 were the source of the Minuet of the Beethoven Septet. They were published much later than written without Beethoven's approval. He also arranged the Septet for piano, clarinet and cello. It's just like the contradance which was recycled into a ballet, Creatures of Prometheus, piano variations, and the Eroica Symphony.

It's taken me a while to come out and say that for the most part, I don't like Ive's music. I listened to it for a while, and although there are parts which are interesting, they don't make up for the greater portion which just seems childish. I much prefer Cowell.

Incidentally, Liszt's most popular piece in his lifetime was the Grand Galop Chromatique. The two most popular symphonies of the 19th Century both have names. One was written by someone you have probably never heard of, the other by someone who gets mentioned here from time to time.


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#598672 - 01/18/04 06:06 PM Re: I can't stand this!  
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Quote
Originally posted by plays88keys:
I've always thought the piece, overall, was mournful (like a lot of his works) but never knew there was a story behind it. Now I can't wait to listen to it again from this new perspective. Thank you!
Please keep in mind that this is MY interpretation of what lies behind the piece taking into account what is known about his life at the time. I can't claim to receive classified information from the composer himself out of the netherworld...as some other pianists seem to e able to! For all I know he could have been getting over a hangover from the previous night wink But to me his emotional state at that time, as demonstrated by his letters, is very clearly reflected in this work.

Elena
http://www.concertpianist.com


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#598673 - 01/18/04 06:07 PM Re: I can't stand this!  
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Tchaikovsky Pathétique?

[/uneducated guess]

#598674 - 01/18/04 06:14 PM Re: I can't stand this!  
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Quote
Originally posted by David Burton:
And Elena's hatred for the works of Phillip Glass, and her sheer tiredness of the work of Tchaikovsky and Grieg made me laugh.
It is NOT tiredness, I think the pieces are just c**p. I even played the Tchaik, or at least was forced to until my teacher gave up arguing with me. I tried to find some redeeming quality to it, but there was none to be had. Fluff, all of it.

Elena
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#598675 - 01/19/04 12:53 AM Re: I can't stand this!  
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Tchaikovsky Pathétique?
No way! These two symphonies are now so obscure that chances are that you wouldn't have heard of one composer, and if you had heard of the other, it would have been more likely as a pianist, not as a composer.


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#598676 - 01/19/04 01:54 AM Re: I can't stand this!  
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BDB, this is a dangerous topic. Some of the responses have hurt deep down.

Let me just give some counterpoint arguments before I mention the pieces I do not fancy. Bach was mentioned here, and I fail to see why. To me, he is perfection, beauty and intellect. I have not heard one work of his I dislike. But I accept that we all have tastes.

I heard my teacher performance the Cesar Choral, prelude, and fugue, and it was very convincing. I do not think it is such a bad piece, it just needs the right touch and interpretation.

Boy, am I glad that not too much contemporary music has been mentioned thus far! It is usually the biggest victim. As for Philip Glass, in general, I do not listen to his music as passionately as I do to Bach or other composers, but I enjoy some of it very much regardless. True, it is often simple, but sometimes you find some very enjoyable instances. John Cage was very much a composer, and inventor as he liked to call himself. His works for prepared piano are very interesting, and deserve more merit.

As to what I dislike, it is a bit more difficult. I cannot say that I completely dislike these pieces, but I just find myself not listening to them much.

The Brahms Bb piano concerto is one that I did not particulary like. I love the d minor concerto, and I think that this trend may be the norm.

Handel I do not warm up to that much either. Bach and Scarlatti for that era are much more to my liking. I much prefer the Beethoven and Mozart piano sonatas to those of Haydn and Schubert, I find Mozart a lot more vibrant than Haydn and Beethoven generally more convincing to me than the Schubert sonatas. (Of course, on an individual sonata by sonata basis, it differs. This is only my rationalization on the whole)

#598677 - 01/19/04 09:03 AM Re: I can't stand this!  
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Brendan Offline
Brendan  Offline


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Quote
Originally posted by BDB:
No way! These two symphonies are now so obscure that chances are that you wouldn't have heard of one composer, and if you had heard of the other, it would have been more likely as a pianist, not as a composer.
Rubenstein's "Ocean" Symphony?

#598678 - 01/19/04 01:22 PM Re: I can't stand this!  
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BDB Offline
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BDB  Offline
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Oakland
The Ocean Symphony is one of them. The other is much more difficult.

Quote
BDB, this is a dangerous topic. Some of the responses have hurt deep down.
As I tried to explain, if your favorite piece is someone else's most hated, that actually shows that the composer was good enough to make an impression. Unlike the Ocean Symphony, or the myriad of other highly praised pieces of ages ago.


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#598679 - 01/19/04 01:49 PM Re: I can't stand this!  
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valarking Offline
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valarking  Offline
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Funny, I expected Wagner to be beat into the ground in this thread...

#598680 - 01/19/04 02:14 PM Re: I can't stand this!  
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Kreisler Offline
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Iowa City, IA
Wagner isn't worth the effort...


"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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