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Originally Posted by BDB
Hinson has a more comprehensive book.

Can't disagree, but it can't be constantly updated. I think I'll have to take a look at it though, never heard of it until now.

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Hmmmm, I've always thought the Tschaikovsky 2 more difficult than number 1.

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Originally Posted by achoo42


Have you played it yourself? Or are you just riding off the words of (admittedly legendary) pianist Leslie Howard when he says it's difficult than all the Liszt he's played? You ought to read through the Dvorak concerto yourself and you too will discover that it is nothing in comparison to Feux Follets, Beethoven Transcriptions, Don Juan, etc. I'm thoroughly impressed at Howard's rendition of so many fantastically difficult pieces and I'm stumped as to how he came to the conclusion that Dvorak even approaches the high-end of Liszt on a technical level.



I once recorded a radio interview with Leslie Howard in person, at a keyboard, with the score, and he made a pretty convincing case!! Also, Richter said it took him two years to learn to play it to his satisfaction.

Liszt, for all its superficial difficulty, nearly always falls very nicely under the hand. The challenge is making it work as music. The Dvorak does not fall under the hand which you seem not to have noticed. Or perhaps you have a genius pair of hands.

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[quote=achoo42
Good question. I have the way I measure difficulty outlined here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1W1JU3ZptwH6FVbJ3pCztEW4B4cVmTsuiavU6n1fiZ78/edit?usp=sharing
However, I don't think that it is possible to measure difficulty in a formalized, objective way because it is different for everybody. I am certain that there are bits of personal bias in the ranking but I am also striving to categorize the works in a way that each entire category is attainable for somebody who has mastered/learned at least one piece in said category.

Also, it's fine for players to choose by style but none of that matters if it's too difficult for them. Thus, I put the concerti in categories so that the player can choose a piece that is right for them within a smaller margin of choices, instead of wasting time reading through works that may be far too difficult or too easy.

The pieces in the top category are definitely not for everybody, although out of these I'd say the Alkan and Busoni are the most accessible for a "normal" audience although being extremely lengthy (about 70 minutes each). For pieces that are easier to grasp onto I suggest that you try the Moszkowski, Kapustin, Bortkiewicz, and Scriabin concerti. [/quote]

I have read your pages but it does not give an explanation as to how you evaluate the difficulty of a piece. What makes a piece more difficult to interpret than another one or why does it require more stamina ? On what basis and criteria did you classify ? Seems like pretty obscure.

You do measure difficulty in a absolute way since you have chosen to rank pieces which implies you consider this level of difficulty is applicable to all players. I do not disagree with the fact that some pieces are more difficult than others within a certain limit of precision, but my point is that your classification does not explain what are the criteria you use for doing so and since you have chosen to include different types of difficulty, how did you weight them ? For me I would argue that Mozart Concerto are more difficult to interpret than Messiaen or Sorabji ones even if technically they are somehow easier. So using my set of criteria I would come up with a completely different ranking. That issue also apply to most ranking system which do not explain why pieces are ranked as they are. The whole value in this process is the rationalization part. I understand that it would be a huge work to do that but in the absence of it your list is a value add compilation of pieces but the ranking part of it is purely personal and indicative.

Now when it comes to choosing a piece to play, obviously a player would choose one that he/she can play but will not look at everything that exists from 1700 till 2019; He will first narrow it down to a specific style or period and within that will start looking at which ones are accessible.

As far as pieces that are" accessible " to a "normal" audience, I hear that type of argument since 40 years; I understand that there are people who believe that their pieces are so sophisticated and complex that only a few selected chosen connaisseurs can appreciate them at their faire value and the rest of the audience have not yet reached that level of maturity. I have no issue if people enjoy listening Sorabji or Messiaen (or Boulez, Ligeti, ...) but saddly even though some of these which may be thoroughly thought through, and technically well composed the end result is they are boring and unlistenable after 5 or 10mn; and it is not a question of being easier to grasp, because music is not a scientific activity; either it speaks to your emotions or it does not. That's one reason why the overwhelming majority of concert of classic music include a marginal number of modern compositions and keep playing Mozart and Beethoven.

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Originally Posted by Hatchestron
Originally Posted by achoo42


Have you played it yourself? Or are you just riding off the words of (admittedly legendary) pianist Leslie Howard when he says it's difficult than all the Liszt he's played? You ought to read through the Dvorak concerto yourself and you too will discover that it is nothing in comparison to Feux Follets, Beethoven Transcriptions, Don Juan, etc. I'm thoroughly impressed at Howard's rendition of so many fantastically difficult pieces and I'm stumped as to how he came to the conclusion that Dvorak even approaches the high-end of Liszt on a technical level.



I once recorded a radio interview with Leslie Howard in person, at a keyboard, with the score, and he made a pretty convincing case!! Also, Richter said it took him two years to learn to play it to his satisfaction.

Liszt, for all its superficial difficulty, nearly always falls very nicely under the hand. The challenge is making it work as music. The Dvorak does not fall under the hand which you seem not to have noticed. Or perhaps you have a genius pair of hands.


I assure you that I don't, but everybody's hands are different. Howard is a genius when it comes to Liszt but the Dvorak is indeed very different. Dvorak is difficult in the way that Beethoven is difficult; I can't play Feux Follets but I did not find the Dvorak particularly awkward (only a couple spots were troublesome, most of it was very playable).

Leslie Howard's word means a lot to me but hands-on experience will always be number one.

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Originally Posted by Sidokar

Good question. I have the way I measure difficulty outlined here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1W1JU3ZptwH6FVbJ3pCztEW4B4cVmTsuiavU6n1fiZ78/edit?usp=sharing
However, I don't think that it is possible to measure difficulty in a formalized, objective way because it is different for everybody. I am certain that there are bits of personal bias in the ranking but I am also striving to categorize the works in a way that each entire category is attainable for somebody who has mastered/learned at least one piece in said category.

Also, it's fine for players to choose by style but none of that matters if it's too difficult for them. Thus, I put the concerti in categories so that the player can choose a piece that is right for them within a smaller margin of choices, instead of wasting time reading through works that may be far too difficult or too easy.

The pieces in the top category are definitely not for everybody, although out of these I'd say the Alkan and Busoni are the most accessible for a "normal" audience although being extremely lengthy (about 70 minutes each). For pieces that are easier to grasp onto I suggest that you try the Moszkowski, Kapustin, Bortkiewicz, and Scriabin concerti.

I have read your pages but it does not give an explanation as to how you evaluate the difficulty of a piece. What makes a piece more difficult to interpret than another one or why does it require more stamina ? On what basis and criteria did you classify ? Seems like pretty obscure.

You do measure difficulty in a absolute way since you have chosen to rank pieces which implies you consider this level of difficulty is applicable to all players. I do not disagree with the fact that some pieces are more difficult than others within a certain limit of precision, but my point is that your classification does not explain what are the criteria you use for doing so and since you have chosen to include different types of difficulty, how did you weight them ? For me I would argue that Mozart Concerto are more difficult to interpret than Messiaen or Sorabji ones even if technically they are somehow easier. So using my set of criteria I would come up with a completely different ranking. That issue also apply to most ranking system which do not explain why pieces are ranked as they are. The whole value in this process is the rationalization part. I understand that it would be a huge work to do that but in the absence of it your list is a value add compilation of pieces but the ranking part of it is purely personal and indicative.

Now when it comes to choosing a piece to play, obviously a player would choose one that he/she can play but will not look at everything that exists from 1700 till 2019; He will first narrow it down to a specific style or period and within that will start looking at which ones are accessible.

As far as pieces that are" accessible " to a "normal" audience, I hear that type of argument since 40 years; I understand that there are people who believe that their pieces are so sophisticated and complex that only a few selected chosen connaisseurs can appreciate them at their faire value and the rest of the audience have not yet reached that level of maturity. I have no issue if people enjoy listening Sorabji or Messiaen (or Boulez, Ligeti, ...) but saddly even though some of these which may be thoroughly thought through, and technically well composed the end result is they are boring and unlistenable after 5 or 10mn; and it is not a question of being easier to grasp, because music is not a scientific activity; either it speaks to your emotions or it does not. That's one reason why the overwhelming majority of concert of classic music include a marginal number of modern compositions and keep playing Mozart and Beethoven.



About Mozart, what percentage of pianists can possibly understand and learn a Mozart concerto compared to those who can do so with Sorabji? The reason why most Mozart concerti is ranked relatively low is that any halfway decent pianist has the technique to perform them. Whether they can perform them convincingly is another matter, but the fact is that so many people can try to learn it and see if it's right for them. When a pianist choses a piece they will read through the music that fits their style but they are wasting their time unless they find pieces that are within their range of technique. That is one such reason why the list exists for this purpose. The fact remains that Mozart is technically accessible for many more people regardless of their ability to play it well. If you ranked Mozart as difficult as Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, etc. because it's more difficult to interpret, you are scaring away people who could potentially play Mozart very well but have no hope of playing Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, etc.

I don't think anyone can really apply an objective ranking to the difficulty of music. I try to be objective as possible by including the opinions of as many people as possible, but at the end of the day there is no such thing as completely defined difficulty.

Also, I don't think that your conclusion in the bottom paragraph holds water when you look at the past. It was less than a century ago that the music of Prokofiev and Stravinsky was considered unlistenable and disgusting to a normal audience, but today, their music is in the standard repertoire and frankly overplayed.

Tastes change over time. Before Stravinsky, it was Wagner who was hated by many for his "music of the future", and even before it was Berlioz and even Beethoven. Some composers who used to be reviled by the public/music critics end up shaping the entire course of musical language and become immortal. Don't be so quick to assume that just because someone's music is marginalized now, they will be forgotten later. I'm not sure which modern composers will stand the test of time but I assure you that there will be some who will.



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Originally Posted by achoo42


About Mozart, what percentage of pianists can possibly understand and learn a Mozart concerto compared to those who can do so with Sorabji? The reason why most Mozart concerti is ranked relatively low is that any halfway decent pianist has the technique to perform them. Whether they can perform them convincingly is another matter, but the fact is that so many people can try to learn it and see if it's right for them. When a pianist choses a piece they will read through the music that fits their style but they are wasting their time unless they find pieces that are within their range of technique. That is one such reason why the list exists for this purpose. The fact remains that Mozart is technically accessible for many more people regardless of their ability to play it well. If you ranked Mozart as difficult as Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, etc. because it's more difficult to interpret, you are scaring away people who could potentially play Mozart very well but have no hope of playing Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, etc.

I don't think anyone can really apply an objective ranking to the difficulty of music. I try to be objective as possible by including the opinions of as many people as possible, but at the end of the day there is no such thing as completely defined difficulty.

Also, I don't think that your conclusion in the bottom paragraph holds water when you look at the past. It was less than a century ago that the music of Prokofiev and Stravinsky was considered unlistenable and disgusting to a normal audience, but today, their music is in the standard repertoire and frankly overplayed.

Tastes change over time. Before Stravinsky, it was Wagner who was hated by many for his "music of the future", and even before it was Berlioz and even Beethoven. Some composers who used to be reviled by the public/music critics end up shaping the entire course of musical language and become immortal. Don't be so quick to assume that just because someone's music is marginalized now, they will be forgotten later. I'm not sure which modern composers will stand the test of time but I assure you that there will be some who will.




I do not see your point. The technical difficulty of Sorabji concerto does not make it any better because it is difficult. I think you whole focus is to rank and evaluate pieces of music based on their technical difficulty and so most of your top ranked are in the modern category of music. Playing a piece of music is not just being able to push the keys, it is to interpret convincingly and to create emotions. If any halfway decent pianist was able to do, we would not need top virtuoso. But obviously the reality is that it takes a lot of skills and musicianship to play Mozart. Like a great perfomer said, it is the most simple pieces that are the most difficult to play well.

Then A ranking system is not designed to scary or please anybody; it is a measurement based on specific criteria. Otherwise you start to introduce various considerations which have nothing to do with the subject. And Yes Mozart is extremely difficult to interpret properly in spite of the fact that it is technically less demanding than some others and I have listened many interpretations by top skilled pro pianists which are less than convincing.

Regarding musical language, your point can not be less true. Beethoven was considered and recognized like the greatest composer during his lifetime. Before that in the XVIIIth century people were eager to listen to new music and were rejecting old style. That’s one reason why Bach was not so popular as the new bourgeoisie preferred the new gallant style.

Wagner received acclaimed success with his very first composition and was able to create his own Theatre during his lifetime. List and chopin were admired as well, so was Brahms; Cesar Franck, Faure all had great academic carreers.

Debussy and Ravel creating a new musical language were recognized composers during their life. Stravinsky became a star before he was 30 and so was Prokofief and both received considerable success and audience. Prokofief was considered a national hero in Russia. Interesting that for Stravinsky his pieces written after 1950 are almost never played when he turned to serialism. Most of his compositions which areplayed today are from his early years or his neo-classic period.

Probably Berlioz is one of the few that did not received as much recognition though he was still able to create all his compositions and was recognized like the best orchestrator of his time. You can read his memoirs, which are quite interesting.

So all in all the so called conservatism which would prevent composers to be recognized during their life is a myth. The XIXth century was clearly more academic than the XVIII and I am not saying there was not a lot of heated debates around new creations - some critics and academics considering it like garbage - but it did not prevent great composers to play their music and encounter justified success and recognition.In our modern times people are even less academic and eager to discover new music and innovation.

So again this is another excuse for people that have no audience to justify their poor success. The reality is that a piece of music needs to be played and have an audience to make it to the posterity. The music of people like Xenakis, Cage, Ligetti, Boulez, Sorabji are not listened because they are emotionless and they are essentially technical intellectual creations or research material for a minuscule circle of initiated experts. In fact composers like Ludovico Einaudi or Nobuo Oematsu (or the Beattles certainly) have a much better chance to be remembered (not that I particularly like their music though). To be recognized you need first to be played and to have some audience, you need nowadays to use the new communication vehicle and write music which people want to listen.

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This is a recent piano concerto that's well worth hearing:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2B4KOGyTTk

His most recent piano concerto has already been performed in several countries too:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGw6QS5-tZg

This has to be my favorite contemporary concerto (for any instrument):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1bNFfYTXlY4
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_IylwFf0GQ

.......in nine (!) movements, lasting nearly an hour. Not a minute too long, and very eclectic (incorporating klezmer, jazz, tango....)

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Originally Posted by Sidokar
The reality is that a piece of music needs to be played and have an audience to make it to the posterity. The music of people like Xenakis, Cage, Ligetti, Boulez, Sorabji are not listened because they are emotionless and they are essentially technical intellectual creations or research material for a minuscule circle of initiated experts.


I love many modern composers, especially Xenakis and Ligeti. Their music is frequently performed.

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Originally Posted by bennevis
This is a recent piano concerto that's well worth hearing:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2B4KOGyTTk

His most recent piano concerto has already been performed in several countries too:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGw6QS5-tZg


I think Thomas Ades is one of the greatest composers of the last 100 years. He did a series of concerts here a couple of years ago, but I couldn't attend because of family stuff. I suppose that's an excuse to go and see him in the UK...

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https://youtu.be/WjrtnX22d_s

Esa Pekka Salonen's piano concerto, wonderfully played by LA Phil and resident artist Yefim Bronfman is worth a listen.


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Originally Posted by Sidokar
Originally Posted by achoo42


About Mozart, what percentage of pianists can possibly understand and learn a Mozart concerto compared to those who can do so with Sorabji? The reason why most Mozart concerti is ranked relatively low is that any halfway decent pianist has the technique to perform them. Whether they can perform them convincingly is another matter, but the fact is that so many people can try to learn it and see if it's right for them. When a pianist choses a piece they will read through the music that fits their style but they are wasting their time unless they find pieces that are within their range of technique. That is one such reason why the list exists for this purpose. The fact remains that Mozart is technically accessible for many more people regardless of their ability to play it well. If you ranked Mozart as difficult as Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, etc. because it's more difficult to interpret, you are scaring away people who could potentially play Mozart very well but have no hope of playing Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, etc.

I don't think anyone can really apply an objective ranking to the difficulty of music. I try to be objective as possible by including the opinions of as many people as possible, but at the end of the day there is no such thing as completely defined difficulty.

Also, I don't think that your conclusion in the bottom paragraph holds water when you look at the past. It was less than a century ago that the music of Prokofiev and Stravinsky was considered unlistenable and disgusting to a normal audience, but today, their music is in the standard repertoire and frankly overplayed.

Tastes change over time. Before Stravinsky, it was Wagner who was hated by many for his "music of the future", and even before it was Berlioz and even Beethoven. Some composers who used to be reviled by the public/music critics end up shaping the entire course of musical language and become immortal. Don't be so quick to assume that just because someone's music is marginalized now, they will be forgotten later. I'm not sure which modern composers will stand the test of time but I assure you that there will be some who will.




I do not see your point. The technical difficulty of Sorabji concerto does not make it any better because it is difficult. I think you whole focus is to rank and evaluate pieces of music based on their technical difficulty and so most of your top ranked are in the modern category of music. Playing a piece of music is not just being able to push the keys, it is to interpret convincingly and to create emotions. If any halfway decent pianist was able to do, we would not need top virtuoso. But obviously the reality is that it takes a lot of skills and musicianship to play Mozart. Like a great perfomer said, it is the most simple pieces that are the most difficult to play well.

Then A ranking system is not designed to scary or please anybody; it is a measurement based on specific criteria. Otherwise you start to introduce various considerations which have nothing to do with the subject. And Yes Mozart is extremely difficult to interpret properly in spite of the fact that it is technically less demanding than some others and I have listened many interpretations by top skilled pro pianists which are less than convincing.

Regarding musical language, your point can not be less true. Beethoven was considered and recognized like the greatest composer during his lifetime. Before that in the XVIIIth century people were eager to listen to new music and were rejecting old style. That’s one reason why Bach was not so popular as the new bourgeoisie preferred the new gallant style.

Wagner received acclaimed success with his very first composition and was able to create his own Theatre during his lifetime. List and chopin were admired as well, so was Brahms; Cesar Franck, Faure all had great academic carreers.

Debussy and Ravel creating a new musical language were recognized composers during their life. Stravinsky became a star before he was 30 and so was Prokofief and both received considerable success and audience. Prokofief was considered a national hero in Russia. Interesting that for Stravinsky his pieces written after 1950 are almost never played when he turned to serialism. Most of his compositions which areplayed today are from his early years or his neo-classic period.

Probably Berlioz is one of the few that did not received as much recognition though he was still able to create all his compositions and was recognized like the best orchestrator of his time. You can read his memoirs, which are quite interesting.

So all in all the so called conservatism which would prevent composers to be recognized during their life is a myth. The XIXth century was clearly more academic than the XVIII and I am not saying there was not a lot of heated debates around new creations - some critics and academics considering it like garbage - but it did not prevent great composers to play their music and encounter justified success and recognition.In our modern times people are even less academic and eager to discover new music and innovation.

So again this is another excuse for people that have no audience to justify their poor success. The reality is that a piece of music needs to be played and have an audience to make it to the posterity. The music of people like Xenakis, Cage, Ligetti, Boulez, Sorabji are not listened because they are emotionless and they are essentially technical intellectual creations or research material for a minuscule circle of initiated experts. In fact composers like Ludovico Einaudi or Nobuo Oematsu (or the Beattles certainly) have a much better chance to be remembered (not that I particularly like their music though). To be recognized you need first to be played and to have some audience, you need nowadays to use the new communication vehicle and write music which people want to listen.



I never said Sorabji was better. I said it was more difficult. A pianist does not have to have great technique in order to play Mozart well, certainly not the technique required for Prokofiev. That is why Mozart is ranked lower. Musicianship/emotion and technical skill do not always go hand in hand. What about that do you not understand? Would Schumann's Traumerei also be ranked with Sorabji because it is difficult to interpret? Also keep in mind how difficult it is to coordinate concertos like Bartok and Prokofiev with the orchestra, coordinating Mozart and Beethoven is infinitely easier.


Originally Posted by Sidokar

"The music of people like Xenakis, Cage, Ligetti, Boulez, Sorabji are not listened because they are emotionless and they are essentially technical intellectual creations or research material for a minuscule circle of initiated experts"


So by listing many of the major modern atonal composers, you're pretty much saying that music has to be tonal in order to have emotion? You're not going to get far with that one...

And your concept is incorrect, anyhow. Lots of people enjoy Ligeti, Xenakis, etc., many of their videos have millions of views on Youtube. Stanley Kubrick certainly enjoyed Ligeti enough to put it one of the most famous science fiction films of all time.

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Originally Posted by BeeZee4
https://youtu.be/WjrtnX22d_s

Esa Pekka Salonen's piano concerto, wonderfully played by LA Phil and resident artist Yefim Bronfman is worth a listen.


I went to the Houston premiere of Salonen's Violin Concerto, easily one of the best 21st century pieces composed in recent memory. I will be sure to listen to his Piano Concerto.

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Originally Posted by bennevis
This is a recent piano concerto that's well worth hearing:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2B4KOGyTTk

His most recent piano concerto has already been performed in several countries too:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGw6QS5-tZg

This has to be my favorite contemporary concerto (for any instrument):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1bNFfYTXlY4
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_IylwFf0GQ

.......in nine (!) movements, lasting nearly an hour. Not a minute too long, and very eclectic (incorporating klezmer, jazz, tango....)


I do like Adès a lot.

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[quote=achoo42
I never said Sorabji was better. I said it was more difficult. A pianist does not have to have great technique in order to play Mozart well, certainly not the technique required for Prokofiev. That is why Mozart is ranked lower. Musicianship/emotion and technical skill do not always go hand in hand. What about that do you not understand? Would Schumann's Traumerei also be ranked with Sorabji because it is difficult to interpret? Also keep in mind how difficult it is to coordinate concertos like Bartok and Prokofiev with the orchestra, coordinating Mozart and Beethoven is infinitely easier.

So by listing many of the major modern atonal composers, you're pretty much saying that music has to be tonal in order to have emotion? You're not going to get far with that one...

And your concept is incorrect, anyhow. Lots of people enjoy Ligeti, Xenakis, etc., many of their videos have millions of views on Youtube. Stanley Kubrick certainly enjoyed Ligeti enough to put it one of the most famous science fiction films of all time.
[/quote]

There is no question that there are people who like composers like Ligetti and Xenakis. The point is that it is a small number vs what I would call the mainstream classical music. On You Tube, the fact that you listen to a video does not mean you like it; I am listening to many videos including those of modern composers, sometimes even several times and it does not mean I liked them; Then again it is a question of number; what would be the ratio of numbers of views vs the number of views of other composers ? Then it is easy on YT to go and click and then quickly zap. It is another thing to decide to spend 3 hours of time and 50 dollars or more on a ticket to go and listen to a concert. How many large classic concerts halls in a large city like NY, London, Paris, Berlin, .... have programmed full concerts dedicated to Xenakis or Ligeti vs the concerts with a more standard program ?

I think you are just eluding the point that all in all, the area of the modern classic-like but experimental type music has a marginal audience.

For Stanley Kubrick, it is not a question of liking but I guess of suitability. He also used music of Ligetti, Bartok and Penderecki in his other scary movie The Shining. When I initially listened to all these pieces of which the famous String, Percussion and Celesta of Bartok, I did not associate them at all with the content of the movie. Interestingly for the piece of Ligetti, called Lentano, Ligeti himself describe the piece in completely different terms than how SK used it in his movie. Then for a movie or a video game, the situation is different as the images provide a framework of understanding which helps to put the music in perspective. But outside the context of the movie, I would not interpret this music the same way and in fact for me it conveys a fairly undefined vagueness with some burst of light and darkness that does not generate any particular emotion. On the other hand the opposite example of a well-known movie which is Out of Africa where the main theme is composed by John Barry in a fairly conventional style is perfectly self-explanatory and stands by itself. There is no doubt that the music conveys a sense of intense lyrical and romantic nature.

Regarding the Atonal music, the subject is complex. There are many different definitions of what an atonal music is. In a very broad and generic sense, one definition is that there is no central key or tone around which a piece is organized. With that definition, all the music composed till the 17th century could be qualified as non tonal or non directionally tonal and yet it does convey intense expression and emotion. Closer to us, there are many pieces that use polytonality or pieces that starts in one key and finishes in another and they are also very expressive, like works of Charles Koechlin, Hugo Wolf, Debussy and others. Even Schubert already uses large segments in his works where the music oscillates between 2 tonalities.

Another good example are the nocturnes of Gabriel Faure which can be said to be atonal, in particular the last ones. But Faure keeps using some elements of the tonal framework while adding new components that are not part of conventional Tonal Harmony like non functional dominants, secondary dominants outside the circle of fifths; large parts of his pieces are sometimes modal or simply non directionally tonal. But the end results is a beautiful and moving music.

There are plenty of modern music, like Wayne Shorter jazz, and other compositions which are well written and expressive while being atonal.

Now on the other hand, if we take Dodecaphonism and in particular the serialism of Schoënberg or indeed the Stochastic music of Xenakis or many works of Ligeti using micropolyphony, we are facing music that is the result of an abstract mathematical process. For serialism it is using series for notes and other musical components; for Xenakis the principle is that music should reflect the natural state of chaos of nature and therefore be subject to the statistical law. So in effect Xenakis is using probabilistic algorithms to generate his music which becomes globally predictable (like a probabilistic law) and locally random. Ligeti was also using abstract components like combining together high treble and low bass notes as an effect. So you are right, for me this type of work would not even qualify as music but as research material leading to what I would qualify as organized noise. But like any product, some people may perfectly like and enjoy the end result or employed as a product in certain context like movies or games it can be of good usage.

So atonal music does not equate with emotionless, it just depends on the underlying compositional theory being used or the talent of the composer. But it does also covers many pieces which are also total failures as a musical product. There are musicians who write music, applying pragmatic musical concepts, sometimes with good success and sometimes with less, and there are also people which I would not call musicians but more sound experimentalists or organizers who fabricate sound products with various scientific theories or even algorithm. I will stop here as I think I have clarified my viewpoint long enough.

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I never understood what emotion has to do with music. Maybe that's why I like Xenakis...

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Originally Posted by johnstaf
I never understood what emotion has to do with music. Maybe that's why I like Xenakis...
So you've never been moved to tears when listening to the Adagietto from Mahler's 5th Symphony or "Nimrod" from Elgar's Enigma Variations?


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Originally Posted by Carey
Originally Posted by johnstaf
I never understood what emotion has to do with music. Maybe that's why I like Xenakis...
So you've never been moved to tears when listening to the Adagietto from Mahler's 5th Symphony or "Nimrod" from Elgar's Enigma Variations?


Afraid not, much as I love the Enigma Variations.

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The music of people like Xenakis, Cage, Ligetti, Boulez, Sorabji are not listened because they are emotionless and they are essentially technical intellectual creations or research material for a minuscule circle...

I can’t find the reference, but I’ve read of a recital performance wherein the performer played the last piece of the program, an atonal piece, a second time as an encore to prove that the correct notes were played the first time through.


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Originally Posted by johnstaf
Originally Posted by Carey
Originally Posted by johnstaf
I never understood what emotion has to do with music. Maybe that's why I like Xenakis...
So you've never been moved to tears when listening to the Adagietto from Mahler's 5th Symphony or "Nimrod" from Elgar's Enigma Variations?


Afraid not, much as I love the Enigma Variations.

Yeah, not everything works. Call me crazy but I don't much care for Celine Dion singing 'My Heart Will Go On'.


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