Best Composer List

Chat with fellow classical music fans about your favorite composers. Ask a question about your favorite composition. Musicians are encouraged to post their ideas about music or a performance! This forum is for classical music fans from all around the world! Join in a classical conversation today.

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Re: Best Composer List

Postby Peter » Tue Oct 09, 2001 10:16 am

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by thornhill:<BR><STRONG>are you talking about your fav, or who you think is the best composer.</STRONG><HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>Good point. Beethoven is not everybody's favourite composer, but even among those for whom this is so, he is still generally regarded as the best.
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Re: Best Composer List

Postby eyeinthesky » Tue Oct 09, 2001 12:36 pm

Good contributions... but where is Copland? He is in my top ten. I know Beethoven is my favorite and I consider him to be the greatest. But, heck, I don't even know who my next 9 would be! But Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Copland, Brahams, Bach, Handel would be there. I would like to fit Pachelbel in there, but what can I do about someone who only hit it big once... and that was only because of an enchantingly simple and repetitive bass line? :)
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Re: Best Composer List

Postby hergestridge » Tue Oct 09, 2001 12:47 pm

Well, since I consider some comtemporaries to be Classical, albeit it modern and electroic in nature, here is my top ten. :eek: (In no particular order)<BR>1. Mike Oldfield<BR>2. Prokofiev<BR>3. Sate<BR>4. Barber<BR>5. Beethoven<BR>6. Holst<BR>7. Dvorak<BR>8. Grieg<BR>9. De Bussy<BR>10.Bach
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Re: Best Composer List

Postby niccolo_paganini » Tue Oct 09, 2001 2:42 pm

True, Beethoven is regarded as the best whether he is the favorite or not.<BR>When people ask me my favorite, I say I'm not sure but Beethoven was the greatest composer.
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Re: Best Composer List

Postby thornhill » Tue Oct 09, 2001 6:21 pm

I strongly disagree with the statement that Beethoven is the greatest conductor.<P>I don't think you can even begin to form an argument that anyone was better then J.S. Bach. While there is no doubt that Beethoven is currently the most popular composer, and I love him, Bach's work was far more ground breaking and influential. Take any music theory class, what you learn in it are Bach's thoughts on music theory. He's pretty much responsible for western music as we know it. His compositions are simply brilliant, they've managed to evolve like no other's.<P>Mozart too was a better composer then Beethoven. He was far more prolific and a master off all forms of music. His brilliance ranged from the Opera to the Concerto to small Chamber works and sonata. Beethoven was never much of an Opera composer, where as Mozart wrote arguably the two greatest operas. Mozart's reputation though has been hurt by popular culture, because when compared to the romantics, his music is "light" classical.<P>If you're going to proclaim someone the greatest composer of all time, you have to dig a little deeper then popularity. You need to be critical, and when you are critical about music, there really isn't any doubt that Bach was the greatest. Just look at his work from a theory point of view, it's perfect. Heck, I think that you can make a strong argument for Mendelssohn and Wanger being more brilliant composers.
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Re: Best Composer List

Postby niccolo_paganini » Tue Oct 09, 2001 7:39 pm

Bach may have provided the basis for Western music, but that does not make him the greatest composer of it. Is Homer the greatest writer ever? Bach's works may be theoretically perfect, but the reason this is always stated is that the extent of his music does not carry much further than that. <BR> Mozart composed with a similar goal; his music is also theoretically perfect. He is praised for his genuis ability to mass produce large amounts of music. <BR> Beethoven started something new- he tried to show expression with his music.<P>I'm not done but I must go.
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Re: Best Composer List

Postby niccolo_paganini » Tue Oct 09, 2001 8:02 pm

Also, point out to me somewhere in Beethoven where there is a thoeretical mistake.<BR>In Beethoven, never do the mechanics of the music interfere with the musical expression, and this is his highest point. While later Romantics may be more passionate, Beethoven was so straightforward in his expression that the meaning is always very clear.
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Re: Best Composer List

Postby thornhill » Tue Oct 09, 2001 8:32 pm

"Bach's works may be theoretically perfect, but the reason this is always stated is that the extent of his music does not carry much further than that."<P>What are you talking about? 250 years after his death, people aren't heavily recording his music just because it's "theoretically perfect".<P>"Mozart composed with a similar goal; his music is also theoretically perfect. He is praised for his genius ability to mass produce large amounts of music."<P>That has to be one of the shallowest opinions of Mozart ever. His operas are a brilliant combination of beauty, perfection, and relevant social issues. You need to buy a copy of Don Giovanni. Or take his piano concertos, brilliant and moving, go buy Uchida's recordings of them. If Mozart's music was just tonally perfect, then he would be as obscure as Haydn has become.<P>What separates Beethoven from Bach and Mozart, is that those two were able to sit down at a table and just pump out a brilliant piece of music, they could work it all out in their heads. And yes, there is something to be said about producing large quantities of great music. One of the reasons that the Mozart Piano Concertos are so praised is because it isn't just a handful of them which are good, they are almost all gems. <P>You're not looking at music from a critical point of view, you need to be objective. Music moves people in different ways, so you can't judge Beethoven based on how he emotionally moves you. There is something to be said about his popularity, but if we're talking about sheer brilliance, then the structure of the music is the most important issue.
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Re: Best Composer List

Postby carltausig » Tue Oct 09, 2001 9:20 pm

"What separates Beethoven from Bach and Mozart, is that those two were able to sit down at a table and just pump out a brilliant piece of music, they could work it all out in their heads" <P>Beethoven looked upon composers who couldn't compose in their head with disdain. Did you know that Beethoven was deaf?? <P>It is true that he didn't write final editions of his music upon the first draft, unlike Mozart perhaps, but Beethoven invested more of his emotions and soul into his music. He truly brought music to its position as a highest form of Art. Bach and Mozart were instrumental in this process, but only a heroic genius like Beethoven could fulfill the process. The Golden Age of classical music, the nineteenth century, can be heavily attributed to Beethoven's musical contributions. He was emulated by the Romantics, from Liszt to Wagner to Brahms to Mahler. Beethoven is the most significant composer.
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Re: Best Composer List

Postby niccolo_paganini » Tue Oct 09, 2001 9:24 pm

Tausig, you beat me to it. I'm afraid you took most of my arguement away.<P>"One of the reasons that the Mozart Piano Concertos are so praised is because it isn't just a handful of them which are good, they are almost all gems." <P>I dare not ask, have you ever heard a Beethoven Piano Concerto??<P>Comparing Mozart pieces to Beethoven pieces is like comparing little league to major league.<P>Ok, the Symphony 40 has charm and elegance.<P>Ever heard a Beethoven's symphony???
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Re: Best Composer List

Postby thornhill » Tue Oct 09, 2001 10:41 pm

How can you say how much of Mozart invested in his soul into his music? Did you know him? Mozart was extremely dedicated to his music. He just kept writing, and writing not thinking about if he could actually sell it. He was extremely passionate about his work. Read his letters, it's quite clear.<P>Has anyone here heard Don Giovanni? Guess not.<P>While the Beethoven piano concertos are quite good, especially #4, Mozart's are the best. He was the king of the piano concerto. Go ask any world class pianist, I have and they agree. <P>I was just waiting for someone to bring up the symphonies. What a shallow way to classify Beethoven just by his symphonies. He wrote so much more. Why not bring up the string quartets, piano sonants or his chamber works? There is so much more to classical music then the Beethoven Symphonies. <P>Just because Mozart didn't write any large orchestral works doesn't make him any less of a composer. By that standard, Beethoven pales in comparison to Wagner, Mahler and Strauss. Writing small scale pieces are much harder because you don't have the diversity of sounds created by orchestra. <P>"The Golden Age of classical music, the nineteenth century, can be heavily attributed to Beethoven's musical contributions."<P>And Western Music as we know it can be attributed to J.S. Bach. I also hate to be the one to let you know this, but Beethoven often borrowed from Mozart and Haydn, who do you think created the symphony, the string quartet and sonata form, oh yeah, Haydn and then perfected by Mozart. <P>I suggest you guys talk to some professional musicians or read some theory and criticism. this isn't opinion but fact. I could point you towards some excellent thesis if you'd like.
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Re: Best Composer List

Postby carltausig » Wed Oct 10, 2001 3:34 pm

“This isn’t opinion but fact”- With such a pretentious statement, you clearly overestimate your excellent theses. I can assure you that I do not consider it a fact that Beethoven is the greatest composer; it is merely my opinion. <P>Mozart’s music has emotion in it, certainly. I do not contend that. However, what emotion Mozart expresses cannot compete in regard to the sublimity of Beethoven’s music. I did not know Mozart; and perhaps he did write music from his soul, but not to the extent of Beethoven. Even one of Beethoven’s early sonatas, the Pathetique, exudes such a power that was never previously heard for the piano. And Beethoven’s Hammerklavier is a piece that even today concert pianists shy away from because of its enormity. Mozart’s music has a singular charm and wit to it, and is at times melancholic, but nothing in Mozart’s works compare to the depth and desperation of, say, the Tempest Sonata. The recitato in the first movement is unfathomable. Nor in Mozart’s music does the bold rhetoric such as blaring repetition of the E-flat chords in the Third Symphony exist. The slow movements of Beethoven’s piano concertos carry the listener into a state of tranquility, while of course the finale of the Ninth enters triumphantly into Elysium. The scope of emotion expressed by Beethoven expanded far beyond his contemporaries. In regards to harmony, Beethoven’s palette goes well beyond anything previously extant. Perhaps his deafness gave him greater freedom to conceive of works that were distanced from any other music. Although certainly originally affected by Mozart and Haydn, he continually moved farther and farther from their influence. If Mozart perfected the sonata form, Beethoven threw it away when he needed to to free himself from its limitations. The final string quartets cannot be placed into a distinct musical period. They are simply Beethoven. The same cannot be said of any of Mozart or Bach’s music- these composers are inseparable from their time periods. Bach expressed the baroque ideal- glorifying God through complex and elaborate music. Mozart’s music is the epitome of classical reason and balance. Beethoven began with classical ideas and discarded them. Perhaps this is the great genius of Beethoven-his ability to smash convention and create something completely original.
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Re: Best Composer List

Postby carltausig » Wed Oct 10, 2001 5:00 pm

Thornhill--<P>I did not grasp your reasoning that talking about Beethoven's symphonies is a shallow way to talk about him. Among his most prided works are most certainly his symphonies, and they had the largest effect on music. Certainly he wrote piano sonatas and quartets, and it would only weaken your reasoning if I argued their superiority as well.
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Re: Best Composer List

Postby audiogirl » Thu Oct 11, 2001 9:28 am

If the time ever comes when I can consider music critically and from a completely objective point of view, I'll stop listening.
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Re: Best Composer List

Postby Peter » Thu Oct 11, 2001 1:04 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by thornhill:<BR><STRONG>I strongly disagree with the statement that Beethoven is the greatest conductor.</STRONG><P>Composer?<P><BR><STRONG><BR>I don't think you can even begin to form an argument that anyone was better then J.S. Bach. While there is no doubt that Beethoven is currently the most popular composer, and I love him, Bach's work was far more ground breaking and influential. Take any music theory class, what you learn in it are Bach's thoughts on music theory. He's pretty much responsible for western music as we know it. His compositions are simply brilliant, they've managed to evolve like no other's.</STRONG><P>Maybe no one is <I>better</I> than Bach, but Beethoven is greater. I disagree that Bach was more ground-breaking and influential than Beethoven. Bach's great talent (to my ears) lay in his ability to create hundreds of works - now considered important - using the same basic style and format for all. He was, of course, restricted somewhat by his employment status and the need to change, but he never developed his composing to a point where we can say that it was ever forward-looking. The Baroque style itself was a limiting genre. Beethoven made music <I>evolve</I> at a time when it needed shaking up. Mozart's heir apparent could not have truly succeeded if he'd simply carried on writing the same kind of music, even if it happened to be better than Mozart's. He didn't choose it, of course, but Beethoven's arrival on the scene was perfect timing. He was able to reflect the turbulent times through which he lived in music, rewriting musical rules and redefining concepts in the highest art form of all, influencing forever all who follow him. No one will ever make the same impact, because anyone working within the boundaries which he created is, by the same token, restricted by them. <P><STRONG><BR>Mozart too was a better composer then Beethoven. He was far more prolific and a master off all forms of music. His brilliance ranged from the Opera to the Concerto to small Chamber works and sonata. Beethoven was never much of an Opera composer..... </STRONG><P>Mozart better? My earlier comment again applies.<P>Mozart more prolific? Well, yes, but I'm sure you'd agree that it's quality, not quantity, that should count. Mozart usualy wrote in order to put food on the table (and to feed his gambling habit); he was not so aware, or concerned (IMHO) of his place in history as Beethoven seems to have been. Of course, Mozart wrote brilliant operas. His output here means he tops even Verdi, in my view, but remember that there is a strong consensus of opinion which rates "Fidelio" as the greatest opera of them all. Whatever your view, it really is senseless to state that Beethoven "was never much of an opera composer".<P><BR><STRONG><BR>If you're going to proclaim someone the greatest composer of all time, you have to dig a little deeper then popularity. You need to be critical, and when you are critical about music, there really isn't any doubt that Bach was the greatest. Just look at his work from a theory point of view, it's perfect.</STRONG><HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>There is more to music than theory. In fact, you may have touched on the basic difference between Bach and Beethoven: Bach - Clinical, textbook, perfect within the form; Beethoven - Passionate, caring, ever stretching beyond the form.<P>Bach can challenge your mind. Beethoven reaches your heart.
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Re: Best Composer List

Postby niccolo_paganini » Thu Oct 11, 2001 2:16 pm

Bravo
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Re: Best Composer List

Postby serge urtizberea » Thu Oct 11, 2001 5:41 pm

I have to admit thornhill's running commentary is not terribly well-thought-out. Mozart may have written almost 30 p.concertos, but how many of them are in anyone's performing repertory? Mozart symphonies? I'm aware of five that have had any significant kind of exposure. One reason behind Beethoven's perceived status (at least here) is that almost EVERYTHING he wrote, be it a fleeting bagatelle to a forty-minute piano sonata or a wind septet, rescue opera, mass, symphony, or quartet..., it always was a perfect work of art, something entirely unique from its predecessors and often from anything following it. Bach's antiseptic writing, as Peter and others say, is truly artistic and intelligent music, but it rarely shows facets that music did under Beethoven's pen. <P>One thing I'm really admiring in Beethoven was his ability to take a simple, almost unmusical motif and turn it into anything and everything it was capable of. To take the simplest musical phrase and make it go for miles is something I've yet to hear out of any other composer. If we're going to rank composers not by opinion but by their sheer and THOROUGH musical ability, then the titleholder must be the one who made every single written note count; the one who knew how to tease the very last drop of musical essence from any melody in any format at any time; the one who experimented furthest and best with the emotive and expressive capacities of the musical solo, duet, chamber, and group vehicles; in other words, not Bach, not Mozart, not Liszt, not Wagner, not Brahms, not anyone but Beethoven.
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Re: Best Composer List

Postby niccolo_paganini » Thu Oct 11, 2001 5:49 pm

Yes, another excellent summary of Beethoven.<BR>Though some may say that Beethoven merely preached of better things to come, I am glad to see that others believe that he is truly unique, and that more Romantic composers are not his superior just because they were more Romantic.
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Re: Best Composer List

Postby shostakovich » Thu Oct 11, 2001 11:20 pm

Greatest, shmeatest! Without establishing criteria (probably impossible in any group of more than one), we'll never get to an answer. But maybe that's all to the good. It's wonderful to read the obvious passion people have for the classics and their composers. <P>It's very tough to compare composers of different periods. The Baroque had only chamber sized orchestras, counterpoint was excitement, the French revolution was in the future, and only Bach and Handel were giants. Bach was old hat when he died, and was soon eclipsed by his sons. Mozart recognized his genius, but it took Mozart's genius to do THAT. Mendelssohn gave Bach's music new life. It fell into some decline again, and it wasn't till the LP era that his star rose again.<P>The classical period, too, had only 2 giants, Haydn and Mozart. Haydn, the organiser, gave us the basic sonata form (4 movements, quartet, symphony, solo sonata, etc.). It was a REMARKABLE achievement for one man. Mozart extended the piano concerto and opera beyond anyone of his time or before (Handel's operas were also very popular in HIS time). The Jupiter Symphony may be the single outstanding symphony of the period, thanks to Mozart's brilliance in counterpoint, no longer a big thrill to listeners. <P>Beethoven stands alone from 1800 to his death. There's no need to go into what he advanced or originated. But he inherited the orchestra and the piano sonata from Haydn. If he stood taller, it's because he stood on the shoulders of the other giants. (That's a paraphrase of Newton's comment about his ability to mathematize gravitation and the solar system, I believe) <P>In the romantic period so many things happened, thanks to the previous developers, it becomes extremely tricky to compare even within the period. <P>Well, those are my 2 cents. Keep the thread and the passion going, preferably with respect for all views. Everyone has earned his/her own opinion. And opinions do change in time.<BR>Shos
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Re: Best Composer List

Postby firak » Sun Jun 08, 2003 8:30 am

1 Wagner
2 Tchaikovsky
3 Grieg
4 Debussy
5 Rachmaninoff
6 Smetana
7 Beethoven
8 Rimsky Korsakov
9 Dvorak
10Prokofiev
My top 10 greatest composers,
My top 10 "favorite" composers.
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