'best' composer

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'best' composer

Postby serge urtizberea » Sun Nov 05, 2000 12:44 am

Hi all! This is my first topic on this forum, and I hope I don't kick off a whole hornet's nest of argument, but I do wish to ask you all who you believe was the 'best' (for want of a more appropriate word) composer. By 'best', I mean: <P>-most influential to future composers<BR>-most influential in charting classical music's course<BR>-most developed<BR>-most popular over time, and so forth<P>I, of course, will humbly offer that that title belongs to none other than Herr Ludwig himself. As far as I am concerned, no other composer did so much to influence classical music (ie, romantic age) and other composers (ie, pretty much everyone save Strauss) while having to deal with so much hardship over the course of his life (increasing deafness, family issues, court battles, nephews, stifled sex life, you know...). I am amazed what he did and how successfully he did it. Of course, my utter devotion to him makes sure I place him beyond peer, but I'm not the only one, right? Tell me what you think.
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Re: 'best' composer

Postby thrillhouse » Mon Nov 06, 2000 2:31 pm

I would like to agree.. Beethoven is a stud.. I took a class on symphony in general, and he is the central figure. He single handedly made the transition from Classical to Romantic Periods. I find music from the Classical period (Mozart, Haydn) rather boring... but it's impossible to find Beethoven boring. His music seems so personal.. In two of his most famous works, the 5th, and the 9th, listen to the last movement of both and revel in how triumphant both sound, but yet how different they are. Seems like he was the one who broke tradition and influenced future composers like Schubert. GO BEETHOVEN GO!
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Re: 'best' composer

Postby Allyn » Fri Nov 10, 2000 11:30 am

Well you can't disagree with Beethoven! Pretty much the turning point. But I'd like to add a second name to that list, and that is Igor Stravinsky. I think time will show him to be the Beethoven of our time. He moved music into modernism in the same way Ludwig did into the Romantic era. He has also composed in so many different styles and lived such a long life. He knew no boundaries. His talent and imagination were limitless. He is the musical Picasso. GO STRAVINSKY GO!
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Re: 'best' composer

Postby thrillhouse » Fri Nov 10, 2000 12:18 pm

I haven't heard that much Stravinsky... what pieces do you recommend? I do love his Petrushka. That rocks.
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Re: 'best' composer

Postby Allyn » Fri Nov 10, 2000 3:49 pm

There are SO many! He wrote everything from neo-Classical works to very avant-garde stuff. I would start with "The Firebird," whether it be either of the suite arrangements (1910 or 1919) or the full piece. This was his first major work. After that, "The Rite of Spring" blows the world into modernism and caused the audience to riot at it's first performance! Gotta love that! Other great works are the Symphony in Three movements, The Symphony of Psalms, and Les Noches, a wonderful little ballet for choir, percussion, and four pianos! During war times, you had to write for whatever instruments you could get your hands on. Later on, he gets into other things like 12-tone, which is pretty severe stuff, not as palatable as Schoenberg's (another absolute genius!). There's also the wonderful opera, "The Rake's Progress," which is almost Mozartean! Happy listening!
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Re: 'best' composer

Postby Ernesto » Sat Nov 11, 2000 12:13 pm

Johann Sebastian Bach Image is the most influential musician of all time. ImageHe is the tree where all music branches from. Almost everything he wrote can be used in an expressive form, even in our own era. Image For example, he wrote the Toccatta and Fugue in D (the vampire song), and inside of his Partitas we can even hear some thematic material for the sonatas of Beethoven. Image Beethoven would have been the most influential had he not been trained by Haydn (for a year) and personally inspired by Mozart. Image
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Re: 'best' composer

Postby Kylene » Sat Nov 11, 2000 11:38 pm

To follow this tree analogy, I may be out a limb here, but I'm going to have to go with Mozart on this one...<BR>I can't help but fall for the prodigy! I think Mozart raised the bar for the mastermind composer. Of course, stay away from 'Eine kleine Nachtmusick' et al., and listen to the 'Concertante for Violin and Viola- II Andante', or his unfinished Requiem'. My runners up include: Puccini (for his contributions to opera!), and Copland (for his contributions to the 20th century portfolio).
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Re: 'best' composer

Postby Allyn » Mon Nov 13, 2000 1:49 pm

I'm going to get into SO much trouble for this post, but I just have to disagree here. I'm not denying that Mozart was a prodigy or anything, but he really didn't do that much that was new. A lot of what he did was building on the foundation that was laid by Haydn and the pre-Classicalists, and it was Beethoven who took those principles and brought them into the Romantic era. so I would cite Haydn as being very influential for form (he left an indelible stamp on the overall as well as internal form of symphonies, quartets, concerti, etc.), and Beethoven for content. I think Mozart's most influential area was Opera, but other than that, I don't think of him as particularly innovative. I know I'm in the minority, so please don't pounce all over me! I'm not saying he wasn't a brilliant composer; he was. He's just not my cup of tea.<BR>
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Re: 'best' composer

Postby Kylene » Wed Nov 15, 2000 1:26 pm

I agree, I do not think that Mozart was in anyway influential. However, the mass quantity and popularity of his music over time was enormous (popularity more so after his death). I'm sure I'll be slaughtered for this, but I'm not a huge Beethoven fan...I give credit to what he did for the transition of music, and enjoy many of his works, but do not puruse to have a huge collection of his works. Praise goes to Mozart for popularity, and Puccini and Copland for the reasons stated earlier.
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Re: 'best' composer

Postby Kevin » Wed Nov 15, 2000 1:50 pm

I suppose I must chime in on this one. I want to say Bach is the most influential. He set the standard by which Western tonality was perfected. His music, however, was pretty much forgotten until Mendelssohn dug it out and revived it. Since then, however, he as generally been regarded as the father of Western harmony. :-D<P>It should be noted, however, that there are really two types of composers - a notion that makes this an even more difficult question to answer. You have the inventor and the perfector. Bach was a perfector, being that he didn't bring any new innovations to music - he was simply a master of doing what was established better than anyone else of his day. At the risk of veering the subject off on a new tangent, here's my take on some of the greats with this in mind:<P>Mozart: perfector<BR>Beethoven: inventor<BR>Brahms: perfector<BR>Stravinsky: inventor<P>It would be an interesting discussion to find out where others would fit in to this.
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Re: 'best' composer

Postby Kevin » Wed Nov 15, 2000 1:54 pm

In fact, one could argue that the most influential composer - at least in the twentieth century (for better or worse)- would be Schoenberg. After all, much more than Stravinsky (he didn't come to atonal music as a technique until very late in life), he was the father of the modernist era that dominated musical academia well into the 70's and still remains a potent force even in today's tonal renaissance.
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Re: 'best' composer

Postby serge urtizberea » Thu Nov 16, 2000 12:52 am

The idea, Kevin, of two categories of composer is very interesting! I love it. I have never heard of it before, but I certainly will start thinking of music more in this fashion from here on in. (How influential you are! Image )<BR>I gave it some thought, and I must disagre somewhat though with your idea of Brahms perfecting the innovations of Beethoven-- simply because I don't find his work that much more refined or expressive than Beethoven's./ Brahms has always seemed to suffer from the stigma of being a bore, being very formulaic, etc. and I do see that. His work may have more of a full-bodied sound (which he was very fond of), but the emotional range is no larger than that of Beethoven's, assuming we grant him the notion he even got that far. <BR>But if we want to try and categorize composers like this (something that'll always be up for argument!), I'd offer this view:<BR>BAROQUE<BR>Bach: inventor Handel: inventor/perfector<BR>CLASSICAL<BR>Haydn: inventor Mozart: perfector<BR>ROMANTIC<BR>Beethoven:inventor/perfector (idealistic romantic) <P>Now it gets trickier:<P>Schumann: attempted perfector (romantic)<BR>Lizst: inventor (eclectic romantic)<BR>Brahms: neutral (smoothed out Beethoven, if you will)<BR>Schubert: neutral (emulated Beethoven)<BR>Chopin: perfector (romantic)<BR>Saint Saens: perfector (French romantic)<BR>Berlioz: inventor (eclectic French romantic)<BR>Debussy, Satie, etc.: inventor (low-key romantic)<BR>Wagner, Mahler: inventor (heavy-handed, imperious romantic)<BR>Mendelssohn: inventor ("postmodern" classical/romantic hybrid)<P>MODERN<BR>I won't comment as I do not listen to modern classical music. I'm not fond of it at all, actually.<P>This list of mine will surely be struck down by others, which is fine; this is just my view of it. But I also feel that "Romantic" music after B. took off in different directions, with those like Schumann who believed B. was the apotheosis, others like Wagner who tried to do "better" than B., and those who simply went their own way (Satie). But I'm not very clear on this sort of distinction, so if anyone can help clarify this post-Beethoven branching or help reorganize my list, please let me know.
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Re: 'best' composer

Postby thrillhouse » Thu Nov 16, 2000 12:52 pm

Brahms was a punk. He wasn't perfecting anything.. he was just composing music so he could impress his teacher's wife and have her for his own. He was putting the moves on Clara Schuman after Robert died.<P>(I don't know how accurate that statement is, but I remember hearing it somewhere.)
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Re: 'best' composer

Postby ReedMan » Fri Nov 17, 2000 2:17 pm

Agreeing on the winning composer can only be subjective, no matter what criteria you use (unless you base it soley on something you can measure such as quantity of pieces produced). <P>The classical radio stations seem to play more Beethoven as the end of the year approaches and the holiday season begins. Over the years, I am continually struck by Beethoven's works - many are simple in structure, yet complex in emotion. Originality is also quite obvious. To me, that is the clear sign of a genius. <P>
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Re: 'best' composer

Postby Jakubek » Fri Nov 17, 2000 9:07 pm

This is only my opinion:<P>Beethoven - Image<BR>Bach - Image<BR>List - Image<BR>Mozart - Image<P><BR>Greatings!<P>Jakubek<BR>
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Re: 'best' composer

Postby watcher » Sat Nov 18, 2000 3:52 pm

Hello! This is my first time on this message board. I just got through listening to beethoven's fifth, and I have an interesting analogy, I like to think of beethoven as the titan on the mountain, bending the sun's rays over all the land below so he can see for millions of miles. If anybody thinks this is also interesting, please respond.<p>[This message has been edited by watcher (edited 11-18-2000).]
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Re: 'best' composer

Postby Allyn » Mon Nov 20, 2000 4:16 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by ReedMan:<BR><B>Agreeing on the winning composer can only be subjective, no matter what criteria you use (unless you base it soley on something you can measure such as quantity of pieces produced). <P></B><HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>Well, quantity is never a good measure. I'm much more impressed, as you say, with originality. As Stravinski once said, Vivaldi didn't really write 400 concerti, he wrote one concerto 400 times! <P>We should add a third category of composer: those that just composed. Neither inventor nor perfector. Vivaldi, to me, definitely falls in that category. <BR>
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Re: 'best' composer

Postby thrillhouse » Mon Nov 20, 2000 5:08 pm

I don't like the idea of categories (inventor, perfector, plain composer) for composers. I don't think they saw themselves in that light. They just composed to their heart's content. No one invents music. And when you say perfector... what are they perfecting? who are they perfecting for? I don't think they were inventing or perfecting, they are artists composing what sounds right to them. Sure they were influenced by each other, but I don't think Schubert or Brahms had any intention of trying to perfect or even emulate Beethoven. And Vivaldi! So what if he composed 400 concerto's that sound the same? that's his job. artists paint thousands of pictures, baseball players play thousands of games, it's their job. Some pieces/pictures/games will suck and a lot will sound the same... but that doesn't stop them cuz they love doing it. and I love it too.
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Re: 'best' composer

Postby jrs » Mon Nov 20, 2000 10:19 pm

I second Allyn's opinion that there should be added a third category of composer--for musicians like Vivaldi, where one's neither inventor nor perfector, but rather merely a composer. Yet when I sit back and think about my favorite works by Vivaldi, there's something about him that at times seems to wrestle out of the confines of this label.
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Re: 'best' composer

Postby Allyn » Tue Nov 21, 2000 4:35 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by thrillhouse:<BR><B>I don't like the idea of categories (inventor, perfector, plain composer) for composers. I don't think they saw themselves in that light.</B><P>No, they didn't see themselves in that light at all. But the basis of music theory and history is creating labels and categories and names for techniques that weren't thought of at the time, but that help us get a "handel" on this wealth of history. I don't think anything derogatory is intended by the labels that we've been bandying about.<P><B>Some pieces/pictures/games will suck and a lot will sound the same... but that doesn't stop them cuz they love doing it. and I love it too.</B><HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>Point well taken. And no one is denying Vivaldi's (or anyone else's) role in music history, nor are we attempting to malign his abilities. We're just establishing a common criteria so that we can more easily voice our opinions. Maybe instead of the label "inventor," we should say "innovator." Just a thought.<P>Thrillhouse, I enjoy reading your comments. You seem passionate about the subject, and that's something I enjoy! GO THRILLHOUSE GO!<BR> Image<P>[This message has been edited by Allyn (edited 11-21-2000).]<p>[This message has been edited by Allyn (edited 11-21-2000).]
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