Mystery Personages

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Re: Mystery Personages

Postby shostakovich » Wed Jan 24, 2001 7:30 pm

Peter, I think we need to do a castanet tattoo (if I'm using that term correctly) for Jason. Massenet it is. The reference to El Cid stirred my memory. That was the only movie I ever walked out on. I just could NOT stand the performances of Heston and Loren. The music was wonderful, and it's only because of Rozsa that I later taped the movie.<P> STORY COMING <P>I was researching film music about 10 years ago for a talk with video about its history from 1895 on. I don't want to leave the computer to check details for fear of being kicked off, so this is from memory. At the academy awards the year of El Cid the award for "best score" went to Breakfast at Tiffany's. Rozsa was justifiably pissed off. Not only did one of his best scores (by his own account) get beaten by a cheap trifle, but the judges "couldn't even tell the difference between a song and a score".<P>I don't want to leave the impression that I don't like Mancini's music. It's Moon River that I can't stand. Mancini was a top notch composer. It's my opinion that he could have done MUCH better work, but he recognized that it would have been wasted on the general film audience, as Rozsa's score was. Mancini had a keen sense of just how good the music had to be for popularity. I always regretted that he stopped at a level below what he was capable of, but there are a LOT of people he pleased. That was his job.<BR>Shos.<P>
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Re: Mystery Personages

Postby JasonK » Thu Jan 25, 2001 9:09 am

Excuse Me While I Climb Upon My Soap Opera Box<P>See, now this is fun...taking the bulletin board to its logical conclusion. Starting with a common love for classical music and then discovering other common interests and tangents. I am glad that we can discuss such things on this forum...Through my postings here I have been able to converse with interesting on not only classical music, but Rugby with Peter, Dadaism and a personal fav, mystery composers with Shos, Steriodal Cinema with Dman, The heresy of Abba with Leslie, joined and taunted the Nicole Marie Fan Club and discussed the upcoming Sarah Brightman/Backstreet Boyz cover of Elvis' Burning Love with Sir Stew. Tell me, was there ever such a splendid harmonic convergence as this?<P>Glad to see we have this opportunity, glad to have met you all...Bravo Beethoven...Lucky I stubled on to this channel, couldn't have found a grand collection of individuals if I tried.<P>Now back to our regularly scheduled chat...
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Re: Mystery Personages

Postby shostakovich » Thu Jan 25, 2001 10:18 am

Yes, it's a diverse and wide-spread group of friends with a common bond of Beethoven and the boys. Oops! There were and are female composers, mostly in the 20th century. The enlightenment didn't reach these shores till fairly recently (after 1960s) on that topic. Should we start one on women composers, like who they were/are, what among their compositions we like, etc?<BR>Shos
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Re: Mystery Personages

Postby shostakovich » Fri Jan 26, 2001 12:19 am

I have a challenge for you. I'm going to give you the initials of this mystery composer. A. B. was precocious, composing at 4, considered a math genius in school, played concerts at 7, learned orchestration by translating the treatises of Berlioz and Gevaert, and transcribed bird calls into musical notation for use in compositions (contributing to ornithological science in the process).<BR>Our mystery personage was born in New Hampshire, trained totally in the U.S., lived to age 77, and died in New York a highly respected composer. A.B. is not at all well known today in spite of the efforts of some pianists mostly in the 1970s and 80s. <BR>The above should serve to pique your interest, but will probably be absolutely no use for identification unless you: 1)read something in a very recent contribution to Musical Notes, and 2) notice what is SIGNIFICANTLY missing in this bio. I will be happy to give hints as called for. Good luck. <BR>Shos
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Re: Mystery Personages

Postby Michael » Fri Jan 26, 2001 1:13 pm

Did this composer write a "Gaelic Symphony" and die in 1944?<P>Michael
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Re: Mystery Personages

Postby shostakovich » Fri Jan 26, 2001 11:45 pm

Egad, Michael! It SNOW use trying to get anything past you! Tell me, did you get it from a) detecting what's missing from the awkwardly written, bio, b) actually recognizing the composer from the "useless" info, or c) taking the info, a music encyclopedia, hammer and tongs, and sequestering yourself till you got it? Again you did it in remarkably short time. <P>Also a nod to Peter for launching the snow storm of puns, and the witty contributors who made the topic fun. <BR>Shos
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Re: Mystery Personages

Postby Michael » Sat Jan 27, 2001 7:28 am

Would you believe, Shos, that the idea occurred to me a week or so back. One of your earlier questions had me thinking on the same lines but the way it was phrased ruled it out. But because of that, I was able to spot the difference this time around.<P>Michael
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Re: Mystery Personages

Postby shostakovich » Sat Jan 27, 2001 9:26 am

The idea for Mystery Composer , who we now know wrote a "Gaelic Symphony", came from the musings in a post of 1/25. Who izzit?<BR>Shos
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Re: Mystery Personages

Postby Peter » Sat Jan 27, 2001 10:19 am

Shos, the initials were too big a clue! Also, as Michael says, we could almost hear your grey matter ticking from your posting on SNOW. Would it be reasonable to say that your composer did for American classical music what Margaret Thatcher did for British politics? I suppose this question could be answered with pride, OR with shame (!), but I DO mean the former Image<P>By the way, many thanks for taking the trouble to put together these mystery bios for us; they are interesting & informative, & always increase my desire to investigate the works of those whom you spotlight.<P>Peter<P>
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Re: Mystery Personages

Postby shostakovich » Sun Jan 28, 2001 1:01 am

Your commentary warms the soul, Peter. As for A.B. and M.T. being analogous, it's an interesting thought.<BR>Shos
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Re: Mystery Personages

Postby shostakovich » Fri Feb 02, 2001 1:17 pm

To wrap up the loose end, A.B. was Amy Beach, America's pre-eminent woman composer of the 19th C. Next comes a mystery conductor. He was a "crossover" type long before the term was coined. He did light classics, show tunes, and popular. He and "his orchestra" did for Columbia records what Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops did for RCA. He did guest conduct many major orchestras, but most of his recordings were with "his orchestra". During his long and successful career, he commissioned several new American works. He traveled world wide looking for enjoyable works previously unrecorded (at least in America), including selections from Moscow Cheremushky by the real Shostakovich. His pops recordings, therefore, contained something fresh for the public. In his later career he favored a certain American composer with commissions and "first recordings". I had previously considered using this composer as a mystery man, but I was afraid he might be too tough (unless you are already aware of his music personally). However, in tandem with mystery conductor, who is not in the least obscure, it makes a good double mystery.<P>This composer would not be recognizable as American from his music, which is influenced by middle eastern, Indian, and oriental philosophy and sounds. No one else I know of has produced such a consistent and individual style from beginning to end. Around the age of 30 he destroyed all his compositions, about 1000, before embarking on this style. Imagine if Schubert had done this at age 30 (sorry Peter, for even thinking it). To me, this man's music is very soothing, and the areas of tension are welcome. Occasionally there is violence in the music. A description of this violence is taken from one of his compositions, but the same sound appears in many. Players are instructed to"continue repetition, rapidly and not together in free non-rhythm chaos", each string player playing independently for a given period of time. Yet the relaxation, the tension, the violence in his style are to be found (at least by me) in no one else's. I have about 50 of his works to judge from. <P>If you are already familiar with this man's music, you know who I'm talking about. If not, let me tell you an amusing story that connects the 2 mystery people. Around the time eco-consciousness came onto the scene, there were recordings made of whale "songs". Our conductor suggested to our composer to write something that would include whale sounds. "Great idea!" Composer worked on it, sent the completed score to conductor, who looked it over and said "But where are the whale sounds?" "Oops!" Composer did, indeed, go back and decide where the whale sounds should be included. Naturally, conductor did the premiere. Happy ending.<BR>Shos
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Re: Mystery Personages

Postby Michael » Fri Feb 02, 2001 9:18 pm

Shos, was the conductor born in 1901 and the composer in 1911? And are their first-name initials the same?<BR> <BR>Michael<p>[This message has been edited by Michael (edited 02-02-2001).]
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Re: Mystery Personages

Postby shostakovich » Sat Feb 03, 2001 12:59 am

Yes, yes, and yes, Michael. It's good you are cryptic. I hope some others will still try to solve it. There's obviously nothing Michael-proof in my bios. Conductor will bring you pleasure in reissues. Composer will be a good find if his music strikes a sympathetic chord. <BR>By the way, Michael, how familiar are you with the music of composer?<BR>Shos
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Re: Mystery Personages

Postby Michael » Sat Feb 03, 2001 9:01 am

Shos, if you had left out the whales, I would be still floundering! I am only vaguely familiar with most of the Mystery Personage's music and, in this case, I only know the conductor's work, though I have heard of the composer. What I am supplying are snippets of information, not to be confused with real knowledge.<BR>Anything connected with certain writers and musicians seems to lodge in my brain, but I can't remember my car's registration number!<BR>Your latest composer sounds very interesting. When you reveal him, could you suggest a work for first-time listeners?<BR>Incidentally, did Amy Beach write a piano piece called "Narcissus" or is my peculiar memory playing tricks?<P>Michael
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Re: Mystery Personages

Postby shostakovich » Tue Feb 06, 2001 2:15 pm

For anybody still searching out the mystery combination, let me add that mystery composer was born of Scottish-Armenian parentage. He took the first name of an Armenian poet as his last name. I'll spill the beans on Friday, and recommend a disc.<BR>Shos
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Re: Mystery Personages

Postby shostakovich » Fri Feb 09, 2001 12:02 am

Mystery conductor is Andre Kostelanetz, who commissioned Copland's Lincoln Portrait, among other works. Mystery Composer is Alan Hovhaness. The recommended disc is Delos 3157. It contains, among other things, And God Created Great Whales, Symphony #2 (Mysterious Mountain) special to me because I partly used it to accompany slides of Cezanne's views of Mont Ste Victoire, and a very enjoyable (by me) Prelude and Quadruple Fugue. <P>The next mystery composer has been selected because of February. He is the best known of a category of composers, and he wrote most convincingly in that category. He was born in Woodville, Mississippi. His father died when he was quite young, and his mother then took the family to Little Rock. She intended a medical career for him when he attended Wilberforce U in Ohio, but music was his choice. After college, he gained experience playing in a well known (at the time) band. He also studied composition at Oberlin College. He was fortunate to be tutored by George Chadwick, director of the New England Conservatory, and one of the most respected of American composers. In 1923 he was taken by Edgard Varese who's influence proved too unorthodox for our young mystery man. His legacy includes 5 symphonies, 7 operas, and 4 ballets one of which is on a primitive subject. His best known works are based on folk music. This isn't much to go on, but if you come up with the "category" that is special in February, you will be there. Good luck.<BR>Shos
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Re: Mystery Personages

Postby Michael » Mon Feb 12, 2001 1:28 pm

You may have to grant an extension on this one, Shos. I'm still searching.<P>Michael
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Re: Mystery Personages

Postby John » Mon Feb 12, 2001 6:06 pm

Shos:<P>Well, it's Black History month and the composer is William Grant Still!<P>John
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Re: Mystery Personages

Postby shostakovich » Mon Feb 12, 2001 7:54 pm

Michael, I Still can't stump you. Good work, John. I thought I'd have to slip in that the popular band was W.C. Handy's. Great going, guys.<BR>Shos
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Re: Mystery Personages

Postby Michael » Mon Feb 12, 2001 8:58 pm

In all fairness, Shos, I have never heard of this composer before, and I did not get the February clue. I got the name after a bit of poking around.<BR>John seems to have arrived at his conclusion the proper way, through knowledge of the composer and his background.<P>Michael
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