30Q #45 Hexameron

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Postby shostakovich » Tue Oct 10, 2006 6:31 pm

I have a book called The 50 Greatest Composers by Phil Goulding. Schubert is #7. Rachmaninov was not on the list. I would put him above Schubert. Telemann was on the list. I don't know why.

I also looked at the other names on the list to see where I would put Schubert: somewhere between 25 and 30.

Schubert's fame rests largely on his song output. It's my own bias that songs are not very important musically. They actually are a mix of music and poetry (which does not count as music to my way of thinking). I probably do his chamber music an injustice, as I'm not partial to the genre. I'm not too familiar with his piano music. I see nothing special in his Impromptus. I like the Wanderer Fantasy, but it doesn't strike me as "great" in any way.

I rate composers after Bach on their orchestral output. I like Schubert's symphonies 2-6. They have charm, humor, good tunes, and are all classical in spirit. The 9th is much more romantic. I enjoy it, but find it "overblown" There was a time I didn't. I still have a problem believing Schubert could have written a symphony of such beauty and depth (the Unfinished) in 1822, at which time he had done nothing else of such note.

So, given my reluctance to admit he could have written such a gem, I have to rate him minus that composition. He still comes out pretty well in my book, maybe even generously in that he had little influence in music history except to create lieder. If not for Firebird, Petrushka, and Rite, I would consign Stravinsky to second string status.

The foregoing is designed to explain why I would not consider Schubert (minus the Unfinished) more than a "good" composer. He was born too early and died too soon to compete in the orchestral sweepstakes opened by Berlioz in the Fantastique. It is not intended to convince anybody else to bounce him from a top 10 or top 20 list.
With a modicum of humility, Shos :|
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Postby bignaf » Tue Oct 10, 2006 7:04 pm

so Chopin is nowhere in the question, since his orchestral music is pretty lousy? doesn't make sense. you gotta get out of that orchestral obsession, young man! :rofl:
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Postby Hexameron » Tue Oct 10, 2006 8:05 pm

I have that book, too, Shos, and on pg 364 (Telemann's pages) Goulding offers Rachmaninoff as a "suggested subsitute." I don't really agree with Goulding's ranking system, no matter how researched it was.

According to Goulding, the ranking of composers from 1-10 is as follows: Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Wagner, Haydn, Brahms, Schubert, Schumann, Handel, Tchaikovsky.

I just don't agree that the greatest composer of all time is Bach. I know I may upset some people here with that, I know it's a pointless debate, much like debating the greater genius of either Shakespeare, Michelangelo, or da Vinci, but I really think that throne should go to Beethoven. And nor would I put Wagner as the 4th greatest composer. He was great, yes, but 4th? The book also puts Handel after Schumann which is ignorance. And Haydn at #5 is also unrealistic.

Regarding Schubert's status as a great composer, though, I actually don't even think of his lieder when I consider him great. His lieder revolutionized the genre, but with 500 (?) of them out there I think he wasted his time, no matter how expedient he was in pumping them out. Sure we've received some masterpieces (The Erlkonig, the whole Schwanengesang and Muller lieder), but I think the efforts could have been placed on a much grander conception. He was destined to write great original masterpieces. He just died too early and couldn't achieve the heights he certainly would have had.

From my experience, his hidden successes are definitely his piano compositions. The piano sonatas are the next best thing after Beethoven or any other composer in late classical-early romantic (I therefore exclude Mozart). His fantasies, most of which are for four-hands, are also exemplary epic works. His Op. 103 fantasy, for instance, is a towering achievement. I also rate his impromptus much higher. All of them are exceptional and I think even more imaginative than Chopin's (but the Op. 60 fantasie-impromptu might beat him).

The chamber works are the next best thing: Death and the Maiden, The Trout, the Rosamunde String Quartet and the String Quartet D.956 are one of a kind. Death and the Maiden is startingly far ahead of its time. It's the progress that a mature Schubert was making and a clear sign of what he might become. Overall, though, his chamber works are just too dwarfed by Beethoven's legacy.

The symphonies are actually my least favorite. I don't think he was as inspired here as when he concentrated on piano. The ninth is the greatest, I think. The Eighth is also amazing, but I'm just not too fond of the others.

It's all taste, but I think anyone who excavates further into Schubert's music can understand why he was so great. Just hearing Ave Maria isn't enough.

And bignaf, I have a similar obsession except it's with piano music. I'm having trouble with Mahler, Bruckner, and Dvorak because I want to hear them attempt piano compositions. I know Dvorak has some, but I won't deny that I first acquainted myself with Mahler's 1st, 6th and 7th symphony through a piano duet arrangement. I also heard Dvorak's 9th the first time for four-hand piano. I must have been reincarnated from the Romantic period because that was obviously the only medium the average person could hear such music back then.
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Postby Catmando » Tue Oct 10, 2006 8:49 pm

Hexameron wrote:According to Goulding, the ranking of composers from 1-10 is as follows: Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Wagner :shock: , Haydn, Brahms, Schubert, Schumann, Handel, Tchaikovsky.


To my understanding, a "Greatest Composers" List would have to be comprised of composers who excelled in a number of different genres. Thus, if one were to use this as a major yardstick, what is Wagner doing there at #4? What genre other than opera was Wagner great at as a composer? :?

If you put Wagner at # 4, since he was a great opera composer, than one could easily substitute the # 4 with the names Chopin, Puccini, or any other great composer who excelled in one particular area.

As for Bach being number 1, I'm ok with that even though my heart says Beethoven. Beethoven, Mozart, Bach are the top 3 of all-time, and you can shuffle that order any which way you wish in my humble opinion.
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Postby Shapley » Tue Oct 10, 2006 8:59 pm

They actually are a mix of music and poetry (which does not count as music to my way of thinking)


This would put you at odds with Sidney Lanier, who wrote at length on the relationship of music and poetry.
Quod scripsi, scripsi.
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Postby bignaf » Tue Oct 10, 2006 9:46 pm

no. 1 all-time is Folk.
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Postby Catmando » Wed Oct 11, 2006 9:26 am

bignaf wrote:no. 1 all-time is Folk.


No argument their! :P
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Postby Catmando » Wed Oct 11, 2006 9:57 am

Hex or Shos,

Would you be willing to post that 50 composers list in a new thread?

:)
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Postby shostakovich » Wed Oct 11, 2006 11:22 am

bignaf wrote:so Chopin is nowhere in the question, since his orchestral music is pretty lousy? doesn't make sense. you gotta get out of that orchestral obsession, young man! :rofl:


Chuckle, chuckle, old timer. Personally, I think each genre requires its own ranking. Chopin is tops in the piano ranking for my money.

Hex, I appreciate your commentary. I have not had the opportunity to hear much Schubert piano music. I've read that much of his work anticipates Chopin. I hope it gets more popular. With your piano bias and my orchestral bias, I think we've covered all the important music. :wink:

Each of us has his/her own inherent ranking, and it's limited to what we've actually heard. Palestrina made the Goulding list. He wouldn't make mine, since I've only heard the Pope Marcellus Mass. It's the best (and only) a capella mass I've heard, so it's tops in its genre (for me).
Shos
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Postby shostakovich » Wed Oct 11, 2006 11:32 am

Catmando wrote:
Hexameron wrote:According to Goulding, the ranking of composers from 1-10 is as follows: Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Wagner :shock: , Haydn, Brahms, Schubert, Schumann, Handel, Tchaikovsky.


To my understanding, a "Greatest Composers" List would have to be comprised of composers who excelled in a number of different genres. Thus, if one were to use this as a major yardstick, what is Wagner doing there at #4? What genre other than opera was Wagner great at as a composer? :?

If you put Wagner at # 4, since he was a great opera composer, than one could easily substitute the # 4 with the names Chopin, Puccini, or any other great composer who excelled in one particular area.
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Oops, I goofed, and put my response in the middle of a quote. Here it is.


Wagner would not rank so high on my list, either. But his influence on opera is immense, in spite of his own work being (in my view) over-rated. He was also a genius of thematic development, which which was the key to the greatness of Bach, Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Brahms. His orchestral highlights and overtures are magnificent. They are rightly excerpted from their loooong, booorrring suroundings.

As for posting the 50, Cat, I will get around to it, unless (I hope, I hope) Hex beats me to it.
Shos

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As for Bach being number 1, I'm ok with that even though my heart says Beethoven. Beethoven, Mozart, Bach are the top 3 of all-time, and you can shuffle that order any which way you wish in my humble opinion.
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Postby Selma in Sandy Eggo » Wed Oct 11, 2006 11:47 am

bignaf wrote:no. 1 all-time is Folk.

Closely followed by Trad and Anon.

(I think I just heard Woody Guthrie laugh.) :roll:
>^..^<
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Postby dai bread » Wed Oct 11, 2006 5:34 pm

Selma in Sandy Eggo wrote:
bignaf wrote:no. 1 all-time is Folk.

Closely followed by Trad and Anon.
:roll:


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Postby bignaf » Wed Oct 11, 2006 9:56 pm

Beethoven, Mahler, Bach are my top 3.
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