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The 100 Greatest Pieces of Classical Music - Page 4

post #46 of 67

First of all, I would like to thank the author and all other contributors to this thread - there are still a lot of pieces listened which I have never heard. It's sad that this topic has so much less attention than battle-of-the-flagships-58-headphones.

 

In my opinion there is really only one thing missing which should be near top - Beethoven’s Grosse Fuge op.133 (initially part of String Quartet #13 op.130), played by the Alban Berg Quartett.

post #47 of 67

Not a bad list and a good idea generator.

 

Two comments, in case anyone cares.

 

First, for people looking for an introduction to classical music, please understand that there is a vast gulf of difference between the 'greatest' music and the 'easiest to enjoy'.  While this might be a good list of music to aspire to appreciate, it is not a good introduction to the several different genres included within it.

 

Second, and perhaps it is the iconoclastic contrarian in me yet again, but I shudder at the ill deserved inevitability of seeing Beethoven's 9th symphony at the top of every list.  Yes, it is a good piece of music, and yes, the 'Ode to Joy' is a decent enough tune to walk away with at the end of listening to it, but the best piece of music ever written?  The 'most popular' and 'best known' - definitely.  But greatest???

 

Note the quotes around 'most popular' and 'best known'.  I doubt many people can appreciate or enjoy the third movement, and I'll even wager that many people skip the first two movements, and impatiently wait for the introductory parts of the fourth movement to be over and done with too.  Indeed, while it also comes near the top of awful lists like Classic FM's top 100, probably most of the people voting have never heard the first three movements and don't even know they exist!

 

I'll avoid a discussion of what makes a piece of music great/greater/greatest, and simply say that I think Beethoven himself wrote better music.  Symphonically, the 3rd symphony, is a great rollicking ride.  More abstractly, the imponderableness of his last piano sonata (if played well, and few people do) leaves me every time feeling I've had a briefest of glimpses, through an otherwise impenetrable mist, of a transcendental experience that brings me closer to God, and leaves me humbled (and puzzled).

 

And, because so many others have shared some glimpses into their own personal top 100 lists, may I thank the OP for mentioning Elgar at all, and commend his Enigma variations to all for consideration (see if you can guess the theme they are based on - the mystery, not due to be revealed for several decades yet, frustrates many of us and my money, little as it is, is on 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star'.

 

Similarly, I see Richard Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier, but do not see his Four Last Songs, the last two of which again bring me somewhere close to that spiritual place (but via a very different and much more approachable path) that the Beethoven op 111 sonata also does.

 

Definitive versions?  Well, in the case of Elgar, we are fortunate to have one or possibly two versions conducted by the composer himself available on disc.  Not the best audio, but it is wonderful to hear the composer's own realization of his score.  As for the Four Last Songs, there's one version that is so far ahead of all others as to allow for no debate - Berlin Radio SO, Szell and Schwarzkopf.

post #48 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by FlyingKiwi View Post
 

Not a bad list and a good idea generator.

 

Two comments, in case anyone cares.

 

First, for people looking for an introduction to classical music, please understand that there is a vast gulf of difference between the 'greatest' music and the 'easiest to enjoy'.  While this might be a good list of music to aspire to appreciate, it is not a good introduction to the several different genres included within it.

 

Second, and perhaps it is the iconoclastic contrarian in me yet again, but I shudder at the ill deserved inevitability of seeing Beethoven's 9th symphony at the top of every list.  Yes, it is a good piece of music, and yes, the 'Ode to Joy' is a decent enough tune to walk away with at the end of listening to it, but the best piece of music ever written?  The 'most popular' and 'best known' - definitely.  But greatest???

 

Note the quotes around 'most popular' and 'best known'.  I doubt many people can appreciate or enjoy the third movement, and I'll even wager that many people skip the first two movements, and impatiently wait for the introductory parts of the fourth movement to be over and done with too.  Indeed, while it also comes near the top of awful lists like Classic FM's top 100, probably most of the people voting have never heard the first three movements and don't even know they exist!

 

I'll avoid a discussion of what makes a piece of music great/greater/greatest, and simply say that I think Beethoven himself wrote better music.  Symphonically, the 3rd symphony, is a great rollicking ride.  More abstractly, the imponderableness of his last piano sonata (if played well, and few people do) leaves me every time feeling I've had a briefest of glimpses, through an otherwise impenetrable mist, of a transcendental experience that brings me closer to God, and leaves me humbled (and puzzled).

 

And, because so many others have shared some glimpses into their own personal top 100 lists, may I thank the OP for mentioning Elgar at all, and commend his Enigma variations to all for consideration (see if you can guess the theme they are based on - the mystery, not due to be revealed for several decades yet, frustrates many of us and my money, little as it is, is on 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star'.

 

Similarly, I see Richard Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier, but do not see his Four Last Songs, the last two of which again bring me somewhere close to that spiritual place (but via a very different and much more approachable path) that the Beethoven op 111 sonata also does.

 

Definitive versions?  Well, in the case of Elgar, we are fortunate to have one or possibly two versions conducted by the composer himself available on disc.  Not the best audio, but it is wonderful to hear the composer's own realization of his score.  As for the Four Last Songs, there's one version that is so far ahead of all others as to allow for no debate - Berlin Radio SO, Szell and Schwarzkopf.

 

I think you've made some good points. Sometimes I do think it's silly to say which composer or piece of music is "the greatest." It's analogous to saying "which painter is the greatest?" or "which painting is the greatest?" Is it the Mona Lisa? I think sometimes when we use the term "greatest" in a general sense, a lot of it has to do with the influence and importance of the work, not necessarily how "great" it is (whatever that means). Conversations like this are definitely fun and thought provoking. :) 

post #49 of 67

Excellent analogies.  Thanks for adding to the fun and thought provoking nature of this thread.

 

Oh - another analogy.  'Where is your favorite place to go on vacation?'.  :confused_face(1):

 

Cheers

post #50 of 67

I would add Saint Saens Symphony #3 (the organ symphony)

Sibelius Karellia Suite

Sibelius Symphony #2

post #51 of 67

I forgot to add any Glenn Gould recording of Bach

 esp  Goldberg Variations

         English Suites

        French Suites

post #52 of 67

The Sibelius second symphony is already on the list at #63.  The Karelia suite is nice, but don't we then start to get into concepts of 'light weight vs heavy weight' music, a discussion which might also apply to the Saint Saens symphony, too!

 

Not to disagree.  I'd like to put several hundred pieces into my 'top one hundred' if I could!

post #53 of 67

The website digitaldreamdoor.com has a list they updated back in 2010:

 

http://digitaldreamdoor.com/pages/best-classic-wks.html

 

They switched a few things around for this list. The previous one (before it was updated) had Beethoven's Ninth at #1, but now it's down to #3 as you can see.

 

IMO These lists are fun to think about and discuss. :popcorn:

post #54 of 67

Oh my.  A list of the 'top' 200 pieces.  One could discuss those placements endlessly.

 

It is also interesting to see their lists of the top conductors, pianists and violinists.  Plenty of interesting choices, and some sad omissions, on those lists, too.  Like, ummm, Karajan at the top of the conductor list, but Toscanini not appearing at all.....  :atsmile: 

post #55 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by FlyingKiwi View Post
 

Oh my.  A list of the 'top' 200 pieces.  One could discuss those placements endlessly.

 

It is also interesting to see their lists of the top conductors, pianists and violinists.  Plenty of interesting choices, and some sad omissions, on those lists, too.  Like, ummm, Karajan at the top of the conductor list, but Toscanini not appearing at all.....  :atsmile: 

 

Yeah, I agree with you for the most part. At least they stirred up conversation and decided to put out a list where Beethoven's Ninth Symphony isn't at #1. :tongue:

post #56 of 67

Exactly.  It was a very brave and bold move to put the Ring Cycle ahead of the 9th symphony.

 

I don't really know the b minor Mass well enough to comment on its merits at the very top, but I think, after struggling to throw off the many layers of Wagner-enthusiast I have, giving the Ring Cycle such prominence is probably a fair call.

post #57 of 67

the digitaldreamdoor list is not too bad. Only objection that I would raise is the bias toward late-romantic heavy orchestral work which is (sadly) in line with what we get to hear in concert halls stateside.

What I found really controversial is the "listlet" of the "Top 25 conductors" which is topped by Karajan (of all people!) and includes bores like Ormandy, Davis, Haitink, and Levine (plus a handful of journeymen at the bottom), leaving out  masters like Toscanini, Ansermet, Kondrashin, Jacobs...

post #58 of 67

When someone asks me about getting started listening and appreciating classical (a real misnomer) music and ask me what list they should use,

I tell them to find a piece of music they like, the listen to other similar music by that composer, then other composers writing similar pieces

Then learn about the various structures from symphonic, concerto, sonata, etc

A lot of classical enthusiast I know stick with a particular period of musical development and get stuck there

I tell people to learn and listen to renaissance, baroque, early romantic, late romantic, and post great war years

I also think that composers like John Williams, Maurice Jarré, Ennio Morricone, Hans Zimmer in the future will be an integral part of classical musicography

 

Here is a great website I tell people to check out:   http://www.naxos.com/education/brief_history.asp

post #59 of 67
Any list like this will always create a lot of controversy.

My beefs:

Where is Rimsky-Korsakov's "Scheherazade"?

Mussorgsky' "Pictures At An Exhibition"?

Rachmaninov's Sym. No. 2?
Edited by Chris J - 9/1/14 at 5:19am
post #60 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris J View Post

Any list like this will always create a lot of controversy.

My beefs:

Where is Rimsky-Korsakov's "Scheherazade"?

Mussorgsky' "Pictures At An Exhibition"?

Rachmaninov's Sym. No. 2?

 

I agree, those should be on there, especially "Pictures at an Exhibition" in my opinion. I personally might put that piece in the top ten or fifteen.

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