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Your Favorite Classical Music Composers

post #1 of 35
Thread Starter 

You can list as many as you want in order. But for me, Bach will always be at the top. 

 

1. Profound spirituality beyond anything I've experienced 

2. Intellectually intriguing 

3. Seems to always navigate in the most logical and intuitive manner, but yet never taking the cliche way out 

4. Very paradoxical (old-fashioned vs modern, abstract vs concrete, simple vs complex, etc.) 

5. Diversity in many genres, combined with his godly inventiveness and some minor (but very creative) innovations 

6. Here, I think what separates him from all others: his organization of musical ideas. 

7. Strong in every major components of music: melody, rhythm, and harmony. 

 

I also love these composers: Dvorak, Piazzola, Shostakovich, Brahms, Chopin, etc. 

 

While I do love many pieces by some of the bigger composers like Mozart and Beethoven, I also hate a lot of their pieces as well. But they're still very highly regarded to me. 

post #2 of 35
My absolute favorite is Wagner. He is gigantic.

I also really like Dvorak, Ravel, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Verdi, Offenbach, Handel and Schubert.
post #3 of 35
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post

My absolute favorite is Wagner. He is gigantic.
I also really like Dvorak, Ravel, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Verdi, Offenbach, Handel and Schubert.

Ah an opera fan. I admire Handel's Theodora and many of Mozart and Verdi's operas. 

 

Can you recommend me any pieces by Wagner? I sort of have a negative impression of his music as a bit crude sounding, though I've heard some of his more tame pieces as well. 

post #4 of 35

The best place to start is one of the one or two disk overtures collections... Solti, Karajan, Bohm, Jochum, Tennstedt... hard to go wrong.

 

Then I would venture into the operas a bit at a time. I'd recommend just the first act of Die Walkure as an entry point. Or perhaps Das Rhinegold either Solti or Karajan on those. If you can get DVDs of the Boulez or Mehta Ring cycle from the library, that would be great too, The public library is your friend. Small local libraries can get anything on inter library loan.


Edited by bigshot - 7/5/12 at 9:25pm
post #5 of 35

I love Handel, always have. Also Bach, Schubert, Beethoven, Mozart, Puccini. I remember playing Suor Angelica down in the pit.

post #6 of 35

for pure classical (non-opera), these are my favorites:

 

bach

vivaldi

haydn

mozart

beethoven

schubert

schumann

brahms

tchaikovsky

dvorak

post #7 of 35

Bach and Mozart are my top favorites. I don't rank either above the other. Simply put, the enjoyment I get from hearing them surpasses any other composer, and also I can listen over and over to my favorite recordings.

 

The unfortunate side-effect is that I am very picky about who is playing. Leonhardt for Bach is my favorite (as a conductor, solo keyboard, or small ensemble with keyboard [violin/harpsichord, viola de gamba/harpsichord, that kind of thing]). For Mozart I like a greater variety of players. What I ask from a player interpreting Mozart is that phrases be differentiated (but Brendel in the solo piano works differentiates them too much, adding changes in tempo and feel where I really think none should be). Some players blast through Mozart using a similar rhythmic quality throughout. Yuck. (Also I don't like Trevor Pinnock in interpreting Bach for a static, inflexible rhythmic quality.)

 

After those composers, I like Beethoven, Brahms, Wagner, Chopin, Bartok, Britten, For modern/avant-garde, Boulez is my favorite. Bunch of other certain works of certain composers. I'm a composer in a modern style but paradoxically I don't like most modern music.

 

I also like certain works of many other composers.

 

Copland has a special place in my heart. I don't think he's all that "great" of a composer, but his heart is golden. But as a child he was my favorite composer. I will never forget how he made me feel as a child.

 

His works don't really stand up to a bunch of hearings, so I listen infrequently.

 

A special place I reserve in my heart for loathing is minimalism.

post #8 of 35
I think people who came up with HIP have a more specific idea of how baroque and classical should be performed. When I was first getting into classical, it was the era of Karajan's big band Bach and Bohm's sublime Mozart symphonies. I don't mind a little bit of liberty with performance at all. In fact, I prefer it.

I'm with you on minimalism. That crap isn't even half a loaf.
post #9 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post

I think people who came up with HIP have a more specific idea of how baroque and classical should be performed. When I was first getting into classical, it was the era of Karajan's big band Bach and Bohm's sublime Mozart symphonies. I don't mind a little bit of liberty with performance at all. In fact, I prefer it.
I'm with you on minimalism. That crap isn't even half a loaf.

By the way I am not particularly into historical performance practice. I'm into good performance and I think inflexible ideas of history can compromise that. I had a piano teacher (actually a piano class teacher which meant I wasn't getting individual attention) who was so into historical performance that she was incredibly inflexible. For instance, in Baroque, "the trill always starts on the upper note" -- so I was trying to explain to her that there's a better way to look at it, which is that (1) just start on whatever damn note sounds good, and (2) you can use something called Schenker analysis to justify that (if you care to justify it). She said "They didn't do Schenker analysis in the Baroque period." That is wrong on so many levels, but to carry on the argument I would have disrupted the class.

 

I know some people think minimalism is mesmerizing and hypnotic but that's not how or why I listen to music. Actually for me, plain old Baroque/classical is mesmreizing but that's because it engages my brain.

post #10 of 35
Rubato rules!
post #11 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post

Rubato rules!

Do you ever listen to Leonhardt? His is a very sophisticated rubato. Sometimes he overdoes it and kills the momentum, but at the faster tempos his rhythmic sophistication is unmatched.

 

Bach with a straight feel can work too.

post #12 of 35
I like Leonhardt a lot. But I tend to prefer bigger bands and modern instruments, particularly with violins and piano in Mozart.
post #13 of 35

I like modern instruments too. The only thing I don't want "modernized" is the ensemble size. Playing Mozart on a large orchestra sounds wrong to me.

 

For the most part, I think there are Baroque specialists and Classical specialists. I can't stand it when Rachel Podger plays Mozart, or when Gumiaux plays Bach. The only guy that seems to do both periods well is Neville Marriner. I have never heard Leonhardt play Mozart but I am quite sure it would be awful. He's got Baroque in his blood. The rhythmic quality of the two periods is very different, and I don't think even the greatest performer can spend 90% of their time practicing in one way, and then manage to play another way fluently.

 

People can specialize as listeners too. I don't like jazz melodies all that much (with a few exceptions) because I spend most of my time listening to classical melodies.

post #14 of 35
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post

I like Leonhardt a lot. But I tend to prefer bigger bands and modern instruments, particularly with violins and piano in Mozart.

For me it depends. Take the Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 for instance. Although Bach is usually a more general, abstract composer (look at Musical Offering and Art of Fugue) rather than a composer who composed taking into account the specific sonorities of his/her instrument (Chopin and Scarlatti for example), in this case there is a specific musical purpose that the baroque instrumentation serves in this piece. A modern ensemble struggles to achieve the same sense of balance in volume as the modern trumpet is very loud and overpowers all the other wind instruments. And this isn't even taking into account the timbre problems. But don't get me wrong; I still enjoy piano and modern string recordings of Bach quite frequently... it all depends on who is playing. 

 

With Mozart, I think I will 99% of the time take a period ensemble over a modern one. A modern orchestra simply does not have that sense of lightness and refinement in sound. I only need to hear the Mozart Symphony No. 38 by Gardiner to remind myself. 

 

Now with someone like Beethoven or Shostakovich, I think there can be many exceptions. It's hard to achieve the same level of dramatic dynamics in Beethoven with a period ensemble as with a modern one after all. Shostakovich apparently still used gut strings in his time... would be interesting to hear that. But for now, I think he sounds fantastic on modern instruments. Anyone ever listen to Rostropovich's performance of the Shostakovich Cello Concerto? His best recording imo. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mike1127 View Post

Do you ever listen to Leonhardt? His is a very sophisticated rubato. Sometimes he overdoes it and kills the momentum, but at the faster tempos his rhythmic sophistication is unmatched.

 

Bach with a straight feel can work too.

I feel that Bach should be played with a straight tempo but at the same time, not give off an inflexible, metronome-like impression. I think in cases of pieces like the Bach Cello Suites, the more the player deviates from the bowings that the composer intended, the more he has to resort to rubato, in a struggled attempt to make the piece sound more rational. 

 

But in cases of orchestral works, I think the many mechanics of sound - timbre, articulation, intonation, acoustics, etc. - all should uniformly build a "drive" to the piece that allows a straight inflexible rhythm to be elastic sounding. Of course, this is extremely difficult to achieve. 

 

And ironically, I find Bach to be somewhat of a minimalist - a strange one at that. I mean yes he has the typical baroque ornaments everywhere but even his ornaments are there for a REASON. Take them out, and it's enough to give a listener a very different impression of the piece. My point? Everything he puts down on a paper is "minimalized" or essential. He is paradoxically simple AND complex. 

post #15 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by NimbleTurtle View Post


I feel that Bach should be played with a straight tempo but at the same time, not give off an inflexible, metronome-like impression. I think in cases of pieces like the Bach Cello Suites, the more the player deviates from the bowings that the composer intended, the more he has to resort to rubato, in a struggled attempt to make the piece sound more rational. 

 

But in cases of orchestral works, I think the many mechanics of sound - timbre, articulation, intonation, acoustics, etc. - all should uniformly build a "drive" to the piece that allows a straight inflexible rhythm to be elastic sounding. Of course, this is extremely difficult to achieve. 

 

 

 

I'm with you -- about straight tempo with an elastic sound. However, I still love rhythmic sophistication of the sort that can only be done by a soloist (say Leonhardt on harpsichord) or the chamber works for two instruments (harps. and violin, harps. and viola de gamba).

 

Sometimes a conductor or soloist has a nice rhythmic feel, but the result is still monotonous. Trevor Pinnock strikes me this way. He is not metronomic (not stiff), but the sections are not differentiated enough.

 

Mozart really needs rhythmic differentiation. I just listened to Mitsuko Uchida play some of the piano sonatas. I'm sorry, it's not differentiated enough. There is not enough contrast in feel between the sections. On the other hand, I listened to the Hagen Quartet and they take too many liberties. Mozart is rich enough! There is no need to add all these effects that aren't in the score. Brendel (as a SOLOIST) does the same thing -- way overinterpreted. (I like him as an ensemble player or in the concertos.)

 

Quote:
And ironically, I find Bach to be somewhat of a minimalist - a strange one at that. I mean yes he has the typical baroque ornaments everywhere but even his ornaments are there for a REASON. Take them out, and it's enough to give a listener a very different impression of the piece. My point? Everything he puts down on a paper is "minimalized" or essential. He is paradoxically simple AND complex.

Bach does stick to the same texture throughout the entire piece, for the most part. The Prelude in C Major sure seems minimalist. I like the term "essential" better than minimalism -- the latter term implies there isn't much richness to the music (to me anyway).

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