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post #586 of 2323

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post #587 of 2323
Nice one, Szell and the Cleveland Symphony is another part of music history that should never be forgotten.

As well, Debussy and Ravel, despite their relative humility, did far more to advance music and prepare the way for the future of tonality, atonality and the very foundations of conceiving musical structure, than anyone other than, in my opinion, Dmitri Shostakovitch.

Just as an addendum, something I actually despise in Wagner, instead of just being bored by: the idea of the "leitmotif."

You see, that very principle presupposes that there are certain structures and phrases in music that can be "universally" codified as happy, sad, emotional, heroic, tragic, grief-stricken, whatever linear assignation of emotional value they have been since arbitrarily given.

Nothing has restricted musical innovation more in the history of music since then than this idea. The linearity of creating this one-to-one correspondence between certain phrases, and certain characters, situations, states of mind, has become pervasive in cinematic scoring, to the point that it is now taken as inevitable, and natural, when it is nothing like. It's truly Fascistic, in my mind, as a musical principle, because it enslaves concepts of harmony, dissonance and structure to pre-defined meanings, thus enslaving the listener to having to accept such propositions as what they _must_ feel in response to a particular turn of phrase.

Break out of the narrow confines of Western European musical tradition, and you discover how truly, profoundly ignorant that principle is. What "sounds sad" in one culture is not in another; what sounds melodious in one, not in another; what is mellifluous in one, is not in another.

How much further musical evolution might have gone if it hadn't been murdered by the principle of the leitmotif. I truly feel this is the single invention that is the most responsible for the ensuing death of the musical tradition that begin in Baroque Europe, and ended with serialism, John Cage, Philip Glass, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and the last gasps and driblets of western musical form that have come to a grinding halt since the inception of those composers' work.

So, okay, soapbox off -- just a little food for thought. smily_headphones1.gif
post #588 of 2323

The leitmotifs don't have a single meaning. The meaning is adapted to the context of the character presenting it by combining it with other leitmotifs and contrasting it against the words being sung. If you actually study the use of leitmotifs in the Ring, Wagner used it with remarkable variety and shades of meaning.

 

The only problem with Wagner is the commitment of time it requires to absorb.


Edited by bigshot - 11/7/13 at 8:19pm
post #589 of 2323
Yes, I do continue to listen to Wagner despite my lifelong frustrations with his work (it's no small feat for me to get around his particularly virulent form of anti-semitism, even though far greater minds than I have managed to do so. I read somewhere that Mozart liked to tear the wings off flies for entertainment as a child, so oh well, I try not to be an ad hominem kinda guy). And, agreed, the leitmotif does of course vary in context throughout a score.

It's the principle I feel it represents that I object to, though; it's like the musical equivalent of metadata tagging, and too "binary" in function for me to feel it is a creative principle, rather than a destructive one.

Plus, anyone so taken in by Schopenhauer is an idiot. wink.gif



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post #590 of 2323
Quote:
Originally Posted by Copperears View Post

Yes, I do continue to listen to Wagner despite my lifelong frustrations with his work (it's no small feat for me to get around his particularly virulent form of anti-semitism, even though far greater minds than I have managed to do so. I read somewhere that Mozart liked to tear the wings off flies for entertainment as a child, so oh well, I try not to be an ad hominem kinda guy). And, agreed, the leitmotif does of course vary in context throughout a score.

It's the principle I feel it represents that I object to, though; it's like the musical equivalent of metadata tagging, and too "binary" in function for me to feel it is a creative principle, rather than a destructive one.

Plus, anyone so taken in by Schopenhauer is an idiot. wink.gif



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Hey hey, Thomas Mann was no idiot :D 

post #591 of 2323
Well I do enjoy reading him, true.

Back to records: Krystian Zimerman's Debussy Preludes, Book II. Not to be missed. Better, I think, than his performance of Chopin's Ballades.

http://www.amazon.com/Debussy-Preludes-Krystian-Zimerman/dp/B000VHQ3OE/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1383921195&sr=8-2&keywords=zimerman+debussy+preludes

Nobody ever mentions Olivier Messiaen, but I love almost everything he's done: Quartet for the End of Time is his most well-known composition, but all his work is inspiring, and quite a departure from what we usually think of when we think of that period of composition:

http://www.amazon.com/Messiaen-Quartet-End-Time-Olivier/dp/B000003ERU/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1383921161&sr=8-2&keywords=messiaen

Ravel's Piano Concerto for the Left Hand, written, if I recall correctly, for Ludwig Wittgenstein's brother, who had his right hand shot off in WWI:

I like Alicia de Larrocha's recording, just to change it up (Zimerman's is good, too, but too much of one thing), maybe also because I had the pleasure of being kicked out of a practice shed at Tanglewood one afternoon by her. :B

http://www.amazon.com/Ravel-Piano-Concertos-Alicia-Larrocha/dp/B0014LV60C/ref=sr_1_14?ie=UTF8&qid=1383921307&sr=8-14&keywords=ravel+concerto+for+the+left+hand
Edited by Copperears - 11/8/13 at 6:37am
post #592 of 2323
To follow up on Messiaen: read the below, and by all means get any of the albums listed, phenomenal stuff. The recordings are extremely dynamic and clear:

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cleveland_Chamber_Symphony
post #593 of 2323

I think Messiaen is very funny. I have a few CDs of his stuff and they sound like goofy 50s sci fi movies!

post #594 of 2323
He makes me think, oddly, of Stravinsky. Highly experimental but without losing soul and the armature needed to keep a sustained listen interesting. Unlike a lot of the more formalist work following.
post #595 of 2323

He uses those wild theramins too!

post #596 of 2323
Quote:
Originally Posted by Copperears View Post

Nice one, Szell and the Cleveland Symphony is another part of music history that should never be forgotten.

As well, Debussy and Ravel, despite their relative humility, did far more to advance music and prepare the way for the future of tonality, atonality and the very foundations of conceiving musical structure, than anyone other than, in my opinion, Dmitri Shostakovitch.

Just as an addendum, something I actually despise in Wagner, instead of just being bored by: the idea of the "leitmotif."

You see, that very principle presupposes that there are certain structures and phrases in music that can be "universally" codified as happy, sad, emotional, heroic, tragic, grief-stricken, whatever linear assignation of emotional value they have been since arbitrarily given.

Nothing has restricted musical innovation more in the history of music since then than this idea. The linearity of creating this one-to-one correspondence between certain phrases, and certain characters, situations, states of mind, has become pervasive in cinematic scoring, to the point that it is now taken as inevitable, and natural, when it is nothing like. It's truly Fascistic, in my mind, as a musical principle, because it enslaves concepts of harmony, dissonance and structure to pre-defined meanings, thus enslaving the listener to having to accept such propositions as what they _must_ feel in response to a particular turn of phrase.

Break out of the narrow confines of Western European musical tradition, and you discover how truly, profoundly ignorant that principle is. What "sounds sad" in one culture is not in another; what sounds melodious in one, not in another; what is mellifluous in one, is not in another.

How much further musical evolution might have gone if it hadn't been murdered by the principle of the leitmotif. I truly feel this is the single invention that is the most responsible for the ensuing death of the musical tradition that begin in Baroque Europe, and ended with serialism, John Cage, Philip Glass, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and the last gasps and driblets of western musical form that have come to a grinding halt since the inception of those composers' work.

So, okay, soapbox off -- just a little food for thought. smily_headphones1.gif
I'm in the pub stood outside having a cigarette reading this after a good few beers and I can't at the moment take the time to respond to how much I disagree with what you've said. I might try to formulate a response when I get home. It will be based around the fact that there's no issues with leitmotifs and guidance for the listener. Most composers fail to get an audience because they cannot 'lead' the listener around their music.
oh and BTW, it's the Cleveland Orchestra, not the Cleveland Symphony - that's a different band.
Edited by amigomatt - 11/8/13 at 5:19pm
post #597 of 2323

The other thing about leitmotifs is that Wagner was writing for music dramas, not abstract music. His genius was his ability to use story, words, music, acting and settings all to convey a single unified idea without ever stopping for a breath. Everything serves the drama. The music really shouldn't be considered outside of its context, even if there are plenty of bleeding chunk concert pieces in the typical repertoire of the average orchestra. Anything less than the full magilla is just a part of the overall picture.

 

The leitmotif is the one aspect of classical music that is still in existence in current popular orchestral music. All of the musical forms and structures have been jettisoned, but the leitmotif is still a fundamental part of film scores.


Edited by bigshot - 11/8/13 at 5:31pm
post #598 of 2323
It is true that I refuse to listen to Wagner in pieces; I'm interested in the whole opera from beginning to end, I don't want to hear a "best of" this or that. Any of the well-known parts are least interesting when they're out of context.

Amigomatt, I hope you will take the time to write your rejoinder; I much prefer interesting, spirited discussion over being right, and usually learn something from any kind of sustained, thoughtful or impassioned response. So be free and I won't be offended.

I used to listen to opera libretto in hand, but whether out of fatigue, increasing despair with the world and its endless stories of misery or simply the deterioration of my mind with time, I'm increasingly interested only in the music; the story is almost irrelevant.

I read literature for the music of the language.

I watch movies for the interplay of light and shadow.

It's odd.
post #599 of 2323

Wagner is best viewed as theater too. The music is just part of it.

post #600 of 2323
Quote:
Originally Posted by Copperears View Post

It is true that I refuse to listen to Wagner in pieces; I'm interested in the whole opera from beginning to end, I don't want to hear a "best of" this or that. Any of the well-known parts are least interesting when they're out of context.

Amigomatt, I hope you will take the time to write your rejoinder; I much prefer interesting, spirited discussion over being right, and usually learn something from any kind of sustained, thoughtful or impassioned response. So be free and I won't be offended.

I used to listen to opera libretto in hand, but whether out of fatigue, increasing despair with the world and its endless stories of misery or simply the deterioration of my mind with time, I'm increasingly interested only in the music; the story is almost irrelevant.

I read literature for the music of the language.

I watch movies for the interplay of light and shadow.

It's odd.

I'm home now, even more drunk so deciding not to formulate my proper response now.  I would just like to say thank you Copperears for your post, which has set me on the right vein.  I can already tell that we could have some great and enlightening dialogue.  Regarding Wganer though (being a trumpet plyaer too, who loves to razz those parts out), I've never come to Wagner through digesting the whole operas and tetralogies of.  I would advise anyone on any day to try to experience Wagner through isolated section of glorious music.  I'm sorry to use this example, but Siegfried's Funeral March from Gotterdammerung.  My god, what  a sound.  There is Wagner in a nutshell, but I certainly wouldn't put anyone thorugh what comes before it to have the pleasure of that uniquely intimidating piece of writing (esp. the Karajan version.  I know there are a few Karajan disparagers on this thread, but have a word with yourselves if you are ever going think that reading is not elementally good.

 

Not the best sound quality through Youtube, but have alisten and buy it if you love it!

6 mins into this video is the funeral music. It is magisterial and noble in a way that no other version does it for me. Go on , listen and be blown away.  Karajan. Yes, thank you, Maestro.

Oh, and also, the brass are f^&%*$( awesome!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IU0KgyqaLUc


Edited by amigomatt - 11/8/13 at 8:41pm
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