accesible Bartok

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Tom Farrell

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Jul 8, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/8/99
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Any suggestions for a curious listener as to where to start? He seems to
be a universally admired composer so I would be eager to explore his
work.
I have the three piano concertos (Anda/Fricsay) and although I enjoy 3,
1 and 2 are a bit too much for me at present. That might give you some
idea of my dissonance threshold... (and no I don't want to argue about
that, I'm sure that my tastes will change with time but for the moment I
want the sort of thing I will enjoy now).
I have a fondness for budget reissues.

Tom

Tony Movshon

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Jul 8, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/8/99
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Tom Farrell <tfar...@iona.com> writes:
> I have the three piano concertos (Anda/Fricsay) and although I enjoy 3,
> 1 and 2 are a bit too much for me at present. That might give you some
> idea of my dissonance threshold... (and no I don't want to argue about
> that, I'm sure that my tastes will change with time but for the moment I
> want the sort of thing I will enjoy now).
> I have a fondness for budget reissues.

You would probably enjoy the Concerto for Orchestra (Reiner on RCA is a
good inexpensive choice, as is Skrowaczewski on Vox/Turnabout/Carlton if
you can find it); the Music for Strings, Percussion and Celeste (ditto
on performers, or Marriner on Decca Classic Sound, or Bernstein on
CBS/Sony); and Bluebeard's Castle (the best ones here are full price; my
current favorite is Haitink on EMI).

--
Tony Movshon mov...@nyu.edu
Center for Neural Science New York University

William A. Dirks

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Jul 8, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/8/99
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On Thu, 08 Jul 1999 16:36:02 +0100, Tom Farrell <tfar...@iona.com>
wrote:

>Any suggestions for a curious listener as to where to start? He seems to
>be a universally admired composer so I would be eager to explore his
>work.

>I have the three piano concertos (Anda/Fricsay) and although I enjoy 3,
>1 and 2 are a bit too much for me at present. That might give you some
>idea of my dissonance threshold... (and no I don't want to argue about
>that, I'm sure that my tastes will change with time but for the moment I
>want the sort of thing I will enjoy now).
>I have a fondness for budget reissues.
>

>Tom

For accessibility, the Concerto for Orchestra is the most likely place
to start. The recently released Leinsdorf/BSO on the High Performance
series would be good; I favor that slightly for both performance and
recording over the often recommended Reiner. Among digital
recordings, I also have the Dutoit/Montreal, which I think is
excellent. Others can and will undoubtedly recommend many other
versions of the Concerto for Orchestra for you to consider.

Next would be the Divertimento, a smaller scale work, but also one
from late in his career, and highly enjoyable and accessible as well.
The Orpheus Chamber Orchestra does well with it on DG; so does Dorati
on Hungaroton; and Gatti on a new release with the C for O (though I
like his performance of that less than others, this is an excellent
coupling).

The violin concerto would challenge your dissonance threshold somewhat
more, but might be a good transition work to lead you from the above
toward the more "difficult" works.

--Bill Dirks


rneil...@my-deja.com

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Jul 8, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/8/99
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> I started out with the solo piano music; but another way
in is via the violin sonatas or the quartets -- the latter
with the Takacs, whose take is a little more lyrical than the more
modernist one taken by the Emerson. The quartets are the heart of
Bartok, so the sooner you get there the better. It's never
going to be Stravinsky, so don't get your hopes up! It's a
very different place, but inhabitable nevertheless.


Sent via Deja.com http://www.deja.com/
Share what you know. Learn what you don't.

tlst...@tpgi.com.au

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Jul 9, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/9/99
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> Any suggestions for a curious listener as to where to start? He seems to
> be a universally admired composer so I would be eager to explore his
> work.
> I have the three piano concertos (Anda/Fricsay) and although I enjoy 3,
> 1 and 2 are a bit too much for me at present. That might give you some
> idea of my dissonance threshold... (and no I don't want to argue about
> that, I'm sure that my tastes will change with time but for the moment I
> want the sort of thing I will enjoy now).
> I have a fondness for budget reissues.
>
> Tom

Well, everyone seems to like the Comcerto for Orchestra and it's certainly
a very likable work. Colourful, too! The first violin concerto is always
very attractive and accessible too. You could try the Divertimento for
String Orchestra (IMP Classics PCD-1000) but in a sense that's begging the
question. Bartók IS a bit spiky, and fiddling around with early works,
written before he had developed his true individuality, is missing the
point. It's rather tempting to suggest that you jump in at the deep end,
say with the string quartets, and hang in there until you get to know his
particular language and colour.

A couple more discs that you could try at minimal cost are Naxos 8.550886
(Two rhapsodies and the piano quintet) and Naxos 8.550868 (Sonata for
violin alone, plus some wonderful violin duets).

--
Cheers!

Terry

Tom Babbin

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Jul 9, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/9/99
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While not the most typical Bartok, The Rumanian Folk Dances are certainly
among the most accessible works. Either the original piano pieces or the
orchestral transcriptions are worthwhile. I know and love the Orpheus
Chamber Orchestra version of the orchestral version.

-Tom B.

Tom Farrell <tfar...@iona.com> wrote in message
news:3784C5...@iona.com...

Bob Lombard

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Jul 9, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/9/99
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It's never
>going to be Stravinsky, so don't get your hopes up! It's a
>very different place, but inhabitable nevertheless.
>
Hooha. Don't let this guy confuse you. Bartok's music is vastly superior to
Stravinsky's. Hang in there.

bl

rneil...@my-deja.com

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Jul 9, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/9/99
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In article <93153724...@news.remarQ.com>,
> I did not mean to imply a qualitative difference, only that it would
probably be easier for this particular guy, who's a little
afraid of dissonance, to enjoy Stavinsky than Bartok, who
demands a little more from the listener, asks you to come a
little farther. The heart of the Bartok Quartets is very far
from the heart of Pulcinella. Love 'em both, but as a listener
starting out, it took me longer to get to the former.

William A. Dirks

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Jul 9, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/9/99
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On Fri, 09 Jul 1999 23:14:57 +1000, tlst...@tpgi.com.au wrote:

>In article <3784C5...@iona.com>, tfar...@iona.com wrote:
>

>> Any suggestions for a curious listener as to where to start? He seems to
>> be a universally admired composer so I would be eager to explore his
>> work.
>> I have the three piano concertos (Anda/Fricsay) and although I enjoy 3,
>> 1 and 2 are a bit too much for me at present. That might give you some
>> idea of my dissonance threshold... (and no I don't want to argue about
>> that, I'm sure that my tastes will change with time but for the moment I
>> want the sort of thing I will enjoy now).
>> I have a fondness for budget reissues.
>>
>> Tom
>

>Well, everyone seems to like the Comcerto for Orchestra and it's certainly
>a very likable work. Colourful, too! The first violin concerto is always
>very attractive and accessible too. You could try the Divertimento for
>String Orchestra (IMP Classics PCD-1000) but in a sense that's begging the
>question. Bartók IS a bit spiky, and fiddling around with early works,
>written before he had developed his true individuality, is missing the
>point.

If you're referring to the C for O and the Divertimento, those are
late works; and its not really missing the point since the poster
already gave some suggestion of what he finds accessible.

--Bill Dirks

Andy Evans

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Jul 9, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/9/99
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Bartok's music is vastly superior to Stravinsky's. >>
This is an old warhorse, but those who rightly appreciate Stravinsky's
enormous contribution to the history of music, right down to Renard and Les
Noces, and passing the obvious Rite and Petrushka on the way, would simply
say "bollocks".
Andy Evans, email: arts.ps...@cwcom.net
Our Website: www.artspsychology.mcmail.com


Pascal Jeanblanc

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Jul 9, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/9/99
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Tom Babbin wrote:

> While not the most typical Bartok, The Rumanian Folk Dances are certainly
> among the most accessible works. Either the original piano pieces or the
> orchestral transcriptions are worthwhile. I know and love the Orpheus
> Chamber Orchestra version of the orchestral version.

> -Tom B.
>
> Tom Farrell <tfar...@iona.com> wrote in message
> news:3784C5...@iona.com...

> > Any suggestions for a curious listener as to where to start? He seems to
> > be a universally admired composer so I would be eager to explore his
> > work.

Rumanian folk dances piano pieces are wonderful and I've always been
impressed by Zoltan Kocsis's former recording with Denon. And I must
also say that I discovered Bartok, and also classical music, with
Bartok's ballet, "The miraculous Mandarin", directed by Antal Dorati
with Detroit SO... I've been told that his former performer at
Minneapolis was more outstanding but I've never heard it. But this work
sounds always fascinating to me...

Pascal


JHenry1975

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Jul 9, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/9/99
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Andy Evans wrote:

>Bartok's music is vastly superior to Stravinsky's.>>
>This is an old warhorse, but those who rightly appreciate Stravinsky's
>enormous contribution to the history of music, right down to Renard and Les
>Noces, and passing the obvious Rite and Petrushka on the way, would simply
>say "bollocks".

Not to mention those who like the Piano Concerto, Oedipus Rex, the Symphony of
Psalms, the Symphony in Three Movements, Agon, the Variations in memoriam
Aldous Huxley, and the Requiem Canticles!

Although, admittedly, I do like Bartok more overall.

Joseph Henry

Bob Lombard

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Jul 9, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/9/99
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>Bartok's music is vastly superior to Stravinsky's. >>
>This is an old warhorse, but those who rightly appreciate Stravinsky's
>enormous contribution to the history of music, right down to Renard and Les
>Noces, and passing the obvious Rite and Petrushka on the way, would simply
>say "bollocks".


"the history of music"? Ain't that a different subject? And considering what
Bartok did to bring Eastern European peasant/folk music to our attention, I
submit that the bollocks are in your court. (That's about as subtle as I can
get on this subject.)

bl

Larry Friedman

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Jul 9, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/9/99
to
Bob Lombard wrote:

Gentlemen, gentlemen (and any ladies listening), please! I think Mr Evans missed
the point and is getting his bollocks into an uproar over an overreaction
(something about which I am an expert, after all). To say that Bartók was a
superior composer to Stravinsky is not to reduce the latter to insignificance.
Stravinsky was a major composer of the twentieth century - of that there can be
no doubt - and his contributions to the history of music are indeed enormous.
What is being said (I believe) is that Bartók was *even* better than Stravinsky.
It is possible that, in a couple of centuries, Stravinsky will be discussed more
in musical history books simply because of his contribution IN GENERAL, but
Bartók will be discussed as the finer composer who dug somewhat deeper than most
composers of his time. This does not specifically demean Stravinsky; it simply
elevates Bartók to the lofty place he deserves...something like comparing Wagner
and Brahms, but I am not going to state my opinions on that (I burn easily).

Best regards,
-Larry

disquod.vcf

Bob Lombard

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Jul 9, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/9/99
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Larry, that is about what I would have said, if I'd had the sense. You may
not have avoided the fire, though. If that is the case, since your stated
opinion seems to match mine, I hope the heat will come on me. Bartok is one
of my Great 3 composers (sometimes that expands to 4 or 5).

Wagner was a self-publicizing, overrated bigot, whose music palls compared
to Brahms'. There, that should do it.

bl

Chuck Nessa

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Jul 9, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/9/99
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There are too damn many "Rollos" in this world
CN


Imindu13

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Jul 10, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/10/99
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>Any suggestions for a curious listener as to where to start? He seems to
>be a universally admired composer so I would be eager to explore his
>work.
>I have the three piano concertos (Anda/Fricsay) and although I enjoy 3,
>1 and 2 are a bit too much for me at present. That might give you some
>idea of my dissonance threshold... (and no I don't want to argue about
>that, I'm sure that my tastes will change with time but for the moment I
>want the sort of thing I will enjoy now).
>I have a fondness for budget reissues.
>
Try Fricsay's version of the Concerto for Orchestra. It is thee best with
genuine Hungarian feel to the music.

Fred

>Tom
>
>
>
>
>
>

Rodger Whitlock

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Jul 10, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/10/99
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On Fri, 09 Jul 1999 23:14:57 +1000, tlst...@tpgi.com.au wrote:

>Well, everyone seems to like the Concerto for Orchestra...

I don't want to sound flippant, having just been thoroughly flamed for
flippancy over in sci.lang, but when I read your sentence quoted
above, I immediately thought of Miss Manners' remark "Everyone likes
scrambled eggs." I'm sure you didn't mean it, but your words could be
misinterpreted as damning with faint praise.

The Concerto for Orchestra is on a *much* higher plane than
"orchestral scrambled eggs." Perhaps we can rephrase along these lines
to get the point across to Tom Farrell, the original poster:

"Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra contains a entire musical universe,
devised by one of the great composers, and in it nearly everyone will
find things that appeal to them."


--
Rodger Whitlock
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

William A. Dirks

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Jul 10, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/10/99
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On Fri, 09 Jul 1999 21:38:38 -0400, Larry Friedman
<dis...@bluemoon.net> wrote:
>Bob Lombard wrote:
>
>> >Bartok's music is vastly superior to Stravinsky's. >>
>> >This is an old warhorse, but those who rightly appreciate Stravinsky's
>> >enormous contribution to the history of music, right down to Renard and Les
>> >Noces, and passing the obvious Rite and Petrushka on the way, would simply
>> >say "bollocks".
>>
>> "the history of music"? Ain't that a different subject? And considering what
>> Bartok did to bring Eastern European peasant/folk music to our attention, I
>> submit that the bollocks are in your court. (That's about as subtle as I can
>> get on this subject.)
>>
>> bl
>
>Gentlemen, gentlemen (and any ladies listening), please! I think Mr Evans missed
>the point and is getting his bollocks into an uproar over an overreaction
>(something about which I am an expert, after all). To say that Bartók was a
>superior composer to Stravinsky is not to reduce the latter to insignificance.
>Stravinsky was a major composer of the twentieth century - of that there can be
>no doubt - and his contributions to the history of music are indeed enormous.
>What is being said (I believe) is that Bartók was *even* better than Stravinsky.
>It is possible that, in a couple of centuries, Stravinsky will be discussed more
>in musical history books simply because of his contribution IN GENERAL, but
>Bartók will be discussed as the finer composer who dug somewhat deeper than most
>composers of his time. This does not specifically demean Stravinsky; it simply
>elevates Bartók to the lofty place he deserves...something like comparing Wagner
>and Brahms, but I am not going to state my opinions on that (I burn easily).


All this depends on what criteria are being used. If simply liking
the music of one or the other is the only criteria, there is nothing
more to be said. But other criteria are possible too. As much as I
like Bartok, I simply don't think he compares to Stravinsky at all.
Where is there any single work of Bartok's which has had the lasting
effect of Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring"? It has been said that in
that work Stravinsky "did away with the bar line once and for all" in
modern music. Bartok never wrote anything that produced such a broad
change or breakthrough; nor was he ever capable of the enormous
stylistic range, experimentation, and variety of Stravinsky--and the
fact that much of Stravinsky's music centers on the genre of ballet
doesn't alter the fact of that stylistic and expressive range, any
more than Scarlatti or Chopin writing primarily for solo keyboard
instruments alters theirs. I'm not sure what "dug somewhat deeper"
means with reference to Bartok, other than that the writer is moved by
what he hears; my opnion is that it was Stravinsky who dug deeper. I
still listen to a broad range of his works on a regular basis, whereas
only a few of Bartok's still hold that kind of appeal for me. What
does it mean to say that Stravinsky will be discussed more because of
his contribution "in general", while Bartok will be considered "finer"
(because of ...? ) ? I think it means that Stravinsky was more likely
*the* major composer of the 20th Century, not *a* major composer.

--Bill Dirks

Jens Arvidsson

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Jul 10, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/10/99
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"Tom Babbin" <bab...@gis.net> writes:
>While not the most typical Bartok, The Rumanian Folk Dances are certainly
>among the most accessible works. Either the original piano pieces or the
>orchestral transcriptions are worthwhile. I know and love the Orpheus
>Chamber Orchestra version of the orchestral version.

Agreed to that.

Also try these:
Dance suite (try Solti's version from 1981, coupled with the C for O.)
Cantata Profana
Bluebeard
Miraculous Mandarin
Wooden Prince
Music for strings, percussions and celesta

--
Jens Arvidsson, hosarv...@algonet.se

Ernest Jones

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Jul 10, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/10/99
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I have been listening since I was 17 and really have'nt had much trouble
with any of it! I started with Quartets 5 & 2.

Ernest Jones
Retired Music & Cruise Crazy Brit.
On Sunny Isles Beach
Life is an Opera


Matthew B. Tepper

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Jul 10, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/10/99
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I would add to the short list the Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion.

--
Matthew B. Tepper: WWW, science fiction, classical music, ducks!
My personal home page -- http://www.deltanet.com/~ducky/index.htm
My main music page --- http://www.deltanet.com/~ducky/berlioz.htm
To write to me, do for my address what Androcles did for the lion
"Compassionate Conservatism?" * "Tight Slacks?" * "Jumbo Shrimp?"


Diane Wilson

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Jul 10, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/10/99
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In article <3786A41E...@bluemoon.net>, dis...@bluemoon.net says...

> Bob Lombard wrote:
>
> >
> > "the history of music"? Ain't that a different subject? And considering what
> > Bartok did to bring Eastern European peasant/folk music to our attention, I
> > submit that the bollocks are in your court.

Which somewhat ignores the origins of much of Stravinsky's early ballets;
those pieces have a few roots in Russian folk music. What Bartok did
with peasant and folk music was unlike what anyone had ever done before
him, and without the work that he (and Kodaly) did, that herritage might
have been lost by now.

> Gentlemen, gentlemen (and any ladies listening), please! I think Mr Evans missed
> the point and is getting his bollocks into an uproar over an overreaction
> (something about which I am an expert, after all). To say that Bartók was a
> superior composer to Stravinsky is not to reduce the latter to insignificance.
> Stravinsky was a major composer of the twentieth century - of that there can be
> no doubt - and his contributions to the history of music are indeed enormous.
> What is being said (I believe) is that Bartók was *even* better than Stravinsky.
> It is possible that, in a couple of centuries, Stravinsky will be discussed more
> in musical history books simply because of his contribution IN GENERAL, but
> Bartók will be discussed as the finer composer who dug somewhat deeper than most
> composers of his time. This does not specifically demean Stravinsky; it simply
> elevates Bartók to the lofty place he deserves...something like comparing Wagner
> and Brahms, but I am not going to state my opinions on that (I burn easily).

Nor will I step into that fray. There is a case to be made for each
of Bartok, Stravinsky, Shostakovich, and perhaps others as "the"
composer of the century, but in the end such judgments are subjective,
and are so strongly biased by individual perceptions and values that
true ranking becomes impossible.

(Yes, Shostakovich, but not for innovation, a direction which simply
was not available to him. It has been said, for instance, that his
quartets did not extend the technical range of the genre, but that they
did extend the genre's emotional range. As a composer, he was a genius,
and he did not waste his talent. But, to reinforce me point, this
is getting rather subjective.......)
--
Diane Wilson (di...@firelily.com, anon-...@anon.twwells.com)
Web design: http://www.firelily.com/
Personal: http://www.firelily.com/goddess/

It is neither possible nor necessary to educate people who never
question anything. (Joseph Heller)


Marc Perman

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Jul 11, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/11/99
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dirk...@ms14.hinet.net (William A. Dirks) wrote:

>On Fri, 09 Jul 1999 21:38:38 -0400, Larry Friedman
><dis...@bluemoon.net> wrote:
>>Bob Lombard wrote:
>>
>>> >Bartok's music is vastly superior to Stravinsky's. >>
>>> >This is an old warhorse, but those who rightly appreciate Stravinsky's
>>> >enormous contribution to the history of music, right down to Renard and Les
>>> >Noces, and passing the obvious Rite and Petrushka on the way, would simply
>>> >say "bollocks".
>>>

>>> "the history of music"? Ain't that a different subject? And considering what
>>> Bartok did to bring Eastern European peasant/folk music to our attention, I

>>> submit that the bollocks are in your court. (That's about as subtle as I can
>>> get on this subject.)
>>>
>>> bl
>>

>>Gentlemen, gentlemen (and any ladies listening), please! I think Mr Evans missed
>>the point and is getting his bollocks into an uproar over an overreaction
>>(something about which I am an expert, after all). To say that Bartók was a
>>superior composer to Stravinsky is not to reduce the latter to insignificance.
>>Stravinsky was a major composer of the twentieth century - of that there can be
>>no doubt - and his contributions to the history of music are indeed enormous.
>>What is being said (I believe) is that Bartók was *even* better than Stravinsky.
>>It is possible that, in a couple of centuries, Stravinsky will be discussed more
>>in musical history books simply because of his contribution IN GENERAL, but
>>Bartók will be discussed as the finer composer who dug somewhat deeper than most
>>composers of his time. This does not specifically demean Stravinsky; it simply
>>elevates Bartók to the lofty place he deserves...something like comparing Wagner
>>and Brahms, but I am not going to state my opinions on that (I burn easily).
>
>

>All this depends on what criteria are being used. If simply liking
>the music of one or the other is the only criteria, there is nothing
>more to be said. But other criteria are possible too. As much as I
>like Bartok, I simply don't think he compares to Stravinsky at all.
>Where is there any single work of Bartok's which has had the lasting
>effect of Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring"? It has been said that in
>that work Stravinsky "did away with the bar line once and for all" in
>modern music. Bartok never wrote anything that produced such a broad
>change or breakthrough; nor was he ever capable of the enormous
>stylistic range, experimentation, and variety of Stravinsky--and the
>fact that much of Stravinsky's music centers on the genre of ballet
>doesn't alter the fact of that stylistic and expressive range, any
>more than Scarlatti or Chopin writing primarily for solo keyboard
>instruments alters theirs. I'm not sure what "dug somewhat deeper"
>means with reference to Bartok, other than that the writer is moved by
>what he hears; my opnion is that it was Stravinsky who dug deeper. I
>still listen to a broad range of his works on a regular basis, whereas
>only a few of Bartok's still hold that kind of appeal for me. What
>does it mean to say that Stravinsky will be discussed more because of
>his contribution "in general", while Bartok will be considered "finer"
>(because of ...? ) ? I think it means that Stravinsky was more likely
>*the* major composer of the 20th Century, not *a* major composer.

But how do they both compare to the Beatles? :)

Marc Perman

Len Mullenger

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Jul 11, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/11/99
to
A slightly different suggestion.
Bartok was deeply influenced by the folk music of Hungary and used it as a
basis for many works. I reviewed an album that had on it some of his
original field recordings, performances by Muzsikas, and some of the
classicla pieces he wrote incorporating these. I fould it an informative and
delightful recording
http://www.musicweb.force9.co.uk/music/classrev/march99/bartok.htm

regards
Len
............................................................................
..............
Len Mullenger
Music on the Web (UK)
http://www.musicweb.force9.co.uk/music/music.htm
............................................................................
.............

--
............................................................................
..............
Len Mullenger
Music on the Web (UK)
http://www.musicweb.force9.co.uk/music/music.htm
............................................................................
.............
Tom Farrell wrote in message <3784C5...@iona.com>...


>Any suggestions for a curious listener as to where to start? He seems to
>be a universally admired composer so I would be eager to explore his
>work.
>I have the three piano concertos (Anda/Fricsay) and although I enjoy 3,
>1 and 2 are a bit too much for me at present. That might give you some
>idea of my dissonance threshold... (and no I don't want to argue about
>that, I'm sure that my tastes will change with time but for the moment I
>want the sort of thing I will enjoy now).
>I have a fondness for budget reissues.
>

>Tom

Owen Hartnett

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Jul 11, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/11/99
to

> Any suggestions for a curious listener as to where to start? He seems to
> be a universally admired composer so I would be eager to explore his
> work.
> I have the three piano concertos (Anda/Fricsay) and although I enjoy 3,
> 1 and 2 are a bit too much for me at present. That might give you some
> idea of my dissonance threshold... (and no I don't want to argue about
> that, I'm sure that my tastes will change with time but for the moment I
> want the sort of thing I will enjoy now).
> I have a fondness for budget reissues.
>
> Tom

I had trouble getting into his music as well but what started me off was
his ballet "the Miraculous Mandarin." I heard a live performance of it
with the BSO with Ozawa conducting over the radio about a year ago and I
enjoyed it right from the start. Be forewarned that it is extremely
dissonant in areas, but the exciting rhythms made this piece completely
accesible to me. Even though it's not a budget CD, I would look for Ivan
Fischer's account on Phillips because not only is it a great recording,
but it also contains many dances written by Bartok which are completely
tonal.

-owen

William A. Dirks

unread,
Jul 12, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/12/99
to
On Sun, 11 Jul 1999 02:06:00 GMT, per...@mindspring.com (Marc Perman)
wrote:

Yeah, yeah, yeah . . . As posters below note, its all highly
subjective. I was just ticked off by the subjective assumptions that
Bartok was "greater" or "the greatest", and thought I'd offer a
competing, equally subjective view as counterweight.

--Bill Dirks

Chloe Pajerek

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Jul 12, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/12/99
to

> Where is there any single work of Bartok's which has had the lasting
> effect of Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring"?

This is surely an unfair comparison. The "Rite of Spring" occupies a
unique place in music history, comparable to that occupied by, say,
Beethoven's 9th symphony in an earlier century. It is not only Bartok
who can't offer a single work that compares; I can't think of another
work by *Stravinsky* that had a similar impact. IOW, "Le Sacre"
is unique even among Stravinsky's own works.

> What
> does it mean to say that Stravinsky will be discussed more because of
> his contribution "in general", while Bartok will be considered "finer"
> (because of ...? ) ? I think it means that Stravinsky was more likely
> *the* major composer of the 20th Century, not *a* major composer.
>

> --Bill Dirks

From where we sit now, in 1999, I think it's fair to say that Stravinsky
will be the *consensus* choice as the century's greatest composer.
At the same time, however, we can cite other composers whose works
are equally indispensable, and Bartok is almost certainly one of them.
Compare, for example, the relative importance of Bartok's works for
the piano with those of Stravinsky, and most especially the works
for string quartet.

- Chloe


mt

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Jul 12, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/12/99
to
Chloe:

<<From where we sit now, in 1999, I think it's fair to say that
Stravinsky will be the *consensus* choice as the century's greatest
composer.>>

Not among people I know (and, dare I say, among people in this group). I
think that Bartok is now more generally viewed as the greatest composer
of the century, though certainly Igor is among the best. I also think,
at the risk of incensing some, that Schoenberg cannot be included among,
say, the top five of the century. Too much competition has come to light
(thanks to recordings) in the last 20 or 30 years. Take Schulhoff, a
masterly composer who was totally unknown, or Roberto Gerhard, or
Martinu, and so on.

Regards,

mt


Bob Lombard

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Jul 12, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/12/99
to
Bartok's music grabs my attention and carries me with it more than any other
man's compositions of this century. I am very grateful for the enrichment.
That said, Shostakovich is the composer who's works place him on a plane
with the giants of the 19th and 18th centuries. Stravinsky is on a level
with Debussy and Ravel; a great composer.

bl

Marc Perman

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Jul 13, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/13/99
to
mt <nos...@nospam.com> wrote:

I would take Shostakovich over all of the above, as much as I love
Bartok, Stravinsky, and Martinu.

Marc Perman

Raymond Hall

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Jul 13, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/13/99
to
Chloe Pajerek wrote:

> In article <3786fb0d...@netnews.hinet.net>, dirk...@ms14.hinet.net writes:
>
> > Where is there any single work of Bartok's which has had the lasting
> > effect of Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring"?
>
> This is surely an unfair comparison. The "Rite of Spring" occupies a
> unique place in music history, comparable to that occupied by, say,
> Beethoven's 9th symphony in an earlier century. It is not only Bartok
> who can't offer a single work that compares; I can't think of another
> work by *Stravinsky* that had a similar impact. IOW, "Le Sacre"
> is unique even among Stravinsky's own works.
>
> > What
> > does it mean to say that Stravinsky will be discussed more because of
> > his contribution "in general", while Bartok will be considered "finer"
> > (because of ...? ) ? I think it means that Stravinsky was more likely
> > *the* major composer of the 20th Century, not *a* major composer.
> >
> > --Bill Dirks
>

> From where we sit now, in 1999, I think it's fair to say that Stravinsky
> will be the *consensus* choice as the century's greatest composer.

> At the same time, however, we can cite other composers whose works
> are equally indispensable, and Bartok is almost certainly one of them.
> Compare, for example, the relative importance of Bartok's works for
> the piano with those of Stravinsky, and most especially the works
> for string quartet.
>
> - Chloe

Frankly, I find Bartok more difficult, but acknowledge his great importance. I'd
hate to be without both and declare an honorable tie for second place. Shostakovich
would be the greatest composer of this century for me.

Regards,

Ray Hall, Sydney

William A. Dirks

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Jul 13, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/13/99
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On 12 Jul 1999 17:35:36 GMT, qpc...@frontiernet.net (Chloe Pajerek)
wrote:

>In article <3786fb0d...@netnews.hinet.net>, dirk...@ms14.hinet.net writes:
>
>> Where is there any single work of Bartok's which has had the lasting
>> effect of Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring"?
>
>This is surely an unfair comparison.

As I acknowledged in my reply to Marc Perman, much of this is
ultimately subjective, but having said that, let me continue:

I don't think it's unfair in any sense. You admit that the work is
uniquely influential and important in music history; why not just
leave it at that? At least Stravinsky wrote one such piece, Bartok
didn't. That Stravinsky could write such a piece, I think, is an
indication of an overpowering imaginative and musical genius,
unmatched in this century.

The "Rite of Spring" occupies a
>unique place in music history, comparable to that occupied by, say,
>Beethoven's 9th symphony in an earlier century. It is not only Bartok
>who can't offer a single work that compares; I can't think of another
>work by *Stravinsky* that had a similar impact. IOW, "Le Sacre"
>is unique even among Stravinsky's own works.

Yes, and because Bartok had no individual work of such stature, we
take each of his works on its own, without such a standard of
comparison; what is unfair is that so many of Stravinsky's own works
are judged by the greatness of another of his own works, and tend to
pale beside it, when in fact if judged on their own without reference
to the Rite, they'd likely be judged differently. And we often
expect, or wish, that his other works would be a replay of the Rite:
thus works such as his Orpheus, utterly unique in style, richly
expressive and beautiful, but with an entirely different atmosphere,
very difficult to bring off (only Stravinsky himself really does, I
think), remain little appreciated by even many devoted classical
listeners. Unfair to both Stravinsky and listeners, I think.

>> What
>> does it mean to say that Stravinsky will be discussed more because of
>> his contribution "in general", while Bartok will be considered "finer"
>> (because of ...? ) ? I think it means that Stravinsky was more likely
>> *the* major composer of the 20th Century, not *a* major composer.
>>
>> --Bill Dirks
>
>From where we sit now, in 1999, I think it's fair to say that Stravinsky
>will be the *consensus* choice as the century's greatest composer.
>At the same time, however, we can cite other composers whose works
>are equally indispensable, and Bartok is almost certainly one of them.
>Compare, for example, the relative importance of Bartok's works for
>the piano with those of Stravinsky, and most especially the works
>for string quartet.

I certainly have no argument with Bartok's "indispensability", or the
importance and greatness of many of his works. This thread and others
have prompted me to return to some of those works that I haven't
listened to in some time.

--Bill Dirks

tlst...@tpgi.com.au

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Jul 13, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/13/99
to
In article <378A43...@nospam.com>, mt <nos...@nospam.com> wrote:

> Chloe:


>
> <<From where we sit now, in 1999, I think it's fair to say that
> Stravinsky will be the *consensus* choice as the century's greatest
> composer.>>
>

> Not among people I know (and, dare I say, among people in this group). I
> think that Bartok is now more generally viewed as the greatest composer
> of the century, though certainly Igor is among the best. I also think,
> at the risk of incensing some, that Schoenberg cannot be included among,
> say, the top five of the century. Too much competition has come to light
> (thanks to recordings) in the last 20 or 30 years. Take Schulhoff, a
> masterly composer who was totally unknown, or Roberto Gerhard, or
> Martinu, and so on.

For me, and taking into account the sheer range of his output, Benjamin
Britten is a shoe-in. No question!

--
Cheers!

Terry

Chloe Pajerek

unread,
Jul 13, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/13/99
to

Sez you.

The composer of "Le Sacre du Printemps" and "Agon" (among others too
numerous to list here) is IMO in a league of his own.

I think your estimation of Shostakovich is about right.

- Chloe


Diane Wilson

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Jul 13, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/13/99
to
In article <7mfg32$1i6i$1...@node17.cwnet.frontiernet.net>,
qpc...@frontiernet.net says...

> In article <93183571...@news.remarQ.com>, @vermontel.net writes:
>
> > That said, Shostakovich is the composer who's works place him on a plane
> > with the giants of the 19th and 18th centuries.
>
> I think your estimation of Shostakovich is about right.

In some works, especially middle-period, sometimes. In early works,
he was an iconoclast and a modernist; in later years, he returned
to a very individual style, and there's little I can think of from
the 18th or 19th century that compares with the last ten years
of Shostakovich's life. He was well-trained in theory and
technique, but not bound by it.

It's worth remembering that Russian culture in general, and Soviet
culture in particular, has tended to look to the past; modernism in
music simply wasn't tolerated for most of the time period of
Shostakovich's career. 12-tone music was banned until 1971,
but Shostakovich wrote a fugue (Op. 87, no. 15, D-flat major)
based on an 11-note tone row--very typical of his humor.

No matter when they lived, the giants of music have redefined
the world around them. Shostakovich achieved that, though in
different terms from Stravinsy and Bartok, or from Bach or
Mozart.

mt

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Jul 13, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/13/99
to
Diane Wilson:

<<No matter when they lived, the giants of music have redefined
the world around them. Shostakovich achieved that, though in
different terms from Stravinsy and Bartok, or from Bach or
Mozart.>>

Dmitri does not merit being mentioned in the same breath as Bach,
Mozart, or Stravinsky. Although he obviously had talent, much of his
stuff is musically weak. It looks like Taruskin's propaganda is
taking...

From the same Soviet era, the late Polish composer Boris Vainberg
strikes me as a deeper and more original composer, yet he is hardly
known. I hope this injustice is remedied some day.

Regards,

mt


Rick Fethers

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Jul 13, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/13/99
to per...@mindspring.com
Bartok #1...Stravinsky#1...Shostakovich#1...Martinu#4....final 4, 3-way for
first!

Rick

Marc Perman wrote:

> mt <nos...@nospam.com> wrote:
>
> >Chloe:
> >
> ><<From where we sit now, in 1999, I think it's fair to say that
> >Stravinsky will be the *consensus* choice as the century's greatest
> >composer.>>
> >
> >Not among people I know (and, dare I say, among people in this group). I
> >think that Bartok is now more generally viewed as the greatest composer
> >of the century, though certainly Igor is among the best. I also think,
> >at the risk of incensing some, that Schoenberg cannot be included among,
> >say, the top five of the century. Too much competition has come to light
> >(thanks to recordings) in the last 20 or 30 years. Take Schulhoff, a
> >masterly composer who was totally unknown, or Roberto Gerhard, or
> >Martinu, and so on.
>

Diane Wilson

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Jul 14, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/14/99
to
In article <378BFE...@nospam.com>, nos...@nospam.com says...

You are thinking of Moshei Vainberg perhaps? Or Boris Tchaikovsky?
Both deserve to be better known.

As for Shostakovich, there is much of his work that is *not*
musically weak. Try the quartets, or the second piano trio, or
the 24 preludes and fugues, or the violin and viola concertos,
or the many song cycles, or..... There is tremendous variety,
and expressiveness. He had a mastery of form, not only in
knowledge, but in the ability to submerge form into content--
again, the preludes and fugues, or the many tragic passacaglias
scatter throughout his work, or the contrapuntal writing in the
quartets.

Yes, there is second-rate work, because the time and place he
lived in required it of him if he wanted to stay alive and keep
working. But the music he cared about, and there is a lot of it,
was not second-rate or weak. Ever.

mt

unread,
Jul 14, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/14/99
to
Sorry, yes, it's Moisei Vainberg - I did not conflate him with Boris
Chaikovsky (a worthy composer, but not on the same level). My particular
confusion stems from the fact that Boris Vainberg is a well-known
mathematician (now in the U.S. whose work I've studied). At least I have
never called Boris Moisei, not yet!

Let's agree to disagree on Dmitri Shostakovich. From your description,
it looks like we like the same works.

Regards,

mt


Chloe Pajerek

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Jul 14, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/14/99
to

> For me, and taking into account the sheer range of his output, Benjamin
> Britten is a shoe-in. No question!
>

> Terry

Britten isn't mentioned often enough when great 20th-C composers
are discussed. His operas alone justify his inclusion among the elite.

I also like your lead-in phrase, "for me". This gets close to the
heart of things, namely that there can't be one "greatest" for
everyone.

- Chloe


Chloe Pajerek

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Jul 14, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/14/99
to

> Yes, there is second-rate work, because the time and place he
> lived in required it of him

And Beethoven has his "Wellington's Victory".

> Diane Wilson (di...@firelily.com, anon-...@anon.twwells.com)

- Chloe


rneil...@my-deja.com

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Jul 14, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/14/99
to

>
> This is one of those curious and ultimately indispensable
conversations that is more important for what's said than what's agreed
on. It is much too soon still for agreement but the right time for fun.
We haven't decided what's important yet, and so we say more about
ourselves (and our times) than about the composers.

We prefer Stravinsky, I suspect, because we sense he has somehow
managed to combine reason and passion in ways that move us in the way
Eliot wanted us moved: we sense we are in the presence of felt thought.
So long as we value Eliot, we will probably value Stravinsky...and
Picasso. We prefer Bartok because we feel the emotional content is
harder won; some of us want the 'essential tension' unresolved. To
prefer Bartok to Stravinsky probably means to find Stravinsky's emotion
too sensational, easy, dramatic. Bartok asks more of us, takes us
farther away. I spent several years trying to persuade a fairly
traditional friend that Bartok terrain was even inhabitable. I am more
moved by Britten than by either Bartok or Stravinsky but am far from
sure he is their musical equal: there is something in the pain and angst
in Britten that neither of the others can quite reach. Compared with
both Stravinsky and Bartok, there is a privacy to Britten's best music,
a deliberate holding back, that I find extremely poignant. "The War
Requiem" is not representative Britten and may not hold up anyway. I
know of very little modern music as moving as "Rejoice in the Lamb," an
extraordinary piece with a miniature rose of great beauty at its center.
I could not live without the "Cello Symphony"and "Serenade for Tenor,
Horn, and Strings;" when I saw "Turn of the Screw" in my twenties, I
couldn't get it out of my head for weeks. Shostikovich can be nearly as
dynamic, bold, and emotionally exciting as Stravinsky (some of the
symphonies, and the second piano concerto); his preludes and fugues
approach felt thought; he can be as wirey and intense as Bartok (in some
of the quartets), and as privately moving as Britten (cello concertos).
I think if we edited the Shostikovich oeuve we would admire it more. I'm
fond of Martinu, but there is too much of a muchness there for me. I
find him a full cut below the others. I love Copland (he said with some
embarrassment), probably the way some English love Elgar. The clue to
his limitations is the fact that as much as we may admire his piano
music, we know it's not written by the same man who wrote Appalachian
Spring and Billy the Kid. We're still afraid of The Second Vienna School
and Carter and also suspect they will fade some in time. We're pretty
sure Hindemith is under-inspired and that Prokofiev is a Stravinsky
without sufficient blood in him - though we are excited by Alexander
Nevsky and admire the piano sonatas, piano concertos, and the violin
concertos. And finally, we wonder who, if anyone, will emerge from the
Gubaidulina/Tavener/Part/Kanchelli/Gorecky matrix.

I apologize for the pretentiousness of this. It's impossible to
make judgments like this without sounding pretentious. But it's great
fun. And that, to repeat myself, is what to me this kind of talk is all
about. Finally, I love lists, so here's mine, based on the premise that
only Stravinsky (Dionysus & Apollo) and Bartok (Apollo & Dionysus)
achieve major voices.

Major Composers: Stravinsky, Bartok
Second Rank: Shostikovich, Prokofiev, Britten, Vienna School,
Copland, Carter.
Minor Composers: Hindemith, Martinu.


Sent via Deja.com http://www.deja.com/
Share what you know. Learn what you don't.

Bob Lombard

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Jul 14, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/14/99
to
Thanks. A good, thoughtful exposition. My understanding of "pretentious" is
acting (pretending) to be something that you're not. You aren't guilty of
that here.

The terrain Bartok takes me to *isn't* habitable. It's a wonderful place to
visit, but human beings couldn't survive there for long. The world
Stravinsky takes us to in Rite Of Spring is habitable. It would just be a
very strange, dangerous place to live.

bl

Alan P Dawes

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Jul 14, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/14/99
to
In article <MPG.11f59e8f9...@news.mindspring.com>,

Diane Wilson <di...@firelily.com> wrote:
> It's worth remembering that Russian culture in general, and Soviet
> culture in particular, has tended to look to the past; modernism in
> music simply wasn't tolerated for most of the time period of
> Shostakovich's career. 12-tone music was banned until 1971,
> but Shostakovich wrote a fugue (Op. 87, no. 15, D-flat major)
> based on an 11-note tone row--very typical of his humor.

But perhaps he was just extending Bach's idea of using all 12 tones in the
theme of his Fugue XXIV in the 48 Preludes and Fugues. In the dim and
distant past as a teenager, having just read about the strange,
inaccessible, 'modern' '12 tone music', it came as quite a shock to find
that the Bach fugue I had been struggling with used all 12 'tones' in the
first 3 bars to produce a theme which to my ears was very accessible!

Alan

--
--. --. --. --. : : --- --- ----------------------------
|_| |_| | _ | | | | |_ | alan....@argonet.co.uk
| | |\ | | | | |\| | |
| | | \ |_| |_| | | |__ | Using an Acorn RiscPC


William A. Dirks

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Jul 15, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/15/99
to
On Wed, 14 Jul 1999 20:44:52 GMT, rneil...@my-deja.com wrote:

>
>>
>> This is one of those curious and ultimately indispensable
>conversations that is more important for what's said than what's agreed
>on. It is much too soon still for agreement but the right time for fun.
>We haven't decided what's important yet, and so we say more about
>ourselves (and our times) than about the composers.

I think yours is an interesting post, and want to continue the
discussion, but I find your use of "we" unacceptable: please speak
for yourself, not me. The only "pretentiousness" in your writing lies
in this.

> We prefer Stravinsky, I suspect, because we sense he has somehow
>managed to combine reason and passion in ways that move us in the way
>Eliot wanted us moved: we sense we are in the presence of felt thought.
>So long as we value Eliot, we will probably value Stravinsky...and
>Picasso. We prefer Bartok because we feel the emotional content is
>harder won; some of us want the 'essential tension' unresolved. To
>prefer Bartok to Stravinsky probably means to find Stravinsky's emotion
>too sensational, easy, dramatic. Bartok asks more of us, takes us
>farther away.

I don*t understand at all what you mean by "the emotional content is
harder won", or the statement that follows. Bartok and Stravinsky
(along with Beethoven) were the composers who got me interested in
classical music. I found both of their major works (the Rite, the C
for O) equally "accessible", or to put it another way, equally
"sensational, easy, and dramatic". I don*t think the difference
between them lies in emotional accessibility (they each have other
works that are more difficult, too). To the extent that it does, that
would have to do not with the composer himself, but with our degree of
personal compatibility with him. Stylistically, much can be said
about the differences between Bartok and Stravinsky, however. Your
comment about Stravinsky and Picasso works well. I don*t think *we*
(excuse me) would make that kind of comparison with Bartok, and that
is another reason why I pick Stravinsky as the quintessential 20th
Century composer--quintessential here meaning "most representative",
putting aside for the moment questions of "best" or "greatest".
Bartok*s style, using folk-inspired themes, rhythms, and modes
brilliantly within composed structures, was not new, but a throwback
to the Romantic or earlier periods; his modernity seems to come mostly
from the degree of dissonance or non-traditional tonality resulting.
Stravinsky, however, may easily call up associations with the 20th
century art of Kandinsky or Picasso: often, like Kandinsky or the
Cubists, everything is on the surface (not the same as
superficial--don*t get started), there is no "background". Recall the
opening of Beethoven*s 1st Rasumovsky quartet, and the rhythmic figure
used in the accompaniment--which quickly fades into the background of
the listener*s attention. When Stravinsky uses a similar figure, it
is, and remains, in the foreground, deliberately. And some of his
gestures achieve emotional effect through the creation of a visual,
even cinematic, space. The ending of Orpheus possibly suggests the
way a camera slowly retreats from the final scene of a movie tragedy,
freezing the final scene in stillness, in time and in our memories.
(I*m indebted to a Gramophone reviewer for helping to crystallize this
image for me, despite a review I otherwise disagree with.) In all his
stylistic tendencies, even in his neoclassicism, Stravinsky seems much
more modern and 20th Century than Bartok--except for the latter's
string quartets. These are comments on style, not depth of emotional
communication (and I repeat I find Stravinsky the equal of Bartok
there), but I think they show Stravinsky as a much more forward
looking and revolutionary musical creator than Bartok. That's not to
say I don't find Bartok's music rewarding.

Time prevents me from commenting on Shostakovitch.

<snip>

We're still afraid of The Second Vienna School
>and Carter and also suspect they will fade some in time. We're pretty
>sure Hindemith is under-inspired

Speak for yourself, buddy. Hindemith*s "Mathis der Maler"--the
symphony and the opera--and his 1963 a cappella Mass, his Ludus
Tonalis, and his Nobilissima Visione are great inspirations, and as
original as anything to be found in music.

--Bill Dirks

<snip>

Rodger Whitlock

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Jul 15, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/15/99
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On Wed, 14 Jul 1999 20:44:52 GMT, rneil...@my-deja.com wrote:

> Major Composers: Stravinsky, Bartok
> Second Rank: Shostikovich, Prokofiev, Britten, Vienna School,
>Copland, Carter.
> Minor Composers: Hindemith, Martinu.

I must differ, if we are ranking by "How will the future view the
composers of the twentieth century?" Emphasizing the same figures
you've listed, I'd put them in this order:

First rank: Bartok, Sibelius, Debussy

Seond rank: Stravinsky, Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Hindemith, Vaughan
Williams, Nielsen, Ives, Rachmaninoff, Ravel, de Falla, Janacek

Third rank: Britten, Holst, Copland, *early* Schoenberg

Also-rans: Vienna School, Carter, Martinu, Busoni, other Americans and
Brits, Kodaly, etc

I must admit that I am uncertain about Stravinsky, but in the end I
think his music lacks a certain profundity characteristic of the truly
greatest composers.

No flames, please. They're a waste of time. I bought an asbestos
jockstrap today and am wearing it faithfully whenever I read r.c.m.r.
from now on. It includes a "butt cover" too, made of the same material
as the heat-resistant parts of the space shuttle.

--
Rodger Whitlock
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Andy Evans

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Jul 15, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/15/99
to
I wonder if the type of oevre of these modern giants is affecting
judgements. Beethoven wrote famously good symphonies, concertos, quartets,
and piano sonatas. Hard act to follow there, but no ballets to speak of.
Maybe someone who 'expects' a major composer to write some good symphonies
at the very least will find it hard not to put Shostokovich and Sibelius
high on a 20th century list. Then there are Shostokovich and Bartok's
concertos and quartets, hard not to respect. But then Prokofiev's concertos
are equally good (though the symphonies arguably and quartets definitely
less so). Prokofiev's piano music is - to me - the best this century, though
Scriabin is up there too. It's the ballet music that seems to confuse the
archivists in search of the 'great composer' labels. Would Tchaikovsky be
judged a great composer on the strength of his enormously popular ballets if
he hadn't written the symphonies and concerti to make him 'respected'?
Probably he would be rated somewhere around Bizet as a composer of popular
tunes. How would Stravinsky be rated if the Rite was 'Symphony 1', Petrushka
'Symphony 2'. The Firebird 'Symphony 3' etc etc? He would be rated as great
a symphonist as Beethoven. What if Beethoven's Symphony 3 was called
'Eroica - a ballet'. Do you see what I mean? It can easily affect judgement.
I very much like the previous post saying 'We prefer Bartok because we feel

the emotional content is harder won; some of us want the 'essential tension'
unresolved'. This is very well expressed, and would certainly describe
Beethoven and Brahms. As humans we probably find it spooky when others
apparently like ourselves in hair colour, number of limbs etc write works
like the WTC and the Rite which emerge from the writing process as organic,
perfect gems. Where's the toil we would expect? As G.B.Shaw said of
Shakespeare 'With the single exception of Homer there is no eminent writer I
despise so entirely as Shakespeare when I measure my mind against his - it
would positively be a relief to me to dig him up and throw stones at him'.
Andy Evans, email: arts.ps...@cwcom.net
Our Website: www.artspsychology.mcmail.com

Raymond Hall

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Jul 15, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/15/99
to
rneil...@my-deja.com wrote:

> >
> > This is one of those curious and ultimately indispensable
> conversations that is more important for what's said than what's agreed
> on. It is much too soon still for agreement but the right time for fun.

> [excellent post snipped for brevity.....]


>
> Major Composers: Stravinsky, Bartok
> Second Rank: Shostikovich, Prokofiev, Britten, Vienna School,
> Copland, Carter.
> Minor Composers: Hindemith, Martinu.
>

Firstly, I observe no pretentiousness on your part. This is fun, and yet
gives everyone a chance to air their views about the great composers of
this century. I believe it really tells us more about ourselves and our
choices, than the composers we admire. Sorry, but I believe you already
laid claim to that statement, but I believe that all of the composers
you cite above, deserve the epithets of greatness. But there are others,
such as Elgar, RVW, Sibelius, Nielsen, Tippett, Honegger, Carter,
Sessions, Messiaen, Varese and many I have forgotten to list because of
time and space (and memory cells). Not to mention Simpson, Holmboe,
Tubin amongst others.

Another important aspect to remember here also. All of the additional
composers listed above were born before 1921 (Simpson being the
young'un). Surely this seems to me a very premature cut-off point?
N'est-ce pas? No mention of Boulez or Ligeti or Lutoslawski. This may be
because we don't have the perspective of time, and listening experience
with regard to these composers. Maybe because of the use of
fully-fledged serialism, or partial serialism, and the more "difficult"
aspects (as regards general listening) which doesn't enable us the
proper opportunity of correctly assessing these composers, we can easily
forget them. And Carter, in notes given in 1960, admits that he is
completely unaware of consciously using a 12-note system, but it is the
sheer density of his polyphony and rhythmic devices that makes him, for
me, a "difficult" composer. Who is yet to say, that perhaps Boulez is
not the true heir to the mantle of the greatest composer of this
century? Get to see him in THIS century, even if he is only conducting.

I don't believe Bartok was a greater composer than Stravinsky. Everyone
points to his string quartets as the prime example of his greatness, (he
was said to advance the technical possibilities of the string quartet),
but to call the CfO his greatest work, when in reality he only wrote it
on a commission because of dire financial strife and because of the
compassion of others, is surely incorrect. His Music for Strings,
Percussion and Celesta far exceeds in emotional range anything provoked
by the "pastiche" of the CfO (fine work that it is). He was really the
supreme ethnomusicologist, and he will be remembered for rescuing and
revealing the rhythms, melodies, and unique harmonies of Slavic folk
music, and presenting it in all the fine costumery of 20th century
orchestral clothes, and in his varied piano works, dances, Books for
children, Microkosmos, etc. To equate him with being a 20th century
Beethoven may have some validity, although I don't really believe in
this analogy. He plumbed emotional depths, but far less than did Elgar.
Much less.

Stravinsky was a musical chameleon, the supreme craftsman, a musical
wizard, who was attracted at various stages by his Russian past, the
classical past (Haydn etc.), American jazz, and later with attempts to
use serialism (or 12-note). His body of works encompass a wide range of
orchestral colour, and rhythmic bravado, and at every stage one senses
sheer perfection of craft in order to produce an object (rather as a
sculptor produces a carved piece of stone, Stravinsky carved out musical
objects, or arrangements of pitches in time). He plumbed some emotional
depths, (Symphony of Psalms, Apollo), and his emotional force was more
religiously inspired than inspired through deep inner personal feelings.
He was the 20th century Picasso of music, producing a gigantic cubic
body of finely crafted musical art.

Shostakovich was greater than both. Why was he greater than the two
above? Because he suffered in a real (human) way, and was able to convey
within fairly conventional means, the true depths of human feelings and
despair (his string quartets show this more than any of his symphonies).
There is a universality about Shostakovich's art, which transcends the
great emotions evoked by Elgar or Delius, powerful though these emotions
might be to those open to their music. Shostakovich, moreover,
transcended and rose high above the tyrannical environment in which he
lived, and his works follow obliquely the course of history as he
observed and lived it, and for that, and that alone, together with his
total output of works from symphonies, piano trios, piano works,
quartets, concertos, he must represent the truly great composer of this
century.

So my list is as follows :-

1. Shostakovich
2. Bartok, Stravinsky
3. Elgar, Honneger, Britten, Tippett
4. Sibelius, Martinu, Nielsen, Sessions, Ives + others
5. RVW, Walton, Prokofiev, Barber, Copland, Hovhaness + others

Candidates to knock the above list to kingdom come are (given the test
of time);- Boulez, Carter, Messiaen, Simpson, Holmboe, Tubin, Ligeti,
and others.

Hope I haven't seemed "pretentious" - just my thoughts on the matter.

Regards,

Ray Hall, Sydney


Diane Wilson

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Jul 15, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/15/99
to
In article <49215e4d38...@argonet.co.uk>, alan....@argonet.co.uk
says...

> In article <MPG.11f59e8f9...@news.mindspring.com>,
> Diane Wilson <di...@firelily.com> wrote:
> > It's worth remembering that Russian culture in general, and Soviet
> > culture in particular, has tended to look to the past; modernism in
> > music simply wasn't tolerated for most of the time period of
> > Shostakovich's career. 12-tone music was banned until 1971,
> > but Shostakovich wrote a fugue (Op. 87, no. 15, D-flat major)
> > based on an 11-note tone row--very typical of his humor.
>
> But perhaps he was just extending Bach's idea of using all 12 tones in the
> theme of his Fugue XXIV in the 48 Preludes and Fugues. In the dim and
> distant past as a teenager, having just read about the strange,
> inaccessible, 'modern' '12 tone music', it came as quite a shock to find
> that the Bach fugue I had been struggling with used all 12 'tones' in the
> first 3 bars to produce a theme which to my ears was very accessible!

You might enjoy listening to this particular Shostakovich
prelude & fugue; it is a charicature drawn with withering sarcasm.
The prelude is a stilted waltz that can remind one of the tension
between an untalented, humorless teacher and a free-spirited
student. The four-part chromatic fugue has been described as
"chaotic" and "unhinged"; the pedantic part of the waltz tries
to break in from time to time. It really ticked off the Soviet
music bureaucracy when they first heard it. (Shostakovich was
already an officially sanctioned target, and the 24 Preludes &
Fugues played into the hands of the prevailing condemnation of
"formalism," but this d-flat major piece was clearly singled out
for partciular ire.)

Shostakovich clearly drew inspiration from Bach on the P&F,
but also from other sources from Chopin to Mussorgsky and
others. At times he expands on tradition, and at other times
he reacts violently against it. It's a fascinating collection.

Your description of Bach's struggle with using all 12 tones
is strongly parallel to the late Shostakovich quartets, which
do very similar things with tone rows. The 12th quartet is
particularly outstanding.

William A. Dirks

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Jul 15, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/15/99
to
On Thu, 15 Jul 1999 21:45:44 +1000, Raymond Hall
<hallr...@bigpond.com> wrote:

<snip>

>Shostakovich was greater than both. Why was he greater than the two
>above? Because he suffered in a real (human) way, and was able to convey
>within fairly conventional means, the true depths of human feelings and
>despair

Sorry, I just don't believe that suffering, or its expression in
music, has anything to do with greatness. By that standard, Haydn is
nowhere near greatness, because his music is so often full of joy and
exuberance. Yet I think he is among the greatest. Why is the musical
expression of grief or suffering greater than the musical expression
of joy? Isn't it just as valuable and just as ennobling, and just as
uplifting?

--Bill DIrks

Bob Lombard

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Jul 15, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/15/99
to

>
>No flames, please. They're a waste of time. I bought an asbestos
>jockstrap today and am wearing it faithfully whenever I read r.c.m.r.
>from now on. It includes a "butt cover" too, made of the same material
>as the heat-resistant parts of the space shuttle.
>
>--
>Rodger Whitlock


Doesn't the space shuttle use ceramic tiles? Sounds like a very
uncomfortable butt cover.

bl

rneil...@my-deja.com

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Jul 15, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/15/99
to

> Sorry, I just don't believe that suffering, or its expression in
> music, has anything to do with greatness. By that standard, Haydn is
> nowhere near greatness, because his music is so often full of joy and
> exuberance. Yet I think he is among the greatest. Why is the musical
> expression of grief or suffering greater than the musical expression
> of joy? Isn't it just as valuable and just as ennobling, and just as
> uplifting?
>

> Of course it is, but we have come to value tragedy and irony
over comedy and romance; that's just our historical moment. We'll get
over it in time. In the meanwhile, as you rightly remind us,
Haydn sits there and smiles, patiently waiting for us.

rneil...@my-deja.com

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Jul 15, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/15/99
to

> My post and list assumed the group of composers after 'the late
romantics,' though, despite their early dates, I probably should have
included Debussey and Ravel. To me, they are comparable to Ezra Pound --
more powerful as an influence than by virtue of their oeuves -- so I'd
consider them major influences but minor composers.

If we drop back a generation, I'd consider Sibelius, Straus, Elgar,
and Nielsen all second rank, though Sibelius calls eloquently to me, as
his continuing vitality in the recording world demonstrates he does to
many others as well. I think that in this generation the controversial
figure is Mahler. Based on his enormous following, not a minor
consideration, he's indisputably major. But to me his reputation
may ultimately prove to have more to do with our times than with the
music itself. He wrote an awful lot of weak and vacuous music for a
major composer! But then, I have enormous respect for Boulez and he
clearly feels Mahler's the real thing.

On the Stavinsky/Bartok business, I think we're really into a
Bach/Handel debate, which while fun really won't end up elevating or
demoting either of them. What I find almost more fascinating about the
Bach/Handel duo is that neither could have written a note of the other's
music! But let's save that one for another time.

Raymond Hall

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Jul 15, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/15/99
to
"William A. Dirks" wrote:

> On Thu, 15 Jul 1999 21:45:44 +1000, Raymond Hall
> <hallr...@bigpond.com> wrote:
>
> <snip>
>

> >Shostakovich was greater than both. Why was he greater than the two
> >above? Because he suffered in a real (human) way, and was able to convey
> >within fairly conventional means, the true depths of human feelings and
> >despair
>

> Sorry, I just don't believe that suffering, or its expression in
> music, has anything to do with greatness. By that standard, Haydn is
> nowhere near greatness, because his music is so often full of joy and
> exuberance. Yet I think he is among the greatest. Why is the musical
> expression of grief or suffering greater than the musical expression
> of joy? Isn't it just as valuable and just as ennobling, and just as
> uplifting?
>

> --Bill DIrks


>
> (his string quartets show this more than any of his symphonies).
> >There is a universality about Shostakovich's art, which transcends the
> >great emotions evoked by Elgar or Delius, powerful though these emotions
> >might be to those open to their music. Shostakovich, moreover,
> >transcended and rose high above the tyrannical environment in which he
> >lived, and his works follow obliquely the course of history as he
> >observed and lived it, and for that, and that alone, together with his
> >total output of works from symphonies, piano trios, piano works,
> >quartets, concertos, he must represent the truly great composer of this
> >century.
> >
> >So my list is as follows :-
> >
> >1. Shostakovich
> >2. Bartok, Stravinsky
> >3. Elgar, Honneger, Britten, Tippett
> >4. Sibelius, Martinu, Nielsen, Sessions, Ives + others
> >5. RVW, Walton, Prokofiev, Barber, Copland, Hovhaness + others
> >
> >Candidates to knock the above list to kingdom come are (given the test
> >of time);- Boulez, Carter, Messiaen, Simpson, Holmboe, Tubin, Ligeti,
> >and others.
> >
> >Hope I haven't seemed "pretentious" - just my thoughts on the matter.
> >
> >Regards,
> >
> >Ray Hall, Sydney
> >

I agree about Haydn, but then of course he is not a 20th century composer,
but accept your example. But it is not suffering as such that inspires me to
cite Shostakovich as the greatest 20th century composer, which after all is
only my opinion. Rather it is the way Shostakovich was able to overcome the
conditions under which he lived, which often brings about a real and added
dimension with regard to human feeling and emotions. When human beings face
immense trials, the capacity for soul searching increases. The capacity for
compassion and feeling may also well heighten as a result. This is evident in
much of his music (a deep intensity of feeling), that I frankly don't find in
Bartok or Stravinsky. Stalinist Russia wasn't a place for any real joy, only
fear. "Let us all laugh, as the State wants us to ....", is not a call or a
reason for the experience of real joy.
In actual fact, in much Bartok I find a lot of bitterness (neither joy nor
despair), and a fair deal of ascerbity. In Stravinsky I find wry humour and a
degree of religious fervour.
Neither affects me as deeply as Shostakovich, (although whether that is a
suitable criterion for asessing a composer, is open to debate). But I am firm
in my convictions here.

Regards,

Ray Hall, Sydney

Chloe Pajerek

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Jul 15, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/15/99
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In article <7miss1$rp3$1...@nnrp1.deja.com>, rneil...@my-deja.com writes:

> We're still afraid of The Second Vienna School
> and Carter and also suspect they will fade some in time.

*Who's* afraid? I'm not sure that Schoenberg has held up all
that well, but Berg and Webern certainly have. As for Carter,
his stature will only grow, as will that of Boulez.

- Chloe


Chloe Pajerek

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Jul 15, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/15/99
to

> > We prefer Bartok because we feel the emotional content is

> >harder won; some of us want the 'essential tension' unresolved. To
> >prefer Bartok to Stravinsky probably means to find Stravinsky's emotion
> >too sensational, easy, dramatic. Bartok asks more of us, takes us
> >farther away.
>
> I don*t understand at all what you mean by "the emotional content is
> harder won", or the statement that follows.
>

> --Bill Dirks

I find Stravinsky endlessly fascinating precisely due to the way in which
the emotional content is always held back, always enigmatic. Stravinsky's
music is not *un*-emotional, but it is always controlled, poised, never
self-indulgent or "over the top". In a word, "classical".

The constant rhythmic and harmonic invention in Stravinsky is
readily apparent, but it is the razor-sharp *aesthetic* innovation that
elevates his music to a higher level. This was creativity in the
very deepest sense.

- Chloe


Chloe Pajerek

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Jul 15, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/15/99
to

> I must admit that I am uncertain about Stravinsky, but in the end I
> think his music lacks a certain profundity characteristic of the truly
> greatest composers.

No it doesn't. I suggest that you look again, then try and tell
me that works such as the Symphonies of Wind Instruments
or the Requiem Canticles "lack a certain profundity".

What Stravinsky lacks is the pretension to profound emotionalism,
which in my view is a good thing. Compare the restraint of
Stravinsky to the bathos of, say, Shostakovich.

> Rodger Whitlock
> Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

- Chloe


Bob Lombard

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Jul 15, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/15/99
to

>I think yours is an interesting post, and want to continue the
>discussion, but I find your use of "we" unacceptable: please speak
>for yourself, not me. The only "pretentiousness" in your writing lies
>in this.


rneil uses the exclusive we (electronicists call it the XWE). You are
excluded.

bl

John Edwards

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Jul 15, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/15/99
to

Raymond Hall wrote in message <378DC9E8...@bigpond.com>...
>Bartok . . . plumbed emotional depths, but far less than did Elgar.
>Much less.


If this post seems wobbly, it's because I am shaking my head in disbelief.

---
John Edwards
jedw...@iag.net


rneil...@my-deja.com

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Jul 15, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/15/99
to

>
> Raymond Hall wrote in message <378DC9E8...@bigpond.com>...

> >Bartok . . . plumbed emotional depths, but far less than did Elgar.
> >Much less.
>


> If this post seems wobbly, it's because I am shaking my head in
disbelief.
>

> Well, John, some people just vote with their hearts, and
then bring their hearts to the seminar, so to speak. Sad to
say, at least to you and me, they also dominate the subscription holders
of major symphony orchestras. How the hell did Boulez ever
pull off what he pulled off in New York..for even as long
as he did!? Truth is, and I was reminded of this when I tried to start
my kids out with the heavies, you do tend to come into music
via the Elgars, the Tchaikovskys, and even my beloved Sibelius. At some
point, most of us move on. In literature, which I know better, it's
because you begin to "use" it for something else: for insight and not
just for diversion, comfort and reinforcement. Elgar reinforces our
simplest feelings, which is no sin. It just isn't as ...valuable?
worthy? useful? mature? important? edifying? as showing us new ones, or
new combinations of old ones, or new perspectives on old ones. Owen
Barfield (I think, if he wasn't he it was Charles Williams)once wrote a
book arguing that the best literature was literature which expressed the
most complex feelings. That's baloney, of course, but there is some
truth in it. So, I'm sure we both agree, it's okay to love Elgar, let's
just not confuse love with Mt. Olympus. Unless, of course, love rules,
which is also allowed in a free-wheeling conversation like this.

JHenry1975

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Jul 15, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/15/99
to
Williams A. Dirks wrote:

>Stravinsky, however, may easily call up associations with the 20th
>century art of Kandinsky or Picasso:

More Picasso than Kandinsky, I think. Picasso and other cubists were primarily
figuralists who skewed the human form through geometric abstraction. I see
something parallel in Stravinsky's skewing of traditional forms, especially in
some of his neoclassic works.

Kandinsky's expressive abstractions are more akin to Schoenberg's seemingly
formless music. Interestingly, right around the time Schoenberg was developing
the twelve-tone method, a geometric scheme to add "structural integrity" to
atonality (something it never really lacked), Kandinsky's abstract paintings
were similarly taking on a more "geometric" appearance.

Joseph Henry


William A. Dirks

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Jul 15, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/15/99
to
On Thu, 15 Jul 1999 14:36:32 GMT, rneil...@my-deja.com wrote:

>
>> My post and list assumed the group of composers after 'the late
>romantics,' though, despite their early dates, I probably should have
>included Debussey and Ravel. To me, they are comparable to Ezra Pound --
>more powerful as an influence than by virtue of their oeuves -- so I'd
>consider them major influences but minor composers.
>
> If we drop back a generation, I'd consider Sibelius, Straus, Elgar,
>and Nielsen all second rank, though Sibelius calls eloquently to me, as
>his continuing vitality in the recording world demonstrates he does to
>many others as well.

Whatever Nielsen's "rank" is to be, I rank his 4th symphony as
fabulously 1st rate.

I think that in this generation the controversial
>figure is Mahler. Based on his enormous following, not a minor
>consideration, he's indisputably major. But to me his reputation
>may ultimately prove to have more to do with our times than with the
>music itself. He wrote an awful lot of weak and vacuous music for a
>major composer!

Well said!

--Bill Dirks

But then, I have enormous respect for Boulez and he
>clearly feels Mahler's the real thing.
>
> On the Stavinsky/Bartok business, I think we're really into a
>Bach/Handel debate, which while fun really won't end up elevating or
>demoting either of them. What I find almost more fascinating about the
>Bach/Handel duo is that neither could have written a note of the other's
>music! But let's save that one for another time.
>
>
>

William A. Dirks

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Jul 15, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/15/99
to
On 15 Jul 1999 13:57:39 GMT, qpc...@frontiernet.net (Chloe Pajerek)
wrote:

Yes; the "subject" or basic material of Stravinsky's music is often,
at least partly, musical style itself.

--Bil Dirks
>
>- Chloe
>


William A. Dirks

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Jul 15, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/15/99