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Samuel Vriezen

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Dec 27, 2004, 10:59:22 AM12/27/04
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Wayne Reimer wrote:

>>But now it seems the focus for you has shifted from those physics to the
>>grammar of functionality. I can only agree to such a shift of focus, and
>>yes, I think the hard part of getting Schoenberg has mostly to do with
>>the question of how harmonic functions, meter and phrasing interrelate.
>>And indeed, Radulescu's work, very much based on the physics of
>>overtones, features even less of a classical sense of phrasing or
>>harmonic functionality.
>
> My thought is that the grammar of functionality in tonal writing is
based on
> the physics of the overtone series, and that listeners perceive/feel
that
> connection somehow. I just can't see that grammar as a completely
artificial
> construct springing from Rameau's circle of fifths like the universe
being
> formed from the big bang.


Well, I think it's helpful to be strict about these things here.

We're talking about two things: One is the physics of acoustics and the
overtone series and all that, and throw in the physiology of the ear and
psychoacoustics as well, etc. The other is grammar, the sequence of
events. The first domain is timeless and attributes qualities to sounds.
The second domain is in-time and regulates expectations.

I'd say 12-tone atonality & the dodecaphonic way of thinking is equally
based on acoustics. It uses recognizable intervals and harmony classes
and all that. It's being composed 'with the ear'. However, the
difference is in the grammar, in the setting up of expectations. And
indeed I think that in our present cultural context, Schoenberg's
12-tone works will be seen as more difficult than, say, Britney Spears.


>>Which for me is a good reason to just ignore physics in this debate of
>>conventions and aesthetics.
>>
>>My own conclusion is: People don't like Schoenberg because they think
>>it's difficult, and they have no use for art they consider difficult.
>>
>
>
> What if they hear it as indecipherable and ugly, and realize that
mortal life
> may just be too short for them to be able to afford to spend any of
their
> valuable minutes of it pursuing this goal of understanding, the
expense of
> which is quite possibly not worth it? Maybe they'd like to pursue
some other
> difficult art that seems more promising, like learning to appreciate
Perotin or
> Ockeghem. What is it about Schoenberg that puts him on a pedestal
and makes
> him so valuable?

First of all, I'm not so sure people really go deeply into Ockeghem as
much as they do into Schoenberg. Of course the sounds of Ockeghem are
'pretty' so perhaps some people will be more drawn to Ockeghem as
wallpaper music of the snobby sort. I'm not saying that's all there is
to Ockeghem's gargantuan popularity, but it's enough for me to refrain
from drawing conclusions.

Anyway, you raise two very interesting questions. One, why do people not
like certain sorts of difficulty? I don't think there's a general answer
there.

Two, why do people who don't like Schoenberg go on about him all the
time? Frustration, I think. Even though they don't like that music, he's
seen as having a certain Status. This status is I think explainable
because of his historic role; he was a composer with far-reaching ideas
about music and that in itself is such a precious thing that he's being
regarded as important even today. Also, there's still a lot of music
enthusiasts around who absolutely adore Schoenberg.

Myself, I keep being amused by all this. I have little use for
Schoenberg's musical legacy in my own works, but I recognize that he did
play an important role. For me, that's all history now, and I'd advise
people to explore intriguing composers with very different outlooks on
music life if Schoenberg doesn't cut it for them - one could try Cage,
Nancarrow, Feldman, Rihm, Lachenmann, Murail, Vivier, Sciarrino, Barry,
Johnson, Xenakis, Andriessen, Lucier, Tarnopolski, Saariaho, Volans,
Stiebler, Bathory-Kitsz, Crumb or yours truly.

But I fear the catch may be in the word 'explore'. A friend recently
told me about how he played a concert at the Concertgebouw Kleine Zaal,
which features the typical snobbish moneyed good-taste dressed up
pretentious middle class Amsterdam Zuid crowd. They were playing Crumb's
Vox Balenae, a piece that AFAIC is immediately striking and beautiful
and attractive and poetic and all that and a far cry from horrid twelve
tone stuff.

But you know, it was different from Brahms, so...

--
samuel
http://composers21.com/compdocs/vriezens.htm

Nobody out there but us. And I can never figure out who that was or will
be, much less is.

- Charles Bernstein

Samuel Vriezen

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Dec 27, 2004, 11:02:02 AM12/27/04
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Wayne Reimer wrote:

>>>You may very well be correct in the idea that popularity just can't be
>>>completely explained. There are plenty of composers whose neglect I
completely
>>>fail to undrstand, as another example. Nevertheless, trends in
public taste
>>>have the possibility of being understood, if only partially or dimly.
>>
>>Of course it can - anything can be understood at least partially. But
>>*how* you understand things can be more a matter of choice than you
>>realize. I think for example that saying that popularity of things
>>depends largely on pitch structure is not so much unlogical, as a choice
>>which allows you to look at music in a certain way. But it happens to be
>>a view that has limited merit for me.
>>
>
> Okay, then, but what if my point is not a merely a logical one, but
something
> that has actually taken place in the ears/minds of concert-goers?
Not that I
> have the time and resources to prove it, but it is an interesting
thought to me
> that it could be so, and it helps to explain what you point out as
puzzling, in
> your paragraphs below. It is not news that even composers, some
active and
> relatively successful, have had an adverse reaction to trying to
compose in a
> 12-tone idiom.

That all depends on who you ask. There have been composers who claimed
to dislike tonal writing, too. Myself, I think in my entire works,
including my student pieces, you can find not even a single tonal
cadence and only 6 bars of 12-tone music, though an increasing amount of
pentatonicism, some of it open and some of it well-disguised.

Audiences can be similarly complex.

> And as to Schoenberg specifically, there's still some question about
whether he
> was really a top-notch composer most of the time. It was reinforcing
to me,
> after I brought up the idea in a different post some days ago that the
> Schoenberg "problem" might be at least partially due to his
not-truly-first-
> rate compositional talent, that I read that Christopher Rouse has said
> something similar.

Rouse! Good god! Speaking of pot and kettle! The most inaptly named
composer working today! Well OK, I've only heard his Trombone Concerto
but it stays with me as one of the most unimaginative, academic, turgid
and pretentious pieces I've heard in concert. It was in a concert with
Slatkin coming to Amsterdam to educate us about American music; he also
played Ives 4 about which he claimed in the papers, the day before, that
it was interesting but a bit amateurish too. Give me amateurs any time
of day then.

I'm no big fan of Schoenberg in general. However, he *did* write such
pieces as the op. 16 orchestra pieces which are among the most
mindblowingly visionary pieces ever written. And there's a lot of other
great stuff in there - 2nd quartet, 1st chamber symphony, string trio,
Pierrot, etc.

> Why is there still a divide (which is very much connected to
12-tone/serialist
> musico-cultural hegemony) between the uptown and downtown composers
in New York
> City, for that matter? I dare say that some active fighting against
12-tone
> techniques in the US has to do with the fact that some composers and
performers
> felt they were being forced to either comply with the 12-tone party
line or be
> marginalized and deeply resented it.

Is that fight still so important? I had imagined we were past that stage
by now. Bang on a Can is doing fine, it seems, without having to be
polemic all the time, simply because they're doing their own thing. And
it leads to some fantastic results - I recently got David Lang's "Child"
and I love it.

gerberk

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Dec 27, 2004, 7:02:17 PM12/27/04
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You should have a good drink jerk off on some porn movies fuck a few hookers
from poland etc.


"Samuel Vriezen" <sqv.do.not.spam@xs4all> schreef in bericht
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gerberk

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Dec 27, 2004, 7:27:02 PM12/27/04
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Sorry there You could be good but you are too intellectual in a way.Relax...
music is about emotion my friend

"Samuel Vriezen" <sqv.do.not.spam@xs4all> schreef in bericht
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Matthew Fields

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Dec 27, 2004, 8:04:03 PM12/27/04
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In article <cqq98o$4ts$1...@news6.zwoll1.ov.home.nl>,

gerberk <ger...@home.nl> wrote:
>Sorry there You could be good but you are too intellectual in a way.Relax...
>music is about emotion my friend

Sez you! Music is sounds we choose to listen to specially, whether they're
about anything or not!

--
Matthew H. Fields http://personal.www.umich.edu/~fields
Music: Splendor in Sound
To be great, do things better and better. Don't wait for talent: no such thing.
Brights have a naturalistic world-view. http://www.the-brights.net/

Message has been deleted

Jerry Kohl

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Dec 28, 2004, 2:22:40 AM12/28/04
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Wayne Reimer wrote:

> > In article <41d03236$0$6220$e4fe...@news.xs4all.nl>, sqv.do.not.spam@xs4all says...
> > Wayne Reimer wrote:
> >
> <...>


> >
> >
> > Well, I think it's helpful to be strict about these things here.
> >

> OK, you go ahead and be strict; being strict is not particularly of interest to
> me, so I won't be.


>
> > We're talking about two things: One is the physics of acoustics and the
> > overtone series and all that, and throw in the physiology of the ear and
> > psychoacoustics as well, etc. The other is grammar, the sequence of
> > events. The first domain is timeless and attributes qualities to sounds.
> > The second domain is in-time and regulates expectations.
> >

> Oh, so in your point of view, these are two different things? No wonder we
> talk past each other...

Now, pardon me for butting in on the conversation, but I would be very
interested in hearing how you justify equating the two--that is, acoustical
physics (overtone series, etc.) together with aural physology and
psychoacoustics, on the one hand, and musical grammar on the other.

If I understand Samuel correctly, the former (the first domain) belongs
to the hierarchical, "vertical" domain of (tonal/modal/whatever) pitch
structures, and the latter (the second domain) has to do with the
succession of events in time.

If I understand you correctly, there is no difference between these two?

--
Jerry Kohl <jerom...@comcast.net>
"Légpárnás hajóm tele van angolnákkal."


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Jerry Kohl

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Dec 28, 2004, 4:03:22 AM12/28/04
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Wayne Reimer wrote:

> In article <41d032d7$0$6220$e4fe...@news.xs4all.nl>, sqv.do.not.spam@xs4all
> says...


> > Wayne Reimer wrote:
> >
> > > Why is there still a divide (which is very much connected to
> > 12-tone/serialist
> > > musico-cultural hegemony) between the uptown and downtown composers
> > in New York
> > > City, for that matter? I dare say that some active fighting against
> > 12-tone
> > > techniques in the US has to do with the fact that some composers and
> > performers
> > > felt they were being forced to either comply with the 12-tone party
> > line or be
> > > marginalized and deeply resented it.
> >
> > Is that fight still so important? I had imagined we were past that stage
> > by now. Bang on a Can is doing fine, it seems, without having to be
> > polemic all the time, simply because they're doing their own thing. And
> > it leads to some fantastic results - I recently got David Lang's "Child"
> > and I love it.
> >

> The fight is still important enough for people to feel bitterness about it. I
> understand there are still folks who won't speak to each other because of it.
> I don't think the uptowners still have the complete hammerlock that they used
> to have over who got the big prizes, commissions, professorships, etc., but too
> many of the uptown old guard are still sitting on the important boards and
> committees for it to be a wholesome situation.

For the record, it was the *downtowners*, if anyone, who had the "hammerlock"
on the big prizes and commissions. (Ok, so they only managed to corner about
75% of the money.) You ought to read Joe Strauss's article on the subject.
Professorships, on the other hand, are by definition Uptown, as I believe
Greenwich Village U doesn't actually provide such things ;-)

albert landa

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Dec 28, 2004, 5:38:10 AM12/28/04
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What is Amsterdam Zuid?


albert landa
"Samuel Vriezen" <sqv.do.not.spam@xs4all> wrote in message
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Ian Pace

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Dec 28, 2004, 6:23:04 AM12/28/04
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"Wayne Reimer" <wr...@pacbell.net> wrote in message
news:MPG.1c3abae1f...@news.sf.sbcglobal.net...
>>> >
>>
>
> While I don't love everything he's written, or even necessarily most of
> it,
> Rouse is a very successful art music composer in the US and I was glad to
> see
> that someone of his stature in the American art music scene questioned
> Schoenberg's talent, too.
>
A really major composer, Debussy, questioned Beethoven's talent. One doesn't
have to think any the less of Debussy to take his criticisms with a pinch of
salt.

Ian


Samuel Vriezen

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Dec 28, 2004, 7:31:33 AM12/28/04
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gerberk wrote:

> Sorry there You could be good but you are too intellectual in a way.Relax...
> music is about emotion my friend

Okay, I'll be emotional for you.

SHUT THE FUCK UP YOU ASSHOLE!

Better?

Samuel Vriezen

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Dec 28, 2004, 7:50:18 AM12/28/04
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Wayne Reimer wrote:

>>That all depends on who you ask. There have been composers who claimed
>>to dislike tonal writing, too. Myself, I think in my entire works,
>>including my student pieces, you can find not even a single tonal
>>cadence and only 6 bars of 12-tone music, though an increasing amount of
>>pentatonicism, some of it open and some of it well-disguised.
>>
>
>

> So what? I mentioned those composers as the exception (I'm thinking of an
> earlier generation when 12-tone/serial writing was thought to be the only
> really truly "correct" way to compose),

I believe that age is entirely mythical. There probably were circles
where this was true, and these probably had some degree of influence or
prestige. Look up close and you find more richness. Already we find
Boulez complaining about Leibowitz' influence and Xenakis polemicizing
against serialism - not to mention wagonloads of tonal music from being
written all through the 10s, 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and
right now.

I know there's a lot of sorry people who ran into the wrong professor
and let themselves be intimidated. You have people who really wanted to
write tonal music and weren't 'allowed' by their teacher as well as
people who really wanted to write experimental music who weren't
'allowed' by their teacher. This should not be cause for whining, I
believe. Art is a question in the end of the initiatives you take
yourself; if only the initiative to go study somewhere else. Contrary to
conventional wisdom, it was never the case that you couldn't do what you
wanted to do.

Whether tonal composition was a majority thing is a different question -
depends on what you consider tonal. A lot of minimal music is diatonic
but doesn't have cadences, etc.

> God knows why Slatkin would want to educate the Dutch about American music -

It *is* a bit presumptuous, given that Reich, Adams, Lucier, Glass,
Cage, Carter, Lang, Gordon, Wolfe, Feldman, Crumb, Nancarrow not to
mention all those jazz and rock folks are well-known here. You can keep
your Danielpours, Rouses and Coriglianos for all I care.

> why would anyone there care about it anymore than Americans care about Dutch
> music, which is to say, in general, not at all? Oh, wait, was Ton de Leeuw
> Dutch? This is one American, anyway, who loves much of his music.

Yes, Ton de Leeuw was a good Dutch composer. Also, a month or two ago
there was this Louis Andriessen festival in New York. I could mention a
few interesting Dutch composers that you might want to know about if you
care about good music, but there's no necessity AFAIC.

>>Is that fight still so important? I had imagined we were past that stage
>>by now. Bang on a Can is doing fine, it seems, without having to be
>>polemic all the time, simply because they're doing their own thing. And
>>it leads to some fantastic results - I recently got David Lang's "Child"
>>and I love it.
>>
>

> The fight is still important enough for people to feel bitterness about it. I
> understand there are still folks who won't speak to each other because of it.

Well, people are weird.

> I don't think the uptowners still have the complete hammerlock that they used
> to have over who got the big prizes, commissions, professorships, etc., but too
> many of the uptown old guard are still sitting on the important boards and
> committees for it to be a wholesome situation.

Really, who cares? I understand jobs are important, but Cage didn't
become Cage because of his positions on boards and committees.

Samuel Vriezen

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Dec 28, 2004, 7:58:57 AM12/28/04
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Wayne Reimer wrote:

>>We're talking about two things: One is the physics of acoustics and the
>>overtone series and all that, and throw in the physiology of the ear and
>>psychoacoustics as well, etc. The other is grammar, the sequence of
>>events. The first domain is timeless and attributes qualities to sounds.
>>The second domain is in-time and regulates expectations.
>>
>

> Oh, so in your point of view, these are two different things? No wonder we
> talk past each other...

Yes. The overtone series as such does not dictate 'normal' sequences for
a style. It's like the difference between morphemes and syntax. It's
obvious you can't have syntax and grammar if you can't functionally
differentiate among your morphemes, but that doesn't mean that the
structure of grammar and syntax is inherent in the morphemes.

>>Myself, I keep being amused by all this. I have little use for
>>Schoenberg's musical legacy in my own works, but I recognize that he did
>>play an important role. For me, that's all history now, and I'd advise
>>people to explore intriguing composers with very different outlooks on
>>music life if Schoenberg doesn't cut it for them - one could try Cage,
>>Nancarrow, Feldman, Rihm, Lachenmann, Murail, Vivier, Sciarrino, Barry,
>>Johnson, Xenakis, Andriessen, Lucier, Tarnopolski, Saariaho, Volans,
>>Stiebler, Bathory-Kitsz, Crumb or yours truly.
>>
>

> Or Perotin, Alkan, Medtner, Hummel, Reicha, Zelenka, Griffes, Martin, Biber, or
> Miakovsky.

They might even give up listening to music altogether and start learning
the chronology of Star Trek by heart. It's a free country!

> Reminds me of being at dinner with a lady who I knew liked Mozart, but was
> leery of anything later. Sure enough, some Grieg, I think a violin sonata, was
> playing in the background and she asked what that awful strange modern music
> was.

That's a good one!

Samuel Vriezen

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Dec 28, 2004, 8:00:58 AM12/28/04
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albert landa wrote:

> What is Amsterdam Zuid?

Amsterdam South, and specifically I was thinking of the well-to-do area
around the Concertgebouw and Vondelpark.

Philip Peters

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Dec 28, 2004, 8:20:13 AM12/28/04
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albert landa wrote:

> What is Amsterdam Zuid?

Affluent residential area in Amsterdam where Concertgebouw is situated.

P.

gerberk

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Dec 28, 2004, 11:09:10 AM12/28/04
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much better

"Samuel Vriezen" <sqv.do.not.spam@xs4all> schreef in bericht
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Matthew Fields

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Dec 28, 2004, 12:11:18 PM12/28/04
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In article <41d1596e$0$6216$e4fe...@news.xs4all.nl>,

Samuel Vriezen <sqv.do.not.spam@xs4all> wrote:
> It's a free country!

Which--New Zealand? I thought it was part of The Commonwealth?

Jerry Kohl

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Dec 28, 2004, 3:06:45 PM12/28/04
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Samuel Vriezen wrote:

And let there be no confusion: Cage was the quintessential "downtown"
composer, even if he did hold the occasional University professorship
starting around 1970.

David7Gable

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Dec 28, 2004, 11:06:32 PM12/28/04
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>A really major composer, Debussy, questioned Beethoven's talent.

Ian, I'd be very curious to know precisely what remarks of Debussy's you have
in mind. He did refer to Beethoven as "the old man," but that's precisely
because of Beethoven's immense prestige. Beethoven's tradition was also a
tradition from the formulas of which Debussy consciously strove to free
himself. "Here's the recap. Time to go smoke a cigarette." This remark has
to be understood in the context of Debussy's own goals in relationship to a
classic past that was not only old enough that its principles had been codified
by the academics but German.

-david gable

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Ian Pace

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Dec 29, 2004, 7:55:36 AM12/29/04
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"David7Gable" <david...@aol.com> wrote in message
news:20041228230632...@mb-m14.aol.com...
Certainly Debussy's remarks have to be taken in the context of his wishing
to forge a path distinct from Germanic models. But the following would
suggest antipathy to Beethoven at the very least:

'Debussy was the most violent of all the critics I ever met, in spite of his
enthusiams and the delicacy of feeling he seemed able to express, in words
as in music. He satirized Wagner, he despised and detested Brahms, and he
attacked Beethoven with such bitterness and sarcasm that it made one's blood
boil. Once, in my hearing, he mentioned that he had 'escaped' the previous
evening from a concert where a Beethoven quartet was being played, just at
the moment when the 'old deaf one' ('le vieux sourd') started to 'develop a
theme'. There was something so hateful in the tone of his voice as he said
this that I rose up indignantly and denounced him for his disrespect to the
name of a great genius; and the result was, I regret to say, that our
relations were broken on the spot and not renewed for a number of years.' -
Harold Bauer, quoted in Debussy Remembered - Roger Nichols (ed), pp156-157

'Certainly, even apart from living musicians, he had very pronounced
dislikes, one of which was Beethoven, whom he described as le vieux
sourd.' - Cyril Scott, in Nichols, op cit, p105

'My first experience of him was of this rather important, bearded figure who
would explode suddenly in great indignation; and perhaps my first
recollection of him is his seizing my arm when I was aged about six and
saying; 'If you have any affection, my boy, for me, *never* play or even
talk of Wagner or Beethoven to me, because it is like somebody dancing on my
grave.' - Simon Harcourt-Smith, in Nichols, op cit, p120

'Debussy liked Mozart, and he believed that Beethoven had terrifically
profound things to say, but that he did not know how to say them, because he
was imprisoned in a web of incessant restatement and of German
aggressiveness.' - George Copeland, in Nichols, op cit, p166

'For instance, he murmured one day: "I detest the concertos of Mozart,"
adding, "but less than those of Beethoven."' - Margeurite Long, in Nichols
op cit, p178


Debussy had a love-hate relationship with Beethoven throughout his life -
the fact that he was so often mentioning him shows that the relationship was
important, whether the feelings were admiring or antipathetic (or sometimes
both at the same time). He did clearly admire the Ninth Symphony, though
(perhaps because of its proto-Wagnerian qualities?):

'A symphony of M.G.M. Witkowski was greeted with much enthusiasm. But it
seemed to me to be only further proof of the uselessness of the symphony
since Beethoven. Certainly in Schumann and Mendelssohn it is merely a
respectful reworking of the same old forms with a good deal less conviction.
The Ninth is a landmark and a work of genius: it has a magnificent desire to
grow, to liberate itself from the customary forms and at the same time to
imbue them with the harmonious proportions of a fresco.*
Beethoven's real lesson to us was not that we should preserve age-old forms,
nor even that we should plant our footsteps where he first trod. We should
look out through open windows into clear skies. Many people appear to have
closed them, seemingly for good; those successful so-called geniuses should
have no excuse for their academic contrapuntal exercises, which are called
(out of habit) "symphonies"
*It has been stated elsewhere that Beethoven made the spoken word the
"apotheosis and crowning glory" of this edifice in sound, and that the
finale of the Ninth thus prepared the way for music drama. Isn't that just a
convenient theory for the Wagnerians to hold? The intervention of the
thousand voices is really to salute the art of music above all else.' - 'At
the Societe Nationale: Orchestral Concert on 16 March' in La Revue Blanche,
1 April 1901, quoted in Debussy on Music - collected and introduced by
Francois Lesure, translated and edited Richard Langham Smith, pp15-16

'The Ninth has long been surronded by a haze of adjectives. Together with
the Mona Lisa's smile - which for some strange reason has always been
labelled "mysterious" - it is a masterpiece about which the most stupid
comments have been made. It's a wonder it hasn't been submerged entirely
beneath the mass of words it has excited. Wagner intended completing the
orchestration; others imagined an explanation of its development in terms of
illuminated pictures. In the end, this fine, intelligible work is turned
into something unapproachable by the general public. I suppose some light is
thrown upon the subject by admitting that it does contain a mystery, but
does that really help?
You know Beethoven's literary side wasn't worth twopence - at least not in
the present-day sense of the word. He loved music and was proud of her; for
him she contained all the passion and joy that were so noticeably missing
from his private life. Perhaps we should see the Choral Symphony as simly an
overblown gesture of musical pride. A notebook containing over two hundred
different versions of the main theme of the coda to this symphony tells us
of the painstaking care and the purely musical vision that was guiding him;
Schiller's verses are included only for their value as sounds. His wish was
that the initial theme should contain all the potential for development. As
well as being of prodigious beauty in itself, it is also magnificent because
of the other elements it throws into relief. There is no more triumphant
example of how flexible an idea can become within the mold imposed upon it.
At each leap forward a new joy is discovered, and it never seems tired or
repetitious. You could say it was like the magical growth of a tree that was
sprouting fresh leaves and blossoming at the same time. There is nothing
redundant in this work of such giant proportions, not even the Andante,
which some recent aesthetes have accused of being too long. Is this not just
a finely judged moment of repose to offset the rhythmic insistence of the
Scherzo and the instrumental torrent that carries, invincibly, the voices
toward the glory of the Finale? Beethoven had already written eight
symphonies; the Ninth seemed almost to signify a fight against destiny. He
had tried to excel himself, and I hardly see how anyone could deny that he
succeeded. As for the excesses of humanity that burst the customary seams of
this symphony: they sprang out of his own soul, which, drunk with the idea
of freedom, was gradually destroying itself. Ironically, he was already
destined for the golden gates that would force him to be numbered among the
unlucky company of many other great men. Beethoven suffered with all his
heart; he ardently desired humanity to find communion in him, and from that
desire was born his cry "to the humblest and poorest of his brothers."
uttered by the thousand voices of his genius. But did they hear him? A vexed
question. The Choral Symphony was conducted on Good Friday by Chevillard,
with an understanding that ranks this conductor among the very greatest. It
found itself in the company of several festering pieces by Richard Wagner.
Tannhauser, Siegmund, Lohengrin - everybody once again staked his claim to a
leitmotiv. But the severe and loyal mastery of old Beethoven easily won the
day from such meandering, high-hatted humbugs!' - 'The Ninth Symphony', in
La Revue Blanche, 1 May 1901, in Lesure/Langham Smith, op cit, pp29-30


Afterwards, Debussy was prone to snide remarks about Beethoven's music:

'I recall the parallel he drew between Beethoven's orchestra, which he spoke
of in terms of black and white (and therefore giving a marvellous scale of
grays) and Wagner's, which he said was like a kind of multicoloured putty,
perfectly evenly spread, where he could no longer differentiate between the
sound of a violin and that of a trombone.' - 'Conversation with M. Croche',
La Revue Blanche, 1 July 1901, quoted in Lesure/Richard Langham Smith, op
cit, p45


Debussy (as Monsieur Croche) did also compare the piano sonata of Dukas to
those of Beethoven:

'Naturally, M. P. Lalo does not forget to compare your friend Dukas to the
great master Beethoven. But if I were he I'd have been only moderately
flattered: Beethoven's sonatas are very badly written for the piano, and are
really more like orchestral transcriptions, especially the last ones. Often
they seem to require a third hand, which I'm sure Beethoven intended, at
least I hope he did.' - 'Conversation with M. Croche., La Revue Blanche, 1
July 1901, quoted in Lesure/Richard Langham Smith, op cit, p47

'Meanwhile, M. David-G Henderson sang, with a distinguished quaver, a song
by Beethoven bearing the somewhat old-fashioned title of "Adelaide." I think
the old man must have forgotten to burn this piece, and we must put the
blame for its exhumation on his greedy heirs' - 'Concerts', Gil Blas, 19
January 1903, in Lesure/Langham Smith, op cit, p95-96

'Or Beethoven? A man who was so ill-bred that he decided to become deaf so
that he could better annoy his contemporaries with his last quartets?' -
'Prince L.-F. of Bavaria', Gil Blas, 19 January 1903, in Lesure/Langham
Smith, op cit, p96


The following statement was perhaps one of Debussy's most thoughtful on
Beethoven:

'All in all, the popularity of the Pastoral Symphony rests upon the common
and mutual misunderstanding that exists between man and nature. Look at that
scene by the brook!....A brook where, apparently, the oxen come to drink. At
least, that's what the sound of the bassoons suggests to me. Not to mention
the wooden nightingale and the Swiss cuckoo-clock cuckoo - more like the art
of M. de Vaucauson than drawn from nature's book. All such imitations are in
the end useless - purely arbitrary interpretations.
But certain of the old master's pages do contain expression more profound
than the beauty of a landscape. Why? Simply because there is no attempt at
direct imitation but rather at capturing the invisible sentiments of nature.
Does one render the mystery of the forest by recording the height of the
trees? It is more a process where the limitless depths of the forest give
free rein to the imagination.
Elsewhere in this symphony, Beethoven shows himself to be of a time when one
never saw the world of nature except in books. This is proved by the
"storm", which forms part of this same piece. The real terror of man and
beast in the face of a storm is hidden beneath the folds of a romantic
cloak, and the thunder is hardly severe.
But it would be stupid to think that I have no respect for Beethoven. It's
just that a musician of genius, such as he, can make unconscious mistakes
greater than anyone else. There is no man who is bound to write only
masterpieces, and if we class the Pastoral Symphony in one of these, then we
have no yardstick with which to measure the others. That's all I want to
say.' - 'Monsieur F. Weingartner', Gil Blas, 16 February 1903, in
Lesure/Langham Smith, op cit, p117


He was still praising the Ninth Symphony in 1903 in a similar manner to how
he had in 1901:

'We also have the famous Mona Lisa's smile, which for some strange reason is
always labelled "mysterious"...Beethoven's Choral Symphony has been the
subject of such extraordinary interpretations that this music, so fine and
strong, was for a long time unapproachable to the general public.' 'Berlioz
and M. Gunsbourg', Gil Blas, 8 May 1903, in Lesure/Langham Smith, op cit,
p192


One of Debussy's harshest comments on Beethoven was the following:

'Debussy answered by asking another question: "What do you call classics?
Believe me that most of these are classics in spite of themselves, and that
quality has been forced upon them without their knowledge, consent, or even
expectation. I acknowledge one great master, but I do not know why he should
be called a classic, because he lives, breathes, and pulsates today. This is
Bach; but I will not say the same of Beethoven, as I consider him a man of
his epoch, and with a few exceptions his works should have been allowed to
rest.' - 'Debussy Talks of His Music', interview with Emily Frances Bauer,
6th August 1908, printed in Harper's Weekly, 29 August 1908, cited in
Lesure/Langham Smith, op cit, p233


Some of his later statements seem to be a little more measured.

'All kinds of attitudes toward the great masters have been attributed to me,
and I have been quoted as saying things about Wagner and Beethoven that I
never said. I admire Beethoven and Wagner, but I refuse to admire them
uncritically just because people have told me that they are masters! Never!
In our day, it seems to me that we adopt poses in regard to the masters more
becoming to bitter old cleaning women; I wish to have the freedom to say
that a boring page of music is annoying no matter who its author.' - 'The
Ideas of a Great Musician', Excelsior, 18 January 1911, cited in
Lesure/Langham Smith, op cit, p245

'Why don't we stop making the secrets of the art so readily available? They
are as dangerous as they are useless! As so many of our learned professors
testify, Beethoven felt he had to discourage quite a number of young people,
for he himself knew that art means sacrifice. Today we hold him up as an
example of indestructible glory. Little harm in that, but we are ignoring
the games of chance....' - in SIM, November 1912, cited in Lesure/Langham
Smith, op cit, p265

'Of all the music played at the Concert Colonne the most modern - without
being funny - was Ludwig van Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony. It remains one
of the finest examples ever of expressive technique...To hear an orchestra
imitate the cries of animals certainly provides joy for the little ones as
well as the grownups. To be seated in a comfortable seat and be subjected to
a storm is pure Sybaritism! M. Gabriel Pierne conducted it really well, and
by that I mean that he didn't try to encumber it with commentaries but
merely allowed its charm to speak for itself [Do note this comment, one and
all at r.m.c.r.!]. Apropos of this symphony, has anyone ever thought how
much a "masterpiece" has to be a "masterpiece" to be able to survive so many
different interpretations? There is the "respectful" interpretation, where
the fear of disturbing the dust of centuries slows down all the movements
and muffles all the nuances...Then there is the "fantastic" interpretation,
which is just the opposite, giving the impression that the piece has been
submerged by a rainstorm. (Just because Beethoven was a little awkward
does't mean we should try to aggravate him!)
The reason why this last performance was so pleasing? We really were in the
country; the trees were not dressed in white ties, and the stream beside
which these most pure, most German idylls took place was cool and fresh. We
could very nearly smell the stables!' - 'Notes on the Month's Concerts', in
SIM, November 1912, cited in Lesure/Langham Smith, op cit, p266

'Sunday, 1 December: The Beethoven festival ... a necessary festival and on
consideration one that is most useful, in that it puts people at their ease.
One is merely called upon to admire, to exchange knowing smiles with the
right people at the right places. And they are always the same old places,
unchanging from one generation to the next.
On the way out people will say without hesitation, "That Beethoven - what a
genius he is!" How right they are! To hold the opposite view is no more than
stupid snobbery! These people thus need have no fear of having to sit
through the highly charged atmosphere which is found at the Sunday concerts
whenever the work of a young composer is being played. There, one has to
hold an opinion and that's not always convenient.' - SIM, December 1912,
Lesure/Langham Smith, op cit, p271

'Geniuses can evidently do without taste: take the case of Beethoven, for
example.' - SIM, 15 February 1913, Lesure/Langham Smith, op cit, p277

Debussy seemed to become more deeply appreciative of Beethoven's merits (in
particular those of the late quartets) soon after this.

'Let us forget for now the deplorable Rust affair, an affair that has
brought together both those who truly love music without any show of pride
or ill-temper and those whose business it is to look after the Masters,
preparing their own apologias for each one - an excellent way to have the
final say-so.
The ironic thing about this affair is that it has ended up by raising our
estimation of Beethoven. He emerges as a young revolutionary opposed to the
old professor who never makes a mistake; they were about to reproach him for
having written his last quartets. But let us not dwell on this matter; the
Rusts of this world are an innumerable race who fulfill our eternal desire
for the mediocre. We shoudl be silently thankful that occasionally there is
a Beethoven who appears on the scene to bring music back into its true
focus.' - SIM, 15 May 1913, Lesure/Langham Smith, op cit, p287

'First of all, our musicians willingly allowed themselves to be inspired by
the symphonic poems of Liszt and of Richard Strauss. And note, furthermore,
that any attempts at emancipation were soon forcibly quelled. Each time
anyone tried to break free from this inherited tradition he was brought to
order, crushed beneath the weight of the more illustrious examples.
Beethoven - who ought really be permitted to take a well-earned rest from
criticism - was brought to the rescue. Those severe old critics passed
judgement and threatened terrible punishments for breach of the classical
rules whose construction - they should have realized - was nothing less than
mechanical.' - SIM, 1 November 1913, Lesure/Langham Smith, op cit, p296

'Even at this very moment, when France is sacrificing the blood of her best
children, without regard for birthright or class, one hears some strange
proposals about Beethoven put forward: Flemish or German, he was a great
musician.' - 'Preface in the Form of a Letter to Pour la Musique Francaise:
Douze Causeries', December 1916, Lesure/Langham Smith, op cit, p324

Hope all of this is of interest,
Ian


Samuel Vriezen

unread,
Dec 29, 2004, 9:13:55 AM12/29/04
to
Wayne Reimer wrote:
>>In article <41d1596e$0$6216$e4fe...@news.xs4all.nl>, sqv.do.not.spam@xs4all says...

>>Wayne Reimer wrote:
>>
>>
>>>>We're talking about two things: One is the physics of acoustics and the
>>>>overtone series and all that, and throw in the physiology of the ear and
>>>>psychoacoustics as well, etc. The other is grammar, the sequence of
>>>>events. The first domain is timeless and attributes qualities to sounds.
>>>>The second domain is in-time and regulates expectations.
>>>>
>>>
>>>Oh, so in your point of view, these are two different things? No wonder we
>>>talk past each other...
>>
>>Yes. The overtone series as such does not dictate 'normal' sequences for
>>a style. It's like the difference between morphemes and syntax. It's
>>obvious you can't have syntax and grammar if you can't functionally
>>differentiate among your morphemes, but that doesn't mean that the
>>structure of grammar and syntax is inherent in the morphemes.
>>
>
>
> When I hear the final two-stroke cadence of the Sibelius 5th Sym., I hear the
> 3rd overtone (the dominant) acting as a fundamental tone and then that 3rd
> overtone fundamental shifting to be the 2nd overtone-plus-primary tone/tonal
> center to end the piece. Now, you may want to call that grammer; I call it the
> effect of physics, in the form of the overtone series, on tonal music. Why it
> should be separated out or denied is a mystery to me.

What you hear is a progression which you can describe as a sequence of
situations, and for aspects of the relation between those situations you
can use the language of acoustics. However the language of acoustics
itself does not give you any criterium for why this should be a good or
normal progression. Because 'progression' is not an acoustic concept.
The word 'progression' is not in the language of acoustics. And
certainly not the idea of a 'good' or 'satisfactory' or 'logical'
progression. Progression, and logic in particular, is something
superimposed on the acoustics' internal structure. Perhaps not totally
arbitrarily, but it's a distinct field nonetheless, one ultimately ruled
by convention, education, tradition, culture at least as much as by the
underlying acoustics.

Schoenbergian harmony can be described in acoustic terms as well - as I
pointed out before, the chromatic gamut is also constructed on the basis
of overtone principles (the fifth). The harmonies are perhaps more
complex ('wider consonances' as Schoenberg might have it) but you can
certainly talk about the acoustics of it all.

Bob Lombard

unread,
Dec 29, 2004, 10:13:16 AM12/29/04
to
On Wed, 29 Dec 2004 12:55:36 -0000, Ian Pace wrote:

[snip]

> Hope all of this is of interest,
> Ian

It is. You have presented enough material to encourage the 'drawing of
conclusions'.

The material also opens doors to several sidetracks, more interesting to me
than the highway.

bl

David7Gable

unread,
Dec 29, 2004, 4:43:03 PM12/29/04
to

>Hope all of this is of interest,
>Ian

Very much so. Thank you for gathering it all up.

-david gable

Raymond Hall

unread,
Dec 29, 2004, 5:30:41 PM12/29/04
to
" Ian Pace" <i...@ianpace.com> wrote in message
news:33fnqiF...@individual.net...

>
> 'Debussy was the most violent of all the critics I ever met, in spite of
> his enthusiams and the delicacy of feeling he seemed able to express, in
> words as in music. He satirized Wagner, he despised and detested Brahms,
> and he attacked Beethoven with such bitterness and sarcasm that it made
> one's blood boil. Once, in my hearing, he mentioned that he had 'escaped'
> the previous evening from a concert where a Beethoven quartet was being
> played, just at the moment when the 'old deaf one' ('le vieux sourd')
> started to 'develop a theme'. There was something so hateful in the tone
> of his voice as he said this that I rose up indignantly and denounced him
> for his disrespect to the name of a great genius; and the result was, I
> regret to say, that our relations were broken on the spot and not renewed
> for a number of years.' - Harold Bauer, quoted in Debussy Remembered -
> Roger Nichols (ed), pp156-157

Sounds like de Bussy would have made a valuable contribution to rmcr. How he
had 'escaped' is perhaps the most amusing comment.
<g>

Ray H
Taree


alanwa...@aol.com

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Dec 29, 2004, 7:38:12 PM12/29/04
to
And anyway, there is no difference for the timpanist in playing the
sotto voce rolls in either La Mer or Beethoven 6. And likely he or she
may use the same mallets.

PS: Ravel outwrote Debussy for the timpani, if that helps.
Kind regards,
Alan M. Watkins

REG

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Dec 29, 2004, 8:04:09 PM12/29/04
to
I didn't play much, as you know, but I always enjoyed Finlandia. It was fun
approximating the great dynamic range, if I recall correctly.


<alanwa...@aol.com> wrote in message
news:1104367092.3...@c13g2000cwb.googlegroups.com...

alanwa...@aol.com

unread,
Dec 29, 2004, 8:20:25 PM12/29/04
to
Yes, indeed a study in dynamics without obliterating the rest of the
orchestra? Once again, a matter of mallet choice. Under or over?
Message has been deleted

Jerry Kohl

unread,
Dec 30, 2004, 3:15:41 AM12/30/04
to
Wayne Reimer wrote:

> > In article <41d2bc81$0$6215$e4fe...@news.xs4all.nl>, sqv.do.not.spam@xs4all says...

> I'm sorry to say that this has become so ridulously pedantic that I can't
> continue...

It's only my opinion, of course, but I don't see the slightest pedanticism here,
at all. It does look to me very much as if Samuel has beaten you, three falls
out of three, however, so I'm not surprised you are quitting the field.

Samuel Vriezen

unread,
Dec 30, 2004, 10:19:04 AM12/30/04
to
Wayne Reimer wrote:

>>In article <41d2bc81$0$6215$e4fe...@news.xs4all.nl>, sqv.do.not.spam@xs4all says...

> I'm sorry to say that this has become so ridulously pedantic that I can't
> continue...


I'm sorry that you feel that way; it's not much other than exactly how I
think about music, so inevitably your assessment of that as pedantic
means little to me.

Gareth Williams

unread,
Dec 30, 2004, 11:20:33 AM12/30/04
to
On Thu, 30 Dec 2004 08:15:41 +0000, Jerry Kohl wrote:

> Wayne Reimer wrote:
>
>> I'm sorry to say that this has become so ridulously pedantic that I can't
>> continue...
>
> It's only my opinion, of course, but I don't see the slightest pedanticism

Erm... it pains me to point this out, but that should read "pedantry"


--
Regards,
Gareth Williams

Jerry Kohl

unread,
Dec 30, 2004, 2:06:56 PM12/30/04
to
Gareth Williams wrote:

You are probably correct, but I don't see any pedanticisms, either.

Matthew Fields

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Dec 30, 2004, 2:42:14 PM12/30/04
to
In article <41D451C6...@comcast.net>,

Jerry Kohl <jerom...@comcast.net> wrote:
>Gareth Williams wrote:
>
>> On Thu, 30 Dec 2004 08:15:41 +0000, Jerry Kohl wrote:
>>
>> > Wayne Reimer wrote:
>> >
>> >> I'm sorry to say that this has become so ridulously pedantic that I can't
>> >> continue...
>> >
>> > It's only my opinion, of course, but I don't see the slightest pedanticism
>>
>> Erm... it pains me to point this out, but that should read "pedantry"
>
>You are probably correct, but I don't see any pedanticisms, either.

Nor any pedanitonicism, either!

Message has been deleted

Nightingale

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Dec 30, 2004, 11:57:42 PM12/30/04
to
Wayne Reimer wrote:

>>In article <41D3B91...@comcast.net>, jerom...@comcast.net says...
>>Wayne Reimer wrote:
>>
>
> <...>


>
>>>I'm sorry to say that this has become so ridulously pedantic that I can't
>>>continue...
>>
>>It's only my opinion, of course, but I don't see the slightest pedanticism here,
>>at all. It does look to me very much as if Samuel has beaten you, three falls
>>out of three, however, so I'm not surprised you are quitting the field.
>>
>

> And I am not surprised at the way you frame the situation (i.e., incorrectly).
>

Hey! I thought you were not continuing.

--
Blessed Cecilia, appear in visions
To all musicians, appear and inspire:
Translated Daughter, come down and startle
Composing mortals with immortal fire.

Message has been deleted

Jerry Kohl

unread,
Dec 31, 2004, 2:51:54 AM12/31/04
to
Wayne Reimer wrote:

> > In article <41D3B91...@comcast.net>, jerom...@comcast.net says...
> > Wayne Reimer wrote:
> >
> <...>

> > > I'm sorry to say that this has become so ridulously pedantic that I can't
> > > continue...
> >
> > It's only my opinion, of course, but I don't see the slightest pedanticism here,
> > at all. It does look to me very much as if Samuel has beaten you, three falls
> > out of three, however, so I'm not surprised you are quitting the field.
> >

> And I am not surprised at the way you frame the situation (i.e., incorrectly).

Oh, yes? So tell me *how* I am misconstruing the situation, instead of claiming
without demonstration that I am. Samuel's statements, as I understand them, are
in no way pedantic, but rather show quite eloquently the distinctions which you
are claiming not to see.

It is often the last desperate defence of the beleaguered to hurl the unwarranted
accusation of "pedantry" at those who clearly know what they are talking about.

Message has been deleted
Message has been deleted

Samuel Vriezen

unread,
Dec 31, 2004, 8:11:54 AM12/31/04
to
Wayne Reimer wrote:

> At any rate, I wasn't interested in how you think about music; I am interested
> in how people who found Schoenberg and other 12-tone music unpalatable heard
> it.

Absolutely and that's an interesting point, but your answer is in my
view not sufficient in that the overtone series is not a musical
grammar; and that any grammar of music will needs be based on acoustic
principles; so that invocation of acoustic principles is by itself
insufficient to address this question. And that's where for you the
discussion turns pedantic, whereas I would say it's where you begin to
talk about the complex issue that it is, because it all involves culture
and history and marketing and convention and all that and not only
acoustics.

> I have been hearing from those who do like it for many years, and it has
> been a very long time since I've heard any new ideas about it (or its
> detractors) from them.

I think the only change in circumstance is that the problem of
Schoenberg's reception is getting older. Also, I think in general
society is getting less rather than more interested in alternatives to
what is force-fed into it. This is the age of Fox and of George W. Bush
after all. And somehow Schoenberg has stuck in the popular mind as
'alternative', as threat. And that's very interesting, because at the
same time, for a lot of artists doing radically innovative &
experimental work today, Schoenberg represents something highly
conservative.

Philip Peters

unread,
Dec 31, 2004, 10:08:45 AM12/31/04
to
Wayne Reimer wrote:

>>In article <41d2bc81$0$6215$e4fe...@news.xs4all.nl>, sqv.do.not.spam@xs4all says...

> I'm sorry to say that this has become so ridulously pedantic that I can't
> continue...
>

> wr

Pedantic? Why? I admire Samuel's analytic skills and talent to put his
ideas into words that are more or less understandable for the average
layman-music lover (like me).

Philip

Larry Rinkel

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Dec 31, 2004, 2:36:01 PM12/31/04
to

<alanwa...@aol.com> wrote in message
news:1104367092.3...@c13g2000cwb.googlegroups.com...
>
> PS: Ravel outwrote Debussy for the timpani, if that helps.

I think that the solo fortissimo G# he gave you near the start of the
Dialogue du vent et de la mer is a rather nice touch.


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