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~Leslie
12-07-2000, 08:07 PM
Ok PDG, we're trying to move fwd. I love this topic, I see it pop up in every music site, it is a good one. This issue seems to make ppl think there is no use in applying
our analytical abilities to sort out the
substantial from that of not so.

While I am uneasy at comparing Beethoven & Mozart(I love them both, for highly different reasons) and I deny ever telling
anyone else who is better, or stating "facts" of who is better, I do have a set of criteria I use to differentiate and
sort through music with logic and dialect,
developing my own taste through a process of selection.

There IS a point to evaluating art, music, politics, law and just about every facet of life.

For Composers , it would look something like this:

Command of Instrumentation/Orchestration

Skill at application of dynamics, prosody,

virtuousity, sonics, and harmony

Development of thematic material

Quality and originality of themes employed

Connection to audience(inspiration/catharsis)

Musical innovation

Influence on other composers, artists, environment

Using this criteria, would it not be easier
to sort through the mire of the subjective?? How would today's composers stack up and rate against each other , and or with the classical/baroque masters, using this system? Would anyone care to submit a list of their personal top 10 or 20 composers applying this system?

PDG
12-07-2000, 09:02 PM
L - for an opener, that`s a DOOZY! (whatever that means). Some time is needed.....

~Leslie
12-07-2000, 09:56 PM
Yes, it's a doozy. I forgot to state to the use of a point system to make it easier. The highest score in each category could be a 10; 0 for the nonexistent. I haven't figured out mine yet, but I already know who is on top. http://www.gyrix.com/~cgraye/ubb/wink.gif

Serge
12-08-2000, 02:05 AM
Oh Leslie, how inspired you are!

While I'm sure to get the standard "no, you're wrong" from Rod, here's how I stack 'em up:

BEETHOVEN

a) command of intruments/orch.: 9.5 (I believe the color of the orchestra's tone was SLIGHTLY 'improved' with Berlioz and other French composers--being half-French, I like to look favorably upon that)

b) virtuosity/harmony: 10 (solid perfection. Among the first to write for the soloist without being commissioned)

c) development of theme: 10 (Ludwig rewrote the book on sonata theme and penned so many neat little tricks in his work. No one handled themes as well as he)

d) quality of thematic material: 10 (some of the most memorable and efficient melodies and modulations are his. His sheer mastery of melody is a marvel)

e:1) connection to audience then: 5 (hit-or-miss. Many people hated his work. Many others loved it)
e:2) connection to audience now: 8 (we understand most of his work, but some of it still confounds a lot of us)

f) musical innovation: 10 (no need to elaborate)

g) influence on the future: 20 out of 10 (no question-- as far as I've determined)


CLASSICAL-ERA COMPOSERS ranked against Ludwig

a) 7 (well-rounded command and versatile scoring, but I find very heavy reliance on strings)

b) 7 (virtuosity is lacking to me in these composers' works, but harmonies and sonics are easy on the ear)

c) 6 (not very elaborate to my ear)

d) 7 (excellent quality for easy listening)

e) 10 (this stuff pandered to the audience in many cases)

f) 8 (pertty good, since they brought music up from Baroque)

g) 7 (storng influence on Ludwig)


SCHUMANN (since I like him)

a) 7 (orchestration by his own admission needed work)

b) 8 (some of it is pretty impressive, esp. among his solo piano)

c) 8 (very respectable as I know it now, although I don't know very much about it yet)

d) 8 (I love whistling to many of his melodies)

e) n/a (I have no concrete idea)

f) 5 (not very high, as far as I've been led to believe

g) 4-5 (not overly high, either)


That is a small sampling, of course. These ratings will change over time as I learn more.
And, everyone, I must reiterate that THESE ARE PERSONAL OPINIONS. I do not wish to read about why I'm 'wrong' in my views. I'll look at your rankings, of course, with great interest and everything anti-hubris, since I'm very interested in how you rank your favorite composers by Leslie's guides.

Chris
12-08-2000, 03:37 AM
Serge, you are SO wrong! http://www.gyrix.com/~cgraye/ubb/wink.gif

Peter
12-08-2000, 05:38 AM
I put composers into different categories of greatness rather than who I necessarily like - I think the further down the list it gets harder, but at the top certain names definitely belong.

A)Beethoven,Bach,Handel,Mozart
B)Haydn,Schubert,Brahms,Palestrina,Monteverdi
C)Schumann,Tchaikovsky,Dvorak,Wagner,Mahler,
R.Strauss,Elgar,Chopin,Bartok,Stravinsky,Sibelius, Verdi
D)Liszt,Rachmaninov,Grieg,Prokofiev,Shostakovich

I agree that it is hard to say someone or a particular work is greater, but by criteria it must be possible - otherwise we cannot say that the 'Eroica' Symphony is a greater work than chop-sticks.If you think that way then there is no such thing as great music at all and Marilyn Manson is on the same level as Beethoven - I can't accept that premise.It's got nothing to do with who you actually like the most - it's that which blinds one from seeing the truth.
I think as I said in a previous post that you have to look beyond personal opinion, which is why Leslie's suggestion of criteria is so necessary.
Who amongst us here who listens to the 9th doesn't feel instinctively that we are in the presence of something truly great? - It is something you feel deep inside rather than superficially saying I like that or I don't like that.

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'Man know thyself'

[This message has been edited by Peter (edited 12-08-2000).]

[This message has been edited by Peter (edited 12-08-2000).]

Rod
12-08-2000, 09:14 AM
Originally posted by Peter:

I put composers into different categories of greatness rather than who I necessarily like - I think the further down the list it gets harder, but at the top certain names definitely belong.

A)Beethoven,Bach,Handel,Mozart
B)Haydn,Schubert,Brahms,Palestrina,Monteverdi
C)Schumann,Tchaikovsky,Dvorak,Wagner,Mahler,
R.Strauss,Elgar,Chopin,Bartok,Stravinsky,Sibelius, Verdi
D)Liszt,Rachmaninov,Grieg,Prokofiev,Shostakovich


A not unreasonable assessment of the situation.

Originally posted by Peter:

....If you think that way then there is no such thing as great music at all and Marilyn Manson is on the same level as Beethoven - I can't accept that premise.It's got nothing to do with who you actually like the most - it's that which blinds one from seeing the truth.



Mmm...'the truth'...I've heard of this concept somewhere before... but chap who voiced it created an awful stir...

Rod


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"If I were but of noble birth..." - Rod Corkin



[This message has been edited by Peter (edited 12-08-2000).]

Michael
12-08-2000, 05:41 PM
This points system reminds me of a very clever article by Leonard Bernstein. It was written in the form of an imaginary dialogue between Bernstein and a "Lyric Poet". The poet kept on praising Beethoven and Bernstein, pretending to get annoyed, challenged him to produce the evidence to support the contention that Beethoven was the greatest of all composers.
The poet started with melody, quoting the second movement of the Seventh Symphony - and Bernstein pointed out that this wasn't really a tune - just one note repeated over and over.
The poet moved quickly on to other aspects of Beethoven's compositions - and all were shot down. Bernstein alleged that Beethoven's rhythms weren't that much better than other composer's, that his harmony was limited, his counterpoint was generally of the schoolboy variety, that his orchestration was downright bad in places, that his writing for the human voice was murderous ......
At the end, just before the reader throws the book out the window, Bernstein reveals that his remarks were all sophistry. Of course, he acknowledges that Beethoven is the greatest of all and ends his dialogue with these sentences:
"Many, many composers have been able to write heavenly tunes and respectable fugues. Some composers can orchestrate the C-major scale so that it sounds like a masterpiece, or fool with notes so that a harmonic novelty is achieved. But this ... is nothing compared to the magic ingredient sought by them all: THE INEXPLICABLE ABILITY TO KNOW WHAT THE NEXT NOTE HAS TO BE. Beethoven had this gift in a degree that leaves them all panting in the rear guard."

I don't think genius at this level can be broken down into component parts. What Bernstein was referring to is what Peter (I think it was) mentioned elsewhere : Truth.

Michael

Peter
12-08-2000, 05:51 PM
Originally posted by Michael:

I don't think genius at this level can be broken down into component parts. What Bernstein was referring to is what Peter (I think it was) mentioned elsewhere : Truth.

Michael

I wouldn't want to take full credit for making this point - Rod first mentioned it and I happen to agree.
It is a very hard question to answer as to why Beethoven is supreme - you can use different criteria to help - but ultimately I think the word that does sum it up best is Truth - there is such incredible sincerity in that music.

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'Man know thyself'

~Leslie
12-08-2000, 08:27 PM
I'm sure you boys are enjoying waving this off like a pesky fly with your words of philosophical wisdom. Knowing what the next note is = Truth =
another component OR another criteria for separating and sorting through the maze.

PDG
12-08-2000, 10:20 PM
MICHAEL:-

Many thanks for reminding me of that wonderful Bernstein story; I`d heard it before, but had forgotten the punchline. I scrolled you down, one line at a time, to feel the impact again. Marvellous.

Peter
12-09-2000, 05:22 AM
Originally posted by ~Leslie:
I'm sure you boys are enjoying waving this off like a pesky fly with your words of philosophical wisdom. Knowing what the next note is = Truth =
another component OR another criteria for separating and sorting through the maze.

It will boil down to a multiple choice question - with the final four left in the equation

Which of these composers was supreme in every genre - Opera,Sonata,Symphony,Concerto,Chamber music,Church music

a)Bach
b)Handel
c)Mozart
d)Beethoven

The final answer will still = BEETHOVEN

------------------
'Man know thyself'

[This message has been edited by Peter (edited 12-08-2000).]

PDG
12-09-2000, 10:28 AM
Originally posted by Peter:
It will boil down to a multiple choice question - with the final four left in the equation
Which of these composers was supreme in every genre - Opera,Sonata,Symphony,Concerto,Chamber music,Church music
a)Bach
b)Handel
c)Mozart
d)Beethoven
The final answer will still = BEETHOVEN
>>

PETER:-

Maybe I am misunderstanding you, but I cannot agree that Beethoven was supreme in all of these genres. Yes, in symphonies, sonatas and chamber music. But in church music?? And great though `Fidelio` is, it was still his only contribution in opera. I`d even question his absolute supremacy in the concerto genre - of his 7 contributions, only 3 (opp. 58, 61 & 73 are, unquestionably, masterpieces); although I`d agree that you could make a case for all 7.

Please clarify?

Peter
12-09-2000, 11:13 AM
Originally posted by PDG:


Maybe I am misunderstanding you, but I cannot agree that Beethoven was supreme in all of these genres. Yes, in symphonies, sonatas and chamber music. But in church music?? And great though `Fidelio` is, it was still his only contribution in opera. I`d even question his absolute supremacy in the concerto genre - of his 7 contributions, only 3 (opp. 58, 61 & 73 are, unquestionably, masterpieces); although I`d agree that you could make a case for all 7.

Please clarify?

The 3 concertos you mention are the supreme examples in that genre - as is the Missa Solemnis in church music (with one possible rival in Bach's B minor mass). Fidelio is at the very summit of operas - I'd include the great Mozart operas here as well.My point was that in each of the genres I mentioned B produced works that rank amongst the greatest - He was the only one of those composers I mentioned who reached the very summit in all these areas. The quantity is irrelevant - it is the quality that counts.

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'Man know thyself'

Rod
12-09-2000, 12:06 PM
Originally posted by PDG:

Maybe I am misunderstanding you, but I cannot agree that Beethoven was supreme in all of these genres. Yes, in symphonies, sonatas and chamber music. But in church music?? And great though `Fidelio` is, it was still his only contribution in opera.


Because Fidelio is the supreme opera!! One could say he wrote 3 operas if one considers the history of the work. Version 1 is significantly different to version 3. Some reckon 1 is superior to 3. B's Solemn Mass is the high point of the genre also.

I understand your point about B's lack of volume regarding works of this nature. In terms of volume of vocal works I would rate Handel the Champion, as I have said here before (though the genre of H's compositions cannot really be compared with B's). But in terms of a composers ability to master the most forms, and master them to their supreme heights (this is the ultimate benchmark in my opinion) it is Beethoven stands as THE master.

Originally posted by PDG:

I`d even question his absolute supremacy in the concerto genre - of his 7 contributions, only 3 (opp. 58, 61 & 73 are, unquestionably, masterpieces); although I`d agree that you could make a case for all 7.

Please clarify?

Only 3??? I think it is reasonable that they are all regarded as masterpieces. No's 1 & 2 have rarely been realised to my expections - thus perhaps these are the most difficult from an interpretive perspective for todays dozy pianists! I can tell you if you had heard an electric fp performance of these works you would have no doubts.

Rod

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"If I were but of noble birth..." - Rod Corkin