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Old 02-12-2007, 07:18 PM   #1
gprengel
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The saddest music

Yesterday I saw the film "Band of Brothers" by Spielberg at German TV with the scene of the liberatation of the captives from the Nazi concentration camp in Dachau which was heartbreaking. But it was even more moving when in this scene among ruins 4 artists sat together performing the 5th movement from Beethoven's c#-minor quartett. I always thought this Adagio to be one of the saddest pieces of music ever written, and found it most appropriate that also Spielberg choose this.

What pieces of utmost human grief do you think of?

Gerd
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Old 02-12-2007, 08:21 PM   #2
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I think Gorecki's 3rd symphony is one of the most hauntingly miserable pieces I know!
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Old 02-12-2007, 09:25 PM   #3
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.

What pieces of utmost human grief do you think of?


The rap 'n crap that teenagers listen to nowadays. It grieves that they listen to this - how sad for the human race.
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Old 02-12-2007, 09:47 PM   #4
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The slow movement of Beethoven's "Hammerklavier" Sonata. The first movement of Schubert's D960 Sonata is also quite sad (come to think of it, a lot of his late music is quite sad, but he had reason for that).
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Old 02-13-2007, 01:55 AM   #5
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When I think of music full of grief, I immediately think of Shostakovich...the slow movement from his Symphony No. 5, his String Quartet No. 8 in C minor are two examples.

I think there is no other composer who can express the same "raw tragedy". Beethoven and Schubert come close but I think, are more subtle about it. Shostakovich doesn't hold anything back.
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Old 02-13-2007, 01:57 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by susanwen View Post
.
The rap 'n crap that teenagers listen to nowadays. It grieves that they listen to this - how sad for the human race.


Ha, I agree with you completely! I am young-ish, myself so it irritates me that my friends listen to this kind of crap.
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Old 02-13-2007, 04:44 AM   #7
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The Crucifixus from Bach's B Minor Mass.

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Old 02-13-2007, 06:23 AM   #8
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When I think of music full of grief, I immediately think of Shostakovich...the slow movement from his Symphony No. 5, his String Quartet No. 8 in C minor are two examples.

I think there is no other composer who can express the same "raw tragedy". Beethoven and Schubert come close but I think, are more subtle about it. Shostakovich doesn't hold anything back.
How about Tchaikovsky's 6th, last movement? - that is one of the most despairing pieces I can think of.
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Old 02-13-2007, 12:23 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by gprengel View Post
Yesterday I saw the film "Band of Brothers" by Spielberg at German TV with the scene of the liberatation of the captives from the Nazi concentration camp in Dachau which was heartbreaking. But it was even more moving when in this scene among ruins 4 artists sat together performing the 5th movement from Beethoven's c#-minor quartett. I always thought this Adagio to be one of the saddest pieces of music ever written, and found it most appropriate that also Spielberg choose this.

What pieces of utmost human grief do you think of?

Gerd
I saw the title of this thread and before I opened it, I decided my choice would be the 5th movement of the C sharp minor quartet - and, lo and behold, you were there before me! It was very effective in that scene in "Band of Brothers" especially when the composer's name was mentioned.
One soldier, listening to the players, mutters something about Mozart but is corrected, quite emphatically, by another who says: "That's Beethoven".
I think this tiny movement is the saddest utterance in all music but don't forget that it is really an introduction to the final defiant movement of that wonderful quartet.

Michael

(Actually, now I think of it, it's the 6th movement - the quartet is alway described as being in seven movements - although two of them are really short introductions.)

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Old 02-13-2007, 02:06 PM   #10
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The first chord of the second movement of B's Seventh. The depths of despair.
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Old 02-13-2007, 02:28 PM   #11
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I always thought the 2nd movement of the Eroica sounds quite sad, but Samuel Barber's 'Adagio for Strings' ranks first on my list.
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Old 02-13-2007, 07:04 PM   #12
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A number of Vaughan Williams works really work me over in the sadness & poignancy department:

1. The Tallis Fantasia, of course
2. The opening themes of the 3rd Symphony
3. Dives & Lazarus

Also some of Copland's works--particularly those later works that feature near-modal writing with perfect 4ths & hymnal styles:

1. Our Town themes
2. Quiet City
3. Nocturne from Rodeo

Another American, Barber, set a wistful prose poem by James Agee to poignant music in a piece called "Knoxville: Summer of 1915."

Ravel's Mere L'Oye: the 3rd section (Tom Thumb) as well as those utterly sublime measures (40 through 43) in Le Jardin Feerique that resolve to the tonic. Ravel's Sonatine is also grief-stricken, in a wistful way.

And certainly there's an abundance of enormously moving grievous music in The Big Kahuna: for example, the soaring vocal line in Opferlied; the Arcadia-like hymn theme of Op. 109 piano sonata; & the Adagio from the 2nd Razumovsky. The tears well up, indeed!
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Old 02-13-2007, 08:36 PM   #13
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Has to be the Tchaikovsky 6 last movement. I have been listening to this music for over 35 years now and it never fails to stop me in my tracks.. Melancholia to perfection but not self indulgent for a second By the way did anyone see the Charles Hazlewood documentary about Piotr Ilyich on BBC2 a couple of weeks ago? (two consecutive Fridays) Just like his documentaries on Beethoven and Mozart, I must admit I found this to be TV at its finest. The orchestra of young musicians in St Petersburg was quite superlative and it was good to see Mr Hazlewood conducting amongst his invariably interesting commentaries, and the consummate acting of the lead characters)
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Old 02-13-2007, 10:17 PM   #14
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There have been a good number of mentioned works of instrumental music
which are truly great examples human grief expressed in music (Gorecki, Tschaikowskie's 6th, Beethoven's Adagios from op 59,2 , op 106, 110, 131, Schubert's sonata in A,...). But what about songs and arias?

Here the saddest song I know is the last song from Schubert's Wintereise, "Der Leierman". I remember crying when I heard it the first time at a young age of 16! How this song is build on this empy quint expressing all the empiness of this poor man's life...

Another example is Bruce Springsteen's accuostic guitar song "Youngstown" from 1995, describing the history of of a town which always was connected with building weapons - awesome!

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Old 02-14-2007, 01:45 PM   #15
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The Tchaikovsky that a couple of you have mentioned already is a pretty good bet with me also. Not to mention that days after he himself conducted this piece at it's premiere, he was dead. Tchaikovsky had this to say about the work. "Without exaggeration, I have put my whole soul into this work."
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Old 02-14-2007, 01:50 PM   #16
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Schubert's "Erkonnig" (the elf king) is very sad.
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Old 02-15-2007, 04:17 AM   #17
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"Erlkonig" is actually not the 'Elfking" but the 'Alderking'...like a forest-spirit. 'Elfking" would be 'Elfenkonig'...but I agree with you about the sadness of the piece...gets me every time!
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Old 02-15-2007, 02:01 PM   #18
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"Erlkonig" is actually not the 'Elfking" but the 'Alderking'...like a forest-spirit. 'Elfking" would be 'Elfenkonig'...but I agree with you about the sadness of the piece...gets me every time!
This seems to indicate it is indeed "Elf King"...
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Old 02-15-2007, 02:17 PM   #19
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This seems to indicate it is indeed "Elf King"...
Very interesting Rut! Especially the part about Beethoven attempting to set it to music but abandoned the effort. Anyone know why?
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Old 02-15-2007, 02:30 PM   #20
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This seems to indicate it is indeed "Elf King"...
Firstly, you cannot trust anything that is written on Wikipedia as certain. Secondly, I have read elsewhere (including on Wikipedia) that the translation is "alderking"...I have read this in textbooks as well.

From my music textbook: "'Erlkonig' is King of the Alders, or birches--in effect, a forest troll."..."Erle" in German means Alder. As I said, "Elfen" means elf...I think "Elfking" is an English mistranslation.

So you see how the idea of a forest troll can be mistranslated into an "elf", especially when the German word "Erl" sounds more like "Elf" in English than it does "Alder". Unless someone can substantially prove to me otherwise, it is "Alderking" and not "Elfking"
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Old 02-16-2007, 03:33 AM   #21
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Very interesting Rut! Especially the part about Beethoven attempting to set it to music but abandoned the effort. Anyone know why?
If I knew I forgot , but you can take a look at what B. did on the "unheard" site, they have the sketch and a completion. It's is quite interesting, because at some points B.'s and S.'s do look alike.

I don't know how many others also tried their hand at the poem, but Loewe did set it to music and you can find it in a CD by Prégardien called "Following Goethe".
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Old 02-16-2007, 03:41 AM   #22
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Firstly, you cannot trust anything that is written on Wikipedia as certain. Secondly, I have read elsewhere (including on Wikipedia) that the translation is "alderking"...I have read this in textbooks as well.

From my music textbook: "'Erlkonig' is King of the Alders, or birches--in effect, a forest troll."..."Erle" in German means Alder. As I said, "Elfen" means elf...I think "Elfking" is an English mistranslation.

So you see how the idea of a forest troll can be mistranslated into an "elf", especially when the German word "Erl" sounds more like "Elf" in English than it does "Alder". Unless someone can substantially prove to me otherwise, it is "Alderking" and not "Elfking"
The problem with translating it to English is that it forgets that "Erlkönig" is already a translation from Danish.
Anyway, these sites make and interesting point on the origin of the title and who would be the "Erlkönig". Take a look, it's neither what we are saying:
http://german.about.com/library/blgermyth09.htm
http://www.heise.de/tp/deutsch/inhalt/co/12692/1.html
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Old 02-16-2007, 08:11 PM   #23
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There's also a version of the poem set to the music of the second movement of Beethoven's Seventh Symphony, sung by Sarah Brightman.
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Old 03-04-2007, 11:45 PM   #24
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I will agree with the final movement of Tchaikovsky's 6th but say that it is grief covered with syrup and other such goo. (like most of Tchaikovsky's music)

I still maintain that Shostakovich (perhaps by nature, Modernist music) is grief stripped bare and fully exposed -- there is nothing extra here.
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Old 03-05-2007, 09:12 PM   #25
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I still maintain that Shostakovich (perhaps by nature, Modernist music) is grief stripped bare and fully exposed -- there is nothing extra here

From Shostakovich so far I only was impressed by his 7th symphony and the beautiful Gatfly music. What can you recommend to me?

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Old 03-06-2007, 07:29 AM   #26
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Shostakovich's finest symphony is the 10th - it has a wonderfully exhilarating scherzo. I also like the 5th and the piano concertos. The preludes and the preludes and fugues for piano also enjoyable.
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Old 03-06-2007, 03:49 PM   #27
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Recently I attended a concert where the Phoenix Symphony performed Shostakovich Violin Concerto in A minor. It was very emotional and sounded as if it wore the weight of the world on its shoulders. A good thing that after the Shostakovich they performed Beethoven's 7th Symphony to lighten the mood! You felt a recuperation effect after the anguish of the Shostakovich.
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Old 03-06-2007, 06:53 PM   #28
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I would recommend his 5th Symphony, his 9th (both considered "lighter"), his cello concerti, any of his string quartets (but No. 8 in c minor tends to be the most popular).

To be honest, I haven't heard much more than this because the music is hard to get a hold of when one does not have any money to purchase CDs, haha.
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Old 03-20-2007, 10:05 PM   #29
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How 'bout the piano concerto by Addinsell. Very sad.
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Old 04-01-2007, 03:20 PM   #30
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As a modern example of saddest music I mentioned Bruce Springsteen's Youngstown about the history of a town used for making weapons for war

In

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Smddc...elated&search=

you find a live accoustic version and here a version with the E-street Band:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c2rQ3_kSXoU

I am curious what you think of it.

As for me I feel deeply moved about the sadnes in both music and lyrics...
There is no contemporary artist I love as much as Bruce Springsteen (followed by Neil Young and Mark Knopfler)

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Old 04-03-2007, 11:57 AM   #31
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There are so many sad tunes, but you have to listen to Mahler's "Das Lied von der Erda"... the last movement "Das Abshied" See if you can keep those tears back....
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Old 04-03-2007, 01:32 PM   #32
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There are so many sad tunes, but you have to listen to Mahler's "Das Lied von der Erda"... the last movement "Das Abshied" See if you can keep those tears back....
Yes - a great deal of Mahler is sad such as the Kindertotenlieder. I don't think Beethoven even in his darkest moments hints at the despair in Mahler.
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Old 04-05-2007, 03:45 PM   #33
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Being a Beethoven discussion board its only right that he should get the first suggestions! The second movement of the fourth piano concerto, especially played by Wilhelm Backhaus and the Vienna Philharmonic or the slow movement of op2no2 that is dark! I think the most depressing, without doubt is Beethovens cantata on the death of emperor Joseph II. Its atmospheric and terrifying written when Ludwig was only seventeen!

For real despair I have to opt for Mozarts requiem under the command of Sir Colin davis, I cant listen to it, its heartbreaking.Schuberts slow movement from his Wanderer Fantasy in the hands of Sviatoslav Richter. Gluck Orpheus and Euridice dance of the blessed spirits, Albinonis most famous Oboe concerto in D or Handels Largo from Xerxeus, they crack me up everytime!

aside what a depressing topic of discussion!

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Old 04-06-2007, 06:15 PM   #34
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Being a Beethoven discussion board its only right that he should get the first suggestions! The second movement of the fourth piano concerto, especially played by Wilhelm Backhaus and the Vienna Philharmonic or the slow movement of op2no2 that is dark! I think the most depressing, without doubt is Beethovens cantata on the death of emperor Joseph II. Its atmospheric and terrifying written when Ludwig was only seventeen!
Beethoven's gloomiest pieces I think are the slow movement from Op.10/3 and that of the Ghost trio. Wonderfully sombre!
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Old 07-01-2014, 07:00 PM   #35
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Beautiful!

Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRZLxxR23K4&feature=kp
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Old 07-01-2014, 07:36 PM   #36
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Yes I love that piece - also hauntingly sad is the well known Spiegel im spiegel
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Y9RgbGLLfE
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Old 07-02-2014, 12:33 PM   #37
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The second movement of the first Razumovsky quartet would be high on my list of "sad" music. The manuscript bears the curious inscription: "A weeping willow or acacia tree on my brother's grave".

No-one has been able to explain this phrase; Beethoven's two brothers were alive at the time of the composition of the middle quartets. It has even been suggested that it was a reference to the child that first bore the name "Ludwig" - that is "Ludwig Maria" who was born and died a year before Beethoven.
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Old 07-23-2014, 04:40 PM   #38
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I am a little surprised no-one so far has mentioned the Eroica, 2nd movement. For me, with Mahler mentioned earlier, 'ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen' is also pretty much at the peak of pain and sorrow.
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Old 07-23-2014, 05:29 PM   #39
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One of the most hauntingly beautiful sad pieces has to be Mahler's - 'I'm lost to the world' (which Albert refers to above)
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Old 07-24-2014, 03:25 AM   #40
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I think Beethoven's sonata 7. Op 10 No 3, Largo e Mesto is sad and very moving, also Mozarts piano concerto K488 No 23, which is also quite sad. I believe Mozart composed it soon after his mother passed away. Absolutely beautiful.

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