Top 10 Composers Of All Time-NY Times Wants To Know

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Top 10 Composers Of All Time-NY Times Wants To Know

Post by stenka razin » Fri Jan 07, 2011 11:34 am

Here we go again :mrgreen: .......From the NY Times, 1/7/10. Your comments and or lists would be appreciated, my fellow CMGers. 8)

The Greatest

By Anthony Tommasini


YOU know that a new year has truly arrived when critics stop issuing all those lists of the best films, books, plays, recordings and whatever of the year gone by. These lists seem to be popular with readers, and they stir up lively reactions. Like other critics I enjoy recalling the pieces and performances that struck me as exceptionally good, or exceptionally bad, during the year in classical music.

Yet in other fields, critics and insiders think bigger. Film institutes periodically issue lists of the greatest films of all time. (“Citizen Kane” seems to have a lock on the top spot.) Rock magazines routinely tally the greatest albums ever. And think of professional tennis, with its system of rankings, telling you exactly which player is No. 1 in the world, or 3, or 59.

Imagine if we could do the same in classical music, if there were ways to rank pianists, sopranos and, especially, composers. The Top 10 composers of all time. Now that’s the list I have secretly wanted to compile. It would be absurd, of course, but fascinating.

Hold on here. I don’t do ranking. As I see it, the critic’s job description does not include compiling lists of greats in order of greatness. What I do is champion, demystify and describe the composers, works and artists I admire, and, as appropriate, puncture inflated reputations.

I am eager to share my enthusiasm for, say, my favorite Britten opera (I think I would pick “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”) or my favorite recording of the Brahms Violin Concerto (Jascha Heifetz, with Fritz Reiner conducting the Chicago Symphony: a minority opinion, I suspect, but what a thrilling performance). To say that something is your favorite is not to insist that it has to be anyone else’s or that it belongs at the top of a list of all-time greats.

My thinking about this was shaken, though, last spring, when Mohammed e-mailed me. That’s Mohammed Rahman, then a freshman at Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan. He was writing a paper on why people have different musical tastes, and he wanted to interview me. His questions were so thoughtful that I met him at a cafe.

Mohammed picked my brain about how my tastes had been formed, about what I looked for in good music. Inevitably we came to the question of how it gets decided that certain music, certain composers are the best. And of course some really are. I’m open-minded but not a radical relativist.

So if you were to try to compile a list of the 10 greatest composers in history, how would you go about it? For me the resulting list would not be the point. But the process of coming up with such a list might be clarifying and instructive, as well as exasperating and fun.

What criteria might you apply? Would a composer’s influence and popularity factor in? Schoenberg was arguably the most influential composer of the 20th century. That he pushed tonality past the brink and devised a technique to supersede it completely shook up the music of the era. Every composer in his wake had to come to terms with Schoenberg. But on the basis of his actual pieces, many of which excite and move me, does he make the Top 10?

What about a composer whose range was narrow but whose music was astonishing? Chopin, a staggering genius, wrote almost exclusively for the piano. And what do you do with opera? Is that a separate thing entirely?

Do you break music down by the elements and analyze, for example, who was the greatest master of counterpoint? The most inventive rhythmically? And then, of course, there is my personal take on things, which will, of course, factor in strongly but not be determinative.

Anyway, between talking with Mohammed and going through the annual “best of the year” ritual, I have been emboldened. So here begins an open deliberation leading eventually — in later articles, online videos and posts on ArtsBeat (artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com) — to my answer to this irresistible question: Who are the 10 greatest composers in history? My editors urged that if I went down this path, I should go all the way and rank the Top 10 in order. But first I have to narrow the scope, so here are the ground rules:

I am focusing on Western classical music. There are compelling arguments against honoring this classification. Still, giants like George Gershwin, Duke Ellington and Stephen Sondheim are outside my purview here. And on the assumption that we are too close to living composers to assess their place and their impact, I am eliminating them from consideration.

Finally, I am focusing on the eras since the late Baroque. You could make a good case for Josquin or Monteverdi, but I won’t. The traditions and styles were so different back then as to have been almost another art form. I’m looking roughly at the era an undergraduate survey of Western civilization might define as modern history.

So to get things going, let’s start with an easy one: Bach. He would probably be the consensus choice among thinking musicians for the top spot. But why?

Bach came at an intersection in music history. He was born in 1685, when the Baroque period was thriving yet vestiges of the Renaissance age of polyphonic music were lingering. By the time he died in 1750, opera, for which he had no interest, was a century-and-a-half old, music was getting hipper, and elegantly decorous styles like the Rococo were widespread. Even some of Bach’s sons, who revered their father, thought he was a little old-fashioned as a composer. Bach did not care how he was perceived. He was too busy being a working musician, a composer who wrote pieces to order for whatever his job at the time, whether in a church or a court, demanded.

Bach stood right in the middle of this historical crossroads. His music is an astonishing synthesis of what had been and what was coming. Elements of the high polyphonic tradition run through his work. Yet the era of simpler Baroque textures and clear, strong tonal harmony had arrived.

In just the collected Bach chorales — the four-part, hymnlike settings of church tunes that crop up in his oratorios and cantatas — he codified everything that was known about harmony and anticipated the future, including wayward chromatic harmony à la Wagner. In the opening measures of the chorale “Es Ist Genug,” the one Berg incorporated into his final work, the Violin Concerto, Bach even anticipates atonality.

The 48 preludes and fugues of “The Well-Tempered Clavier” are the ultimate exploration of counterpoint in all its complexities, yet also a dazzling collection of quirky, sublime and sometimes showy character pieces.

What composer before or after Bach could have written the opening Kyrie of the Mass in B minor? It begins with choral cries of “Lord have mercy” (“Kyrie eleison”) as harmonically wrenching as anything in Brahms or Mahler. Then, with transfixing calm, the winding Kyrie theme is heard in the orchestra over a steady tread of a bass, as the inner voices build up. One by one the sections of the chorus enter, until Bach has constructed an intricate web of counterpoint at once intimidating in its complexity and consolingly beautiful.

Another candidate for this list was also born in Germany the same year as Bach: Handel, who lived nine years longer. Whereas Bach came from generations of musicians and was expected to go into the family business, Handel’s father was a barber and surgeon with aristocratic clientele who was determined to see his son become a lawyer and discouraged his studies of music. But Handel’s talent could not be denied.

After receiving thorough musical training in Germany, Handel learned the ways of Italian opera in Italy. In one of the curious twists in music history, he wound up living in London and writing Italian operas for English-speaking audiences who were wild about this exotic art form. Handel was a masterly composer in this genre and a savvy businessman who eventually became an opera-house manager and made more money than Bach ever could have imagined. When tastes shifted and box-office receipts dwindled, Handel found a new career as a revered purveyor of oratorios in English.

Thanks largely to the early-music movement Handel’s operas, which had mostly lapsed into obscurity, have been rediscovered and championed by formidable conductors, directors and singers. They are now rightly seen as psychologically astute and musically rich. Handel’s instrumental and large-scale choral works were well known to Mozart and Beethoven, who admired Handel tremendously.

Still, at least in the operas, Handel mostly hewed to convention. In less-than-inspired performances, the operas can come across as pro-forma works, with dialogue in recitative to advance the stories and set up the inevitable strings of da capo arias (structured with a Part A, a contrasting Part B and an embellished return of Part A). I prefer the operas in which Handel took more risks, as in the astonishing “Orlando,” which has as wrenching a portrait of a man’s descent into madness as you will find in any art form of any era.

Handel is a giant. A music theory teacher looking for a perfect example of three-part contrapuntal writing, with basso continuo, can do no better than to show students the main allegro section of the instrumental sinfonia that begins “Messiah.”

Still, does Handel make the cut for the Top 10? I don’t know. I think he should pay a price for churning out all those da capo arias.

Including Bach is a no-brainer. But remember, the point is to come up with a list. Move ahead a bit in history, and we are in danger of having four places among the Top 10 given to composers who worked in Vienna during a period of roughly 75 years, from 1750 to 1825. What was going on in that town at that time to foster such awesome creativity?

Let’s see.
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Re: Top 10 Composers Of All Time-NY Times Wants To Know

Post by karlhenning » Fri Jan 07, 2011 12:33 pm

Anthony Tommasini wrote:Still, does Handel make the cut for the Top 10? I don’t know. I think he should pay a price for churning out all those da capo arias.
I seldom say this when reading Tommasini, but this earns the remark: I love it!

Cheers,
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Re: Top 10 Composers Of All Time-NY Times Wants To Know

Post by absinthe » Fri Jan 07, 2011 12:39 pm

Bloody critics....give people cancer of the brain just as they have.

Besides, Handle used to turn out da crapo arias but thankfully the word was mispelled somewhere along the line, no longer a need to Handel with care and discretion.

I just got off the phone talking to Beethoven, the top composer of all time, and he says he hated Handle.

:mrgreen:

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Re: Top 10 Composers Of All Time-NY Times Wants To Know

Post by John F » Fri Jan 07, 2011 2:05 pm

Anthony Tommasini wrote:if you were to try to compile a list of the 10 greatest composers in history, how would you go about it? For me the resulting list would not be the point. But the process of coming up with such a list might be clarifying and instructive, as well as exasperating and fun.

What a backward way to get to a worthwhile project, encouraging people to examine how they think about music and evaluate it, via a worthless project, asking them to dash off a top 10 list, which will almost never be given that kind of thought.
absinthe wrote:I just got off the phone talking to Beethoven, the top composer of all time, and he says he hated Handle.
You got a wrong number, then. :) Beethoven is quoted as having said, "Handel was the greatest composer who ever lived. I would uncover my head and kneel before his tomb." It was the oratorios he valued highest.
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Re: Top 10 Composers Of All Time-NY Times Wants To Know

Post by some guy » Fri Jan 07, 2011 2:09 pm

Amazing the mental contortions Anthony goes through to get to his decision. We all have our private demons. (Except that his are now public. :twisted: )

Anyway, aside from the "all time" being a thing that hasn't happened yet (News Flash: Time is still going on. Details at eleven), surely a serious pursuit of the arts is not a contest but an exploration. (This was a comment another poster made on another board. I told him I would steal it and use it, and so I have.)

Ranking (which is what "great" and "best" and all that are all about) trivializes the importance of the pursuit of course, but that's not the worst of it, I don't think. The worst of it is that ranking completely misses the point, which is that composers are different from each other, and ages are, too. Look at Handel and Bach, for instance. Since they are contemporaries, they do share certain characteristics. But boy howdy, how freakin' different they are from each other. Would anyone who's heard more than five or six minutes of Baroque music ever have any trouble distinguishing the two? And however much one may prefer one over the other, to turn that preference into an absolute is to completely ignore difference. They do different things. And they do the things that they do very well indeed each of them.

When you move away from contemporaries, the differences become even more acute. Who is greater, Bach or Beethoven? Well, at what? They do different things. They have different goals and different ideas and very different sounds. What is it, then, that we're comparing to find out (find out? :lol: :lol: ) which is better? Our aesthetic responses to each? Well, then we should say "My aesthetic response to Beethoven is better than my aesthetic response to Bach," or vice versa. And even that. Why rank aesthetic responses? Does anything in Beethoven do anything like what Bach does in the St. Matthew Passion? Does anything in Bach do what Beethoven does in the opus 111? Is there anything in either that does what Berlioz does in Benvenuto Cellini or Bruckner in his symphony number 5 or Varèse in Poème électronique or what Martin Tetreault and Otomo Yoshihide do with turntables?

Silliness is all well and good. I like it a lot, myself (especially if it's Michael Palin or John Cleese doing it). But when silliness masquerades as intellectual rigor, as objective truth, which so often is what people claim to be doing with their notions of artistic greatness, then I start to grind my teeth, grrrrrr.

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Re: Top 10 Composers Of All Time-NY Times Wants To Know

Post by diegobueno » Fri Jan 07, 2011 2:58 pm

some guy wrote: My dentist loves you guys!!!
So some guy doesn't like us guys. What a shame.

My dentist doesn't have cause to have an opinion about some guy because I don't give a sh!t what he thinks.

Tommasini recognizes that the endeavor of ranking composers is absurd, and recognizes that he speaks only for himself in this article. All he's asking his readers to do is examine what criteria they use in deciding what music they consider great, which I think is not a bad thing to ask anybody.
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Re: Top 10 Composers Of All Time-NY Times Wants To Know

Post by THEHORN » Fri Jan 07, 2011 4:25 pm

The problem with these ridiculous ,pointless and arbitrary lists of the 10 or so "greatest" of any composer or performer is that people tend to equate the greatest with the most famous,even though the two are not necessarily the same.
Carl Nielsen ,for example,is not nearly as well known a composer as many others; it's only recently that his music has became a part of the classical canon. People who have only a superficial familiarity with classical music are unlikely to have heard of him at all.But he's still a very great composer.
His fellow Scandinavian Grieg is far better known to the general public, but
as far as I am concerned,Nielsen is a far greater composer.This is not to denigrate Grieg,whose music is very appealing. But he simply doesn't equal the stature of the Dane.
Coming up with a list of the top ten composers is completely arbitrary.
Are composers 11,12, and 13 etc not as good? How can you decide a cut off point?

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Re: Top 10 Composers Of All Time-NY Times Wants To Know

Post by John F » Fri Jan 07, 2011 10:44 pm

some guy wrote:Look at Handel and Bach, for instance. Since they are contemporaries, they do share certain characteristics. But boy howdy, how freakin' different they are from each other. Would anyone who's heard more than five or six minutes of Baroque music ever have any trouble distinguishing the two?
The short answer is, of course they would, and they do. It takes much more experience of Baroque music by various composers, and a more analytical way of listening, than most ordinary listeners have. Just as many can't tell the difference between Haydn's and Mozart's music by ear, but I can in a flash.

"Who is greater, Bach or Beethoven?" Well, when you're actually ranking composers one by one, I suppose you have to give some kind of answer. But the more relevant and answerable kind of question is, "Who is greater, Haydn or Stamitz? Who is greater, Mozart or Dittersdorf?" When you get past name recognition and personal likes and dislikes, there's still something to discuss, and the something makes a difference.
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Re: Top 10 Composers Of All Time-NY Times Wants To Know

Post by piston » Fri Jan 07, 2011 10:58 pm

Ah, but this is a synchronic perspective -- measuring merit from the same generation. What really complicates the whole analysis is the "innovation" factor. You see, generations of composers after Bach and Beethoven mastered their techniques, their art, and added their own innovative contributions on top of that. When Shostakovich did his Preludes and Fugues for the piano, of course he was inspired by Bach. But why are his Preludes and Fugues inferior to Bach if not because, in our way of thinking about these "top" composer competitions, we subconsciously factor in the "he was the first to write such music" factor. Thus, Bach does not rank on top merely because of his artistic merits but also because he was the first. How much importance participants to these rankings attribute to innovation is always a matter of personal [subconscious] assessment.
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Re: Top 10 Composers Of All Time-NY Times Wants To Know

Post by RebLem » Fri Jan 07, 2011 11:01 pm

If its only going to be 10, here's mine listed in chronological order by date of death:

J.S. Bach
W.A. Mozart
F.J. Haydn
L.V. Beethoven
R. Schumann
J. Brahms
A. Dvorak
S. Prokofiev
I. Stravinsky
D. Shostakovich

It really ought to be at least 15, though, so I could add Handel, Schubert, Verdi, Wagner, and Strauss.
Last edited by RebLem on Fri Jan 07, 2011 11:08 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Top 10 Composers Of All Time-NY Times Wants To Know

Post by Jack Kelso » Fri Jan 07, 2011 11:02 pm

karlhenning wrote:
Anthony Tommasini wrote:Still, does Handel make the cut for the Top 10? I don’t know. I think he should pay a price for churning out all those da capo arias.
I seldom say this when reading Tommasini, but this earns the remark: I love it!

Cheers,
~Karl
So what does one expect from 1735? Through-composed operas with leitmotiv...?

Substitute "Red Square tunes" for "da capo arias" and you've got Schostakowitsch.... 8)

Composers are not penalized for their lesser works (does Beethoven get an "F" for "Wellington's Victory"?!)----greatness is based on their best efforts.

Tschüß,
Jack
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Re: Top 10 Composers Of All Time-NY Times Wants To Know

Post by piston » Fri Jan 07, 2011 11:04 pm

RebLem wrote:If its only going to be 10, here's mine listed in chronological order by date of death:

J.S. Bach
W.A. Mozart
F.J. Haydn
L.V. Beethoven
R. Schumann
J. Brahms
A. Dvorak
I. Stravinsky
S. Prokofiev
D. Shostakovich
Interesting how this chronological ranking goes east of Austria/Germany following Brahms.
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Re: Top 10 Composers Of All Time-NY Times Wants To Know

Post by Jack Kelso » Fri Jan 07, 2011 11:05 pm

RebLem wrote:If its only going to be 10, here's mine listed in chronological order by date of death:

J.S. Bach
W.A. Mozart
F.J. Haydn
L.V. Beethoven
R. Schumann
J. Brahms
A. Dvorak
S. Prokofiev
I. Stravinsky
D. Shostakovich
That's a pretty good list, but I would exchange Dvorak and Shostakowitsch for Handel and Schubert.

Tschüß,
Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

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Re: Top 10 Composers Of All Time-NY Times Wants To Know

Post by piston » Fri Jan 07, 2011 11:09 pm

You could also exchange Prokofiev and Stravinsky for Mendelssohn and Chopin. :mrgreen:
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Re: Top 10 Composers Of All Time-NY Times Wants To Know

Post by John F » Fri Jan 07, 2011 11:21 pm

piston wrote:When Shostakovich did his Preludes and Fugues for the piano, of course he was inspired by Bach. But why are his Preludes and Fugues inferior to Bach if not because, in our way of thinking about these "top" composer competitions, we subconsciously factor in the "he was the first to write such music" factor. Thus, Bach does not rank on top merely because of his artistic merits but also because he was the first.
But Bach wasn't the first.



Indeed, I can't think of any form or genre of music which Bach invented, though possibly others here can. Like Beethoven, he came at the end of a musical era, and his music consolidates the work of earlier composers rather than setting off in new directions. And of course is none the less great for that.
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Re: Top 10 Composers Of All Time-NY Times Wants To Know

Post by Lance » Fri Jan 07, 2011 11:26 pm

Interesting article. We all surely have our PERSONAL 10 list. Most would probably concur. It all boils down to what we like, but then even the masses would seem to concur. If I had to pick 10 composers of all time, but NOT keeping them in any particular numerical sequence, it would go like this:

JS Bach
Beethoven/Haydn/Mozart
Schubert/Schumann
Mendelssohn/Chopin
Brahms
Dvorak
Rachmaninoff
Handel/Telemann/Vivaldi (sorry!)

I know ... more than 10, but cannot help it.

If I had to live on the desert island with just these composers, I think I could be reasonably happy. I would, of course, miss composers such as Hummel, von Weber, Grieg, Alkan, Rossini, Sibelius, Mussorgsky, Tchaikovsky, Franck, Poulenc, John Field, Verdi, Donizetti, Puccini, Bellini, Saint-Saëns. I shall stop there.
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Re: Top 10 Composers Of All Time-NY Times Wants To Know

Post by Jack Kelso » Sat Jan 08, 2011 1:11 am

Isn't this funny? I don't believe Wagner has been mentioned even ONCE here....or did I miss something...?!

Tschüß,
Jack
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Re: Top 10 Composers Of All Time-NY Times Wants To Know

Post by Jack Kelso » Sat Jan 08, 2011 1:15 am

Lance wrote:Interesting article. We all surely have our PERSONAL 10 list. Most would probably concur. It all boils down to what we like, but then even the masses would seem to concur. If I had to pick 10 composers of all time, but NOT keeping them in any particular numerical sequence, it would go like this:

JS Bach
Beethoven/Haydn/Mozart
Schubert/Schumann
Mendelssohn/Chopin
Brahms
Dvorak
Rachmaninoff
Handel/Telemann/Vivaldi (sorry!)

I know ... more than 10, but cannot help it.

If I had to live on the desert island with just these composers, I think I could be reasonably happy. I would, of course, miss composers such as Hummel, von Weber, Grieg, Alkan, Rossini, Sibelius, Mussorgsky, Tchaikovsky, Franck, Poulenc, John Field, Verdi, Donizetti, Puccini, Bellini, Saint-Saëns. I shall stop there.
Well, Lance---I wouldn't put Haydn ahead of Schumann or Mendelssohn ahead of Brahms, but there is so much room for personal taste.....and then Handel below Rachmaninoff :) .

Tschüß,
Jack
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Re: Top 10 Composers Of All Time-NY Times Wants To Know

Post by Jack Kelso » Sat Jan 08, 2011 1:17 am

Okay, I saw Wagner posted by RebLem......!

Tschüß,
Jack
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Re: Top 10 Composers Of All Time-NY Times Wants To Know

Post by Chalkperson » Sat Jan 08, 2011 1:23 am

Jack Kelso wrote:
RebLem wrote:If its only going to be 10, here's mine listed in chronological order by date of death:

J.S. Bach
W.A. Mozart
F.J. Haydn
L.V. Beethoven
R. Schumann
J. Brahms
A. Dvorak
S. Prokofiev
I. Stravinsky
D. Shostakovich
That's a pretty good list, but I would exchange Dvorak and Shostakowitsch for Handel and Schubert.
No way can you discount Shistakovich, his music represents Russia and nobody else has ever even come close to defining the vision of their Country via their Music...
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Re: Top 10 Composers Of All Time-NY Times Wants To Know

Post by Lance » Sat Jan 08, 2011 1:31 am

I know, I know Jack, but I did "qualify" my responses by noting the comment in red, below. I did that to avoid a "placement" since all of those I listed would probably be a Numero Uno! :D
Jack Kelso wrote:
Lance wrote:Interesting article. We all surely have our PERSONAL 10 list. Most would probably concur. It all boils down to what we like, but then even the masses would seem to concur. If I had to pick 10 composers of all time, but NOT keeping them in any particular numerical sequence, it would go like this:

JS Bach
Beethoven/Haydn/Mozart
Schubert/Schumann
Mendelssohn/Chopin
Brahms
Dvorak
Rachmaninoff
Handel/Telemann/Vivaldi (sorry!)

I know ... more than 10, but cannot help it.

If I had to live on the desert island with just these composers, I think I could be reasonably happy. I would, of course, miss composers such as Hummel, von Weber, Grieg, Alkan, Rossini, Sibelius, Mussorgsky, Tchaikovsky, Franck, Poulenc, John Field, Verdi, Donizetti, Puccini, Bellini, Saint-Saëns. I shall stop there.
Well, Lance---I wouldn't put Haydn ahead of Schumann or Mendelssohn ahead of Brahms, but there is so much room for personal taste.....and then Handel below Rachmaninoff :) .

Tschüß,
Jack
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Re: Top 10 Composers Of All Time-NY Times Wants To Know

Post by some guy » Sat Jan 08, 2011 3:01 am

OK. If we're going to take this seriously, as a valuable and worthwhile exercise, then I have a serious question or two:

What is it that we think we are doing when we make a list like this? What do we have once we're done?

We've had a few lists on this thread so far. What is each of those? None are the list of the top 10 composers of all time, are they? And if Tommasini comes up with one, that won't be the list, either, will it? Even if you got together a dozen, a hundred, a thousand of the finest (tee hee -- who would get to decide that?) thinkers in the musical world, and if those thousand were able to finally agree on a list of ten, it still wouldn't be the list, would it?

No list of "the top ten" by anyone, no matter how derived, no matter how many anyones, is going to be the list.

But let's just pretend, for a minute, that there is such a list. That it can be done, that it has been done.

Still, what do you have?

Surely a life in the arts is about expanding not contracting, about exploration not sitting about at home letting other people make your decisions for you. Of course, not everything A tries will suit A, so there will be, let us say, both expansion and contraction. But the goal should always be generally expansive, hein? Besides, what if some of A's rejects end up on B's short list? What then? If we prefer A's list, we will probably deprecate B's tastes. If B's list, we'll deprecate A's tastes. We seem to have left music and all its delights and ended up roundly and soundly in the character assassination realm. How delightful. And indeed, already on this so far rather short thread, we've seen at least one post which contributes nothing beyond a swipe at another poster. Nothing to do with music at all.

I've got to say, I'm starting to think that ranking composers is more interesting to some people, and more rewarding, than listening to music. Certainly seems more engaging than talking about music, anyway. Maybe that's it. Talking about music is difficult. Easier to play parlor games. And, since we're all pretty high-powered intellectuals round these here parts, we have to go and insist that our parlor games are intellectually valuable.

And just think. I coulda been listening to music all the time I was typing this out. Well, debate and thinking are fun, too, that's my excuse. But I must excuse myself now and spin a CD or two. Might even be some "great" music by a "top ten" composer!
"The public has got to stay in touch with the music of its time . . . for otherwise people will gradually come to mistrust music claimed to be the best."
--Viennese critic (1843)

Confusion is a word we have invented for an order which is not understood.
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Re: Top 10 Composers Of All Time-NY Times Wants To Know

Post by Jack Kelso » Sat Jan 08, 2011 3:05 am

Lance wrote:I know, I know Jack, but I did "qualify" my responses by noting the comment in red, below. I did that to avoid a "placement" since all of those I listed would probably be a Numero Uno! :D
Jack Kelso wrote:
Lance wrote:Interesting article. We all surely have our PERSONAL 10 list. Most would probably concur. It all boils down to what we like, but then even the masses would seem to concur. If I had to pick 10 composers of all time, but NOT keeping them in any particular numerical sequence, it would go like this:

JS Bach
Beethoven/Haydn/Mozart
Schubert/Schumann
Mendelssohn/Chopin
Brahms
Dvorak
Rachmaninoff
Handel/Telemann/Vivaldi (sorry!)

I know ... more than 10, but cannot help it.

If I had to live on the desert island with just these composers, I think I could be reasonably happy. I would, of course, miss composers such as Hummel, von Weber, Grieg, Alkan, Rossini, Sibelius, Mussorgsky, Tchaikovsky, Franck, Poulenc, John Field, Verdi, Donizetti, Puccini, Bellini, Saint-Saëns. I shall stop there.
Well, Lance---I wouldn't put Haydn ahead of Schumann or Mendelssohn ahead of Brahms, but there is so much room for personal taste.....and then Handel below Rachmaninoff :) .

Tschüß,
Jack
Sorry, Lance. I guess I misinterpreted you there! :oops:

Tschüß,
Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

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Re: Top 10 Composers Of All Time-NY Times Wants To Know

Post by Lance » Sat Jan 08, 2011 3:32 am

Worry not! I can well understand how it was perceived in the manner written--as you perceived it! But, in the end, who can really "select" the top winners? They are all so wonderful and magnificent!
Jack Kelso wrote:
Lance wrote:I know, I know Jack, but I did "qualify" my responses by noting the comment in red, below. I did that to avoid a "placement" since all of those I listed would probably be a Numero Uno! :D
Jack Kelso wrote:
Lance wrote:Interesting article. We all surely have our PERSONAL 10 list. Most would probably concur. It all boils down to what we like, but then even the masses would seem to concur. If I had to pick 10 composers of all time, but NOT keeping them in any particular numerical sequence, it would go like this:

JS Bach
Beethoven/Haydn/Mozart
Schubert/Schumann
Mendelssohn/Chopin
Brahms
Dvorak
Rachmaninoff
Handel/Telemann/Vivaldi (sorry!)

I know ... more than 10, but cannot help it.

If I had to live on the desert island with just these composers, I think I could be reasonably happy. I would, of course, miss composers such as Hummel, von Weber, Grieg, Alkan, Rossini, Sibelius, Mussorgsky, Tchaikovsky, Franck, Poulenc, John Field, Verdi, Donizetti, Puccini, Bellini, Saint-Saëns. I shall stop there.
Well, Lance---I wouldn't put Haydn ahead of Schumann or Mendelssohn ahead of Brahms, but there is so much room for personal taste.....and then Handel below Rachmaninoff :) .

Tschüß,
Jack
Sorry, Lance. I guess I misinterpreted you there! :oops:

Tschüß,
Jack
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Re: Top 10 Composers Of All Time-NY Times Wants To Know

Post by Seán » Sat Jan 08, 2011 6:04 am

Lance wrote:Interesting article. We all surely have our PERSONAL 10 list. Most would probably concur. It all boils down to what we like, but then even the masses would seem to concur. If I had to pick 10 composers of all time, but NOT keeping them in any particular numerical sequence, it would go like this:

JS Bach
Beethoven/Haydn/Mozart
Schubert/Schumann
Mendelssohn/Chopin
Brahms
Dvorak
Rachmaninoff
Handel/Telemann/Vivaldi (sorry!)

I know ... more than 10, but cannot help it.

If I had to live on the desert island with just these composers, I think I could be reasonably happy. I would, of course, miss composers such as Hummel, von Weber, Grieg, Alkan, Rossini, Sibelius, Mussorgsky, Tchaikovsky, Franck, Poulenc, John Field, Verdi, Donizetti, Puccini, Bellini, Saint-Saëns. I shall stop there.
and no mention of the great Igor Stravinsky? :shock:
Seán

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Re: Top 10 Composers Of All Time-NY Times Wants To Know

Post by Fergus » Sat Jan 08, 2011 6:45 am

I do not do TOP 10 ranking lists myself but all I know is that if I was given the ultimate choice of choosing just one composer to take to the famous desert island and I could only hear that composer's music until the end of my days it could only be JS Bach.

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Re: Top 10 Composers Of All Time-NY Times Wants To Know

Post by bombasticDarren » Sat Jan 08, 2011 6:53 am

Fergus wrote:I do not do TOP 10 ranking lists myself but all I know is that if I was given the ultimate choice of choosing just one composer to take to the famous desert island and I could only hear that composer's music until the end of my days it could only be JS Bach.
I think I would also be tempted to take Bach, but in the end I think I would invite Brahms along

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Re: Top 10 Composers Of All Time-NY Times Wants To Know

Post by absinthe » Sat Jan 08, 2011 7:54 am

OK. If we're going to take this seriously....
Uh-oh... that brings in a new variable entirely.

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Re: Top 10 Composers Of All Time-NY Times Wants To Know

Post by Seán » Sat Jan 08, 2011 8:00 am

bombasticDarren wrote:
Fergus wrote:I do not do TOP 10 ranking lists myself but all I know is that if I was given the ultimate choice of choosing just one composer to take to the famous desert island and I could only hear that composer's music until the end of my days it could only be JS Bach.
I think I would also be tempted to take Bach, but in the end I think I would invite Brahms along
That, for me, would be the strongest incentive I know of to actually get myself off the island. :wink: :lol:
Seán

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Re: Top 10 Composers Of All Time-NY Times Wants To Know

Post by Fergus » Sat Jan 08, 2011 9:01 am

Seán wrote:That, for me, would be the strongest incentive I know of to actually get myself off the island. :wink: :lol:
If I was passing the same said island and I saw you there Seán among such eminent company I would rescue dear old JSB and return for you later having left you and Brahms together for a little get-to-know-you session :mrgreen:

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Re: Top 10 Composers Of All Time-NY Times Wants To Know

Post by jbuck919 » Sat Jan 08, 2011 9:42 am

RebLem wrote:If its only going to be 10, here's mine listed in chronological order by date of death:

J.S. Bach
W.A. Mozart
F.J. Haydn
L.V. Beethoven
R. Schumann
J. Brahms
A. Dvorak
S. Prokofiev
I. Stravinsky
D. Shostakovich

It really ought to be at least 15, though, so I could add Handel, Schubert, Verdi, Wagner, and Strauss.
Oh Rob, I so didn't want it to be you who first succumbed to the temptation actually to supply a list. :( :wink:

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Re: Top 10 Composers Of All Time-NY Times Wants To Know

Post by josé echenique » Sat Jan 08, 2011 10:35 am

piston wrote:
RebLem wrote:If its only going to be 10, here's mine listed in chronological order by date of death:

J.S. Bach
W.A. Mozart
F.J. Haydn
L.V. Beethoven
R. Schumann
J. Brahms
A. Dvorak
I. Stravinsky
S. Prokofiev
D. Shostakovich
Interesting how this chronological ranking goes east of Austria/Germany following Brahms.
Dvorak would be amazed that his name is in the list and Verdi´s is not.

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Re: Top 10 Composers Of All Time-NY Times Wants To Know

Post by josé echenique » Sat Jan 08, 2011 10:37 am

Chalkperson wrote:
Jack Kelso wrote:
RebLem wrote:If its only going to be 10, here's mine listed in chronological order by date of death:

J.S. Bach
W.A. Mozart
F.J. Haydn
L.V. Beethoven
R. Schumann
J. Brahms
A. Dvorak
S. Prokofiev
I. Stravinsky
D. Shostakovich
That's a pretty good list, but I would exchange Dvorak and Shostakowitsch for Handel and Schubert.
No way can you discount Shistakovich, his music represents Russia and nobody else has ever even come close to defining the vision of their Country via their Music...
I think Mussorgsky was better at that than Shostakovich.

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Re: Top 10 Composers Of All Time-NY Times Wants To Know

Post by josé echenique » Sat Jan 08, 2011 10:56 am

RebLem wrote:If its only going to be 10, here's mine listed in chronological order by date of death:

J.S. Bach
W.A. Mozart
F.J. Haydn
L.V. Beethoven
R. Schumann
J. Brahms
A. Dvorak
S. Prokofiev
I. Stravinsky
D. Shostakovich

It really ought to be at least 15, though, so I could add Handel, Schubert, Verdi, Wagner, and Strauss.
And no Bruckner, Monteverdi, Rameau, Josquin, Palestrina, Rossini, yes Rossini, a very great genius, and Berlioz?

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Re: Top 10 Composers Of All Time-NY Times Wants To Know

Post by lennygoran » Sat Jan 08, 2011 12:41 pm

>And no Bruckner, Monteverdi, Rameau, Josquin, Palestrina, Rossini, yes Rossini, a very great genius, and Berlioz?<

I gotta find a spot for Tchaikovsky! I may have to bump Donizetti from my list! Regards, Len :)

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Re: Top 10 Composers Of All Time-NY Times Wants To Know

Post by Seán » Sat Jan 08, 2011 3:56 pm

Fergus wrote:
Seán wrote:That, for me, would be the strongest incentive I know of to actually get myself off the island. :wink: :lol:
If I was passing the same said island and I saw you there Seán among such eminent company I would rescue dear old JSB and return for you later having left you and Brahms together for a little get-to-know-you session :mrgreen:
You do have an evil streak in you young man. :wink:
Seán

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Re: Top 10 Composers Of All Time-NY Times Wants To Know

Post by IcedNote » Sat Jan 08, 2011 4:41 pm

I don't understand why some people are so against lists. Can't you just take it for what it is -- a fun, little exercise? Maybe some people just don't like having to make decisions? Sheesh...I don't get it.

So with that, here's my current Top 10 (in no particular order):

Beethoven
Chopin
Shostakovich
Brahms
Mahler
R. Strauss
Reger
Debussy
Bach
Liszt

-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

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Re: Top 10 Composers Of All Time-NY Times Wants To Know

Post by Lance » Sat Jan 08, 2011 5:34 pm

Oddly, I am not a great Stravinsky fan though I have his wonderful 22-CD boxed edition by Sony (the deluxe edition) and do listen in to it from time to time. My favourite piece of Stravinsky's is his Symphony No. 1 in E-flat Major, Op. 1. Naturally, Firebird, Petrouchka, and Rite of Spring figure in my favs of Stravinsky as well. The earlier material I am attracted to far more than his later works. Can't help it ... just a personal choice.
Seán wrote:
Lance wrote:Interesting article. We all surely have our PERSONAL 10 list. Most would probably concur. It all boils down to what we like, but then even the masses would seem to concur. If I had to pick 10 composers of all time, but NOT keeping them in any particular numerical sequence, it would go like this:

JS Bach
Beethoven/Haydn/Mozart
Schubert/Schumann
Mendelssohn/Chopin
Brahms
Dvorak
Rachmaninoff
Handel/Telemann/Vivaldi (sorry!)

I know ... more than 10, but cannot help it.

If I had to live on the desert island with just these composers, I think I could be reasonably happy. I would, of course, miss composers such as Hummel, von Weber, Grieg, Alkan, Rossini, Sibelius, Mussorgsky, Tchaikovsky, Franck, Poulenc, John Field, Verdi, Donizetti, Puccini, Bellini, Saint-Saëns. I shall stop there.
and no mention of the great Igor Stravinsky? :shock:
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Re: Top 10 Composers Of All Time-NY Times Wants To Know

Post by Fergus » Sat Jan 08, 2011 6:13 pm

IcedNote wrote:I don't understand why some people are so against lists. Can't you just take it for what it is -- a fun, little exercise? Maybe some people just don't like having to make decisions? Sheesh...I don't get it.
I cannot speak for anyone else but my very firm decision is that I do not like lists of this sort :roll:

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Re: Top 10 Composers Of All Time-NY Times Wants To Know

Post by Chalkperson » Sat Jan 08, 2011 10:15 pm

josé echenique wrote: I think Mussorgsky was better at that than Shostakovich.
Really, including the Acts of War...
Sent via Twitter by @chalkperson

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Re: Top 10 Composers Of All Time-NY Times Wants To Know

Post by Jack Kelso » Sun Jan 09, 2011 3:27 am

....and now, Ladies and Gentlemen, by (near) popular demand for our anti-Austro-German delegation out there (wherever it is!), here is THEIR chronological listing of the TOP TEN:

1. Purcell
2. Vivaldi
3. Cherubini
4. Berlioz
5. Chopin
6. Verdi
7. Tschaikowsky
8. Dvorak
9. Sibelius
10. Prokofiev

"There, you see?" exclaimed Captain Laska, "I just knew we could do it!" :P

Tschüß,
Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

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Re: Top 10 Composers Of All Time-NY Times Wants To Know

Post by bombasticDarren » Mon Jan 10, 2011 2:27 pm

Best? Can't do 'best', but will offer my 10 favourites :D :

1. Brahms
2. Beethoven
3. Ravel
4. J.S. Bach
5. Schubert
6. Mozart
7. Sibelius
8. Britten
9. Mahler
10. Schumann

...it will change next week :wink:
:lol:

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Re: Top 10 Composers Of All Time-NY Times Wants To Know

Post by jbuck919 » Tue Jan 11, 2011 4:34 pm

Now Tomassini thinks either Haydn or Schubert must be bumped off the list in the name of diversity. And he seems to be serious.

ArtsBeat - New York Times Blog
January 10, 2011, 12:04 pm
Top 10 Composers: The Vienna Four
By ANTHONY TOMMASINI


For any attempt to determine the top 10 classical composers in history, like the one we embarked on in the Arts & Leisure section on Sunday, the Viennese Classical period presents a special challenge. If such a list is to be at all diverse and comprehensive, how could 4 of the 10 slots go to composers — Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert — who worked in Vienna during, say, the 75 years from 1750 to 1825? What on earth was going on there to foster such achievement?

The only Vienna native of the four was Schubert. Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809), the son of a wheelwright, was born in lower Austria. But by the age of 8 he was a choirboy at St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna. He was booted out of the choir when his voice changed in his late teens, and he became a freelance composer, performer and teacher. So during his childhood and young adult years, Haydn was immersed in the greatest music of Germanic culture.

At 29 he went to work for Prince Paul Esterhazy, who died in 1762 and was succeeded by his brother Nikolaus, a passionate music lover. Haydn spent nearly 30 years presiding over the musical activities at the prince’s palace 30 miles outside Vienna as well as at the summer residence over the border in Hungary. Still, during these decades Haydn was a regular visitor to Vienna, where he presented his works, soaked up musical life, made friends (with Mozart, among others) and joined a Masonic lodge. In 1790, the prince having died, Haydn moved back to Vienna, a beloved master (Papa Haydn) and popular composer.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791), though born in Salzburg, spent extended periods of his childhood as a prodigy on tour throughout Europe. The arduous trips undermined his health and nearly killed him a couple of times. When these ventures failed to produce a patron or coveted position, Leopold Mozart compelled his son to buckle down and settle in Salzburg. But Wolfgang, itching to get to the big city, made his break at 25 and lived in Vienna until his death, through periods of triumph and exasperation, writing his greatest works during his last, heady decade.

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) was born in Bonn, Germany, the son of a drunken, abusive court singer. He tried to escape to Vienna at 16 but had to return to stabilize the family when his father died. Six years later he was back in Vienna, and he never left. He soon became a towering figure there, his path-breaking works both intriguing and baffling listeners, including his former teacher Haydn.

Franz Schubert (1797-1828) was born in Vienna to an impoverished schoolteacher and briefly became a teacher, until he threw himself into music and lived as a struggling freelance composer at a time when the patronage system was breaking down. Still, Schubert had a support system of friends and musicians who adored him and were sure they had a genius in their midst.

So what was going on in Vienna to make it such a hotbed of musical creativity? Do not presume that cultural life was especially enlightened or that the average Viennese music lover was uncommonly sophisticated. As Harvey Sachs points out in his recent book, “The Ninth: Beethoven and the World in 1824,” terms like “crossover,” “kitsch” and “dumbing down” could easily have been applied to the Vienna of Beethoven’s day, and the typical citizen “clamored to hear the forebears of today’s virtuoso firebrands, schlock-mongers and half-pop, half-serious opera singers.”

Yet clearly there were musically astute listeners, as well as informed monarchs and patrons, who got what was going on. Haydn is often called the father of the symphony as it came to be known. I’d throw in the father of the string quartet and the piano sonata. Haydn was a pioneer in figuring out how to write a sizable multimovement instrumental piece that sounded organized and whole, an entity. The system of sophisticated tonal harmony had developed to the point where a genius like Haydn could figure out how to process themes and manipulate key areas to dramatic effect throughout the many sections of a long work. Moreover, Haydn was the first great master of what is called motivic development, in which bits and pieces of music — a few notes, a melodic twist, a rhythmic gesture — become the building blocks for an entire symphony in several movements.

Haydn passed this technique on to his recalcitrant student Beethoven, who, for all his notions of having invented himself, was deeply indebted to Haydn. Beethoven took the technique of motivic development even further. If you were going to make a case for Beethoven as the greatest composer in history, you would base it on his ability to make a long work, like the “Eroica” Symphony, seem like a musical monument in motion. For all the episodic shifts and turns of this piece, as it plows through four dramatically contrasting movements, most of the music is generated from a handful of motifs that you hear at the beginning.

Then, in his late phase, Beethoven entered a realm that transcended eras and periods. By then completely deaf, Beethoven touched the mystical. Every time I play the first piece from the Six Bagatelles (Op. 126), Beethoven’s last work for piano, I am stunned all over again. This seemingly modest little piece (as its title implies), just a single page of music, with its deceptively simple melody, is wondrous strange, almost cosmic.

Over the next two weeks Anthony Tommasini is exploring the qualities that make a classical composer great, maybe even the best of all time. Watch videos here and read previous posts here and share your thoughts in the comments field. Mr. Tommasini’s final list will be posted on Jan. 21.

In an earlier post, Mr. Tommasini began a discussion on the Vienna four. It continues here with Mozart…

Mozart knew all about motivic development too. But the technique did not come as naturally to him. He was a theater man at heart. It’s inspiring to see the sketches for the Mozart operas, in which all he writes are the vocal lines fitted to the words, and a bass line below, with a few chords here and there. Clearly, setting the text and getting the dramatic structure of the opera was the first task and the hard part. Filling in all the rest came later, which, for Mozart, was fairly easy if time-consuming.

When Mozart wanted to write a symphony or chamber work in the Haydn manner, as a motif-driven entity, he could certainly do it. Think of his last three symphonies or the six quartets he dedicated to Haydn. But it took great effort, as he admitted in the moving dedication of those quartets.

Still, even Mozart’s sonatas and symphonies are full of operatic touches. When I was in music school, I was always baffled when fellow pianists who claimed to love the Mozart piano concertos and sonatas said that they had no real feeling for the operas, not being opera buffs. How can you play, say, Mozart’s Sonata in D (K. 311) without being immersed in the Mozart operas? The Rondo comes across like some duet from “The Marriage of Figaro.” In the main theme you can almost hear Susanna, as she coyly tries to charm her way out of a tight spot with her doting, jealous Figaro, who voices his suspicions in gruff bursts leading to the second theme.

The argument for Mozart as the greatest composer ever would be based on his astounding versatility: he is at the top, both as a maker of opera and as a composer of symphonic and chamber works. That he died at 35 was horrible. On the other hand, he had an early start. And how do you top “Don Giovanni” and the “Jupiter” Symphony?

But that Schubert died at 31 is for me the greatest loss in music history. Even though he wrote an astonishing number of works, in so many ways he was just getting going. In his last years he started to restudy counterpoint because he thought his skills were insufficient.

In his mature piano sonatas, chamber works and songs, Schubert, like Beethoven, entered some mystic place beyond era and cultural context. Think of the Sonata in A minor (D. 784), which in the opening movement veers with no warning from an eerily self-contained main theme through bursts of crazed chords and tremolos to a deceptively tranquil second theme, flowing by like some wistful folk song, only to be interrupted by slashing fortissimo chords.

If only for the hundreds of his songs that dominate the song repertory today and continue to stun, entrance and delight audiences, Schubert should make the cut. Right?

Yet one of these Vienna masters will have to be eliminated if we are going to leave spots for the giants of the 19th and 20th centuries. Might it be Haydn? Part of his legacy was carried on by his student Beethoven and his younger friend Mozart. I know musicians and critics who would howl at the idea that Haydn, who pioneered the string quartet and wrote some of the greatest works in that genre, would not be among the Top 5, let alone the top 10. What to do? For now, let’s put it off.

Copyright 2011 The New York Times Company

For the record, I have no trouble filling my top ten with only figures from the 18th and 19th century, including all five who made their careers in Vienna. It would never occur to anyone except a modern American to worry about the lack of diversity on the great composer list, or about the fact that most of the great Renaissance painters were Italian (or that not every century produced art that great). It might be fun to try to explain that, but we should not be explaining around it.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Re: Top 10 Composers Of All Time-NY Times Wants To Know

Post by some guy » Tue Jan 11, 2011 7:26 pm

And it doesn't seem to have occurred to Tomassini that part of the mystique of Vienna in that time has come about over time, as successive generations add to and confirm the hegemony of those four men.

Would anyone leave off listening to either Haydn or Schubert because Tomassini decides to leave them off his "top ten" list? That would be daft. Neither would anyone leave off listening to Mumma, Behrman, Ashley, and Lucier (Michigan in the 1960s) just because none of those four in that magical time in Ann Arbor makes it onto any "top ten" list. Although, there may be some who would never start listening. That would be a sad result.

And what about Donaueschingen or Darmstadt or Paris or Stockholm or New York or San Francisco or any other center of more or less lengthy bursts of creative energy?

Does anyone really enjoy Beethoven more because he manages to get on top ten lists? Does anyone really enjoy Luc Ferrari less because he doesn't? If so, that would be a great pity, I would think. Depends on what you like, I guess. Listening to music or deciding which composers deserve to be on a top ten list (and then deciding where on the list they belong). Really? Is that really more fun than listening to music?
"The public has got to stay in touch with the music of its time . . . for otherwise people will gradually come to mistrust music claimed to be the best."
--Viennese critic (1843)

Confusion is a word we have invented for an order which is not understood.
--Henry Miller

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Re: Top 10 Composers Of All Time-NY Times Wants To Know

Post by diegobueno » Tue Jan 11, 2011 7:45 pm

some guy wrote:
And what about Donaueschingen or Darmstadt
Oy, No thank you! I've heard more of that music than anyone should ever have to endure in one lifetime.
Black lives matter.

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Re: Top 10 Composers Of All Time-NY Times Wants To Know

Post by slofstra » Tue Jan 11, 2011 7:51 pm

jbuck919 wrote:
RebLem wrote:If its only going to be 10, here's mine listed in chronological order by date of death:

J.S. Bach
W.A. Mozart
F.J. Haydn
L.V. Beethoven
R. Schumann
J. Brahms
A. Dvorak
S. Prokofiev
I. Stravinsky
D. Shostakovich

It really ought to be at least 15, though, so I could add Handel, Schubert, Verdi, Wagner, and Strauss.
Oh Rob, I so didn't want it to be you who first succumbed to the temptation actually to supply a list. :( :wink:
I kinda like these lists when it is someone's personal list. I always learn something from them. In this case, it is seeing Prokofiev on Rob's list. The other selections I can understand, with the possible exception of Dvorak. But anyway, Dvorak would make my own top 20, if not the top 10. But Prokofiev is a composer to whom I've paid scant attention. Lately I've played a few of his pieces and was rather blown away, and given Rob's ranking perhaps I should give him a little more attention. Hope that doesn't sound too patronizing, but I'm always willing to reconsider my own appraisal of things.

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Re: Top 10 Composers Of All Time-NY Times Wants To Know

Post by slofstra » Tue Jan 11, 2011 7:52 pm

josé echenique wrote:
Chalkperson wrote:
Jack Kelso wrote:
RebLem wrote:If its only going to be 10, here's mine listed in chronological order by date of death:

J.S. Bach
W.A. Mozart
F.J. Haydn
L.V. Beethoven
R. Schumann
J. Brahms
A. Dvorak
S. Prokofiev
I. Stravinsky
D. Shostakovich
That's a pretty good list, but I would exchange Dvorak and Shostakowitsch for Handel and Schubert.
No way can you discount Shistakovich, his music represents Russia and nobody else has ever even come close to defining the vision of their Country via their Music...
I think Mussorgsky was better at that than Shostakovich.
He certainly drank more vodka.

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Re: Top 10 Composers Of All Time-NY Times Wants To Know

Post by slofstra » Tue Jan 11, 2011 7:54 pm

IcedNote wrote:I don't understand why some people are so against lists. Can't you just take it for what it is -- a fun, little exercise? Maybe some people just don't like having to make decisions? Sheesh...I don't get it.

So with that, here's my current Top 10 (in no particular order):

Beethoven
Chopin
Shostakovich
Brahms
Mahler
R. Strauss
Reger
Debussy
Bach
Liszt

-G
Okay, you gotta tell me a bit about Reger and why you like him.

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Re: Top 10 Composers Of All Time-NY Times Wants To Know

Post by slofstra » Tue Jan 11, 2011 8:12 pm

Now Tomassini thinks either Haydn or Schubert must be bumped off the list in the name of diversity. And he seems to be serious.
According to the official top 10 rules that is not allowed.
Here are the rules:
The top 3 must include these three: Bach, Beethoven and Mozart.
The top 10 must include these three: Brahms, Haydn and Schubert.
For the remainder of the top 10 choose three from the following list:
Wagner, Schumann, Handel, Tchaikovsky, Mendelssohn, Dvorak, Liszt, Chopin, Stravinsky, Verdi, Mahler, Prokofiev or Shostakovich.
Now choose one more either from the above list or your own free choice in order to complete the top 10.

As an exercise, see how many top 10 composer lists follow those rules. They almost all do.

Short version of the above rules - pick 9 or 10 composers from a list of 19 (Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Brahms, Haydn, Schubert, Wagner, Schumann, Handel, Tchaikovsky, Mendelssohn, Dvorak, Liszt, Chopin, Stravinsky, Verdi, Mahler, Prokofiev or Shostakovich). Add one more free choice if necessary.

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Re: Top 10 Composers Of All Time-NY Times Wants To Know

Post by some guy » Tue Jan 11, 2011 8:59 pm

diegobueno wrote:
some guy wrote:
And what about Donaueschingen or Darmstadt
Oy, No thank you! I've heard more of that music than anyone should ever have to endure in one lifetime.
Well, I've heard all of it I could find, and there has been very little enduring on my part, I can assure you! But that's my point, after all. That lists are exclusive, and I find that what gives me most pleasure is including.

I lived in Darmstadt for a year, the school year 1971-72. We used to see announcements on the kiosks of new music concerts in town and make fun of the kooky titles of pieces.

In April, I "discovered" twentieth century music. By October, my biggest regret was that I had missed all that wonderful stuff going on right where I was. In January, 2011, that is still the biggest regret of my life.

Different folks, eh?
"The public has got to stay in touch with the music of its time . . . for otherwise people will gradually come to mistrust music claimed to be the best."
--Viennese critic (1843)

Confusion is a word we have invented for an order which is not understood.
--Henry Miller

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