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a Classical Music discussion


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#1 of 121 OFFLINE   Zen Butler

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Posted May 31 2002 - 08:44 AM

I suppose I'll try this, most of my classical music replies get buried or unanswered but I would like to continue the discussion that appeared in the Beatles thread.
Classical Music referring to the span from Gregorian chant to modern, not just the "Classical" period, just to get that thing out of the wayPosted Image

I would not deny Dvorak's No. 9 influence but also add the lesser known(not really in most CM circles) Holst's The Planets, both influencing modern soundtrack music for sure. See (John Williams).

I only stated J.S. Bach for the mere fact, if you are truly familiar with his work, you will hear it in almost everything, melody speaking.
I'll start with the above two comments and see what goes from here, I do get excited when somebody else has actually heard..

Quote:
* Historic recording--
Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 1; Vladimir Horowitz, soloist, with the NBC Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Arturo Toscanini
Most of these type of discussions usually end up "have you heard?" like, but that's better than no Classical discussion

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#2 of 121 OFFLINE   Jeff Rogers

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Posted May 31 2002 - 10:16 AM

Holst's Jupiter is the best song ever!!

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#3 of 121 OFFLINE   Jan H

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Posted May 31 2002 - 03:19 PM

Zen,

I sympathize. I own 400+ "classical" recordings, and it's hard to find an intelligent conversaion about the music with anyone who does not think that serious music existed before Louis Armstrong. Perhaps Home Theater and serious music do not mix, hence the advent of TPV, versus the excellent TAS.

#4 of 121 OFFLINE   Stefan A

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Posted May 31 2002 - 10:40 PM

Hi

I can understand where you are coming from Zen - but lets face it, this is a home theater web site first. I admit that I always check the music area to see if there are any classical threads. I listen to classical 95% of the time and throw in a little rock (Jethro, Zappa, the radio), just for some "easy listening". I grew up with a father who listened to classical music 100% of the time, so I was constantly exposed to it. Then, I became a musician and decided to make a career of it - I am a band teacher and tuba player.

So, you could say that I had a vested interest in listening to classical music. And, since I went to college and got a BS and a MM in music, classical music is completely normal to me and I can understand it. You can't say that about most people - they have not seriously studied music or know what to listen for. As a tuba player, I first got into listening for tuba parts and investigating composers that used tuba. Then built up a large collection of music that uses tuba - which of course also uses all of the modern orchestral instruments. I don't think the average person knows exactly where to start - like I did. When you consider what rock music sounds like - it's style - it's hard to put on a Bach concerto, or a Mozart symphony and really get into it. Somehow, it justs lacks excitement - or is too intellectual. If you ask the average person who has grown up with rock which classical composers they have heard of, I think the typical response would be - Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky (nutcracker), maybe a few others. A 1/2 hour Mozart symphony is just not going to keep the attention of a person who is used to a 4 minute song with words - something that has meaning.

Well, I think I am starting to ramble. The point is that education in classical music is what is needed. The "Dummies" or "Idiot" series of books is a good place to start. I know some people are put off by those titles, but I have learned a lot from those type of books - and they make it easy to follow.

I just taught my students Mars, Venus, and Jupiter from The Planets - we performed it on a recent concert. Lately, I have been playing them sections from "Rite of Spring" to show them how Holst was influenced by Stavinsky. Soon, I will show them the Rite of Spring and Firebird scenes from Fantasia to help drive it home.

Meaningful connections are what's needed. Just telling someone that they should go out and listen to Brahms' Symphony #2 is not going to "convert" anybody these days. You need a plan of action to learn to like classical music.

I will end here and continue that discussion later if anybody is interested.

#5 of 121 OFFLINE   Zen Butler

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Posted June 01 2002 - 03:37 AM

I used to teach guitar, and in between teaching the latest Metallica or Nirvana song, there were a few that would take my advice and venture beyond the "rock block". I usually would start them with say Rodrigo's Concerto de Aranjuez, explain the influence on an Ennio Morricone to the influence on Kirk Hammett of Metallica, and so on. I found just sitting with someone, taking the time to explain it a bit, people will open their minds to it.
When I started college, I had been working at Tower's classical section for awhile, and thought I knew it all! Man how humbling it can be, because there is always someone out there that knows more, has more, or gets it just a little more. I mean there is so much to enjoy. I mean, my Rush collection is and always will be complete, I'll be 90, when my Mozart collection even starts to scratch the surfacePosted Image
Quote:
I just taught my students Mars, Venus, and Jupiter from The Planets

I showed my brother Holst's Planets and he actually liked it, he seemed interested in the different movement's tones and colors. As you already mentioned Stefan, the Stravinsky influence, I hear alot of Debussy also (see Neptune). I've never lost excitement for this piece, although literally modern it takes so many turns, it can't help itself acknowledge the Baroque and Classic. Brilliant piece that I would love to continue the conversation on...
I would swear Jack would have been here by now, this thread was by his requestPosted Image

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#6 of 121 OFFLINE   Mike Broadman

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Posted June 01 2002 - 03:58 AM

Holst

I believe there is a DVD-A of the Planets. Has anyone heard it?
Great set of music, but Mars will always hold a special place in my heart because it is through King Crimson's performance of this piece that made me aware of Holst in the first place. Hooray for tri-tones!

#7 of 121 OFFLINE   Jack Briggs

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Posted June 01 2002 - 06:33 AM

By the way, the individual titled components of Gustav Holst's The Planets are movements, not "songs." In the vast, vast world of serious music, you might look to Franz Schubert as the definitive authority on "songs," or, rather, leider.

As for The Planets, I own six performances on record, my favorite, from the standpoint of performance (but not audio quality), being Sir Adrian Boult's with the New Philharmonia.

Also noteworthy is William Steinberg's with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, on Deutche Grammophon.

As Zen alluded to, it is difficult to classify the entire spectrum of serious music under the broad rubric of "classical." In what way is, say, Schoenberg's atonal music similar to anything by Haydn?

And Haydn was late rococco/early classical.

#8 of 121 OFFLINE   Zen Butler

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Posted June 01 2002 - 11:24 AM

My The Planets performance is Andre Previn, Royal Philharmonic, although the performance seems dead on, I'm more suspect of the recording, which is DDD.
Haydn as late rococo /early classical , I accept for the simple French influence, but may I suggest
Sturm und Drang and yes definetly Classical Posted Image

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#9 of 121 OFFLINE   Dennis Nicholls

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Posted June 01 2002 - 11:43 AM

Speaking of leider, did you know that the Heldentenors had to wear special short leather pants so they wouldn't strain themselves. They were called leiderhosen.....

And there really was a tenor called Wolfgang Windgassen. I'm not making it up.....

Actually there are some who call Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern the "second Viennese school" (Hayden, Mozart, and Beethoven been the "first Viennese school").

It's really a shame that there isn't a better term for what we all know of as "classical music". "Serious music" isn't quite right, how about "art music"?

I grew up in a culturally-deficit family. My dad always told me that "Lawrence Welk is classical music." I was first introduced to classical music by a post-HS-graduation girlfriend, who was really into Vivaldi and Bach. After listening to this I decided to see who this Beethoven character was, so I dropped by the library and checked out an LP of some 3rd Symphony of his. Needless to say I had my ears opened right there, and have never turned back. In some ways it was a blessing to discover music in historical order because I discovered the logical progression of those works that way.

The people that don't get this kind of music are always saying things like "you only listen to classical - that's TOO LIMITING." Ahh - those kind only listen to a particular kind of pop music made in a single decade, whereas I'm listening to 1400 years worth of music.

The great thing is the availability of CHEAP recordings. I've been collecting for 30 years now and never cease to be amazed at the bargains that are out there. This last year I got the complete Dvorak symphonies with Istvan Kertesz conducting the LSO (London 430 046-2), which is a fabulous set of performances with decent 1960's sound. I also got the complete piano works of Brahms with Julius Katchen (London 455 247-2). The complete Chopin recordings of Artur Rubenstein are now on budget RCA Gold Label. The Henryk Szeryng performances of the Bach unaccompanied violin sonatas and partitas are available on a cheap Deutsche Grammophon set (DGG 437 365-2). The list goes on and on.
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#10 of 121 OFFLINE   Zen Butler

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Posted June 01 2002 - 11:59 AM

Quote:
It's really a shame that there isn't a better term for what we all know of as "classical music".

Agreed, as for the "Classical Period" dilema, many call it the Classic Period for which helps me in long conversations.

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#11 of 121 OFFLINE   Tomoko Noguchi

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Posted June 01 2002 - 12:12 PM

I have about 1800 classical cds and would really enjoy more conversations about classical music, but they are few.

#12 of 121 OFFLINE   Stefan A

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Posted June 01 2002 - 12:48 PM

As far as coming up with a better term, I don't think it is necessary. Although, times do come up where I don't want to use the term classical if the topic of conversation will allow that term to be confused. In those cases, I say Orchestral Music, or Piano Music, or String Quartet Music...

I think most people get the idea when you say "classical music."

If I were made of money, I would probably have hundreds of more recordings. I have about 400 cd's - give or take a couple dozen. But, of those 400 cd's, I would guess that 95% of it falls between the years 1830 to 1950. And I have a lot of repeats in that collection. In fact, I just bought my 3rd recording of The Planets - The LA Philharmonic with Zubin Mehta. I also have The Boston w/ Steinberg that was mentioned and Levine with Chicago.

So I guess compared to many of you, my interests are limited. But, there are plenty of composers and music during that time. One of my colleagues conducts a local community orchestra and he often gets recordings directly from composers hoping to get their music played. Some of it is OK, but a lot of it is schlock. He has a pet peeve that not enough music by living composers (classical), is played.

Jack - when I was a freshman in college, I refered to a piece of music as "a song" in front of a friend. He imediately corrected me and said it's a piece, not a song. I tease him to this day for that. Your comments about movements reminded me of that and I thought you would like that little anecdote.

Quote:
In what way is, say, Schoenberg's atonal music similar to anything by Haydn?

I would say that in no way is his Atonal music similar. That was the whole point of the 12 tone system (or serialism). Schoenberg's philosophy was that Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Hayden, Tchaikovsky, ect... were all old and that it was time for something new. It was different on purpose.

But, the 20th century was a time of great change in classical music. Soon enough Schoenberg's (and Berg, and Webern) was considered old. In the '50's Pierre Boulez went as far as to say "Schoenberg is dead". This quote has a double meaning - of course the obvious but also that style of music. Boulez and his generation were into TOTAL serialism. But, that is another story, and I am definitely not qualified to speak too in depth about that.

The point I am trying to make is that music (from some composers) in the 20th century was purposefully different and they made efforts to not sound like those other guys.

#13 of 121 OFFLINE   Zen Butler

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Posted June 01 2002 - 01:25 PM

Quote:
The point I am trying to make is that music (from some composers) in the 20th century was purposefully different and they made efforts to not sound like those other guys.

Maybe I can interject a question. (Noticed I kept the original topic vague, to give us all the room we need),
Besides the acknowledgement of say John Cage, Philip Glass and even Arvo Part. Would guys like Jerry Goldsmith, Elfmann, Morricone be our modern day composers? Will they go down in the history books eventually? I ask truly out of ignorance.
My gut feeling is yes if Mozart or a Brahms were alive today, I think they would compose for the medium of film, so does this credit these modern day composers as accomplished as the former? Would like to hear your theory.

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#14 of 121 OFFLINE   Stefan A

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Posted June 01 2002 - 02:52 PM

Quote:
Would guys like Jerry Goldsmith, Elfmann, Morricone be our modern day composers? Will they go down in the history books eventually? I ask truly out of ignorance.
My gut feeling is yes if Mozart or a Brahms were alive today, I think they would compose for the medium of film, so does this credit these modern day composers as accomplished as the former?

No, I don't consider those movie composers to be of the same level as Mozart and Brahms. It's hard to theorize on what sort of music Mozart or Brahms would write if they were alive today. They certainly would not write music that sounds anything like what we already know by them.

I think that the time is gone where current classical composers will be remembered for 100's of years. In the Romantic era and before, that music was the pop music. If you wanted to hear music, that is what you listened to. There was no jazz, rock, country, ska...you get the idea. Of course there was also folk music, which many composers used in their pieces. It was a big deal to hear music in those days. Obviously, you couldn't just turn on the radio or pop in a cd to listen to music. You had to get all dressed up and go someplace to hear it. And, you couldn't just get in your car and go to the next city. I believe that music was much more central in the lives of the average person. Let's face it, how much could you do back then? (I am sure I will be shot down for that)

Another thing - all the composers that we know of today and that are popular really made a significant contribution to furthering the art. I don't think we can say that about the aformentioned movie composers. That is what Schoenberg and his followers were trying to do, but the early 20th century was a tumultuous time - WWI, depression, public disapproval of "new" music. And most importantly, technology. Recording is now possible. Playback is now possible. Radio is invented. More efficient transportation. Professional sports. More entertainment. All the while you got people like Boulez, Cage, Stockhausen and many others trying to get people to like their "bug music" (my term for very strange avante-garde music Posted Image) The public just wasn't buying it. Not when they could go to a baseball game and listen to Chuck Berry - on their record player. That was the new music - and it continues (in a downward spiral in IMO) with the crap we hear on the pop stations today.

To answer your question, it's the rock stars that will go down in the history books. Hell, just go to Cleveland - it's already immortalized.

#15 of 121 OFFLINE   andrew markworthy

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Posted June 02 2002 - 12:39 AM

Jeff, be careful with that remark about Holst's Jupiter in talking to Brits! It's best known here as the tune to a patriotic hymn (first two lines: 'I vow to thee my country/All earthly things above'), and to some (not me!) it's second only to the National Anthem in sacredness.

#16 of 121 OFFLINE   Mike Broadman

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Posted June 02 2002 - 04:24 AM

Stefan, that's interesting to read about Boulez. Oddly enough, the only recordings I have with him conducting is a CD of Frank Zappa's music and Handel's Water Music, one of the most "ordinary" classical war horses around.

It is odd to call music composed recently "classical" isn't it? I don't like it. I generally used the term orchestral music, or even modern classical or modern orchestral music for recent work.

I think the reason 20th century orchestral music didn't catch is simply because it is just too weird. I know, not the most brilliant musical analysis, but there it is. I tried to listen to Edgar Varese. It hurt my brain. I couldn't even imagine Schoenberg or Stockhausen, and forget about John Cage. Stravinsky and Sibelius are about as weird as I can go. And this is from someone who actually likes classical music. How can you expect the average Joe to begin to comprehend Schoenberg? It's too academic.

I appreciate their desire to shake up musical composition, but if you need an advanced degree from Berkeley to get it, it's not gonna fly with the masses. I, and most people, are too stupid to get it.

Given Frank Zappa's orchestral music, does he qualify as a classical composer? Since he ventured into some of that ultra-weird stuff, I could never tell if he actually knew what he was doing or was just full of it, and I've read supposedly knowledgable people take both sides of the issue.

#17 of 121 OFFLINE   Jack Briggs

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Posted June 02 2002 - 06:08 AM

Since this is a potpourri thread about serious music, I'd like to go back to Dvorak for a moment. I think his best symphony is No. 8 in G Major, Op. 88--and a truly lovely performance is Lorin Maazel's with the Vienna Philharmonic on Decca/London, from 1965. The sound holds up beautifully.

Let's turn to British composers for a moment. How seriously do you rate Ralph Vaughan-Williams? The fact his music is so "accessible" and 20th century might unfairly relegate him to Rachmaninoff territory critically: fluffy and theme-intensive. But such is not the case.

Listen to Adrian Boult's reading of Symphony No. 2, the London symphony. For all its melodic themes, there's a lot going on in the score. It's possible, therefore, to be both accessible and serious in intent, no?

Of course, Vaughan-Williams was not an innovator. A Pierre Boulez would not be a Vaughan-Williams champion. Yet a Boulez would uphold another pretty accessible 20th-century composer--say, Carl Neilsen or Charles Ives.

#18 of 121 OFFLINE   Jan H

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Posted June 02 2002 - 10:34 AM

I have the Boult recording, and it is excellent. Another one to try if you are new to VW is the Antartica symphony (#7) on Naxos. Excellent performance, sound quality, and it's dirt cheap, too.

#19 of 121 OFFLINE   Zen Butler

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Posted June 02 2002 - 11:44 AM

I have one Vaughan-Williams cd. It does contain the Symphony No. 2 conducted by Boult also and a welcome addition to the disc, VW's Oboe Concerto in Am conducted by Neville Mariner w/ Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. This is a kind of compilation disc on Polygram and has always prompted me to seek out more VW. I just have never knew where to start with him, for which I am enjoying the suggestions in this thread immensely.

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#20 of 121 OFFLINE   Jack Briggs

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Posted June 02 2002 - 04:03 PM

Jan, Zane: So we like Vaughan-Williams. Any of you ever listen to Hovhannes? Ever listen to the 32nd (yes, 32nd) symphony--Mysterious Mountain? Try the classic Charles Munch/Boston Phil reading on RCA. Wonderful if light music! JB (Also, the Boult interpretation of Vaughan-Williams's seventh symphony is the definitive one!)


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