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Everything posted by TJS

  1. I agree with much of what has been written, but I urge you to compose something epic rather than orchestrate something to sound epic, because more often than not "epic" music can just sound overblown, pompous, insincere, cheesy, and probably a few other pejoratives that are slipping my mind at the moment.
  2. It's underrated because the majority of music that has been written for it has been by second-rate composers. Many performers also seem to cultivate a Zen-like (i.e., boring) approach to playing, which I suspect is not exactly enthralling to audiences.
  3. I used to have similar thoughts regarding Verdi; then I started to realize even though he is often over-the-top, there is a lot of passion in the music, and that has to count for something in and of itself. It's like bel canto--but taken to the next level. Plus, he is a very good melodist and his music is far deeper than, say, Donizetti or even Rossini. I'm actually at the point where I prefer him as an opera composer to Wagner, which is the exact opposite of what my opinion used to be. Only about half of Aida is any good, though, despite its popularity. You might try some of the later operas like Otello and Don Carlos. I don't know Falstaff, but many people think it's his masterpiece.
  4. I think as a trumpet player, you should already know the answer to this to some extent. The instruments were severely limited in their abilities at the time because many of them did not have the valves that they do today, even well into the Romantic period. They were thus limited to the partials of whatever crook they had in them (hence trumpets/horns in D, in A, in G, etc.), and some of those partials would have been out-of-tune with a bad player who couldn't compensate. The tuba didn't even make a real appearance prior to 1850 or so and wasn't picked up immediately. (The rather unreliable ophicleide was its predecessor.) A few things are puzzling, however. Elaborate trumpet parts existed in the Baroque period but mostly went out of style in the Classical period. Maybe it was a question of aesthetics. Also, the trombone, which was far more capable than trumpets or horns, existed in music for operas and churches, but not the regular orchestra. Beethoven's fifth symphony seems to be their first appearance outside their traditional domain, and if you look at the last movement, you'll see how much more they were able to do versus the horns and trumpets. I feel Berlioz and Wagner wrote well for the brass. Off the top of my head, perhaps you should check out the march from Les Troyens and parts of the requiem (I forget if it's the tuba mirum or the dies irae--they are joined movements anyway, I think). As for Wagner, the funeral march from Götterdämmerung and the ubiquitous Ride of the Valkyries would probably be good examples. Tchaikovsky and Verdi have already been mentioned. I'm sure Richard Strauss did too, but his music mostly makes me ill, so I can't really give you any examples other than Zarathustra. Dvorak had some nice brass passages in his symphonies also. If you want to hear something a little quirky, Vaughan Williams wrote a tuba concerto. ;)
  5. I think it's difficult to generalize, though often the music becomes more complex and their style is more refined and distinctive as time goes on, and sometimes less compromising. If they live long enough, there's sometimes a decrease in intensity in later music. I think it partly mirrors life experiences...you know, you "think" differently at 50 than you do as a 20 year old. I think what composers are living through at the time can also have a profound effect on how/what they compose. For example, listen to Mozart's Salzburg works compared to his Vienna ones. He wrote some great works in Salzburg toward the end, but they are still quite different from the Vienna music, which is rather more theatrical. Some composers seem to be able to rise above their circumstances, though. There isn't always the guarantee that your later music will be "better" than your earlier music, however (which is somewhat of a debatable idea anyway). Some composers, especially ones who pushed the envelope in their youth, might lose their edge as time goes on and write increasingly bland music. I guess Richard Strauss would be the most obvious example of that, but you could say the same for Mendelssohn and maybe Berlioz (though Berlioz's later music is still great...it just isn't as revolutionary as his early stuff). Some modern composers who were at the fringes of the avant-garde in their youth became more mainstream as they aged. I think in other cases, you'll have people who, I suspect, just get bored with what they're writing and push forward into new territores, never (or very rarely) to return to what they had done previously. Think of Stravinsky or Schoenberg here....
  6. Be really different and publish it in transliterated Sanskrit or something equally exotic. Then when people realize what it's supposed to be, they will be all, "ooh, that was a clever way around censorship." I don't know, it seems a little self-centered and whiny, don't you think? Most people would read your life into the weird sounds regardless of the title (I'm assuming it would have weird sounds) because that's what people tend to do.
  7. To some, Berg isn't tonal enough. To others, Berg isn't atonal enough. One wonders how a composer who holds such little appeal managed to work his way through the cracks. It's like he's halfway offensive and halfway good so that makes him great. :P
  8. You just need to learn how to duck quickly when they throw things at you.
  9. TJS

    Complete List?

    I didn't realize I was picking a fight. *shrug* Honestly, I thought it was a word he made up, but I see I was wrong. Apologies.
  10. TJS

    Complete List?

    It's probably more specific to whatever school you're attending and what they want you to study. I'm sure most of the ones I listed in my first list would be brought up at some point, however.
  11. TJS

    Complete List?

    Having a knowledge of something and appreciation of something are two separate things (to say nothing of liking). I don't think any composer is compelled to appreciate anyone else's music or approach, despite that appearing to be the prevailing wisdom now. The opinions many composers expressed regarding others should attest to that. I do think it's good to attempt to see the value in various approaches, but that doesn't mean at the end you can't reject it or say you just don't get what everyone else sees in it. "Somewhat" strange? Maybe you can explain what "paradisiac" is supposed to mean. Is it supposed to be a cross between a parade and an aphrodisiac? P.S. I wouldn't call it "gorgeous" at all, really.
  12. TJS

    Complete List?

    Game-changing pieces (in the sense that they were extremely influential and may have changed the course of history): Bach--Well-Tempered Clavier Beethoven--Eroica and ninth symphonies Weber--Der Freischütz Berlioz--Symphonie Fantastique Wagner--Tristan und Isolde Debussy--Prelude a l'apres midi d'un faune Ravel--Miroirs Stravinsky--The Rite of Spring, maybe even Petrushka Schoenberg--Pierrot Lunaire, I guess (*blech*) Other things worth knowing: the development of Gregorian chant and medieval/Renaissance composers like Josquin and Machaut Palestrina Purcell--a huge influence on Handel and extremely underrated in my opinion. Everyone knows Dido's Lament, but his other music is well worth exploring (Music for the funeral of Queen Mary--YES!). Bach--mass in b minor, the chorales, the concertos Handel--I'm quite fond of the Water Music and the Music for the Royal Fireworks (especially the overture--wow! One of my favourite pieces from the Baroque period). Messiah has some nice parts but isn't his greatest work, in my mind. Domenico Scarlatti--the sonatas Sammartini and Bach's sons--good to see where the later classical style had its roots Haydn--the string quartets and symphonies Mozart--most of the piano concertos written in Vienna (except #26!), The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, the last 6 symphonies (5, really...37 is not by him although it's still numerically in there for some reason). #41 should have been the Eroica of its time, but it's not clear it was ever performed. Beethoven--hard to pick among the piano sonatas, but I suppose the Waldstein, Appassionata, Hammerklavier, and final three might be considered the greatest or most revolutionary (though, really, so were the early ones). The Rasumovsky quartets, the Kreutzer sonata, the last 5 quartets, the Grosse Fuge, the Diabelli Variations. And, obviously, the symphonies. The Missa Solemnis has quite a following too. Schubert--Winterreise, other various Lieder (I assume you know Der Erlkönig), the Unfinished and Great C Major symphonies, the quintet in C Schumann--I'm one of the unusual people that prefers music from his supposedly weaker middle period where he was branching out into classical forms, like the piano quintet and his symphonies. Others prefer his early piano music, which admittedly might be more "creative." The Fantasy in C is often considered one of his greatest piano works. Carnaval. The Lieder (Dichterliebe) Chopin--umm...I couldn't really say anything specifically, but I'd focus on the solo stuff, despite the popularity of the concertos. Liszt--his late piano pieces are...intriguing/prophetic. Wagner--The Ring. If nothing else, because of how enormous an undertaking it was and the fact he lived to complete it. Mendelssohn--music from A Midsummer Night's Dream, the octet, the violin concerto in e minor, the Italian symphony Verdi--the requiem, so many operas, it would be hard to choose, but prior to about 1850, I'm not so sure. Aida is surprisingly weak, despite its popularity (or at least parts are). Brahms--the first piano concerto, any of the symphonies, the quartets, the late intermezzos, the clarinet quintet (his late works are really mellow, though). The German Requiem is popular, but I don't know it that well. Bruckner--if you like any of his symphonies, you'll probably find something to like in all of them. #5's finale is an astounding achievement. Tchaikovsky--the violin concerto, Swan Lake, the Nutcracker, Eugene Onegin, the first piano concerto, the fourth and sixth symphonies Maybe I'll get back to this later....
  13. The point is it stands out more from other instruments because it's in a different category and does sound quite different. That does not mean it doesn't blend well with instruments if a composer wants to do that. That's especially true in the upper and lower registers. But it's also easier to make it stand out from the orchestra compared to a solo violin or solo flute or solo whatever because those instruments are all represented in the orchestra already and a composer has to take that into account when orchestrating. I wasn't saying that or even agreeing with it; that's what Stravinsky said. He felt it was better not to have them around in his concerto because he preferred the combination of struck sounds with blown sounds rather than scraped ones. Passages that don't enhance the music but instead bog it down just so a performer can show off. Too many notes when less would do and sound more effective. The music of lesser composers who were virtuosos would probably give you a good idea of what I mean.
  14. Maybe, but I have trouble confining myself to a certain number. I'd probably have less trouble restricting myself to 5 concertos than 5 symphonies, though. You'll probably hate me once I get to that thread.
  15. I said I wasn't limiting myself to 5.
  16. I think they're all difficult in terms of learning to play them well and they all have their idiosyncrasies. It might also depend on the person playing (e.g., if you have large hands, a violin might not be great; conversely, small hands on a piano can be problematic, though not necessarily a deal-breaker). I've never played a double reed (though I would love to be able to!), but personally, brass instruments are a pain in the butt. Granted I've only ever picked them up and dicked around with them without any instruction, but they just don't seem to be my thing at all. It's been twenty years since I tried a horn...that seemed particularly evil!
  17. He comes closer to it than a lot of others, though I can't say I'm convinced. I'm not altogether sure he takes the art seriously enough, but maybe that's just his personality. (I met him briefly and he seemed like a really nice guy, for the record.) He uses some...odd...titles and has some passages that seem rather childish. By far my favourite piece of his, and which I do consider a masterpiece, is Fearful Symmetries (Nixon in China lovers should check it out, as it was written at the same time). I'm a little surprised it hasn't been mentioned. Other pieces I tend to like in part, or certain movements thereof, but not necessarily in whole. Maybe he's inconsistent, or maybe it's just me.
  18. Some would say it's the lack of blending that makes it a successful instrument for concerto purposes. ;) Stravinsky felt the sound of a piano did not mix well with strings, which is why he deleted the entire section (save for basses) in his. "A sound scraped does not mix with a sound struck," or something to that effect. I agree about the danger of concertos turning into virtuosic pieces or having too many passages that stress that and take away from the music. I feel that's generally more of a post-Beethoven phenomenon (yes, he had passages which are virtuosic, but they don't detract from the music). As for my picks, I'll restrict myself to one per composer, although for, say, Beethoven and Mozart, I feel several of their concertos are almost as good. I won't limit myself to 5, though. Truthfully, I like the earlier concertos more than the later ones. Beethoven 4--I probably choose this as the greatest piano concerto, period, and am glad to see how many others have also picked it. 5 is also great, but not quite as innovative. Mozart 21--very difficult to choose among his, but his piano concertos are the ultimate achievement in his art (well, equal to his operas...I view them almost as instrumental operas) and pretty much better than almost all concertos that have since followed. Among early works, I really love the concerto for two pianos in E-flat. Schumann Brahms 1 Rachmaninoff 2 Prokofiev 1 or 3 (I can't really decide) Liszt 1 (although I don't take it too seriously...it's just fun) Bach--the first one in d minor...although I'm not sure it counts as a "piano" concerto Tchaikovsky 1 Stravinsky I seem to recall liking one of Bartok's, but it's been so long, I don't really remember I like Shostakovich's second, but something makes me feel like I shouldn't (i.e., it's just a little too uncharacteristically "nice") I would strongly urge lovers of Chopin's concertos to check out Hummel's, even if only for educational purposes (I think you'll see the link between Chopin and Mozart more clearly once you hear Hummel). Chopin's e minor and Hummel's a minor in particular share some things in common. (I personally think Hummel's b minor, at least the first two movements, is a rather underrated work.)
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