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MariusChamberlin

Modern "Classical" Composers?

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I've had a startling realization that I must address: currently I listen to very little modern classical music. While I do have plenty of film soundtracks, as well as tons and tons of music from eras past (romantic, classical, etc.), I don't have any "modern" classical music. I want to be clear I'm not referring to modern in the sense of genre, but more so in the sense of style. Who are some modern "classical" composers? Who are the contemporary composers that you could mistake for the greats, not to say that these composers are great and famous themselves, but that they have a similar sound.

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Actually, I don't think that what you are looking for exists to any satisfying extent, as it sounds like you are looking for modern "great" composers who compose in the styles of previous eras. Although we don't exist in an era of a unified musical style, in general, one thing that defines contemporary music is its departure from the specific ways of constructing music of the past.

Having said that, there are composers whose music has more in common with the music of the past than others. If you are looking to get into more contemporary composers (which is always a good idea) but you are adverse to the kinds of aesthetics which came out of the modernist movement, you can still find them.

On the other hand, if you want to get acquainted with new composers, you have to be willing to get acquainted with new aesthetic styles.

Here's a couple quick suggestions off the top of my head:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KsfJIJ7ZQ2c

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

Keep looking until you find some contemporary music that suits your taste, and gradually, your tastes will grow to accommodate more music!

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Well nobody really gives a scraggy about writing like Brahms these days, if that's what you're getting at. "Sounding like the greats" is realm of theory exercises more than actually composing, specially if it involves just ripping other people's aesthetics and styles. I mean if you held up that standard historically then everyone would've broken it by default (Mozart sounds nothing like Bach, Chopin sounds nothing like Mozart and Wagner sounds nothing like Chopin, etc etc etc.)

If this is another "hey guys I don't like music that doesn't sound like it's 200+ years old what do I do" question, then well I guess you shouldn't worry so much since I bet there's lots of old composers you still don't know about, I mean after all have you researched ALL the composers of the late baroque or galant style? Or maybe even earlier renaissance or even medieval composers? ETC.

Though of course because of various PR issues none of those may be "Greats", but really I loathe that label anyway.

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Well nobody really gives a scraggy about writing like Brahms these days, if that's what you're getting at. "Sounding like the greats" is realm of theory exercises more than actually composing, specially if it involves just ripping other people's aesthetics and styles. I mean if you held up that standard historically then everyone would've broken it by default (Mozart sounds nothing like Bach, Chopin sounds nothing like Mozart and Wagner sounds nothing like Chopin, etc etc etc.)

If this is another "hey guys I don't like music that doesn't sound like it's 200+ years old what do I do" question, then well I guess you shouldn't worry so much since I bet there's lots of old composers you still don't know about, I mean after all have you researched ALL the composers of the late baroque or galant style? Or maybe even earlier renaissance or even medieval composers? ETC.

Though of course because of various PR issues none of those may be "Greats", but really I loathe that label anyway.

Sorry, when I said they could "sound like the greats" I didn't mean a direct echo of their music. I also wasn't referring to their fame. I just wanted to know if their are any modern composers, who are somewhat recognized, and compose things similar to those periods.

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I think then you need to specify what you like right now? And what direction you like your preferences to.

I started liking some Schnitke after I had familiarized myself with Shostakovitch.

If you like Brahms, you could start with Barber, who studied him a lot.

All is possible... So state your position in musical history and point out a preferred direction. Then people can help

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Arvo Part and Henryk Gorecki have quite a fanclub compared to most modern composers and rightly so their music is beautiful

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Nico Mulhy's the poo.

Really? He's in a concert in my area on Saturday night, along with Sean Shephard and Mattias Pintscher, so maybe I'll check it out.

Chamberlin, do you have a specific genre in mind? There are great contemporary composers across the spectrum but it helps to know what you're looking for. If you want orchestral music, check out the guys above to get a feel for the contemporary scene.

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Really? He's in a concert in my area on Saturday night, along with Sean Shephard and Mattias Pintscher, so maybe I'll check it out.

Contact! with the New York Philharmonic. I might, but not.

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Contact! with the New York Philharmonic. I might, but not.

Bingo! (I think of Christoph Waltz every time I see that word.) Not a fan of the composers?

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Bingo! (I think of Christoph Waltz every time I see that word.) Not a fan of the composers?

Meh, not a fan of most of them. But I might go if I can get discount tickets or something. Nothing wrong with the Philharmonic, no matter what they play, they always make it shine.

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Haha, yeah I read in another thread about how potentially pretentious he may be. Or maybe it was a shoutbox conversation...

Heh, well, he knows how to make oneself successful. But regardless of all that, I find his music nice to listen to. It's not that I love it, but he knows a lot about orchestration and (similarly to quite a few other successful contemporary composers) uses this knowledge to achieve certain effects that can be very easily picked up by the audience, making it very "easy on the ears".

I just find it a pity he rarely seems to try anything new by himself, but often just seems to assemble techniques that have been established by others for decades and have been polished so they "always work". (Maybe that's also what allows him to write so much.)

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Hmm..well I would say that most current composers worth noting are worth noting because they are doing something that HASN'T been done for 400 years....John Williams is certainly very rooted in tradition though. Jennifer Higdon is very classically based. Are you attempting to avoid any modern influence? Seems silly to me...Most composers like this that exist simply aren't interesting...it's been done..The composers that are doing this are college music students who are studying and copying a particular time period as a project....some do a great job at it, but those who actually continue to compose normally want to branch out. Why ignore more recent history?

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Well Steve Reich, Phillip Glass from the 1980s onward, a few Gunther Schuller pieces, John Adams, some very late Schoenberg (the last string quartet and his De Profundus, Survivor From Warsaw), Zwillich, Conrad Cummings - he has one particular opera that is a great mix of of neo baroque and minimalism, Stephen Sondheim, Britten, Moeran, Ruutavarra, Milton Babbit has one "approachable" piece - All Set, Whitaker (not really a favorite of mine but solid writing that you may like), John Rutter (solid choral writing too conservative for my tastes), John Corigliano ( The Red Violin Concerto, a good deal of his vocal music is heavily influenced by British Isle pastoral school, again not a huge fan of his stuff though solidly composed music ).

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John Rutter (solid choral writing too conservative for my tastes)

...ew

Anyway. Most well-known modern composers aren't trying to write things "similar" to Bach or Brahms, etc. because we don't live in the 1800s. There's a bunch of very well-known composers from the early-mid 20th century including Bartók, Schoenberg, Stravinsky, Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Webern, etc., but there's also a bunch of fairly-well known composers that are either still alive or died fairly recently (from the 80s on).

I'd recommend getting away from the idea of "this is what I want music to sound like"; it closes you off to a whole world of interesting things.

Some widely recognized pieces by the aformentioned early 20th century composers are things like:

Schoenberg - Moses und Aron (opera)

Bartók - Concerto for Orchestra (it's a pretty easy piece to "understand"; there are also things like the string quartets which are just as important but less friendly)

Stravinsky - Symphony of Psalms

Shostakovich - String Quartet No. 8; Symphonies Nos. 5 and 10

Webern - Bagatelles for String Quartet; Piano Variations. (pretty much all of Webern's mature work is difficult to approach, give it time)

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How modern is "modern"? 20th century? 21st century? Some of the greatest composers lived in the past century. And there are many great composers still alive today. Most of the works for concert band fit into this genre

EDIT: I am incredibly sorry I did not notice the date which this was last posted. Feel no need to respond.

Edited by joshtsai

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How modern is "modern"? 20th century? 21st century? Some of the greatest composers lived in the past century. And there are many great composers still alive today. Most of the works for concert band fit into this genre

EDIT: I am incredibly sorry I did not notice the date which this was last posted. Feel no need to respond.

It happens! At least you are commenting! :D

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EDIT: I am incredibly sorry I did not notice the date which this was last posted. Feel no need to respond.

Hahahaha I've done that as well

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Samuel Barber is my god apart from God which is not really a good thing, but he is by far my favorite composer. I really have not heard anything written by him that I was not fawning over the brilliance of except maybe the 3rd Essay for Orchestra which I am not that fond of.

Aaron Copeland comes in 2nd place for me. I really love Copeland, but he is not Barber. They are just very different.

Those are examples of two pretty early on contemporary composers. You might even still call some of their stuff romantic or with romantic leanings.

Some of my favorites by them (which are my favorites of anything) are:

Barber

Summer Music for Wind Quintet

Medea's Dance of Vengeance

Adagio for Strings

Second Essay for Orchestra

Excursions for Piano

The First Symphony

Cello Piano Sonata

Violin Concerto

Copeland

Rodeo

El Salon Mexico

Third Symphony

Billy the Kid

Quiet City

Twelve Poems of Emily Dickinson

If you want my opinion on the greatest still living composer it would be Robert Aldridge. I adore this man's work. He is an American composer. He fits into this kind of jazz oriented contemporary nitch that really is a style all unto his own. Some of his music has that open field, on the forefront, optimistic kind of feel like Copeland. A lot of it doesn't. He wrote literally one of my top 5 favorite operas and I place Turandot as my #1. It is called Elmer Gantry. There will be a recording of that out this month some time very soon and I literally cannot wait. Some of his best works (IMO):

Elmer Gantry the opera

This Tango that he wrote for a Violin and Orchestra

Piano Trio - brilliantly colorful and energetic piece

String Quartets #1 and #2

Violin Concerto (Ah God - this is gorgeous)

And he just recently wrote a 4 movement piece for orchestra and choir called Parables which was pretty grand and spectacular. It actually premiered in Topeka Kansas were my sister goes to school. I got to go out and see it performed live for the first time.

Most of these can be found and listened to in full on his website:

http://www.robertaldridge.com/media.php

My other favorite living composer is Australian (well favorite classical composer). His name is Carl Vine. The reason I found out about him is because of his Piano Sonata. This is a brilliant piece of music. It is contemporary and it is jazzy and it is epic and it is rhythmic. I love it. One of my favorite piano pieces.

Part 1

Part 2

I hope you love some contemporary/modern/whatever you want to call it music when you are done going through some of this stuff. It is my favorite stuff.

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Barber

Summer Music for Wind Quintet

Medea's Dance of Vengeance

Adagio for Strings

Second Essay for Orchestra

Excursions for Piano

The First Symphony

Cello Piano Sonata

Violin Concerto

I adore Barber. From this list I would ditch the Adagio, not because its bad but too obvious ;)

and add:

- Cello Concerto

- Piano Concerto

- Capricorn Concerto

- Piano Sonata (all 4 movements, 3rd movement is heartbreaking sad, great to perform, and the 4th movement superb contrast. maybe the best fugue written in the 20th cent.)

- Songs, I love the heremit songs (great choice of text too, , ranging from utter grief to a monk describing heaven as a place of tipsy people :) )

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Just a tip on getting your music recognised:

If you write in previous eras no one will think it is coming from a contemporary composer. Unless you have only just time travelled fron 1783, I suggest that studying these modern classical composers will definitely get you well on your way to finding a unique voice that people will want to hear.

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