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So, after stating I don't care much for Bach several times in the shoutbox over the course of a year, I have decided to lay my case for why I dislike Bach.

Personal Taste:

To start, I will look point to my own subjective tastes. I find Bach's ideas to be highly annoying. In all his work, I can only think of a small handful (3 or 4) ideas which I really admire. The rest seem overtaxed, overused, and highly ridiculous. I don't care for his particular brand of the Baroque aesthetic.

Use of Ideas:

In being forced to look through Bach's scores many times in my life... I have found that his use and expansion of idea is severely lacking in relation to that of other composers from before, during, and after his time period. Many times, he doesn't necessarily develop as he intentionally repeats his ideas in different registers, etc. I can find more interesting developmental passages in the work of Handel, Buxtehude, and other contemporaries AND even in works far before his time that present a much better picture on how to develop than that which Bach provides.

Harmonic Usage:

Perhaps the most annoying thing to me is the result of Bach's conservative view of Harmony. Many composers during his time explored harmony to a far greater extent then him. Bach, on the other hand, sticks mainly due to the fact that his music was extremely perfect in voice leading - largely, I feel, the reason his style of voice leading became (and in many ways still is) the system taught today.

For those reasons... and many more... I feel Bach is one of the MOST overrated composers of all time.

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You're well within your rights to disagree. Many of the things you pointed out (and that I pointed out) are subjective assessments.

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Rachmaninoff and Bach!!?!?1!?!?! Wow, you lost me there!

Rach)

I would definitely say, try practicing his concerto's! Especially No.2! Quite difficult but yet, fulfilling to play. Theme on a Paganini is AWESOME!!!!!!!

Bach)

Well....Once upon a time, I agreed with this. However, by the time I finished undergrad I had a different outlook on Bach. The teachings of Bach are so important to theory and composition pedagogy that it effects every genre of music including even gospel.

As far as harmony, I can understand that also but we must look at time about that. I'll say this: give it by the time you graduate, you might change your mind.

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Ok, I agree with Jason. I think that Handel is much more interesting and satisfying than Bach. I don't really completely agree with his reasoning, but I don't really hold the same amount of enthusiasm for Bach as most people do. Handel on the other hand can make me cry or feel elated or high on life.

Now Johnny John, I completely disagree with your assessment of Rachmaninoff. Not many other composers write better melodies and more beautiful music than Rachmaninoff even if it is not your favorite style. He is a powerhouse.

My vote for most overrated composers goes to a few. I really cannot stand most of Mahler and yet he is a god to many. Same goes for Elgar. I am not a fan of long windedness with lack of substance. I think Vivaldi is overrated. I like his Gloria, but it seems that nearly everything he wrote is stuck in the same rhythmical pattern. It is just one big life full of bouncing from one note to the same note in the next octave and then back again. Haydn is another one. I just really think his music is boring and unimaginative.

If I had to pick an overall most overrated it would go to Mahler.

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Mahler is historically respected because of his skills as a conductor which hereby made his music accessible to the public. His ninth is soothing. Have you listened to all nine symphonies?

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Jason, do cite some examples of this "non-development" and "conservatism" you speak of. Then I'll give you five that aren't like that.

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Well, I'm not sure I would say that Bach was a total master at writing melodies similar to that of Rachmaninoff or other composers of a later date - the evolution of melody was at an earlier stage in his lifetime. Bach filtered all the currents of his day and synthesized them into a style that was transmutable to later generations. For that, he is an amazing composer - Happy Justin? However, Bach's style isn't quite my favorite. Thus, when I view Bach from a stylistic sense.. I'm dissatisfied. That's NOT because I don't find his work to be highly structured, the material being fully explored, or the harmony being sound. Truth is, his work does do all three of these things. This is why this thread was started really.. to present an argument such as this (and what I liked in your comment johnbucket.) We can't really argue over things like these that can be measured in one's music. Rachmaninoff, Mahler, Bach, Mozart, etc ALL filled these things masterfully. It is our tastes, however, that determine which of these composers we appreciate more and which we feel are 'overrated'.

So yeah, I started this thread to draw that point home. Thanks for helping in that john.

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Most overrated? Mozart, in my opinion. I find most of his music predictable and slightly boring. That's why I like Haydn and Bach (!) better.

No wonder Mozart wrote lullabies!

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Tchaikovsky & Rimsky Korsakov, are for me, Fake Feelings, Soap Opera acting, I don't swallow that.

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Most overrated? Mozart, in my opinion. I find most of his music predictable and slightly boring. That's why I like Haydn and Bach (!) better.

No wonder Mozart wrote lullabies!

I completely agree. Beethoven was MUCH more amazing! :)

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Alban Berg.

My case: the only reason why we care about him, is because he studied under Schoenberg at such a critical time. Guys like Adorno or Boulez (with the latter: at least in his past), would talk disapprovingly of Schoenberg. To quote Adorno, he called his works in the late period: "works of magnificent failure". Not a fair assessment as Schoenberg provided momentum for the radical change early on in the 20th century, although he was not able to able to literally do away with tonality himself.

This being said: Berg was simply adopting Schoenberg's systems without successfully taking them anywhere further. Schoenberg's other prized student, Webern, was able to justify his inclusion as a prominent composer of the Second Viennese School, as he himself accomplished what Schoenberg initially set out for.

Actually, Schoenberg stopped "doing away with tonality" in the later part of his career, where he freely wrote both "tonal" and "serial" works, concepts of the two music influencing each other. Music such as the Piano Concerto and the Ode to Napoleon Buonaparte are replete with diatonic inflections as well as methods of extrapolating tonal harmony (such as in the latter work). One of his most famous quotes was from near the end of his life, where he said "There is still much good music that can be written in C major." As far as his students are concerned, Schoenberg was actually fairly fearful of them adopting the twelve-tone method and frequently wrote in his diaries regarding his fears of them making use of it without his consent. In any case, Webern and Berg made use of the method idiosyncratically, each possessing an independent, original language, and to imply that Berg "failed at what Schoenberg set out to do" is meaningless and untrue, especially given that Berg did set out to compose much like Webern but Schoenberg took him aside and convinced him to follow his own path and not take Webern's cues.

It's also important to remember that the composers of the Second Viennese School were significantly romantic in mindset, especially with regard to development. The tone row doesn't merely function as a specified sequence of notes but also a reservoir of motivic shapes and prescriptions for form. Rows were commonly designed to exhibit features of combinatoriality among different transformations to articulate form similar to how key regions would appear in a tonal piece (e.g. exposition of two themes, one in I and the other in V) and to maintain logic throughout the entire piece. This line of thought is very much rooted in historical music precedents, and these composers considered themselves to be a continuation of the Western musical tradition.

But I suppose talking out of your donkey is much more convenient.

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I think this is the first time I've heard Berg called overrated.

Berg was simply adopting Schoenberg's systems without successfully taking them anywhere further. Schoenberg's other prized student, Webern, was able to justify his inclusion as a prominent composer of the Second Viennese School, as he himself accomplished what Schoenberg initially set out for.

Was he really adopting Schoenberg's system? Schoenberg was his mentor, but Berg hardly went for strict serialism. And I think this is his contribution: he moved away from the rigidity of Schoenberg and created his own melodic style that borrowed some dodecaphonic techniques but invoked aspects of tonality more so than other composers of his time. Berg and Dallapiccola really stand out to me as early innovators of 12-tone technique/serialism for the way that they often ignored and went beyond obvious tendencies of a series. Plus, I can't deny that If I'm going to listen to serial music I would much rather hear Berg and Dallapiccola than Schoenberg and Webern.

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Alban Berg.

My case: the only reason why we care about him, is because he studied under Schoenberg at such a critical time. Guys like Adorno or Boulez (with the latter: at least in his past), would talk disapprovingly of Schoenberg. To quote Adorno, he called his works in the late period: "works of magnificent failure". Not a fair assessment as Schoenberg provided momentum for the radical change early on in the 20th century, although he was not able to able to literally do away with tonality himself.

This being said: Berg was simply adopting Schoenberg's systems without successfully taking them anywhere further. Schoenberg's other prized student, Webern, was able to justify his inclusion as a prominent composer of the Second Viennese School, as he himself accomplished what Schoenberg initially set out for.

I dunno, in comparing Berg to Schoenberg I find that Berg is filled much more so with a deep pensive passion than Schoenberg. His music sings gloriously in a contemporary/modern way while I don't get that from Schoenberg. While neither of them are my favorites I have always kind of liked Berg a little while never having any interest in Schoenberg at all. I know Schoenberg is generally considered the more important composer, but I think that is just in a purely academic sense. He may have been more influential in pushing music further along towards the next stage in its history, but that means nothing to me when it comes to quality of music. I like Berg.

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I'm not sure I would list Schoenberg, Berg, or Webern as overrated. If anything, given that the vast majority of composers after them can trace their stylistic traits back to one of these three men (much as composers after Beethoven, Haydn, and Mozart can trace back to one of these three men) is a mark in and of itself. But go on... let the discussion continue.

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Cage. To me he's like a toddler in a creepy old man body. ;) And when I say toddler, I'm referring to things I would think only an infant would do, like shove junk in pianos, make a "piece" comprised of random noises made in a kitchen, and create a "piece" of total silence (okay the last one I'll say is what a sarcastic, cynical high school teenager would do....as a joke).

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The most overrated composer of all time is.......

......................

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......................

......................

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Mozart.

/troll

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Umm....yeah....Schoenberg and Berg are among my favorite tonal composers.

Wait, so you're now defending Berg here?

...except for when Berg is described in the context I have given.

Except your context isn't even grounded in reality in the first place, given that Schoenberg (or Webern or Berg) haven't had the goals that you ascribed to them. Besides, I'll actually make the case that Berg was an innovator, being able to write in an idiosyncratic, fresh language language — a combination of dodecaphonic technique and a hot, heady romantic lyricism — which predicts post-modern tendencies, along with his rigid, consistent application of numerology well before Bartok and Messiaen

Why so disturbed? Like I said: Berg is among one of favorite composers of tonal music. I prefer his music over that which executes total serialism. Nonetheless, I don't feel he left as much a mark as Schoenberg and Webern.

Because the mindset that Berg was "lesser" of the three Second Viennese School composers is a stereotype that has been perpetuated since the latter half of the twentieth century and is extraordinarily false. It's annoying and also misses certain key aspects of twelve-tone method in general, and also misrepresents the other two composers (Schoenberg and Webern) as well.

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*sigh*

When did I ever change my opinion? So it's impossible to like a composer, yet admit they didn't live up to the highest praise conceived for them?

If you're making a contribution to a thread called "Most Overrated Composers", you're going to be making the implication that you possess a negative opinion on the composer you're talking about. This is reinforced when you cite a quote by Adorno calling Berg a "failure" and then set up a straw man that the Second Viennese School not only somehow existed with the intent to act against tradition but that Berg as a member of the school failed to live up to this goal.

.....The fusion of two things that already exist. Definitely levels the innovation of creating the fused properties. Wait, what? :eyebrow:

Yes, it actually does, especially when the two entities were/are generally viewed as polar opposites, demonstrating that the two can be compromised forming a whole that is perceived as greater than the sum of its two parts.

Your still failing to understand: being a great composer and a great innovator are two different things. Berg was a great composer, however: a "Berg" was inevitable at that very moment in the early 20th century. He wasn't a great innovator (or at least: that is my opinion). Can there be a universal measurement of greatness?

Then why did you post? You never said anything about Berg being overrated as an "innovator," and you're still claiming to hold a high opinion of him. Besides, your argument that he's not an innovator is a point of contention for me, which I've already explained above but the message seems to have failed to pass.

Oh: your annoyed? I'm sorry, maybe you shouldn't try so hard in changing other peoples' opinions. No need to get red in the face just because of some dude on the internet LOL.

Yeah, I think it's fair to be annoyed about an unfair, untrue stereotype that's existed for nearly half a century and is ultimately baseless and does harm to the understanding of the Second Viennese School and twelve-tone method in general.

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Probably the most underrated piece of all time is Ravel's Daphnis et Chloe. It is considered good and it is played, but not to the extent it deserves. It is BRILLIANT. It deserves the play time that Beethoven's 5th gets or Rachmaninov's 2nd Piano Concerto.

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No your not: at least that shouldn't be assumed. I enjoy plenty of composers that I consider overrated. It's not quite that black and white. And for the record, my quotation of Adorno was describing Schoenberg. Get it right.

I'll admit to misinterpreting the Adorno quote (I misread that portion of the post), but honestly that doesn't change my point at all, especially since in your original post you're exceptionally dismissive of Berg saying that he's only cared about because he "studied under Schoenberg"; that sort of disparaging remark would only lead me to believe that you wouldn't like him at all, even if that's not the case.

Well, I felt I was being concise enough, apparently: I needed to explain myself more literally than I had initially thought. And you've never had a dichotomy in opinions on a composer? Not even once? Interesting how some see things in such extreme shades.

Well yes, I'd imagine you'd have to explain further especially given you entered the thread with a sort of dismissive attitude regarding Berg, only to be slightly clearer on your already-warped opinion on him anyhow, claiming that you enjoy his music yet at the same time swipe him for his "lack of innovation" in reach of a goal that he never even had in the first place. But to continue:

And I never said Berg "didn't accomplish" any sort of goal. I said his accomplishments do not parallel that of Schoenberg and Webern and that there is no reason for him to receive an honorary mention, in the same context.

I never said Berg did, or didn't live up to any goal: I said that I do not believe he contributed nearly as much as Schoenberg and Webern did.

Well, Schoenberg did espouse a divergence from tonality during his middle years but once again it was under the mindset that this was the natural progression of musical language, which Schoenberg himself then abandoned during the later years of his life when he simultaneously composed tonal and serial music. Additionally, the contributions that the school made with regard to the serial method were arguably indirect, what with the integral serial composers of the 50s picking up from the remnants of the Second Viennese School and using the serial method with a significantly different approach than their Viennese predecessors. Most serial composers of the 50s onward were made aware of musical parameterization through third parties and not directly from the Schoenberg school (e.g. Stravinsky learning twelve-tone technique from Ernst Krenek, American serialists learning of the technique from Cowell and Wolpe).

The critical difference between the Second Viennese School and their so-called descendants is with regard to the approach to pitch. As I mentioned, the Schoenberg school was concerned with using the row as an opportunity to determine motivic shape and articulate formal regions, which was very much influenced by the course of music history; this is the thread that relates Schoenberg, Webern, Berg, and the rest of the school. Integral serialists had various approaches to the row but many were unconcerned with the same motivic, formal relations as the Schoenberg school was, and so while the concept of parameterization in the music of the SVS did influence the next generations of composers this is ultimately where the similarity ends. To say, therefore, that Schoenberg and Webern contributed more than or was "more successful than" Berg did would miss a fundamental point of Schoenberg's school in the first place. And this is why I can't really get behind:

our contention in Berg's achievements as an innovator lies in our own subjective views of what qualifies something as a "great" innovation: not in any divergence in what we believe Berg did or did not accomplish.

because all of the above composers applied the twelve-tone system in unique ways, each with the potential of being considered innovative when examined in the context of history. Yes, it is true that their position as innovators can be debated, but I'm contending that it's foolish to place Berg aside and the other two on pedestals mainly for a completely imaginary reason (that the two were somehow more successful in escaping from tradition), and that what innovations lie behind the music of Schoenberg and Webern also exist in Berg as well.

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(i.e. the fact that I never stated Berg failed at accomplishing any sort of preconceived goal. The fact that I don't consider Schoenberg and Webern greater innovators for better "escaping tradition", but because they took music to new heights: more radical than the combination of existing elements). O

Because all invention isn't essentially the result of combining two things that 'already exist.'

Because Schoenberg's twelve-tone technique in the first place isn't really more than combining the Fugue Mentality (a compositional principle which has pervaded Western art music's thought for hundreds of years) with Late Romanticism's increased emphasis on chromaticism and tonality that no longer functions as such.

Because all Berg ever did was 'combine' serialism with a late-romantic style. It's not as if he both composed the single most late-Wagnerian opera of all time (Wozzeck) as well the complete antithesis which is arguably one of the earliest harbingers of post-modernism (Lulu.) It's not as if Berg was actually the first to tackle the idea of large-scale instrumental form whereas Schoenberg and Webern were cat-footing around with directionless miniatures and explicitly programmatic texts in their 'free atonal' periods. It's not as if Berg demonstrates several post-modern tendencies such as the 'atonal' quartal chord which appears in the piano sonata; a three note triad that eventually builds up to a six note, functionless chord using traditional voice leading techniques (subverting a system by exploiting the flaws and corrupting it from the inside out; a technique that predated neoclassical Stravinsky by about 20 years.) It's not as if Berg was developed rigid numerical structures based on abstract numerology which predates most attempts by any other composer (Messiaen and Bartok being two of the most notorious) which actually became a gigantic fetish in Euroean high Modernism. It's not as if Berg frequently exploited loopholes in 'classical' molds which ultimately end up corrupting the very integrity of the form from the inside out. It's not as if Berg didn't have his own idiosyncratic twelve-tone technique which involved the use of free rotations, welding multiple row permutations together, an almost strict avoidance of any retrograde forms, and the technique of using several interrelated tone rows rather than a single row (techniques which Schoenberg and Webern almost never made use of) nor did he ever have any other innovations such as 'character rhythms' (a rhythmic leitmotif technique which is notable for privileging rhythmic contour rather than pitch as the motive was often treated previously in Western art music which, while rudimentary, predates part of Messiaen's rhythmic techique)

Anyway, you obviously know what you're talking about in dismissing Berg as inferior because he 'only combined two things' rather than actually 'invented' anything. You most certainly aren't full of scraggy.

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*facepalm*

I really hope musicians as arrogant and self-righteous as you aren't the norm in the world. Because, if they are, I have real doubts of Classical Music's survival.

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*facepalm*

I really hope musicians as arrogant and self-righteous as you aren't the norm in the world. Because, if they are, I have real doubts of Classical Music's survival.

I can't tell if you're talking about me or Composer Phil.

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