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"The Ten Greatest Composers" -- NY Times's new list

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I don't think "My Ten Favorite Composers" is necessarily the same as "The Ten Best Composers." I can appreciate the historical importance of a number of composers, but that doesn't stop me from loving my Puccini more than a few of them.

I think there's a place for "This Is Why I Think These Ten Composers Are the Most Important in Classical Music," but the "Best" thing is a bit superfluous, IMO.

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This article is very similar to the list of composers being discussed, but interesting none the less. Looks like Rite of Spring is outright winner, but I was pleased Britten and Puccini were in with a mention; though I’m surprised no one nominated anything by Ravel or Shostakovich. The question is what is your favourite piece of 20th century music rather than most outstanding or seminal etc. and I find it hard to picture someone going home of an evening to chill out by listening to Stockhausen. Personally I’m not sure if I could decide on just one piece, half a dozen spring to mind with me. Anyway, here’s the link if anyone cares to comment.

http://www.guardian....ival-favourites

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I'm torn between Shostakovich's 2nd Piano Trio, the Bartok String Quartets, and "Wozzeck." That doesn't even include "Agon" or anything else by Stravinsky. I don't get very far into the 20th century, though.

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How 'bout a compromise? Since not everyone is a fan of Tchiakovsky, why not add Prokofiev instead? Would anyone dispute that his score for Romeo and Juliet is a work of genius?

Thanks for reviving this topic, YouOverThere. I don't know that I'd class Prokofiev with Tchaikovsky in terms of talent, honestly, but it could be a matter of taste.

The question is what is your favourite piece of 20th century music rather than most outstanding or seminal etc.

That's an interesting link, Mashinka. I agree that there's a big difference between choosing one's favorite music and making a qualitative judgment -- I also doubt that Mark Elder comes home after a hard day and puts on "The Rite of Spring," but you can have "favorite" music for different occasions and purposes.

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I find Wagner's "Rienzi" crass,

I suppose you are right, but it was by far my favorite Wagner when I was a child, along with the "Ride of the Valkyrie".

Come to think of it, my favorite Tchaikovsky in those days was "Francesca di Rimini," smilie_mondieu.gif which has a certain crassness of its own..

Fokine choreographed something to Francesca di Rimini but I don't know if it survives. Has any ballet composer ever choreographed to Rienzi?

I just tumbled over this thread this evening and I suppose you may have long since gotten the answer, but Roland Petit used the Rienzi overture for his Proust ballet. As I remember, he used it for the closing scene, but it's a dim memory...and he may have wanted a bit of bombast.

I recently attended a concert with Tchaikovsky's fourth symphony on the program and I'm afraid bombast is very much how it seemed to me...though often as if on the verge of becoming something greater and more moving...but it never quite happened. That it happens in many of his other works, I certainly find...and it may be I simply failed to 'get' the symphony on this hearing.

Regarding lists or announcements of the "10 best" or even one's "favorite", I sometimes think that if one is going to start down that road (and probably one ought not) it's best not to hedge with humility or subtlety: "my opinion..." or "from the perspective of a ballet lover...." Just go for it and be wrong rather than mealy-mouthed!

It makes it more of an intellectual challenge for everyone and second it's...uh...more fun--possibly just because it is "aesthetically incorrect" to be ranking things that can't always be ranked. I love to shock people when they ask my favorite novel by giving them an immediate unequivocal answer (it's almost always Middlemarch) because it's obvious they expect a much more refined answer about the "impossibility" of having a favorite, or about how different traditions have different strengths etc.

Of course, on the internet one always tries one's very best to be polite!

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A countries long established musical culture is an undoubted influence that often divides individual musical taste from one country to another, obviating what one might call a universal qualitative appreciation.

In general, I think music lovers in France hear high status classical music in a different manner to music lovers in Germany and as such, do people in England.

Meeting points occur at a high degree with a good number of composers.

I do believe however it is of no use to compare an opera composer with a symphonist, as we are not comparing like with like.

Music critics and music lovers in general are all capable of adopting an absolutistic viewpoint which in the end makes for me, both a rather empty discussion, but also definitely a bit of a fun as oppositeviews collide, which often reveals more about the person making the statement rather than the music itself.

EDITED

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I just tumbled over this thread this evening and I suppose you may have long since gotten the answer, but Roland Petit used the Rienzi overture for his Proust ballet. As I remember, he used it for the closing scene, but it's a dim memory...and he may have wanted a bit of bombast.

Thanks, Drew. I guess it would be Petit.

The business of rankings and making up these sorts of lists is really a parlor game, but composing them does make you think about what qualities in a composer you value more than others, as I've probably said elsewhere.

Tchakovsky's Fourth has been dismissed as sentimental bombast in terms far less tactful than yours. :)

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