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


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#31 Drew

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Posted 02 December 2012 - 01:41 AM


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," Posted Image 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!

#32 leonid17

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Posted 02 December 2012 - 07:14 AM

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.


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#33 dirac

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Posted 02 December 2012 - 04:14 PM

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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