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Sic Semper Tyrannis

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Re: Rach On!

In response to my Rach On blog Music Fan notes:
I myself like Rachmaninoff, but I find interesting your comment about composition in the last 100 years. I mean, you're pigeonholing Richard Strauss, Stravinsky, Shostakovich, Bartok, Britten, Ravel, Bernstein, Copland, Prokofiev, not to mention Berg, Schoenberg, Glass, Cage, Elliot Carter, and numerous others into one category of generally writing slow and heavy and ponderous music.
(from: Music Fan's comment)

Yeah I know I am lumping together a lot of music and am just of late getting to delve into more recently composed music. I have obtained some works composed in this century. Even the peppy ones are not a snack but a full twelve course dinner. The overall (general) trend in music from the baroque through today is fewer but grander and heavier compositions. Bach & Vivaldi (BTW I do agree with your comment on Vivaldi, but a person new to classical music is not going to know that) composed numerous pieces. The BWV catalog of JS Bach's work contains 1,127 entries. Mozart's K catalog contains 626 entries. Beethoven only published 135 works in his lifetime. However, as time marches on the composers create grander and longer works.

Many a Vivaldi concerto start & finish in five minutes. A Mozart piano concerto is about 24 minutes, and the #3 which I discuss previously goes about 45 minutes.

20th Century music, in my opinion, is rarely slow or ponderous. That sort of went out of style with Tchaikovsky, Borodin, Rachmaninoff, Wagner, Bruckner, and the rest of the late Romantics.
(source: Ibid)

Ahhhh, pin the tail on the villain! I agree with your attributing what I refer to as being associated with Tchaikovsky. I also have some works by Bruch to add in there. I would guess its fair to say Peter Illyich Tchaikovsky (PIT) started the trend. He negated the typical tempos of symphonys from fast-fast-slow-fast to slow-slow-fast-slow (e.g. PIT's sixth, admittedly this is the only symphony from PIT I have listened to but it is his most famous). My Bruch CD consists of mostly slow music and the one movement that is fast (I have not spent much time listening to his 1st violin concerto just the Scottish Fantasy).

Perhaps that is the problem. When I hear a slow ponderous piece I mix up the composer's time frame, because as you note many of them come from the border of the late romantic period and the 20th century.

I don't know much about your music collection or your background, but given your blanket statement about the 20th Century, perhaps I might offer a few suggestions for you to take or leave? They should all be available at a public library or through interlibrary loan. You might like some and hate others but I assure you that none are slow or ponderous. All would be well worth your time.
(source: Ibid)

Thank you.

My collection is primarily from the classical (time) period, yes WA Mozart (some Beethoven whom I consider to be the transition between classical & romantic music). Then I would guess its even between baroque (Handel, Vivaldi, and JS Bach) & romantic music (Brahms, Dvorak, Tchaichovsky, Bruch, Mendelsohn, Berlioz). With some 20th century music. Holst's The Planets, Ravel's Bolero, Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra, Kronos Quartet's Winter Was Hard (with Samuel Barber's famous string adagio). I have some Gershwin and Bernstein as well (Ives too).

I first started collecting classical music in response to an advertisement for the International Preview Society (IPS) in Discover Magazine. The IPS was a standard record/book club get a bunch for next to nothing and buy so many in the next 1-2-or-3 years.