At the top of my list are Bach, Schubert, Vaughan Williams, and Arvo PÃ¤rt. Of course, this doesn't even scratch the surface :-).
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The guy never erased a note. Gotta admire someone who wastes no ink.
His classical compositions are not only technically amazing but amazingly popular. I never liked opera until I had to study Don Giavonni (spelling) in college. ALl I can say is that Mozart knew how to make opera both interesting and accessable while being musical masterpieces at the same time.
Critics might poo-poo popularity, but there is something to be said for being able to create music with such universal appeal. Especially when a genius creates art which has such a wide audience. 99 times out of 100 geniuses are so disconnected from reality and the common man that their work is only enjoyed by an elite minority who are extreme fans of the art already.
Hands down my favorite is Rachmaninoff, how ever honorable mentions go to:
The Strauss clan(but in particular Eduard and Johann Jr.)
and of course F Chopin
The one who I am not enamoured with(don't know why) is LV Beethoven. Any thing from the Baroque period is very interesting to me in particular the Harpsichord- I simply love the harpsichord for an unknown reason. I am sure I missed some greats but this was a quick list.
Tough question for me: You know, I can't think well,right now---(I told that to my perspective boss and was hired on the spot.)----Some of the most beautiful music ever written would be: Beethoven's 9th. Rach's paino #2 (none of his others do it for me) Vivaldi's 4 Seasons ,Beethoven's Emperor,then we got Mr.Mozart;and for him it's the piano concertos. BUT when I think of the # of compositions by all these guys (most well over 1,000) it brings me to Mr. Antonin Dvorak. He gets my vote on percentage,(I don't actually know how many) Symphony #9;THEE finest Cello cncerto; Symphonic Dances;the quartets.There is so much great composition by so many GREATS that this is just a brief highlight of "some" of my favorites. I understand we all have our own.
Hmmm, some very personal factors involved in this answer. The first classical composer that I can remember touching me deeply was Jean Sibelius (I used to lie on the floor in front of my parents' console record player listening to "Swan of Tuonela"). In the many years since then, the list of favorite composers has expanded a lot, and now includes (in no particular order):
1. Mozart (extraordinary range of compositions, and even his earliest works are good -- the late ones border on sublime);
2. Johann Sebastian Bach
3. Ludwig von Beethoven
4. Johannes Brahms
5. Archangelo Corelli
6. Antonio Vivaldi
7. Richard Wagner
8. Franz Liszt
9. Frederick Chopin
10. Antonin Dvorak
11. Anton Bruckner
12. George Frederick Handel
13. Peter Tchaikowsky
14. Camille Saint-Saens
15. Felix Mendelssohn
16. Jean Sibelius
In no particular order, and not complete: Bach (& sons), Vivaldi, Copeland, Stravinsky, Vaugh Williams, Ravel, Handel, Tchaikovsky, Sibelius, Gershwin, Debussy, R. Strauss...
Really, I wish I knew much more than I do about 'classical' music. I'm not as big on Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, etc., or piano music or opera, as I am on early music and 'modern' (20th century) music, but most of what you hear is high classical and romantic period warhorses. I'm not much of a concerto guy either - I like chamber or full orchestral pieces better. I enjoy listening to Minnesota Public Radio's "Music Through the Night" on my local NPR classical station for less often heard fare.
Swklein, thank you for pointing out that the question did not stipulate "classical" - something I overlooked after reading through the posts before mine. Although I myself do make the distinction between composition and soloing (Parker, Reinhart), thanks as well for bringing up the idea that some arranging and soloing can be thought of as composition. Staying within the paragdigm of "serious" music stipulated in the question (a term I understand but resent, and don't use myself), let me add to my little list: Ellington, Mingus, Monk, Coltrane.
Over the past few years, I've come to absolutely admire Dvorak in his ability to consistently compose pieces that I love. The symphonies (esp 7-9), cello concerto, violin concerto, string symphonies, etc are fantastic. He has become my favorite composer.
#2 in terms of consistently good works has become Mendelssohn. I still adore Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, Sibelius, and Rachmaninoff.
decided to bring this one back to life........
Mendehlsonn(especially the violin concerto w/Heifetz), Beethoven, Schumann, Bruckner(symphonies, selectively), Bruch(violin concertos), Brahms, Dvorak(everything), Puccini, Mahler(all symphonies), Elgar(everything), Barber(violin concerto), Copeland(clarinet concerto), Corigliano(clarinet concerto), Glazunov, Saint-Saens(cello concerto, violin concerto), Prokofiev, Shostakovich(absolutely everything), Rachmaninoff(piano works).
I have to reply because nobody's mentioned Verdi! :) I adore a lot of things he wrote, including but not limited to Simon Boccanegra (just get Abbado's on DG, it's the perfect performance), Rigoletto, Macbeth, Aida, La Traviata, Il Trovatore, Requiem, and, and.. Hehe..
I also love:
- Puccini (almost everything)
- Mussorgsky (Boris Godunov is stunning, get the Karajan version on Decca)
- Borodin (Prince Igor! The Polovtsian Dances is pure magic)
- Rachmaninov (Vespers + lots of other things)
- Dvorak (just hear the cello concerto! Get the Helmersson/Jarvi version on BIS!)
- Arvo Part (one of the few modern composers I like. I'm very attached to Alina right now)
.. and many other things too! :)
Not necessarily in order, my favorites are Brahms, Dvorak, Sibelius and Vaughan Williams, followed by Schubert, Tchaikovsky, Mahler, Bruckner, Mendelssohn, Beethoven and Shostakovich. Forced to choose an absolute favorite composer, Brahms. Favorite symphony: Dvorak's Eighth, but Brahms' Third and Fourth are close. Favorite concerto: Brahms' Double for Violin and Cello and Dvorak's Cello (tie). Favorite overture: Wagner's Tannhauser (the more imposing Dresden version). Favorite song/sung by: Nat King Cole singing Stardust.
I'm also checkin' on that actually. Not too many music lovers know that there are quite a few composers that are alive and create a great music different from 100+ years ago but still you can realize the craftsmanship and standards opposing an improvisation and rather having a strict structure similar to a few centuries ago...
A few more living ones: Michael Nyman -- Check out "The Cook the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover" soundtrack and many more of his works...
Philip Glass; John Lurie for movie soundtracks; Roger Eno for his amazing solo piano works, H.J. Roedelius goes along...
Beethoven, esp. string quartets, piano sonatas, odd-numbered symphonies
J. S. Bach
Bartok (esp. string quartets)
Stravinsky (esp. "L'Histoire du Soldat")
It’s been over nine years since I last listed my favorites. But, in my entire life, it wasn’t until about a year ago that I came to greatly appreciate two composers whose music I had never really cared for---Mozart and Haydn. It all started when I was hit as if by a bolt of lightening out of the blue by Mozart’s "Hoffmeister" String Quartet (#20). Hard for me to believe how for so long I just could not stand this composer. From the "Hoffmeister", I skipped to other Mozart chamber works...and then I started listening to Haydn’s Piano Trios, etc. Astounded again. Based on their chamber music alone, these two composers now sit atop my favorites list along with Brahms, Dvorak, Debussy, Ravel, Tchaikovsky, Borodin and Schubert.
Can't get into Baroque...math turned into music. ugh
Mozart and Beethoven symphonies, concertos etc. All transcendent.
All the Russians...so emotional, based on the nation's history it's not hard to see how that would be.
THE favorite is Dmitri Shostakovich! His 5th symphony is perhaps the most moving piece of music I've ever heard. I own and listen to various interpretations which reveal different aspects of Shosty's complicated psyche.
Erik...My knowledge of and experience with bluegrass is virtually nonexistent, so I can’t comment on it even in fun. However, I used to mock Mozart by referring to his "snuff box" music. Then, when one day out of nowhere, I found myself attracted to his chamber music, I experienced a sense of cognitive dissonance. I had to tell my mind it was okay to have positive feelings about Mozart despite all the years I had previously felt otherwise. Frankly, I’m still not especially fond of his symphonies, though I do enjoy his piano concertos.
hfiman...Of course, Shostakovich is an entrely different kettle of fish relative to Mozart. Though not quite in the same company with my personal favorites, I do admit he can certainly press other buttons of satisfaction for me. That "complicated psyche" (as you say), with its dark, probing aspects and occasional shafts of sunlit hope can frequently have a riveting effect on the mind and spirit. There was a time when, perhaps like some others, I found his music too dreary. Then, one day, as with Mozart, my feelings were transformed. I was suddenly able to experience Shostakovich in a new and fascinating way. My favorite among his symphonies are the 4th, with Kondrashin (lp) and Jarvi (cd), and the 7th, with Kondrashin (lp) conducting. I also enjoy a fair portion of his chamber music.