Your favorite classical composers/works?

Due to the recent flood of pop/rock/blues/jazz topics, I thought its about time for a classical topic.
Guess this could be a open forum for all things classical.
Here's a few ideas to touch on.
Future of classical in western culture?
Will the classical/romantic traditionalist composers survive in the comming decades, or will the 20th century composers/stsrting with Debussy, over take the previous classical forms in popularity?
Don't you want your kids to have at least some knowledge and interest in classical? Do you see yourself growing more interested in classical? Why classical has not made a more important impact on western culture, as we witness more money is spent on pop music than classical? In fact here in the states, I'd say more money is spent on all other music forms vs classical.
Does a culture's music reflect its life style and and reveal the culture's attitudes, beliefs, values?
Music I really never tire of: anything Ravel, anything Debussy, anything Beethovan, anything Mozart.
I remember record stores in the late 70's and especially Tower Records in NYC in the early 80's.. a whole FLOOR of classical records (then later cds)
Now? the Jazz and classical sections of record stores continue to dwindel in size and selection.
The death of the fine arts will be complete within 50 years unless... ??
Interesting trend, "Baby" cd's (Baby Einstein brand) designed to stimulate the baby's brain activity by hearing various classical compositions.
I think one reason classical is not as popular as it used to be (although live concerts continue to sell out) is the drab, emotionless recorded performances? today of even the popular classics not to mention some of the unusual. Where are the Reiners, Szells, Bernsteins, etc., etc. Most contemporary recordings of familar works are almost unrecognizable to my ear compared to what I am used to.

Case in point: The Naxos recording of Chadwick's Symphonic Sketches. Listen to that recording then go listen to Howard Hanson's. Or better still, listen to Hanson conduct his own works and compare with other recordings (Schwarz, etc.)of his works. They are just playing the notes.

As to where classical is going I don't make a distiction among composers such as Bach, Mozart, Mahler, Debussy, etc. Like someone once said, "There are only 2 kinds of music, good and bad". It's not the music itself, it's the way it's being played.
Xiek, I also am a big fan of Debussy and eqally Ravel. I say equal, for it seems Debussy is the more popular of the 2. I posted a topic on Gramophone concerning "which ONE (not 2) composer do you feel in not-as-yet-recognized for his genius?" The topic was to point out how I felt the orchestral and piano music, not to mention his lone trio and sq , as the one composer that stands out to my mind as un-recognized. ie, seldom programed in concerts. Also classical forums can go on pages about Beethoven and Chopin's piano solo, hardly a word about Ravel. ...As I hear Ravel's solo piano, to my ears it is the pinnacle of the entire romantic movement. IOW Ravel achieves in perfect form all that went before him....Debussy was the first modern, with scertain passages in Wagner's 3 great operas as a fore-runner to Debussy. "death of classical in 50 yrs". No I believe there is a rival taking shape as we write. You do not see it unfolding as it is like all movements, underground. With the music of Schnittke and Pettersson will be the 2 great stars and among many past greats of the 20th century. The concert halls will be thin and the music a bit stale, but there is new life being born in a new myself.
Mozart will never be forgotten as his music has the fabric and spirit of eternity.
Muzcal, agree that the conductr is extremely important to the composer's genius.
I just posted a topic on friday, "conductors, and the trouble they create for composers works of genius"...Schnittke somewhere (I'm still looking for the passage) said that Stravinsky felt conductors should not attempt to take on a role as shaper of the score. Schnittke disagreed and felt conductors were equal in the creative process. The replies this morning should be of interest. For as I said in my post, most recordings can be trashed. Yet another controversial comment from me, but for the most part these guys on gramophone have shown much greater level ogf tolerance for my radical views than the grouches and trolls over at Good Music Guide.
Of my 500+ cd collection, all have been through a process of critical listening. More than 1000 were eithrer sold off, given away, or thankfully lost to Katrina, before which they did not sell on amazon.
Conductors are equal to composers. btw "big names" in conducting do not impress me. As each recording is judged accordingly.
Although I will say I tend to go with french orchs/conductors in french music, russian forces in russian music , etc. AS a general rule it seems to be the case for excellence.
Bryden Thomson/London SO is my choice in RVW's syms. Though Mitropoulos/4th and Stokowski/6th both with the New York take a place of excellence. Haitink/London PO is pretty good in Shostakovich , but feel no need to have a 3rd copy when there is Rozhdestvensky and Kondrashin around. This is some of the process involved in building my collection for the past 5 yrs. Thousands of hours were involved in seeking out which recordings were best to my ears.
I've finsihed my collection last month. I may buy one or 2 cds this yr, and so on.

Baton Rouge
hi bartokfan. do i detect an implicit opinion of yours that classical music is superior to other genres ?

why are you obsessing about this subject. don't take this subject so seriously.

classical music is just another type of musical expression.
people like what they like.

i think it is more interesting to understand why certain genres are preferred over others.

as to your topic, my favorite composer is js bach. i like musch of his opus for hartpsichord. i really enjoy listening to the sound of this instrument. in my cd collection i would say that i have more music featuring the harpsichord than any other kind.

why do i like bach so much. his harmonies are very interesting and complex.

i think people may not be attracted to classical music because it is not an egalitarian genre.

the idea of comparing composers and suggesting that one is better than another is ludicrous. the attitudes that pervade many classical music lovers does not motivate listeners of other types to take an interest in this music.

i also notice some rigidity and sensitive egos when it comes to the subject of sound quality. this situation is not conducive to the viability of the hobby we love so much.

my advice: stop taking yourself, the hobby the music and life so seriously. stop being so judgmental of others who disagree with you.

if the above applies to anyone who reads my posts, i mean no ill will, but hopefully you will consider what i have said. it's good for your health.
I don't necessarily have Resphigi as a favorite composer but the Toscanini vinyl of his Fountains of Rome is just astounding. I have rarely heard an orchestra play in what seems like such lock step precision. The opening few bars literally explode out of my speakers, Legacy Focus 20/20's so much so that the speakers disapear. They don't on other records as a rule but this one is worth hearing if only for the sonic display. It may have helped that both Toscanini and Resphigi were not only Italian but also good friends.
Having said all that, the piece is only part of it, the conductor can make or break a piece. The soloist's can do the same. Iona Brown on Vaughn William's The Lark Ascending is without peer on that piece to my ears. Brendel in the 1960's was fantastic, to my ears he did not continue to be so. Listen to Brendel's version of Beethoven's Choral Fantasy, and his music making abilities are superb. Or listen to Ivan Moravec do Debussy, I heard him live once and his playing is both intimate and magical. Just some thoughts. Enjoy the music
Classical music has been always the music of the elite, be political, economic or cultural. Once, in the renessaince and barokk period, when the composed music became a genre own its own, was primarily the music for royal families and for their courts, and for landlords copying the royal courts (beyond churches). Haydn worked during almost of his life to the Esterhazy family. The Archbishop of Salzburg treated the young Mozart as one of it servants. Actually, it was the period of Mozart when classical music spread beyond the court of feudal landlords and the emerging merchant and industrial burgoise and the new educated - future to be middle class -elite. But still, the unfortunate economic troubles of Mozart illustrated how difficult was thhe transition from being servant to try to serve a wider 'market'. Of course, this was the period, when classical music was still fairly close to "popular" music - they used similar instruments, there was an exchange of forms and tunes between the two music genres. Mozart wrote not only operas and symphonies but dance music for festives (for the discos of his time).Schubert, at the beginning of the XIXth century was foremost known for the Viennises as a popular song writer. During his short life he composed more than 600 songs (I guess he composed more songs than Madonna ever recorded), but his symphonic output was practically unknown for his contamporaries - and for a few decade after his death. In our days, the technology advance (cheap studios, cheap portable music repreduction means - be ipod or car cd-player - made only that popular music also became 'composed' music and traditional folk music has been replaced by easy tunes. In the ocean of aritifical cheap tricks, classical music seems to be a small rain drop - but it has been always. There is one difference, however. Classical music once was a living music. Operas of Mozart, Verdi, Erkel, (a Hungarian romantic composer), music of Bartók and Shostakovich were not only pieces of fair music and aesthetic pleasure but represented political and cultural revolutionary ideas, be Italian independence, against traditional conservative society, dictatorship - and rallied partisan elites - be political, economic or cultural. As did poetes in the XIXth-early XXth century. This kind of role art has been disappeared in our island of overconsuming and comfortable world. But in the third world still maybe there are music and poetes who expresses new popular ideas and partisan world view, and elite music has more importance than a factor of pleasure and reason to buy newer and newer more and more expensive gear to get closer to the music, altough we are hardly able anymore to really feel the human tragedy and need of expression what composers of different ages wanted to express.
Enjoyed reading your thread.
"But in the third world still maybe there are music and poets..." Immediately the music of Bob Marley comes to mind and he now is regared as almost a prophet by many in the islands.
Ajalar has made some raised some interesting ideas on several funtions of classical music to the individual. Shostakovich is the best exapmle of a composer fulfilling the role of a poet who speaks for the sufferings of a entire nation. Whereas prokofiev felt it necessary to ignore most of the great evil taking shape in his country and around the world, and instead gave us works of stunning melodies. Though of course he does touch on some of the evil surrounding him, 2nd sym specifically, opening movement. Schonberg gives us insight into the neurotic mind, a disease that would strike at the jews and the world in general. This is represented in his Pierrot Lunaire and others. Schonberg also reveals to us his profound spiritual understanding of a few events in the old testament, which lets us know of his ties to the kaballah.......2 composers that stike me as being of supreme importance for modern man and the great dilema he finds himself in, all the mysterious evils cropping up daily,, are Allan Pettersson, 1911-1980 and Alfred Schnittke, 1934-1998. ...Which is why i really have no interest in the classicists and romantics, with Mozart and 3 operas from Wagner being the exceptions in the era 1791-1875(Debussy) Even 20th century composers like Sibelius syms 2-7 and all of Stravinsky I find to be a form of entertainment but not dealing with the greater issues facing the individual. Classical music should help the individual in dealing with his current world otherwise its just a simple form of entertainment, like Chopin, Tchaikovsky and hundreds like them.
Bartokfan, I realize that your statement is just a personal view, but since it may have the effect of devaluing music by composers you do not mention and thereby effect others when approaching modern music, I feel it is necessary to ask a question or two.

How, exactly, does the music of Pettersson and Schnittke, or any other modernist, "help the individual in dealing with his current world". Do I have to do a lot of reading to understand how they interperpert historical events and transcribe them into music, or will I be able to just listen and understand?

In my observation, most of the modern music that is held dear is music which is someone's interpertation of a tradegy. Why would we want to exclude from the collective exposure of folks new to 'modernists' those composers who see musical expression differently? I think we call them neo-romantics, but by any name they are modern composers who just may not see the need to translate into music the events of their times.

Personally if I MUST read to understand a musical composition, let alone learn to appreciate it, I'll pass. Note I'm not negating the value of reading about a composer and from such reading coming to understand his music, if fact in the case of Mahler for example, its very enlightening, but its not necessary.

Just a couple of random thoughts and my personal POV.
Recently, I have seen a very interesting version of Monterverdi The Coronation of Poppea in Budapest, Hungary where I am living. This is one of the first operas ever written in 1643. This version was staged by Iván Fischer, the principal conductor of the Budapest Festival Orchestra with a professional theatre director, Andor Lukács. The actors were the members of the class of Lukács in the Budapest based Drama Theatre College. The actors sung the opera in italian as was written originally by Monterverdi and were accompanied by a small ensemble consisting one clavicord, violin and cello. Of course, as the student are learning Drama and not opera, their quality of singing was not that good, and now I am very polite. But they were, of course, very good actors - a quality which is very rare in any opera stage. The opera was also directed by a very talent director, so he was able to really dig in and show the drama of the play. The most interesting feature of the play was, that parallel singing the opera, three actors (who represented virtue, honesty and amor - the three main theme of the original opera) told the text in Hungarian (which is the leanguage which the audience was most familiar). Now, in this Wagnerian style gesammkunstwerk the text, the drama and the music got almost equal role. Due to this nature of the stage play, one could sense, once not the beauty of music was on the front, but the drama - really how modern and still relevant was the plot of the Poppea despite the fact that it was written some 400 years ago - and how the music served to underpin the drama. It was a really revealing event even for me (I say this as I really like Opera, etc) and demonstrated that sometimes we, classical music lovers, are forgetting the drama in operas for the sake of beauty of music and singing.
Now as far as modern music concerned, I really like some of the modern music. For example, I fairly like Ligeti. I have heard his music in several times in live concerts. One of the best concerts I ever heard was when the Keller quartett played Ligeti. Than I bought some of its cd-s. Still, I almost never put them at home to play. Somehow, this type fo music, which does lack the easy beauty of earlier music, is requires the concentration of the listener and the intesity and human factor of life performance. This is opposite of Bach Johannes Passion. I had it for ages on CD. I played a few times, but never really got it. A month ago, I heard it in a live concert by the Le Petite Band, led by Sigiswald Kujkinen. It was such a wonderful concernt. Since than practically, I am only playing it at home. And I think it is a qualitative difference between old and modern classical music.
And of course, modern classical music not always has "modern' message. A prime example for me the Castle fo Bluebard by Bartók. This is already an old classical, but many of its messages would be considered today as politically incorrect. Of course, this is the responsibility of Balázs Béla, who wrote the poem - which is not that great, not even in Hungarian - and not that of Bartók. But still, as a music wonderful. (MAybe the best version of this opera is actually produced by Fischer Iván with the Budapest Festival Orchestra, Philips).
Ajahu, you are blessed getting to see and hear such groups as "Keller Quartet", " Le Petite Bande, with Sigiswald Kuijken". Classical music in the states is a train wreck with the obsession of "PoP CulTURE". I am not knocking great rock artists such as Neil Young, Lou Reed etc, mind you but there is such a load of forgetable dribble that it's mind blowing. It's a real shame to boot as there are some great orchestras in this country that go unnoticed by younger generations. Why you ask? One only need look no further than the parents to what CuLTure is being digested in there homes, automobiles and workplace. Im fortunate to live in a place that music and art are tantamount to it's people. I've been blessed as well to meet, see and hear Penderecki's opera The Black Mask, as well as a slew of significant 20th century work's at the Santa Fe Opera over the course of 20 years. Sorry had to get that of my chest.

Favorite composers;
Early Music; Hildegard Von Bingen, Perotin, Guiot De Dijon , Nortre Dame period, The Cantigas De Santa Maria by Alfonso X ElSabio,The Galicia Castilla, the Bamberg and Montpellier Codices and last but not least The Carmina Burana, Roman de Fauvel, Machaut and all Trouvere, Minnessinger, Troubadour music of Spain, Germany, France, Italy, England etc.

Renaissance Early And Late; Tomas Luis De Victoria, Christobal De Morales, Dufay, Palestrina, Ockghem, Josquin Desprez , Luys Milan, Antonio Cabezon, Tallis, Bartomeu Carceres and William Byrd.

Early and late Baroque; Bach and family, Francois and Louis Couperin, Forqueray, Rameau, Purcell, Marais, Saint Colombe, Vivaldi and Telemann.

Classical; Beethoven, Haydn and Mozart.

Romantic;Wagner and Bruckner.

Impressionism; Satie, Debussy.

Early 20th Cent; Schoenberg, Webern, Berg, C. Ives, K.A. Hartmann, Shostikovitch, O. Messiaen and Pierre Schaffer.

Post WWII; Luigi Nono, Allan Pettersson, Boulez, Stockhausen, H.W. Henze, Ligeti, Lutoslawski, B. Parmagiani, Vagn Holmboe, I. Lidholm, Francios Bayle, Bernd Zimmermann, Kokkonen, and Penderecki.

Current; H. Holliger, A. Part, Demitriscu, Saariaho, S. Reich, P. Glass etc...
May I add a few not so popular or well known musicians/lps/cds, which are immensely beautiful.
Teleman, metodische sonatas, sony seon, a wonderful vollection of recorder/violin sonatas performed by the Boston Museum Trio and Frans Bruggen. Such a beautiful, erotic and sensual music - a completly different world than Bach's sonatas. Hearing that one may understand while the contemporary music lovers regarded so highly Telemann.
MOnterverdi, L incoronazione de Poppea, a truly modern and beautufil music from the mid XVI-th century: Bonnie and Clyde in emperor clothes.
Haynd Violin sonatas, Played by Pauk, Hungaroton. Of what music!
Biber, violin sonatas, Red Hot Chilli Pepper from the mid-XVIIIth century, low priced cd-s on the Apex series by Harnoncourt and a rival version by Andrew Manze.
I have to admit a soft spot for Purcell and Rameau. A more recent composer I like is Valentin Sylvestrov, Ukrainian I think.
I agree about Telemann and Valentin Sylvestrov. Both beautiful composers. Check out Telemann's 12 Fantasias for flute by Han's Martin Linde on EMI Electola recorded back in 1975 on vinyl. I don't know if you can get it on CD. A definite reference disc for original instrurment flute. The most beautiful flute recording I have ever heard, it flow's like a dark honey. I have not heard Bruggen's performance of the same work. Does it exist ?

Eduard Tubin from Estonia is another mid to late 20th Cent great I forgot to mention. Check out any recording on Bis with Neeme Jarvi if you like Euro Expressionism.
American Expressionism / Pluralism mentions, George Crumb, George Rochberg and Elliot Carter.
Oh, Bartokfan. Pettersson was a genius. There is no composer that can beat you to death with such humility, passion and elegance. Very intense and not for the weak hearted. Either you love this man or hate him. Needless to say I love him and praise his sacrifice and strength of humanity.
For me, the high points of Telemanns music are very enjoyable but he wrote huge amounts of "wallpaper" as well. Lately I'm getting into Saint-Saens and Edmund Rubbra.
I'm mainly a jazz fan, but I have a few hundred classical CDs- used to be a season ticket holder to LA Symphony (during its doldrums 15 yrs ago). Favorite composers: beethoven, shostakovich and ives. This weekend had john Adams "fearful symetries" on ipod as well as magnatune free classical podcasts (and lots of talk radio, NPR etc).

classical music does not know how to market itself and has a hard time competing with the MTV rap phenomenon. standard rep classical is considered unhip and old fogey to most young people. new composers (adams, schnittke, arvo part, reich, ligeti, etc) get very little airplay or concert programming. so how to you generate new interest and bring in new blood? beats me. classical is likely to die the same slow death that the hi-end audio boutique shop is facing...
and a whole brave new world awaiting
For all you R&R/blues/jazz fans looking to get a toe into classical and have been turned off by the popular romantic composers, none of which i am a fan of, except for 3 of Wagner's operas, ck out Pettersson/1911-1980 and Schnittke/1934-1998. Just try one work from each, Pettersson sym 7/BIS, and Schnittke concerto grosso 4/sym 5(the work is both a concerto grosso and a sym)/BIS.
I hope to see some postings next week from at least 3 or 4 of you guys.
I got into classical music relatively late in life (age 26), just on a whim, and discovered I really liked it. Particularly the late 19th century Romantic composers.

I think that classical music will survive just fine. After all, numerous cities have orchestras that are well attended. There is a segment of the population that still enjoys those performances.

But most important, classical music is often in the background in our society. Sometimes subtly, but noticeable nonetheless. We hear it on elevators, in cartoons, commercials, malls, and TV shows. (The TV shows, especially sci-fi shows, such as some of the Star Trek incarnations, have original scores for each episode. I would classify that as modern classical music. Just imagine those TV shows without that background music.)

Classical music still has a following in the Western world. It's not the forefront in pop culture, nor should it be; that spot is limited to the new and cutting-edge. 50 years from now rap music will be in the same place that jazz is right now: Still has a following, though not in the forefront.

Future of classical in western culture?
It's questionable. IMO, the recording industry is not entirely to blame. Interests are developed during childhood. Interests in classical music, classical literature, art or anything else for that matter begins with parents. Then schools. It should be part of life from early childhood and be continually developed.

Will the classical/romantic traditionalist composers survive in the comming decades, or will the 20th century composers/stsrting with Debussy, over take the previous classical forms in popularity?
Well, depends what you mean by "survive". What was written by classical composers before, during or after Debussy will most likely not go anywhere. Listener's tastes in music may shift with time, age, even mood...that would be me :)

Don't you want your kids to have at least some
knowledge and interest in classical?
I do my best to educate my 4 year old son in classical music, literature and art. I am grateful to my parents for doing it when I was growing up and am kind of continuing the tradition. I try to play a lot of classical music for my son and he already knows some composers. His favorite is Tchaikovsky. He likes Nutcracker, Swan Lake and Romeo And Juliet. A way to make him become interested in a classical piece is to tell him a story associated with it. Works wonder. At least for my kid. Of course he also listens to a lot of music for kids as well. I wouldn't want to rob his childhood of anything.

Do you see yourself growing more interested in classical?
yes. Funny how with classical music yo can discover something new every time. My recent discovery is a French composer Francis Poulenc. I highly recommend checking out his works, for example Sabine Meyer with Oleg Maisenberg on EMI. His violin sonata is excellent as well, as are his other works.

Why classical has not made a more important impact on western culture, as we witness more money is spent on pop music than classical? In fact here in the states, I'd say more money is spent on all other music forms vs classical. Does a culture's music reflect its life style and and reveal the culture's attitudes, beliefs, values?
Just try to come up with a list of the most popular programs on TV. American Idol, etc.
That should give you a hint.
Who wants to spend money on something that does not pay dividents in dollars. The music industry makes money on what's popular now. Justin Timberlake, etc.
Why would they want the public to switch all of a sudden to classical music? Do you think they will stop making Justin Timberlake CDs? Tabloids, newspapers, TV shows, they all make money on pop stars.
What kind of coverage was there on TV when Rostropovich died? Or when Pavarotti died? Some wouldn't even have a clue who Rostropovich was.
I think it is all in our hands though. Therefore there's still hope.