There have been some comments recently which have got me thinking about the whole process of composition again and how different composers approach it. Chris spoke about 'getting inside the music' and Parla said something about Beethoven's fifth (see below) on the most underrated thread, so I thought it might be interesting to discuss this topic of composers' preferred working methods.
The old saying is that Mozart had a kind of musical photographic memory for want of a better way of putting it, and wrote without the need for any corrections, while Beethoven on the other hand struggled over every bar. The story is apparently true that Mozart wrote down Allegri's Miserere from memory after hearing it (twice?). Amazing feat!
Parla made reference to Beethoven thus:
Do you think when Beethoven has finished his Fifth (after torturing efforts and hundreds of rejected sketches)...
While recently re-reading Testimony I came across this by Shostakovitch, who spoke very warmly indeed of Glazunov:
'Glazunov usually waited until the composition had formed in his mind and then wrote it down in a final draft. But he did allow for the possibility of corrections or new editions, and so on.Strangely, I agree with him about only writing a final draft, but not about corrections'. (page 56)
When I read that I thought crikey! Glazunov and Shostakovitch wrote the piece in their heads first, with the result that the first draft put down on paper was actually the final draft! Such mental self-discipline!
My guess it that it's probably as varied as there are fish in the sea, but I wondered if you contributors would care to share your favourite composers' working methods:
Piano reduction, short score, full score first?
Corrections, amendments, re-drafts?
Re-writes years later?