It is not as simple as that. Pop music is here and now and lasts a week, maybe a month, it is throw away culture, designed as such and marketed as such. The growth of pop music as an industry depends on the fact that you need to replace it every other week. Simple music for simple consumer fashion lead minds. Composers of classical music are largely judged on the influence they have on subsequent generations, it is music of substance and designed to last. Of course it should appeal to current audiences but Hummel, Spohr, CPE Bach, Salieri etc appealed to their audience as much as and in some cases alot more than JS Bach, Mozart and Beethoven did. Being popular today doesn't make you a great for all time. The next generation will tell us who the greats of today were, we are the guardians of the past and must preserve the legacy and teach the next generation well. Teaching them that everything is of equal value and they don't have to make judgements is just 1970's hippy trash.
Utter bollocks. In Mozart's time nearly all music played at public concerts was new, or relatively so. Ancient composers like Handel were sometimes played but their music had to be arranged to suit contemporary tastes. Hence Mozart's own reorchestrations of the Messiah etc. Composers are not judged on the influence they have on subsequent generations, at least not by me; if they were, Bach's sons would have to be rated at least the equal of their father. "The next generation will tell us who the greats of today were". Unfortunately for us the next generation doesn't yet exist - no composer in his right mind writes for posterity.
Definitely, any of the composers you mentioned could have written a better song in terms of music (technically speaking). Whether people in the Jubilee concert will like it, it's another question.
As for "Night and Day", I guess it's a true challenge to "An die ferne Geliebte". As for the popularity, definitely it is. As for the music, try to sing them and you'll see...
The other day, a very good and accomplished choir, in a developing country and emerging economy, tried to rehearse two songs for a future concert: the well-known Beatles hit "Yesterday" and the celebrated Schubert's Die Forelle (The trout), in choral transcriptions. "Yesterday" was about a page and half of simple melody music, lasting with the repetitions more than three minutes, while the "Trout" was four pages, full of difficult and demanding music, lasting only two minutes and some seconds. Needless to say, how much time the choir needed to practice each song. What I have to mention is the happiness, the joy, the exuberance they felt after they manage to sing, master and command it.
no composer in his right mind writes for posterity.
'It is my fervent wish and greatest ambition to leave a work with a few useful instructions for the pianists after me' Franz Liszt
'Pay no attention to what critics say, no statue has ever been put up of a critic' Sibelius
'I feel sure I have left enough to ensure my name' Van Gogh
You may not understand art, but you certainly don't understand artists.
"I hope my music will turn out to be useful" (Britten).
Best of all, Cavalli, who wrote a Requiem Mass for himself instructing that it should be performed annually in his memory.
Guillaume wrote: ''You can't compare songs with symphonies and concertos. You can however compare songs with songs. Night and Day certainly challenges Beethoven on its own territory, that of the song. I suppose that what was required for the Jubilee concert was a headline song, not a symphony. No doubt there were better candidates than Gary Barlow to write it. But who? Birtwistle? Ferneyhough? Ades? Macmillan? Do you seriously suppose that a song written by any of the above would have been better than Barlow's?''
I don't think the posterity issue is important and is a red herring-I think most composers naturally want success in their own lifetime. I am more concerned about Guillaume's misunderstanding of the intention of composers like Macmillan,Ades and Birtwistle etc. Look-I am no fan at all of these composers he mentions but they clearly are not composers who would be interested anyway in writing the sort of instant commercial pop song a la Lloyd Webber the organiser Barlow wanted for the event. Lloyd Webber and Barlow are not 'serious' composers-they just cynically write pap to make money from a musically unadventurous uneducated mass public who have little patience for more subtle music. Give 'em rice in other words. As a composer I could do the same if I wanted-and have done. Whereas Birtwistle and Macmillan,what ever you think of their music, do write totally what THEY want to write (knowing full well much of their music is complex and not 'instantly' appealing to a wide public)-and it is for the public to come to them. So I do respect their integrity. So it is an unfounded argument. And yes many current pop/rock writers could have done far better eg. Peter Gabriel.
He attacks present 'serious' composers on the back of my comment that Barlow's song was awful-but as I showed in my previous comments there are more 'tonal' composers than the ones he mentions who I am sure could have written something much better for the event (why did it have to be a pop song anyway) eg. John Adams,Arvo Part,Adam Gorb,Steve Martland.
I have updated my Soundcloud link by the way I posted in a previous comment to prove I am not an armchair critic and write music too.By the way I am not saying these other 'tonal' composers are fantastic(I can't comment on myself)-none are on the level of Walton or Britten in my view. But they are at least more accessible than the Birtwistle,Ferneyhough brigade whose almost total rejection of tonality has dominated academic contemporary music for too long.That is another debate altogether of course!
How have I misunderstood the intentions of Birtwistle et al? I'm familiar with the music of all the composers I mentioned, probably as much or more than you are. What I meant was that none of them, as far as I know, has ever given the slightest hint that he'd be able to write a popular song. Perhaps as you say they're above all that and wouldn't want to write such pap anyway - my opinion is that they couldn't even if they wanted to. Lloyd Webber and, to a lesser extent Barlow, have shown that they can. Both have made names for themselves because they have talent, however minor that talent might be, not from a cynical desire to make money.
You say that you yourself have condescended to write popular pap that's unworthy of you. So let's hear some of it, so we can compare it with the work of other pap merchants such as Richard Rodgers, Jerome Kern, Paul McCartney - and even Lloyd Webber and Barlow.
I repeat, no artist in his right mind writes for posterity. For the simple reason that posterity doesn't exist. Artists may well follow their own volition without regard to current public taste - as far as financial circumstances permit - but that's not the same thing. Your Liszt quote seems to reveal an ambition to be regarded as a teacher rather than anything else and I don't see the relevance of your Sibelius quote. Sibelius, far from writing for posterity, felt himself demoded and unable to write anything more for his contemporaries - hence his silence in his last 30 years. Van Gogh's comment smacks of desperation. I think the Van Gogh story is one of the main reasons for the "great artists only become famous after their deaths" myth. He is however rather an exception to the rule, in not making much of a name for himself in his lifetime.
TO GUILLAUME. You said: ''How have I misunderstood the intentions of Birtwistle et al......my opinion is that they couldn't even if they wanted to....
You say that you yourself have condescended to write popular pap that's unworthy of you. So let's hear some of it, so we can compare it with the work of other pap merchants such as Richard Rodgers, Jerome Kern, McCartney - and even Lloyd Webber and Barlow.''
Ok,with respect I take up your challenge: I write my 'pop' stuff under another name.The link to it is:
Some of the tracks don't fall into the conventional pop category but some does (is like intelligent dance music). So I am not just bull..t. Obviously very different to the 'classical' stuff I write which is also all tonal based and is at:
It does get confusing using two names-but can assure you it is me!-you may notice that both links have some of the same tracks. Tracks like 'Urba' and 'Carmel','Sirius','Andromeda' and 'Agrippa' are a few examples of poppier tracks by me-the tracks are all a bit mixed up as some are film type stuff too.Some are a hybrid mix eg. 'Europa' and 'Lausanne' which has elements of pop and Stravinsky. I try to inject more harmonic interest than is usual into my pop tracks (there are classical influences even in this) . I write these with integrity,do not see them as pap, and yes I do think they are better than Barlow and Lloyd Webber (if I may be so bold).
By the way I don't think all Rodgers or Kern's music who you mentioned is 'pap'-there is nothing wrong with popular music per se. I just don't think Barlow or Webber are at all good examples-in fact they well represent the insipid banality that seeps through pop. I also don't like the Birtwistle brigade (I have listened in depth to many of Birtwistle's pieces), and I noticed when his 'Manchester school' mate Maxwell Davies tried to write in a more popular tonal style as in the ''Farewell to Stromness'' piece it is just embarrassingly awful. I prefer 'challenging' tonal based composers-currently listening to Honegger symphonies 4 and 5,Henze symphony 3(which is pretty tonal),and Maconchy string quartet 7. We are on common ground re. posterity-I agree with you, and certainly want success now as a composer while I am living and I think most composers do!
'Atonal' and 'Serial' are little dens where the talentless can hide ( a bit like the BBC ). Tonal provides no camouflague, if you venture into tonal you had better be good.
Uber Alice-partly true.I do think quite a few serial composers hide behind the complexity/incomprehensibility of the music-yet the end result of much of it is frankly totally unmusical. A few-and I mean a few- have managed to use serial music musically eg. Stravinsky. Frank Martin,William Schuman, and Henze. And some atonality is good-Richard Strauss,Nielsen,and Britten are amazing 'tonal' composers of true genius that used atonal elements well. We don't want to go to the other extreme of a banal Einaudi/Lloyd Webber/andre Rieu cheap chocolate box nightmare.These 3 kitschmeisters turn tonality into poundshop dross.
Anyone like my music? (I am open to any criticism!)
i agree that most of the concert was taken up by popular music, but there were tunes/songs by Llanglang, Alfie Bow and Rachel Fleming, all excellent, but I also agree that there is not enough classical music, even the lolipops, on television.
Jeffyoung wrote: "Anyone like my music? (I am open to any criticism!)"
Sorry Jeff, there are not many of us online at the moment. I promise I will listen this evening, and report back tomorrow morning!Chris
I listened to some of your music last night. I started with Quam pulchra es and Ave Maris stella: just because of the titles. Very tonal as you say. At first I thought they were rather too similar, but perhaps it was your intention that the middle section of the former is related to the main material of the latter? (I don't hear any reference to the plainchant in these, and wondered about the titles?).
Then I tried Jubilee (related to the ostensible theme of this thread, I suppose): very pleasant 'occasional' music, I thought: I presume that was the idea!
Last, I listened to your most recent Apollo. For me this was by far the most interesting and substantial. I can very much enjoy hearing this again. I'd like to hear more pieces in your 'new' style.
Thanks for giving me (and us) the opportunity!
PS: Sorry, this is not very much, but perhaps it might encourage others?
New post elsewhere on the site, reinforcing the debate