´We are all love lists¨

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´We are all love lists¨

So reads the first words of Gramophone´s new feature on their website´s homepage. Elementary level foreign student of English grammar aside, and not wishing to sound too self-obssessed, who exactly is this we?, because it most certainly doesn´t include me. I have despised lists and league tables all my life, with their insidious undertones of superiority and inferiority, and their plain stupidity in areas of cultural endeavour. I imagine children who have been held up to public ridicule for finishing bottom of the exam result list, or anyone who has had their sense of self worth and importance as a human being measured by their position on some list might agree, or maybe I am wrong.

The feature continues ¨In the vast world of opera, it is almost impoossible to come up with a credible top ten list´. I couldn´t agree more, with the caveat that I would omit ´almost´ from the previous sentence, so why indulge in such credibility defying nonsense?

So I am curious to know if I am a lone cantankerous voice here, what do other contributors think of lists?

Here´s a few more lists you can add if you get stuck:

1. Top Ten ways to improve the coffers of Amazon.

2. Top ten ways to make Gramophone into a pedestrian publication and rid it of its uniqueness to many customers.

3. Top Ten ways to talk about the same recordings all the time to the detriment of the vast majority of the available catalogue.of lesser known works and recordings.

RE: ´We are all love lists¨

How about top ten curmudgeons?

Now who could possibly top that? Hmmm!

RE: ´We are all love lists¨

I don’t get why people are so list-crazy nowadays. I think a list is sort of an easy way out; a shortcut for consumers to find the “Greatest Of All Time” without having to do any research. But a person cannot learn anything from lists alone. True understanding of music comes through careful listening and reading from musicologists, composers and musicians. For me, lists are simply a means to an end. I quickly look over a list to see any composers or compositions I may have overlooked and that’s about it.

 

Well, I guess lists aren’t so bad if they have some credibility to offer, but it’s too often that they’re unreliable. I used to search “The Greatest Compositions of All Time” on Google in hopes of finding some incredible overlooked music. But the lists I come across seem rushed, as if they slapped them together for fun without any serious commitment towards accurately ranking the works. When I see Shostakovich’s 7th symphony ranked higher than his 8th, 10th and 15th symphonies, I can’t help but think this person has no fully examined Shostakovich’s music enough. His 7th symphony, along with his 1st and 5th symphonies, are his most popular works, but I doubt they were his best. I get the feeling these lists are written by authors who are lazy or by people who have scant knowledge of classical music: they steel from the canon of popular opinion, listing the most popular works and as opposed to actually researching the history of music and seeing for themselves what truly was the best. Not only are these lists often inaccurate, but they’re also quite narrow in scope. How often do you see modern music appearing on these lists? There is a colossal amount of great works just from the second half of the twentieth century alone: the works of Luigi Nono, Stockhausen, Boulez, and Carter are revolutionary but they never appear on any lists. Why?  Sometimes I wonder if popular music magazines / websites are serious about representing all of the greatest music throughout history or are they just catering to the tastes of its consumers.

 

But even with an accurate all-encompassing list of the greatest works of music, I still think a person’s understanding of music’s history, as vast and complex as it is, can only come through painstaking research. Not lists.

frostwalrus

RE: ´We are all love lists¨

Plus lists always encourage pedantry from those people who think they are more knowledgeable than the general population.

Which reminds me...someoneone appears to beleive that Vivaldi's Four Seasons was used in the soundtrack for Kramer versus Kramer. No it wasn't - it was the double mandolin concerto in C.

See what I mean about pedantry?

thttp://gramophone.co.uk/editorial/top-ten-classical-works-used-in-the-mo...

RE: ´We are all love lists¨

Surely the only purpose of lists is to get people all wound up and hopefully inspire debate. Problem is, we're listed-out these days. I expect many of us looked through the recent Gramophone 'top conductors' list, felt our blood pressure begin to rise then shrugged our shoulders and said 'whatever........'.

RE: ´We are all love lists¨

My rule of thumb about lists tends, if I may be tongue-in-cheek in listing it, to be:
1) While of course critical standards are vitally important, once you get beyond a certain level of achievement it's a rather redundant exercise to say that x is superior to y - a statement likely to say much more about the person doing the judgement than about the people/works being judged;
2) This applies to composers - 'who's better, Mozart or Schubert?';
3) And it applies to the art of interpretation: great music is always greater than it can be played, sustaining all sorts of approaches, and there's therefore no definitive reading of, say, Brahms's 2nd Symphony; conductors may be wrong-headed, but unless they're incompetent, they're likely to have some insights which should be considered;
4) In any case, favourites are for people who don't really like things: anyone who can unequivocally name their three favourite symphonies probably doesn't know that many symphonies.

John

RE: ´We are all love lists¨

I hear ye Tagalie, if the purpose of lists was to inspire some kind of rational, worthy debate; I´d be all for them, but in my experience all they do is cause you to say to yourself ´you must be having a laugh!´, send you into a rage and then make you realise there is no point in even saying anything, because it is all utterly pointless. There are no lists without agendas, and on a serious point which frostwalrus alluded to, the near impossibility of opening any music publication these days without being assailed by some idiotic list or other smacks of extreme laziness and simplification on the part of editors filling pages with lists rather than articles, in a desperate bid to be first in the only list that matters, profit margins, by succumbing to the lowest common denominator. Every business exists to make profit, but that doesn´t mean you have to be like all the others, there´s more than one way to skin a cat as it were, and if you play follow the leader rather than doing your own thing, you´ll probably go down all together.

I´ve just read John´s post ´favourites are for people who don´t really like things´. There speaks a true poet. If you like something you will be too busy enjoying it to have time to blab to others about how it is no.4 in your all time top ten.

RE: ´We are all love lists¨

1. Coat hanger

2. Vertigo

3. It Ain't Half Hot Mum

4. Strepsils

5. Nigeria

6. 2

7. Socks

8. Hangover Square

9. Extension plug

10. Liszt

RE: ´We are all love lists¨

Marvellous, that list makes as much sense, and is far more entertaining, than any of Gramophone´s Top Tens.

RE: ´We are all love lists¨

 

Dubrob - in the light of this and other recent debates on subjectiveness v. objectiveness and favourite symphonists etc...I have had a brainwave.

Suppose we get you, Tagalie, Frostwalrus, Chriswaldren, Dave F and myself and all the other people who regularly contibute to the forum to form a body called OFCOMP. The purpose of this body is to regulate the work of composers. I am sure we will be able to get funding from somewhere!

We will use a simple tick-sheet set of objective criteria to judge a new symphony or orchestral work.  Does the symphony have the following:

  1. a clear three or four part structure
  2. an introduction,exposition, development, recapitulation and coda in the first movement
  3. an expressive slow movement
  4. an inventive scherzo
  5. a suitable finale
  6. is there opportunity for solo display
  7. does the piece include a variety of sounds/colours/moods
  8. does the piece make a valid contribution to symphonic literature

Ah yes Mr. Ambrose Obscure, your symphony has passed the test and has been graded 'good, with elements of outstanding'. You will be listed in the index to 'The 21st Century symphony'. In fact, you may even become a footnote. Overall Mr. Obscure you represent good value for taxpayers' money!

Then of course we rank composers and draw up league tables - premiership, championship, developing composers, hopefuls and also-rans.

We would of course be able to influence bodies such as BBC as we would have suitable authority. We could 'dictate' or 'suggest' in pc speak, the content of concerts and lists in various publications. We could become an undisputed authority!

Partsong

 

Fraz Jo - disapntd. Bn ringin this grl al week. No ansr...looks lke she changed her mnd. O well...Ldwg...

RE: ´We are all love lists¨

SimonSundstein wrote:

1. Coat hanger

2. Vertigo

3. It Ain't Half Hot Mum

4. Strepsils

5. Nigeria

6. 2

7. Socks

8. Hangover Square

9. Extension plug

10. Liszt

Is that your shopping liszt?

I could list the number of times I've participated in arguments about lists but I don't see the point because:

1. Lists tend to be subjective rather than objective;

2. It's difficult to be objective in a forum where some think Solti was great;

3. It only leads to bitter arguments;

4. It is rare for me to think of a list of at least ten items or points.

I'll leave it at that because I'm feeling listless!

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