Choose one kind of output from one composer

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Choose one kind of output from one composer

If you had to choose one body of work by the same composer in the same form, excluding opera, what would it be? E.g. Bach cantatas, Mozart piano concerti, Beethoven string quartets, Bruckner symphonies, etc.

RE: Choose one kind of output from one composer

Which is the best part of your body, Ian? These kind of questions destroy any possible essence of Classical Music. Instead of being as inclusive as possible, we try to isolate works or groups of works and so on.

Just for your Q & I, how can you follow or much more appreciate e.g. Bach's Cantatas, if you have no idea of his fugues (there are plenty of those in his Cantatas). Likewise, how can you comprehend Mozart's Piano Concerti without indulging in his actual piano writing through his Piano Sonatas, his Piano Trios or his Piano Quartets.

In every major composer, every single work counts. If you are really interested in this Music, be inclusive to  the greatest possible extent. Otherwise, you'll be mislead, you'll waste precious time and you'll have a very limited picture of the composer in question.

Anyway, I'm sure quite a few will come with enough replies of the ones you wish to see, but I found myself compelled to mention all the above, since I have passed through all these stages and I know the ramifications of any phase...

Parla 

RE: Choose one kind of output from one composer

I see the Designated Thread Destroyer is already infecting this one.

It's an interesting game Ian, also played as "I'd give up all the X's of such-and-such a composer for his Y"

In my case it would play out as follows:

The Haydn masses

The Mozart piano concerti

The Brahms symphonies

Messiaen's organ music

It can become a little more interesting if you try to narrow it down to one work as a 'keeper'. Hanging on to one body of work is easy in some cases, e.g. the Sibelius symphonies.

RE: Choose one kind of output from one composer

Hi Ian,

For the sake of some fun here (though I do agree with the serious comments by Parla to some extent):

Well, off the top of my head (and it's time for me to start on dinner here):

Mozart: his operas (sorry Tag! LOL Though I do also enjoy his piano concertos, symphonies, etc.)

Sibelius: symphonies (and I do also enjoy some of his songs!)

Janacek: Augh! There's so much that I enjoy of his music! String quartets vs. his piano music, vs. things like his mass and Sinfonietta, and his operas! Oh dear! I'm getting a headache! LOL Augh! I think that I'll have to pass here!

Beethoven: There's another-sonatas, symphonies, quartets! Probably, for me, it would be a struggle betwee his piano sonatas and his quartets [Sorry, that's as good as you're getting from me!].

Bach: ???? Too many amazing pieces of music here...sorry, my brain just left me from trying to figure out this one!

Ian, let me ask you a question here. Are there any particular composers whose music you are exploring or are wanting to explore? Is this your reason for this poster by any chance? So, please tell us, who or what kinds of music are fascinating to you lately? I'm sure that people (many here that know much more about music than I do too) would be happy to make suggestions!

Best wishes (and off to start on my dinner),

Petra

 

 

RE: Choose one kind of output from one composer

You see, Ian, from the answer of Petra, at least, where you're leading your search. Practically, either to nowhere or to go astray.

Taking as an example Tagalie's suggestion of Haydn's masses. While, by all means, the Masses are of prime importance and they constitute brilliant choral music, how on earth can we exclude the Piano Trios, the String Quartets and the Symphonies, three genres which Haydn either invented (the former two) or he advanced in the established form we know since then (the Symphony) and they constitute the most essential listening of the whole opus of the composer?

Parla

RE: Choose one kind of output from one composer

tagalie wrote:

In my case it would play out as follows:

The Brahms symphonies.

It can become a little more interesting if you try to narrow it down to one work as a 'keeper'. Hanging on to one body of work is easy in some cases, e.g. the Sibelius symphonies.

Tagalie, why the symphonies from Brahms? I have my own personal issues with Brahms (I go through phases when I feel very strongly he deserves a place at the top table than Dvorak, or when I am feeling extremely perverse, Liszt). I think probably the Brahms I enjoy most is the chamber music composer - he does not seem to be trying quite so hard.

If it were a head to head I put up Dvorak's 7th symphony against any of Brahms and feel it was an even match. Maybe the Brahms 4th, which for me presents the most complex experience, would be a stronger adversary.

Naupilus

RE: Choose one kind of output from one composer

Many composers play this game with their own music,for instance Mozart composed five (or six)violin concertos yet nothing for cello. Mahler wrote symphonies and songs,you would think he would have been tempted to throw off an odd concerto.He had no difficulty writing for solo voice,so why not?
Prokofiev and Shostakovitch were pretty comprehensive in their opus as was Dvorak.A lyrical composer such as Schubert did not compose a concerto and Bartok not a symphony,Stravinsky did.

I guess it is to do with the composing process that determines who writes what.Does the composer make a conscious decision,I think maybe not.

RE: Choose one kind of output from one composer

History Man wrote:

A lyrical composer such as Schubert did not compose a concerto and Bartok not a symphony,Stravinsky did. I guess it is to do with the composing process that determines who writes what.Does the composer make a conscious decision,I think maybe not.

I think the reason why Schubert didn't write a piano concerto was that he wrote in the age when composers wrote concertos to demonstrate their own skill as soloists (qv Beethoven) - and he wasn't skilled enough as a pianist.

More generally, of course, what determines who writes what is as much to do with the laws of supply and demand as anything like the 'the composing process' (whatever that is). So Stravinsky wrote the Circus Polka because Barnum and  Bailey's paid him to...

 

RE: Choose one kind of output from one composer

So, as I was afraid, the thread has been led astray to different paths.

Anyway, History Man, yes, at least the great composers did make a conscious decision of what exactly they have to compose. I have mentioned, in another thread, that, among the virtues of a composer, following the rules of composition, is the choice of the format or the genre of the composition in his mind. This requires great and deep knowledge of the rules of music, of the instruments and the different genres. So, the op. 111 of Beethoven couldn't be anything else than a Piano Sonata, his Fifth Symphony couldn't have any effect so powerful in any other format (Liszt transcribed it for Piano, but...it's just something else, good for the pianists).

So, if Mozart didn't compose anything substantive (he compose some minor works) for the cello, it was because the instrument didn't fall in the scope of his compositions. Mahler had a very broad vision for his works, so a concerto could not do it. Wagner was even worse. Operatic composers have a specific scope for their works, that could not work outside the Opera House.

Prokofiev and Shostakovich were more "comprehensive", in a way. Prokofiev didn't write too many Chamber works and the few he composed were not his forte. He didn't write a Cello Concerto too. Shostakovich wrote 15 String Quartets, but only one Piano Quintet, no PIano Quartet and two PIano Trios, no music for String Orchestra. So, there is no particular pattern, but the actual scope of the composer on how the work can function better.

As for the "lyrical" Schubert (is lyrical his "Unfinished"?), he didn't write Concertos, because he didn't envisage his works in this format. However, there are few not very successful compositions for Violin and String Orchestra and Violin and Orchestra (A concert Piece). Whether he was a good pianist or not, one has to judge his immense Piano Works, some of the very top in the Piano repertory (that he performed them too), his most brilliant Piano Trios (arguably the best in this genre) and his "Trout" Quintet (where he performed himself the quite brilliant Piano part).

Of course, Craig is right as far as the "commissioned" works, but, even in these cases, the composer had to envisage how, in his scope, the work will work better. For example, the "Trout" Quintet was asked to be a single Variations movement, but Schubert thought otherwise and he composed a 40 minute work, in five movements!

Parla

RE: Choose one kind of output from one composer

parla wrote:

Prokofiev and Shostakovich were more "comprehensive", in a way. Prokofiev didn't write too many Chamber works and the few he composed were not his forte. He didn't write a Cello Concerto too.

The Sinfonia Concertante op. 125? No, he didn't call it a cello concerto but it's a reworking of a piece in the same key we he entitled Cello Concerto.

RE: Choose one kind of output from one composer

Correct, Tagalie! I have already forgotten it. It should be mentioned in the "forgotten, neglected and underrated masterpieces" thread. It was one of Rostropovich's great works he performed occasionally.

Parla

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