Greatest Orchestrators.....

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Greatest Orchestrators.....

I'll start the ball rolling with Berlioz (obvious choice), Mahler (absolutely astounding in this department), Wagner (also astounding), Mozart (put on the Magic Flute if you aren't convinced) and Tchaikovsky (not really my cup of tea, but hats off all the same).

There are undoubtedly others........Bach, who wouldn't usually feature in this discussion, showed himself to be a truly masterful orchestrator in his passions and cantatas. Rimsky-Korsakov is often mentioned as a great, and highly influential orchestrator, but I don't really feel entitled to add him to the list as I only know the odd piece by him (though brilliantly orchestrated). Late Verdi might be another addition: super-refined and highly imaginative used of instruments and colours in Falstaff, for instance. Schubert, generally a pretty conventional "classical" orchestrator, put trombones on the map in his Ninth symphony..........

Who else? I must have missed quite a few..........

The most imaginative...neglected or what?

It's getting too late here, so I have to add only one name you missed, Jane, but who is arguably the best, if not the most imaginative, creative and resourceful: RAVEL!

The rest to follow...

Best.

Parla

Bruckner was an amazing

Bruckner was an amazing orchestrator, not in the sense of being a virtuoso, but in the sense of having come up with an incredibly satisfactory and original use of the orchestra that fits so well his own music. I don't know the way Bruckner composed, whether he composed for the piano and then orchestrated or composed directly for the orchestra. Either way just imagine Brahms orchestration for Bruckner's music! Oh dear, that wouldn't work...

I think his orchestration is like the actual music: big but simple, with all these antiphonic games between groups of the orchestra, that -as have been said- seem more related to the baroque than to the romantic orchestra.

But it is not all big, just listen to that clarinet raising over the strings in the famous adagio of his seventh symphony: pure magic!

Yes, I was tempted to mention

Yes, I was tempted to mention Bruckner. I hoped someone else would bring him up.....

Certainly, he had a unique and thoroughly coherent approach to orchestration. Plenty of gorgeous, delicate woodwind writing. Along with Wagner, or perhaps I should say following Wagner, he was also a pioneer of the modern symphony orchestra with a huge brass and wind section. The eighth symphony requires: triple woodwind, a contrabassoon, eight horns, three trumpets, three trombones, four Wagner tubas, a contrabass tuba.......and three harps.

I am pretty sure he

I am pretty sure he orchestrated after writing a short score. (Harnoncourt, in his lecture added to his recording of the Ninth, claims Bruckner actually finished "composing" the Ninth, but didn't finish "instrumentating" it. The finished composition was then looted by various people after his death. The manuscript pages, taken to be nothing but doodles and sketches, were spread across the globe........)

Orchestrators

Well Bruckner certainly liked his brass!!

For me though Tchaikovsky, Strauss, Elgar.

 

PS I suppose I shouldn't repeat the quote (who made it?) that Bolero was orchestration without music!

 

Nick

Yes, Richard Strauss is well

Yes, Richard Strauss is well worth a mention in this context. Perhaps an even better orchestrator than he was a composer (and actually I rate him pretty highly in that regard). Parla is right to nominate Ravel. Wagner wasn't bad, and come to that, nor was Puccini. They were both able to use their orchestras to support their writing for voices so effectively. Just as Bruckner did to allow his symphonic ideas to blossom - if some of us are addicted to the grandeur in much of his writing, the successful orchestration is a large part of the reason.

33lp wrote:

33lp wrote:

Well Bruckner certainly liked his brass!!

For me though Tchaikovsky, Strauss, Elgar.

Nick

Elgar? That's out of my range, a bit. I'll take your word for it.......

Strauss - definitely. No question.

pgraber wrote:

pgraber wrote:

Yes, Richard Strauss is well worth a mention in this context. Perhaps an even better orchestrator than he was a composer (and actually I rate him pretty highly in that regard). Parla is right to nominate Ravel. Wagner wasn't bad, and come to that, nor was Puccini......

I've seen this before about Strauss......and never really understood it. Is there really any question about his greatness? The operas, the tone poems, the lieder, the later stuff (metamorphosen etc)......If he isn't great, what's the underlying criticism?

pgraber wrote:

pgraber wrote:

Yes, Richard Strauss is well worth a mention in this context. Perhaps an even better orchestrator than he was a composer

 

I can fully agree with that. I think it would be true of Ravel too. His Daphnis et Chloé is a proper virtuosistic example, and a joy at that. But the actual music....

33lp wrote:

33lp wrote:

Well Bruckner certainly liked his brass!!

For me though Tchaikovsky, Strauss, Elgar.

 

 

Tchaikovsky did like his brass!

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