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#379361 - 01/26/09 07:02 AM Re: Why did the Composer Era die out and why don't we have great composers today?
Toddo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/05/08
Posts: 67
Loc: Sydney, Australia.
 Quote:
Originally posted by wr:
People have been finding the source of atonal music in everyone from Bach all the way through Wagner (by way of Liszt), and probably many others I haven't heard about.

I think an equally valid explanation is that the eventual widespread adoption of equal temperament inevitably enabled composers to write more and more chromatic music, relative to the past where tuning still had a strong effect on how chromatic writing sounded. Basically, equal temperament made the sound of the notes and keys so homogenized that the old sonically-based "pull" to tonal writing ceased to have much effect. Composers, being the liberated and free-thinking souls that they are, started exploring what could be done with equal temperament, and inevitably, atonal music was a result. Well, of course, everything else was changing too, and huge cultural changes and what happened in the other arts also helped shape the direction.

But, OTOH, I think the specific method that Schoenberg invented, the 12-tone method, was not nearly as inevitable as was atonality more generally, and a lot of trouble came about when it and its serialist children got vastly over-hyped as the one and only "solution" to the question of how to compose modern music. And hyped quite aggressively. There's still a really good social history about how that happened still waiting to be written. [/b]
Some good points there. I totally agree with your last paragraph, it's what I was trying to say in my post.

 Quote:
Originally posted by raidenciv:
I think the simple answer to the OP is that; there just isn't the same audience for classical music anymore. Hence no more 'great' composers.

Too simple?. [/b]
Kind of. I would suggest it is the other way around. No contemporary great composers (in the traditional "classical" mould) to shine a focus on great new music and therefore a lack of audience wanting to here it.

There is an audience for classical music, I see it every day at work and on this forum, but classical in the traditional sense (which nowadays seems to mean anything before the a-tonal nonsense took off which is approximately WW1). People love a melody, something they can hum or sing to in their cars or homes or wherever. The contemporary stuff which is being put out these days (with the exception of some film music) is usually quite the opposite unfortunately.

Also I think no-one is encouraged to improvise in the "classical" way which was of course the norm in the hey-day of the great composers.
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#379362 - 01/26/09 08:25 AM Re: Why did the Composer Era die out and why don't we have great composers today?
izaldu Offline
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Loc:
Very interesting thread indeed.

I personally don't know Beethoven's "method", as i have no knowledge of theory or composition.

Therefore i do not have anything a priori against atonality. I liked Prokofiev ever sonce i heard his music for the first time, and i don't think he sounds much like Beethoven.

So it's not prejudice i have against "contemporary" music. It just does not make me feel anything, 90% of the times.

If atonality is just a method to get to a certain goal, and a new one, i think so far it's not developed well enough to make this new language useful to a lot of people. It just seems to have a very limited range in terms of transmitting feelings , emotions, the listener can relate to.

I do like Schoenberg , i loved that Rautavaara posted in this thread, but some of the stuff that goes by the name of contemporary music is just "experimental nonsense" to me.

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#379363 - 01/26/09 06:59 PM Re: Why did the Composer Era die out and why don't we have great composers today?
Mocheol Offline
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Registered: 12/16/08
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Loc: Dublin, Ireland
Proteus,s point [previous page] is a good one concerning specialized education.
Many early composers knew little else but music and their general education compared to contemporary standards would have been poor.
Is it today that broadly based educational curricula are failing to educate gifted individuals in specific skills?
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#379364 - 01/26/09 07:50 PM Re: Why did the Composer Era die out and why don't we have great composers today?
Toddo Offline
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Registered: 04/05/08
Posts: 67
Loc: Sydney, Australia.
 Quote:
Originally posted by Mocheol:
Proteus,s point [previous page] is a good one concerning specialized education.
Many early composers knew little else but music and their general education compared to contemporary standards would have been poor.
Is it today that broadly based educational curricula are failing to educate gifted individuals in specific skills? [/b]
Yes, that is quite possible. Good thought. Perhaps we see the similar mono-focussed training in the tennis players of today. Players like the Williams sisters who's father in the past has admitted to choosing their career even before they were born and training them to play before they could even ride a bike.

I am amazed at how many father (trainer)-daughter (player) combinations there seem to be in tennis. Makes me think of the stories of Mozart and Beethoven and their task-master fathers.
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#379365 - 01/28/09 05:14 PM Re: Why did the Composer Era die out and why don't we have great composers today?
Mocheol Offline
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Registered: 12/16/08
Posts: 527
Loc: Dublin, Ireland
The role of fathers is much diminished in society today and perhaps this may have something to do with it as well.
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#379366 - 01/29/09 12:59 AM Re: Why did the Composer Era die out and why don't we have great composers today?
rrb Offline
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Registered: 12/17/08
Posts: 212
Loc: Bend, USA
@ Toddo

"I think Beethoven could be 'blamed' for the more recent lack of tonality. He really pushed the boundaries. Even today a lot of people don't get what he was trying to do. I think early 20th C composers thought that you either had to baffle the audience (al-la Beethoven) to be considered great."

Beethoven surely pushed the boundaries and his final trio of sonatas challenges the listener (the interpreter even more) in a way that most pieces don't. Yet we know instinctively that it is worth meeting the challenge.

The words in your post that bother me are 'baffle the audience a-la Beethoven'. I hope, and assume you did not mean to imply that Beethoven deliberately set out to 'baffle' so maybe I am complaining merely about an unfortunate choice of word.

Actually, Beethoven went to great lengths to avoid baffling an interpreter of these sonatas. Has there ever been more explicit instructions written in the score by a composer as to how a piece should be played (even if these are more often than not observed in the breach)?

Op 109-111 will probably never be challenged by any composer of piano music. But this is not a competition. Much great piano music has since and can today be written.

In my opinion, what went wrong in the 20th Century is not the adoption of atonality as such, but having lost sight of the ultimate goal of music, which is to elicit an emotional response in the listener. The means by which one does this are irrelevant. To give one example, Alban Berg's Violin Concerto is written within the 12-tone struture, yet is devatatingly involving.
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#379367 - 01/29/09 06:03 AM Re: Why did the Composer Era die out and why don't we have great composers today?
izaldu Offline
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Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 1248
Loc:
 Quote:
Originally posted by rrb:

In my opinion, what went wrong in the 20th Century is not the adoption of atonality as such, but having lost sight of the ultimate goal of music, which is to elicit an emotional response in the listener. The means by which one does this are irrelevant. [/b]
i totally agree

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#379368 - 01/29/09 06:55 PM Re: Why did the Composer Era die out and why don't we have great composers today?
Toddo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/05/08
Posts: 67
Loc: Sydney, Australia.
 Quote:
Originally posted by rrb:
@ Toddo

"I think Beethoven could be 'blamed' for the more recent lack of tonality. He really pushed the boundaries. Even today a lot of people don't get what he was trying to do. I think early 20th C composers thought that you either had to baffle the audience (al-la Beethoven) to be considered great."

Beethoven surely pushed the boundaries and his final trio of sonatas challenges the listener (the interpreter even more) in a way that most pieces don't. Yet we know instinctively that it is worth meeting the challenge.

The words in your post that bother me are 'baffle the audience a-la Beethoven'. I hope, and assume you did not mean to imply that Beethoven deliberately set out to 'baffle' so maybe I am complaining merely about an unfortunate choice of word.

Actually, Beethoven went to great lengths to avoid baffling an interpreter of these sonatas. Has there ever been more explicit instructions written in the score by a composer as to how a piece should be played (even if these are more often than not observed in the breach)?

Op 109-111 will probably never be challenged by any composer of piano music. But this is not a competition. Much great piano music has since and can today be written.[/b]
Sorry rrb, Whilst I don't think it was his intention (from what I've read) to baffle the audience, it apparently did. I seem to remember a quote where he was reported to have said something like "It's not for you, it's for future generations (to understand)'. I'm not sure that he didn't baffle them toward the end. Certainly with his string quartets, many people of the day thought he'd lost his marbles.

As for the piano music, I understand he intentionally wrote difficult music to be out of the reach of the average player.


 Quote:
Originally posted by rrb:
In my opinion, what went wrong in the 20th Century is not the adoption of atonality as such, but having lost sight of the ultimate goal of music, which is to elicit an emotional response in the listener. The means by which one does this are irrelevant...[/b]
I wholeheartedly agree with you here. Well said
_________________________
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do not only practice your art,
but endeavor also to fathom it's inner meaning;
it deserves this effort."

Ludwig van Beethoven 1770-1827

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#1237770 - 07/26/09 06:25 PM Re: Why did the Composer Era die out and why don't we have great composers today? [Re: wr]
Swordfish Offline
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Registered: 08/06/08
Posts: 19
Loc: Oregon
I don't believe anyone has mentioned Nicholai Kapustin yet, but he is still alive. His teacher was a student of Felix Blumenfeld, the same pianist who taught Horowitz.

I've also heard a Scriabin imitator over the classical station on the radio that sounded really interesting, but whose name I can't recall.

As for the reason the Composer Era died out:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=13D1YY_BvWU

You have a quartet riding on a helicopter with someone with Down Syndrome yodeling. And this is from Stockhausen, supposed to be the greatest of the contemporary composers.

Even Samuel Barber sounded his best before he started shifting to atonality.

I know that music in this vein is intellectually grounded, but it is too unbearable to listen.

My teacher likened it to an intelligent but really, really ugly girl. It's great she is smart and everything, but unfortunately there are equally intelligent and prettier girls found in their predecessors such as Chopin and Rachmaninoff (their music I mean).

It's like the Hollywood love-triangle scenario involving two girls: one pretty but vapid, the other ugly but smart and with a great personality.

Then the pretty girl is also intelligent and with a wonderful personality, representing the romantic, baroque, and classical era composers, there's literally no reason to give the others, representing the majority (not all) of the contemporary composers the time of day.


Edited by Swordfish (07/26/09 06:26 PM)

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#1237772 - 07/26/09 06:27 PM Re: Why did the Composer Era die out and why don't we have great composers today? [Re: Swordfish]
eweiss Offline
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Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 2393
Loc: Beautiful San Diego, CA
The word "great" in relation to "composers" is subjective. One person's great composer is another's poor one.
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#1237782 - 07/26/09 07:10 PM Re: Why did the Composer Era die out and why don't we have great composers today? [Re: eweiss]
sotto voce Offline
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Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
Originally Posted By: eweiss
The word "great" in relation to "composers" is subjective. One person's great composer is another's poor one.

To the same extent that beauty is subjective. Swordfish speaks of "ugly" girls; one person's ugly is another's beauty.

This thread has been dead for six months, and probably should have been allowed to rest in peace.

Steven
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"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#1237803 - 07/26/09 07:57 PM Re: Why did the Composer Era die out and why don't we have great composers today? [Re: sotto voce]
rrb Offline
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Registered: 12/17/08
Posts: 212
Loc: Bend, USA
Originally Posted By: sotto voce
To the same extent that beauty is subjective. Swordfish speaks of "ugly" girls; one person's ugly is another's beauty.

On the subject of girls, this assertion is not true, at least according to the sociologists who waste everyone's tax $$'s conducting surveys. It seems there is strong evidence that one man's beautiful girl is probably another man's beautiful girl. (And it is supposed to work the other way as well. One woman's dishy guy is likely to be another woman's dishy guy.)

Originally Posted By: sotto voce
This thread has been dead for six months, and probably should have been allowed to rest in peace

I can sympathise with this. But if we are now going to claim that beauty is subjective, the implication being this translates to music, then the analogy with sexual appeal, according to the evidence, is not going to cut it.

I do believe there is a broad consensus as to what beauty is, whether one refers to a girl, a guy, a painting or a piece of music.

Of course, not all great music is 'beautiful' in the usual sense of the word, so there is still room for debate. Nevertheless, I strongly believe that a great piece of music will find its public, even if it takes a while. We argue a lot in this forum about whether piece A is more appealing than piece B, but usually A and B both refer to music that is generally perceived as 'of significance'.
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#1237846 - 07/26/09 09:15 PM Re: Why did the Composer Era die out and why don't we have great composers today? [Re: rrb]
sotto voce Offline
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Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
Of course there's consensus, at least within a given cultural milieu. Still, the standards of different cultures can (and do) certainly vary greatly.

Steven
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#1238127 - 07/27/09 12:15 PM Re: Why did the Composer Era die out and why don't we have great composers today? [Re: sotto voce]
J Cortese Offline
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Registered: 07/20/09
Posts: 357
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
I'd second John Williams and Howard Shore as today's classical composers in EXACTLY the same vein as those of previous centuries. I remember seeing all of those movies with the splashy scores like "Star Wars," "Raiders," and the Lord of the Rings movies. The entire theater would pile out into the mall, several hundred people, and make a beeline straight for the music store to go get the CD and stick it in the car on the way home.

Also, I can't disqualify popular composers at ALL. Webb, Lennon/McCartney, Paul Simon, Lennox, Perry/Schon, Carly Simon, Billy Joel, Carole King, Barry Gibb, even Giorgio Moroder ... there are quite a few of them. It's hard to tell which ones will be remembered in four hundred years (although L/McC and Paul Simon are good bets), but some will.

Also, recall that Bach died in obscurity and his wife died about a decade later in total poverty. Mozart got dumped into a potter's field. Their music definitely DID pass out of fashion. Many of the people now considered great were only great after someone rediscovered them 150 years after they died.
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#1238626 - 07/28/09 02:08 AM Re: Why did the Composer Era die out and why don't we have great composers today? [Re: rrb]
wr Offline
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Registered: 11/23/07
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Originally Posted By: rrb


I do believe there is a broad consensus as to what beauty is, whether one refers to a girl, a guy, a painting or a piece of music.



It's just a broad consensus about where the middle of the road lies.

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#1238689 - 07/28/09 06:11 AM Re: Why did the Composer Era die out and why don't we have great composers today? [Re: J Cortese]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Originally Posted By: J Cortese

Also, recall that Bach died in obscurity and his wife died about a decade later in total poverty. Mozart got dumped into a potter's field. Their music definitely DID pass out of fashion. Many of the people now considered great were only great after someone rediscovered them 150 years after they died.
Who 'rediscovered' Mozart? His burial was in line with the practice of the day.
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#1238874 - 07/28/09 12:48 PM Re: Why did the Composer Era die out and why don't we have great composers today? [Re: keyboardklutz]
J Cortese Offline
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Registered: 07/20/09
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Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
Originally Posted By: J Cortese

Also, recall that Bach died in obscurity and his wife died about a decade later in total poverty. Mozart got dumped into a potter's field. Their music definitely DID pass out of fashion. Many of the people now considered great were only great after someone rediscovered them 150 years after they died.
Who 'rediscovered' Mozart? His burial was in line with the practice of the day.


In line with the practice of the day for people without a whole lot of money. We think of these guys as "fame-and-fortune" types nowdays because we have a few centuries of perspective, but even the best geniuses had no guarantee of either.

In order to determine what's immortal, you need to sit by for a bit and wait to see when things start dropping dead. That takes time. There's plenty of composers of that level around today, I have no doubt. We just lack the perspective of a hundred or so years to be able to tell them apart just yet. That's usually how it is; the ones who are lauded, well-paid, and loved from start to finish in their own lifetimes are pretty rare.
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#1239064 - 07/28/09 04:49 PM Re: Why did the Composer Era die out and why don't we have great composers today? [Re: J Cortese]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Do your research. Mozart's burial was perfectly usual under the circumstances. He wasn't treated as a pauper. Also, his fame was never eclipsed from the Magic Flute onwards.
Quote:
In brief: much of Mozart's not inconsiderable income during the last years in Vienna can be documented; it is less easy to document his outgo. The evidence suggests, however, that Mozart essentially lived at the level of his income. When from 1788 on, he was confronted with uncertain
income and unexpected increases in expenses (chiefly the result of Constanze's illness), he elected to supplement his income by borrowing rather than by cutting back on his standard of living. Later, even though his prospects had substantially improved, anxiety over his financial situation hung on. In short, Mozart often felt himself strapped for ready cash in his last years, but poor he was not, nor did he ever regard himself as such.
from http://www.aproposmozart.com/BCC%20--%20Review%20of%20M.%20in%20Wien.pdf
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#1239333 - 07/28/09 11:41 PM Re: Why did the Composer Era die out and why don't we have great composers today? [Re: keyboardklutz]
carey Offline
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Per J Cortese - "Also, recall that Bach died in obscurity and his wife died about a decade later in total poverty. Mozart got dumped into a potter's field. Their music definitely DID pass out of fashion. Many of the people now considered great were only great after someone rediscovered them 150 years after they died."

Just to set the record straight, Mozart's music continued to be popular well after his death - and while Bach's music was considered "old fashioned" and was largely forgotten in the second half of the 18th century, in 1792 a young Beethoven caused a sensation in musical circles in Vienna by playing preludes and fugues from the WTC. And it was Mendelssohn who championed performances of Bach's major choral works in the early 19th century, conducting the St. Matthew Passion in 1829 in Berlin.







Edited by carey (07/29/09 12:01 AM)
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#1239357 - 07/29/09 12:30 AM Re: Why did the Composer Era die out and why don't we have great composers today? [Re: carey]
J Cortese Offline
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Um, I have done my research. The man struggled to pay his bills all his life, and yes, Bach WAS out of fashion by the time he died. There's no "one person" who rediscovered anyone's works any more than there is one person who rediscovered anything that goes from out-of-fashion to retro-chic to classic.

And the fact remains: there are great composers around nowdays, we simply may not yet know who they are. We may also have a skewed idea of what constitutes appropriate audience behavior in the Presence of Great Works of Aht. We may think that great composers are greeted with attentive silence and polite clapping at the end. God knows that's not how early operas were received. Shouts, jeers, puking, throwing things ... pretty much all the basics of rock-concert behavior were pretty common. It makes me wonder if in a hundred years, people aren't going to put on their best formal clothing to go listen to minutely perfect renditions of "Bohemian Rhapsody" while shushing anyone uncouth enough to whisper during the cadenzas.

The great composers were not immortal before they died, for pete's sake. They came and went, struggled to pay their bills, and wrote commonly popular stuff. Until time passes, there is just no way to say that there are no centuries-old legends around today. Of course there aren't. Centuries haven't passed yet.
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#1239367 - 07/29/09 01:06 AM Re: Why did the Composer Era die out and why don't we have great composers today? [Re: J Cortese]
ChopinLives81 Offline
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wow I honestly thought this thread died months ago...lol
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#1239373 - 07/29/09 01:30 AM Re: Why did the Composer Era die out and why don't we have great composers today? [Re: ChopinLives81]
sotto voce Offline
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Originally Posted By: ChopinLives81
wow I honestly thought this thread died months ago...lol

It died in obscurity, went out of fashion and was then rediscovered. Insufficient time has passed to determine whether it's immortal. smile

Steven
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#1239438 - 07/29/09 06:04 AM Re: Why did the Composer Era die out and why don't we have great composers today? [Re: J Cortese]
wr Offline
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Registered: 11/23/07
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Originally Posted By: J Cortese

And the fact remains: there are great composers around nowdays, we simply may not yet know who they are.


Why is that a "fact"? There's absolutely no certainty at all that the particular cultural forces and matrix that produced what we call the "great composers" in Western art music is still in existence. I tend to think it isn't.

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#1239450 - 07/29/09 07:11 AM Re: Why did the Composer Era die out and why don't we have great composers today? [Re: sotto voce]
izaldu Offline
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Loc:
Originally Posted By: sotto voce
Originally Posted By: ChopinLives81
wow I honestly thought this thread died months ago...lol

It died in obscurity, went out of fashion and was then rediscovered. Insufficient time has passed to determine whether it's immortal. smile

Steven


hahah!

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#1240091 - 07/29/09 11:25 PM Re: Why did the Composer Era die out and why don't we have great composers today? [Re: izaldu]
carey Offline
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"It died in obscurity, went out of fashion and was then rediscovered. Insufficient time has passed to determine whether it's immortal."

Bravo Steven !!
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#1410755 - 04/04/10 03:51 PM Re: Why did the Composer Era die out and why don't we have g [Re: ChopinLives81]
Hjalmar Jakobsson Offline
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Registered: 10/31/09
Posts: 33
Loc: SWE
i don't agree! I think that there are many good composers today and some of them are really brilliant. I think that John Williams is one of the best musicians and composers ever and lives now:)
But I also have to say that there are more musicians that compose good music than musicians who compose classical music today. I mean, there are many guys who compose great music that ain't classical music. for example, I love Steve Vai, Jeff Beck, Joe Satriani, Hed Kandi, T-Ride, Winger, Ozzy Osbourne...

those guys aren't classical but they did some really good music.

The guy who composed the music for T-RIDE was a rock guy but their songs are probably some of the best I've heard in my life and I think that's pretty cool; I would rank the rock band T-Ride on the exact same level as Mozart and Beethoven!

Conclusion: There are extremely many great composers today!

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#1410760 - 04/04/10 04:02 PM Re: Why did the Composer Era die out and why don't we have g [Re: ChopinLives81]
Hjalmar Jakobsson Offline
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Loc: SWE
I want to add something of GGRRRRREEEAAAATTT importance!!!

I don't know if many people here listens to many other musics styles than classical. Anyway, I do, and I have to say that there is something that we are missing in this thread. I listen to an extremely wide range of music styles. I listen to music styles from deep club techno & house to heavy rock and mozart and I have to say that there is more composing in modern music than you might think! A great example is that: I tried to write some great techno music the other that and it was really, really hard to write something that sounded good.
Many people have never heard great techno (most people think that it is mm, ts, mm, ts, mm, ts, mm, ts) but great techno is awesome and it's also very hard to write and what I want to say with this post is that we often don't think these music styles when we talk composing.

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#1410779 - 04/04/10 04:23 PM Re: Why did the Composer Era die out and why don't we have g [Re: Hjalmar Jakobsson]
acortot Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/28/07
Posts: 423
Loc: Italy
remove conservatories and institutionalized work from classical music and substitute for private musicians and teachers who actually work for an audience and you might get better compositions.
_________________________
rhythm must be inborn

An Article on the unusual makeup of original Pleyel hammers, during Chopin's lifetime:

http://acortot.blogspot.it/2012/07/pleyel-hammers-in-chopin-era-i-martelli.html

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#1410785 - 04/04/10 04:30 PM Re: Why did the Composer Era die out and why don't we have g [Re: sotto voce]
Horowitzian Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
Originally Posted By: sotto voce
Originally Posted By: ChopinLives81
wow I honestly thought this thread died months ago...lol

It died in obscurity, went out of fashion and was then rediscovered. Insufficient time has passed to determine whether it's immortal. smile

Steven


Eh, looks like someone decided to give it another whirl.
_________________________
Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.

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#1410998 - 04/04/10 09:33 PM Re: Why did the Composer Era die out and why don't we have g [Re: Horowitzian]
Orange Soda King Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/09
Posts: 6035
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky, United S...
Space time continuim bump???

Lol, it would be awesome to have composers today composing things at the level of Chopin and Beethoven.

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