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#2295341 - 06/26/14 02:09 PM The 5 Most Original Keyboard Composers
rbeltz48 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/17/13
Posts: 9
Loc: Lansing, Michigan, USA
When I attended music school in the late 1960s/early 1970s, a piano performance major came up with some keyboard composer trivia.

Who were the 5 most original keyboard composers in the history of music?

I can only remember three of them: Chopin, Debussy and Bartok. Can anyone come up with the other two?

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#2295343 - 06/26/14 02:14 PM Re: The 5 Most Original Keyboard Composers [Re: rbeltz48]
doctor S Online   content
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Registered: 05/27/12
Posts: 148
Loc: Western PA
Prokofiev? Ravel?
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#2295346 - 06/26/14 02:20 PM Re: The 5 Most Original Keyboard Composers [Re: rbeltz48]
Vid Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/01
Posts: 885
Loc: Vancouver, B.C.
Bach, Beethoven?
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#2295349 - 06/26/14 02:26 PM Re: The 5 Most Original Keyboard Composers [Re: rbeltz48]
Parks Offline
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Registered: 03/05/14
Posts: 441
Loc: Northern CA
Scarlatti, John Bull?
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"Genius is nothing more than an extraordinary capacity for patience."
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#2295353 - 06/26/14 02:31 PM Re: The 5 Most Original Keyboard Composers [Re: rbeltz48]
Rachmaninoffesque Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/17/14
Posts: 3
It should be Bach and Scarlatti.

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#2295355 - 06/26/14 02:37 PM Re: The 5 Most Original Keyboard Composers [Re: rbeltz48]
Polyphonist Offline
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Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7776
Loc: New York City
Most original in their music, or most original in their use of the keyboard? If the latter, Bach would probably not be on there, and I think Liszt would get a spot.
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#2295357 - 06/26/14 02:41 PM Re: The 5 Most Original Keyboard Composers [Re: Polyphonist]
Art_Vandelay Offline
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Registered: 06/13/14
Posts: 127
Loc: Stillwater, OK
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Most original in their music, or most original in their use of the keyboard? If the latter, Bach would probably not be on there, and I think Liszt would get a spot.


Wasn't Bach's use of the thumb considered revolutionary at the time?

Surely Rachmaninov deserves a spot here. His music sounds unlike any other composer I've encountered.
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#2295361 - 06/26/14 02:56 PM Re: The 5 Most Original Keyboard Composers [Re: rbeltz48]
JoelW Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 4931
Loc: USA
John Cage.

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#2295365 - 06/26/14 03:04 PM Re: The 5 Most Original Keyboard Composers [Re: rbeltz48]
rbeltz48 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/17/13
Posts: 9
Loc: Lansing, Michigan, USA
I suupose I should have stated what I meant by "most original". In their use of the piano in a way that it had not been used before:

Chopin - Use of phrase rubato, etc.
Debussy - Use of different (lots of 7th & 9th chords) and Eastern music harmonies
Bartok - Using the piano as a percussion instrument.

Perhaps that explanation will elicit more answers.

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#2295372 - 06/26/14 03:25 PM Re: The 5 Most Original Keyboard Composers [Re: rbeltz48]
Vid Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/01
Posts: 885
Loc: Vancouver, B.C.
If you are talking about piano strictly then that would leave Bach (and Scarlatti) out of the equation.
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#2295442 - 06/26/14 06:15 PM Re: The 5 Most Original Keyboard Composers [Re: rbeltz48]
Tim Adrianson Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/10
Posts: 1119
I agree with including Liszt in this category -- he created all kinds of special effects and new sound possibilities that had not previously existed. Two others I would elect (although I'm pretty sure they weren't part of the original list) are Conlon Nancarrow, who developed all kinds of intricate studies for the player piano (many couldn't possibly be played by humans) and George Crumb, who created quite a number of pieces for amplified piano and extensive use of the inner portions of the keyboard.

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#2295472 - 06/26/14 07:33 PM Re: The 5 Most Original Keyboard Composers [Re: rbeltz48]
Mark_C Online   content
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Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19871
Loc: New York
I have a feeling Scriabin wasn't in there but IMO he should be.

I think the "definites" are Chopin, Liszt, and Debussy. Besides that, it's up for grabs, and very subjective and debatable. And even on Debussy, there are probably some who would say it should rather be Ravel. I've seen things arguing that whatever things Debussy supposedly originated, Ravel did similar things earlier.

My five would be Chopin, Liszt, Debussy, Scriabin, and Bartok.

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#2295504 - 06/26/14 08:33 PM Re: The 5 Most Original Keyboard Composers [Re: rbeltz48]
Francisco Scalco Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/15/12
Posts: 380
Scarlatti clearly deserves a spot... non-negotiable

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#2295507 - 06/26/14 08:37 PM Re: The 5 Most Original Keyboard Composers [Re: rbeltz48]
JoelW Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 4931
Loc: USA
I can't believe no one has said Clementi yet.

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#2295512 - 06/26/14 08:49 PM Re: The 5 Most Original Keyboard Composers [Re: rbeltz48]
BDB Offline
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Registered: 06/07/03
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Loc: Oakland
Rust and Cowell.
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#2295517 - 06/26/14 09:01 PM Re: The 5 Most Original Keyboard Composers [Re: rbeltz48]
Parks Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/05/14
Posts: 441
Loc: Northern CA
Prokofiev is pretty unique. Does everyone know the theme and variations from the C major piano concerto? Some pretty bizarre sounds! Also the Scherzo from the g minor concerto too.


Edited by Parks (06/26/14 09:02 PM)
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#2295536 - 06/26/14 09:31 PM Re: The 5 Most Original Keyboard Composers [Re: rbeltz48]
Plowboy Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/26/08
Posts: 2398
Loc: SoCal
JS Bach
CPE Bach
JC Bach
JCF Bach
PDQ Bach
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#2295539 - 06/26/14 09:33 PM Re: The 5 Most Original Keyboard Composers [Re: Plowboy]
Francisco Scalco Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/15/12
Posts: 380
Originally Posted By: Plowboy
JS Bach
CPE Bach
JC Bach
JCF Bach
PDQ Bach


Regarding -keyboard- originality? Really, Bach?

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#2295541 - 06/26/14 09:41 PM Re: The 5 Most Original Keyboard Composers [Re: Mark_C]
DanS Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/28/12
Posts: 568
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
And even on Debussy, there are probably some who would say it should rather be Ravel. I've seen things arguing that whatever things Debussy supposedly originated, Ravel did similar things earlier.

My five would be Chopin, Liszt, Debussy, Scriabin, and Bartok.


While they have similar harmony at times, I think Debussy approached the piano in a very different way from Ravel, very different from anyone else. It's like half piano, half glass harmonica. He's often just interested in the sound after the attack, like a foggy mist.

There's the quote that Debussy wanted to have a piano made without hammers. I don't know if that quote is true, or in what context he supposedly made this statement. However, it speaks volumes about Debussy approach.
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#2295550 - 06/26/14 10:02 PM Re: The 5 Most Original Keyboard Composers [Re: rbeltz48]
wr Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 8026
Originally Posted By: rbeltz48
I suupose I should have stated what I meant by "most original". In their use of the piano in a way that it had not been used before:

Chopin - Use of phrase rubato, etc.
Debussy - Use of different (lots of 7th & 9th chords) and Eastern music harmonies
Bartok - Using the piano as a percussion instrument.

Perhaps that explanation will elicit more answers.


Bartok didn't really use the piano as a percussion instrument in a way it hadn't been used before. He merely made the point, in words, that it was a percussion instrument. IIRC, this was in reaction to the idea of attempting to make the piano "sing", which he thought was silly. Somehow, that got twisted into meaning something about his piano writing, which wasn't what he meant. His own playing of his own music isn't particularly percussive.

Interestingly enough, Bartok wrote to Cowell to ask for permission to use clusters, since he felt that Cowell had invented them (which was not strictly true).

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#2295564 - 06/26/14 10:56 PM Re: The 5 Most Original Keyboard Composers [Re: Francisco Scalco]
Mark_C Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19871
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: Francisco Scalco
Scarlatti clearly deserves a spot... non-negotiable

Dunno about non-negotiable grin ....but I go along with that.

So, who gets kicked out of the 5 that I said before?

Nobody. ha
My 'top 5' needs to have at least 6.

If anybody, I suppose Bartok, partly influenced by WR's post above.

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#2295570 - 06/26/14 11:10 PM Re: The 5 Most Original Keyboard Composers [Re: rbeltz48]
Kuanpiano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/06/10
Posts: 2151
Loc: Canada
I have 4 names, I couldn't think of a 5th. Mostly for pianistic, rather than musical reasons.

Chopin, Debussy, Cage, Lachenmann.

Chopin - for expanding the hand, fingering innovations, etc.

Debussy - probably more musical rather than pianistic, but his use of harmonies and colours for sonority purposes, rather than for functional purposes.

Cage - the prepared piano.

Lachenmann - use of unique extended techniques, sonority effects, etc. Has anyone here listened to Guero?
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#2295603 - 06/27/14 01:40 AM Re: The 5 Most Original Keyboard Composers [Re: Kuanpiano]
Parks Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/05/14
Posts: 441
Loc: Northern CA
Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
Has anyone here listened to Guero?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3MChTWNDAg8
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Michael

"Genius is nothing more than an extraordinary capacity for patience."
Leonardo da Vinci

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#2295617 - 06/27/14 02:36 AM Re: The 5 Most Original Keyboard Composers [Re: rbeltz48]
AZNpiano Online   happy
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5587
Loc: Orange County, CA
Another vote for Scarlatti. You can take one look at most of his sonatas and instantly recognize it's his work, even if it's some obscure sonata that nobody plays.
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#2295622 - 06/27/14 02:41 AM Re: The 5 Most Original Keyboard Composers [Re: Francisco Scalco]
outo Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/12
Posts: 821
Loc: Finland
Originally Posted By: Francisco Scalco
Scarlatti clearly deserves a spot... non-negotiable


Definitely! Especially since the subject says keyboard, not piano.

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#2295626 - 06/27/14 02:50 AM Re: The 5 Most Original Keyboard Composers [Re: rbeltz48]
BDB Offline
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Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21910
Loc: Oakland
Scarlatti's sonatas are in forms derived from earlier keyboard composers. He just did it better than most of them, and most people writing here are not familiar with the earlier composers.
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#2295641 - 06/27/14 03:18 AM Re: The 5 Most Original Keyboard Composers [Re: BDB]
Mark_C Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19871
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: BDB
Scarlatti's sonatas are in forms derived from earlier keyboard composers. He just did it better than most of them....

I think you're going past the point in talking about "form." It's not at all what we mean here with Scarlatti -- just as it's not at all what we mean here with Chopin, or Liszt, or really any of them.

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#2295670 - 06/27/14 07:23 AM Re: The 5 Most Original Keyboard Composers [Re: outo]
wr Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 8026
Originally Posted By: outo
Originally Posted By: Francisco Scalco
Scarlatti clearly deserves a spot... non-negotiable


Definitely! Especially since the subject says keyboard, not piano.


Well, in that case, whoever wrote the first keyboard music would have to be on the list. I have no idea who that was.

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#2295705 - 06/27/14 09:36 AM Re: The 5 Most Original Keyboard Composers [Re: wr]
ClsscLib Offline

Platinum Supporter until Jan 02 2013


Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 1834
Loc: Northern VA, U.S.
Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: outo
Originally Posted By: Francisco Scalco
Scarlatti clearly deserves a spot... non-negotiable


Definitely! Especially since the subject says keyboard, not piano.


Well, in that case, whoever wrote the first keyboard music would have to be on the list. I have no idea who that was.


Holy infinite regression, Batman! We now need to focus on what, precisely, counts as the first keyboard musical instrument... and what counts as the first written music intended to be played on that first keyboard.

Bach would be my answer to the OP's question, though we seem to have drifted downstream from that. smile


Edited by ClsscLib (06/27/14 09:36 AM)
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#2295744 - 06/27/14 11:34 AM Re: The 5 Most Original Keyboard Composers [Re: wr]
outo Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/12
Posts: 821
Loc: Finland
Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: outo
Originally Posted By: Francisco Scalco
Scarlatti clearly deserves a spot... non-negotiable


Definitely! Especially since the subject says keyboard, not piano.


Well, in that case, whoever wrote the first keyboard music would have to be on the list. I have no idea who that was.


And I'm afraid that would be impossible to find out. It seems the first known and surviving keyboard manuscripts before 1500 are for organ and the composers are not known (often church people no doubt). In the Middle of the 16th century first sets of written down well crafted compositions began to appear from composers like Cavazzoni, Merulo, Frescobaldi, Cabezon, Byrd, Sweelink.
(Source: Silbiger: Keyboard music before 1700)

IMO to try to make a list of five is ridiculous...


Edited by outo (06/27/14 11:35 AM)

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