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#418958 - 06/03/03 05:02 PM Re: Rachmaninoff not even in the top 50?!!!!!
CrashTest Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/23/01
Posts: 4110
Bernard, I agree. Although ranking composers on subjective terms is hard, I think it is possible to rank a composer's technical abilities at composition. (Hey, Bach is number one again! Maybe there is more to this than we know!)

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#418959 - 06/03/03 06:33 PM Re: Rachmaninoff not even in the top 50?!!!!!
Brendan Offline



Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 5303
Loc: McAllen, TX
 Quote:
Originally posted by CrashTest:
I also disagree, even though Brahms was indeed a great composer,I do not think he was even close to Debussy in the general aspects of things, such as innovation and reaching new musical heights.[/b]
I laughed uncontrollably.
_________________________
http://www.BrendanKinsella.com

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#418960 - 06/03/03 06:48 PM Re: Rachmaninoff not even in the top 50?!!!!!
CrashTest Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/23/01
Posts: 4110
Brendan, as far as having an impact on twentieth century composers and even composers now, Debussy has more of an impact than Brahms, and I still believe that he was indeed more important.

Why do you think otherwise?

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#418961 - 06/03/03 07:02 PM Re: Rachmaninoff not even in the top 50?!!!!!
mrenaud Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/29/02
Posts: 1312
Loc: Switzerland
 Quote:
Originally posted by Brendan:
 Quote:
Originally posted by CrashTest:
I also disagree, even though Brahms was indeed a great composer,I do not think he was even close to Debussy in the general aspects of things, such as innovation and reaching new musical heights.[/b]
I laughed uncontrollably.[/b]
There is far too much conservativism in Brahms' music for it to be nearly as interesting as Debussy's.
_________________________
I have an ice cream. I cannot mail it, for it will melt.

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#418962 - 06/03/03 07:05 PM Re: Rachmaninoff not even in the top 50?!!!!!
johnmoonlight Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/11/02
Posts: 2384
Loc: Lancaster, pa
Well, first of all, the book was written in 1992.
As it turns out this guy's wife gave him hell for NOT placing Rach in the top 50.
He states in the book that his decisions were based on popularity and contribution to musical development, and his own subjective assessment.
To assess popularity he looked at the New Schwann Record and Tape Guide to determine how many works have been recorded for each composer and also looked at radio station polls.
Here is a quote from the book. "Of famous composers who didn't make The List, such artists as Benjamin Britten, Aaron Copland, Francis Poulenc, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Henry Purcell, and Leonard Bernstein were given about a page each in Schwann. Arnold Schoenberg, a big favorite of many music people because of his influence on composition, also got a little less than a page. And Josquin des Prez and Orlandus Lassus, important Renaissance composers, had only a few lines. Many assessors would include some of these composers and, consequently, displace a few of mine."

So yes, maybe Benedict has a good point. Maybe we should form our own poll...based on contribution to musical development and our own likes/dislikes.
I do agree with what Elena said regarding Brahms...don't shoot me! \:D
_________________________
While one who sings with his tongue on fire
Gargles in the rat race choir
Bent out of shape from society's pliers
Cares not to come up any higher
But rather get you down in the hole
That he's in.

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#418963 - 06/03/03 07:05 PM Re: Rachmaninoff not even in the top 50?!!!!!
Annihil8or Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/13/02
Posts: 273
Loc: England
 Quote:
Originally posted by mrenaud:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Brendan:
 Quote:
Originally posted by CrashTest:
I also disagree, even though Brahms was indeed a great composer,I do not think he was even close to Debussy in the general aspects of things, such as innovation and reaching new musical heights.[/b]
I laughed uncontrollably.[/b]
There is far too much conservativism in Brahms' music for it to be nearly as interesting as Debussy's.[/b]
Bleh.

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#418964 - 06/03/03 07:24 PM Re: Rachmaninoff not even in the top 50?!!!!!
Krazypaul Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/31/03
Posts: 133
I wonder if they have a book ranking world's most greatest classical pianist instead of a composer category.

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#418965 - 06/03/03 07:30 PM Re: Rachmaninoff not even in the top 50?!!!!!
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13780
Loc: Iowa City, IA
We're forgetting something very important here - the kind of late-romantic contrapuntal music written by Brahms and Wagner had an enormous effect on Debussy.

So even if Debussy did have a greater impact than Brahms, without Brahms, the Debussy we know would never have existed.

 Quote:
Originally posted by CrashTest:
Brendan, as far as having an impact on twentieth century composers and even composers now, Debussy has more of an impact than Brahms, and I still believe that he was indeed more important.

Why do you think otherwise?[/b]
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#418966 - 06/03/03 07:31 PM Re: Rachmaninoff not even in the top 50?!!!!!
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13780
Loc: Iowa City, IA
So one wonders, which is more important, the chicken or the egg? And does the answer depend on which came first? \:D
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#418967 - 06/03/03 08:04 PM Re: Rachmaninoff not even in the top 50?!!!!!
The D's Pianist Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/08/01
Posts: 624
Loc: Southwestern Oregon
 Quote:
Originally Posted by EHPianist: Debussy contributed *way* more than Brahms in terms of tonality, forms, and aesthetic. Brahms was just an extention of Beethoven musical ideals, even by his own admission.[/b]
Wonderfully put, EH! Orlando Gibbons replied with something about how "tonality, forms and aesthetic" don't translate into "emotional substance". While I agree with this, I feel that contributing to those areas, while perhaps not providing a profound emotional substance (and I'm not saying that Debussy didn't!), most certainly would have a larger impact on those who would dish out that substance later on; Debussy helped to create more tools that are allowing composers now to create such substance than Brahms did, in my opinion.
_________________________
Musically,
Benjamin Francis
http://www.myspace.com/benjaminfrancis
(I just changed my sig., so no grief, yeah?)
----------
Sofia Gilmson regarding Bach:
"Bach didn't write the subject; he wrote the fugue."

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#418968 - 06/03/03 08:22 PM Re: Rachmaninoff not even in the top 50?!!!!!
RachFan Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/02/03
Posts: 1336
Loc: Maine, U.S.
The fact that Gluck, who has been all but forgotten, appears on the list in position 32 while Rachmaninoff isn't even on the list is either the height of extreme bias or absurdity.

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#418969 - 06/03/03 08:36 PM Re: Rachmaninoff not even in the top 50?!!!!!
The D's Pianist Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/08/01
Posts: 624
Loc: Southwestern Oregon
 Quote:
Originally posted by RachFan: The fact that Gluck, who has been all but forgetten, appears on the list in position 32 while Rachmaninoff isn't even on the list is either the height of extreme bias or absurdity. [/b]
:D <> \:D
_________________________
Musically,
Benjamin Francis
http://www.myspace.com/benjaminfrancis
(I just changed my sig., so no grief, yeah?)
----------
Sofia Gilmson regarding Bach:
"Bach didn't write the subject; he wrote the fugue."

Top
#418970 - 06/03/03 09:21 PM Re: Rachmaninoff not even in the top 50?!!!!!
virtuoso_735 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/08/03
Posts: 996
Loc: California
It's unfair to place composers in a list to say who is the best. All of the composers made their contribution to music, and all are talented in their own right.
_________________________
"If music be the food of love, play on." -William Shakespeare

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#418971 - 06/03/03 10:04 PM Re: Rachmaninoff not even in the top 50?!!!!!
yok Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/06/01
Posts: 464
Loc: New Zealand
No.8 is a bit of a surprise. At least one American got in (unless we also count 15).

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#418972 - 06/03/03 10:26 PM Re: Rachmaninoff not even in the top 50?!!!!!
Brendan Offline



Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 5303
Loc: McAllen, TX
 Quote:
Originally posted by CrashTest:
Brendan, as far as having an impact on twentieth century composers and even composers now, Debussy has more of an impact than Brahms, and I still believe that he was indeed more important.[/b]
You off no substantiation for that. The only thing that I will grant Debussy is that he knew how to manipulate the French language in his songs. Otherwise, his orchestration is cumbersome and redundant, he wrote almost no melodies in ANY of his compositions, Pellias is over-wrought at the very least, and his harmony is predictable, almost always using the same modes and same sequences/patterns.

What makes Brahms superior is one simple thing: direction. His music always clearly pursues a goal, unlike Debussy's aimless meanderings. And nothing that Debussy wrote even remotely comes close to the German Requiem or the Four Serious Songs.

For the "Brahms was the admitted torch-bearer of Beethoven" crew, Debussy acknowledged several times during his life that his own music came directly from Grieg's. Mendelssohn, Schumann and Liszt all looked back to Beethoven in their own compositions, as did Tchaikovsky to Mozart and Chopin to Bach. Even Messiaen said that his biggest musical influence after Wagner was Mozart. Learning from the past and expounding upon it in no way makes a composer conservative.
_________________________
http://www.BrendanKinsella.com

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#418973 - 06/03/03 11:06 PM Re: Rachmaninoff not even in the top 50?!!!!!
mkesfahani Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/26/02
Posts: 836
Loc: Irvine, CA
The fact that Berlioz or Vaughan Williams are on there baffles me. I've listened to plenty of both and silence would be a much better alternative for me.

As for fruit, pomegranates take the top spot.

Mike

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#418974 - 06/03/03 11:07 PM Re: Rachmaninoff not even in the top 50?!!!!!
Hank Drake Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/31/01
Posts: 1659
Loc: Cleveland, Ohio
The flaw with Mr. Goulding's list such as this is that it's promarily subjective. Beauty is in the eye (or ear) of the beholder, after all.

As for Rachmaninoff not being in the top 50, well I'm sure his estate is crying...all the way to the BANK! \:\)

Sixty years after his death, Rachmaninoff remains popular with audiences because his music reaches them emotionally, and while it is fashionable in some circles to sneer at Rachmaninoff's old-fashioned "gushing" melodies and "swirling" harmonies, his music will be a repertoire staple for generations to come--long after most of the stuff touted by the intellectual crowd is in the dustheap.

Wanna play a dirty trick on a violinist friend? ;\) Tell him the long lost violin concerto by Rachmaninoff has finally been published, and watch him wet his pants in excitement.
_________________________
Hank Drake

The composers want performers be imaginative, in the direction of their thinking--not just robots, who execute orders.
George Szell

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#418975 - 06/03/03 11:33 PM Re: Rachmaninoff not even in the top 50?!!!!!
CrashTest Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/23/01
Posts: 4110
I think it is safe to say that Brahms and Debussy are absolute opposites. Debussy loathed the old "German romantic school", while Brahms obviously held a deep admiration for such older musical values. If one listens to Debussy while searching for things that are alien to his style, such as the absence of "Melody" and the "meandering" form, one will miss what Debussy is, its like comparing oranges to apples!

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#418976 - 06/04/03 12:59 AM Re: Rachmaninoff not even in the top 50?!!!!!
jeffylube Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/26/02
Posts: 716
Loc: Weatherford, Texas
 Quote:
Originally posted by Hank Drake:
Wanna play a dirty trick on a violinist friend? ;\) Tell him the long lost violin concerto by Rachmaninoff has finally been published, and watch him wet his pants in excitement. [/b]
Dang, I wet *MY* pants thinking that was true and I don't even play the violin!! :p

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#418977 - 06/04/03 02:04 AM Re: Rachmaninoff not even in the top 50?!!!!!
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13780
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Gluck, however, was extremely popular in his day and exerted an enormous influence on compositional trends. Although his music is rather uninteresting to us, he was DA MAN back then.

(FWIW, I hate Gluck, but being the musical history nerd I am, I have to grant him a place of importance....)

 Quote:
Originally posted by RachFan:
The fact that Gluck, who has been all but forgotten, appears on the list in position 32 while Rachmaninoff isn't even on the list is either the height of extreme bias or absurdity.[/b]
Oh, and if I may weigh in on the Brahms/Debussy argument, which of the two do you think most influenced the following:

Copland
Berg
Barber
Stravinsky
Bernstein

I would submit that each was influenced by both in certain ways.

Berg is a good case in point. Even in the piano sonata we find a very rigorous adherence to classical form and structure (thanks Brahms!) but a leaning towards whole-tone influenced harmonic structure (thanks Debussy!)
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#418978 - 06/04/03 03:45 AM Re: Rachmaninoff not even in the top 50?!!!!!
ChickGrand Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/02/03
Posts: 3209
Loc: Midwest U.S.
After listening carefully to DeBussy's "Reverie" this afternoon on two great pianos and one mediocre one, comparing voicings, I'd be inclined to rank him substantially higher--in my top five (and as my favorite, but not above Beethoven whose complex genius overwhelms). I realize any point of view on this discussion is largely personal taste (the fruit list is entirely apt), but DeBussy is always fresh to me. "Reverie" could have been composed yesterday. Beethoven's work is wholely different in character, but similarly timeless. He very nearly "rocks".

Bach and Brahms by comparison seem quite staid and dated by a sort of non-interesting sort of familiarity from the first listen to the last, regardless of who's performing. (I've tried. Have a shelf full of LP's. Hate 'em all.)

An exceptionally talented friend who can play literally anything beautifully gave me 14 CD's of her Bach and Brahms performances recently. I just gritted my teeth and thanked her. And just kept shoving DeBussy and Beethoven sheets in front of her so I could hear her play something actually good instead. I did listen to her CD's once, but I could only think "what a waste of talent" and "I'll never listen to those again".

Beethoven's work and DeBussy's inspire me to work hard. If I ever get good at enough at their stuff, I'll tackle some Chopin that's been gathering dust these 20+ years.

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#418979 - 06/04/03 07:48 AM Re: Rachmaninoff not even in the top 50?!!!!!
jazzyd Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/01
Posts: 1861
Loc: United Kingdom
Chickgrand,

So is there really nothing of Bach's that you consider "good"? You would say all his music fails technically and aesthetically?

It is difficult enough to imagine anyone thinking this of Brahms with anything approaching good reason, let alone Bach. Your friend should be congratulated - you are definitely missing out...

David
_________________________
"After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music." - Aldous Huxley

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#418980 - 06/04/03 10:21 AM Re: Rachmaninoff not even in the top 50?!!!!!
Hank Drake Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/31/01
Posts: 1659
Loc: Cleveland, Ohio
I'm fairly promiscuous, I love just about everything which falls under the "Classical Music" categorization, and a number of musical styles outside that genre.

But...I've never been able to get into Telemann.
_________________________
Hank Drake

The composers want performers be imaginative, in the direction of their thinking--not just robots, who execute orders.
George Szell

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#418981 - 06/04/03 10:49 AM Re: Rachmaninoff not even in the top 50?!!!!!
ryan Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/04/01
Posts: 1995
Loc: Colorado
Brendan,

Well put. I am mystified by those that think Brahms' music is boring. I can't think of anything by Debussy that has the same emotional impact as many of Brahms' last 20 piano pieces.

Ryan

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#418982 - 06/04/03 10:54 AM Re: Rachmaninoff not even in the top 50?!!!!!
Phlebas Offline


Registered: 01/02/03
Posts: 4654
Loc: New York City
Comparing the respective "greatness" of composers like Debussy and Brahms is almost too subjective. Once again, it depends on your criteria of how the author - or the posters here - are rating composers. To take Kreisler's apples and oranges analogies, it's more like sirloin vs. vichyssoise to compare Brahms and Debussy.
Certainly Debussy was a very important composer. He was one of the most influential composers of piano music in the early 20th century, the only other composer that had as much influence on early 20th century piano technique - IMVHO - is Bartok, and that is not even beginning to talk about how important Debussy's orchestral music is.

It's true that Brahms composed much of his music using classical forms, but he still composed in a romantic style, and his compositions seem conservative to some, but they were actually quite innovative. He was one of the most important 19th century composers of chamber music, and influenced later composers like Dvorak, Wolf, Mahler, Strauss, and others.

Also, should a composer being influential or innovative constitute the main criteria in assigning "greatness," or should it be the artistic quality of their compositions - or some combination of the two? If you assign greatness solely on the basis of innovation, would Mozart be as high on your list - ahead of earlier classical era composers who did more to develop sonata-allegro and other classical forms?

I think it is easy in some cases to say that certain composers are less great than others - Mendelssohn was not on the same level as Beethoven, for example - but other composers are much harder to compare because either their respective styles are so different, they lived during vastly different stylistic periods, or they were on a level that was very close.

At the end of the day, when we have all the composers ranked in a nice little league table, the questions that might come to mind is: Why did we bother?

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#418983 - 06/04/03 11:38 AM Re: Rachmaninoff not even in the top 50?!!!!!
shantinik Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/23/01
Posts: 4271
Loc: Olympia, WA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Hank Drake:
I'm fairly promiscuous, I love just about everything which falls under the "Classical Music" categorization, and a number of musical styles outside that genre.

But...I've never been able to get into Telemann.[/b]
You have impeccable taste! \:D

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#418984 - 06/04/03 11:40 AM Re: Rachmaninoff not even in the top 50?!!!!!
johnmoonlight Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/11/02
Posts: 2384
Loc: Lancaster, pa
It's hard for me to really get involved with the Brahm's vs Debussy argument because I'm not all that fond of either composer.
I do think, however, that we can come up with a ranking that is NOT completely subjective. If we take into account that composer's contribution to the overall development of music weighed equally with our like/dislike for his music, I think that would produce some interesting results.
For example; overall, Chopin's music appeals to me a little more than Liszt's, but I feel that Liszt contributed more to the development of music. So I would probably put Liszt a notch or two above Chopin.
Beethoven is my absolute favorite composer. Bach I feel contributed more than anybody to musical development. So on my list these two guys get the number 1 and number 2 spots.
If we each rank our top 10 composers we could then extrapolate to come up with the top 50.
Anyone want to take a stab at it?
_________________________
While one who sings with his tongue on fire
Gargles in the rat race choir
Bent out of shape from society's pliers
Cares not to come up any higher
But rather get you down in the hole
That he's in.

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#418985 - 06/04/03 11:52 AM Re: Rachmaninoff not even in the top 50?!!!!!
The D's Pianist Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/08/01
Posts: 624
Loc: Southwestern Oregon
 Quote:
Originally posted by Phlebas: Also, should a composer being influential or innovative constitute the main criteria in assigning "greatness," or should it be the artistic quality of their compositions - or some combination of the two? If you assign greatness solely on the basis of innovation, would Mozart be as high on your list - ahead of earlier classical era composers who did more to develop sonata-allegro and other classical forms?[/b]
OK, I can see what you're saying, but still: I think Mozart was definitely the "god" of the classical form -- specifically the Austrian classical form. Others may have developed the styles before him, but I think he really provided an *ideal template* of the music. Anyone who can take a form and bring it to a new level of "perfection", IMHO, is worthy of a top-50 title.
_________________________
Musically,
Benjamin Francis
http://www.myspace.com/benjaminfrancis
(I just changed my sig., so no grief, yeah?)
----------
Sofia Gilmson regarding Bach:
"Bach didn't write the subject; he wrote the fugue."

Top
#418986 - 06/04/03 12:30 PM Re: Rachmaninoff not even in the top 50?!!!!!
Phlebas Offline


Registered: 01/02/03
Posts: 4654
Loc: New York City
 Quote:
Originally posted by The D's Pianist:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Phlebas: Also, should a composer being influential or innovative constitute the main criteria in assigning "greatness," or should it be the artistic quality of their compositions - or some combination of the two? If you assign greatness solely on the basis of innovation, would Mozart be as high on your list - ahead of earlier classical era composers who did more to develop sonata-allegro and other classical forms?[/b]
OK, I can see what you're saying, but still: I think Mozart was definitely the "god" of the classical form -- specifically the Austrian classical form. Others may have developed the styles before him, but I think he really provided an *ideal template* of the music. Anyone who can take a form and bring it to a new level of "perfection", IMHO, is worthy of a top-50 title.[/b]
I think you might have missed my point, which was one cannot only use a measure of how innovative or influential a composer is in order to assign greatness. Classical forms were well established by the time Mozart came along by composers such as CPE Bach, WF Bach, Stamitz - of the Mannheim school - and Haydn. With the possible exception of Haydn, none of those others approached the level of Mozart as a composer. Clearly Mozart was one of the greatest composers of all time, but his greatness was in the artistic quality of his music, and not so much as an innovator. He lived in the later part of the Classical era, when compositional style had almost an obsession with structural clarity. Mozart, although he wrote beautiful pieces that remain monuments of artistic achievement, did not deviate from the classical style very much. So, my point in using Mozart as an example is, revolutionary ideas, and innovation leading to a change, in large or small ways, in how future composers approached music - which describes Debussy - should not be the sole criteria people use to assign greatness.

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#418987 - 06/04/03 12:40 PM Re: Rachmaninoff not even in the top 50?!!!!!
The D's Pianist Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/08/01
Posts: 624
Loc: Southwestern Oregon
 Quote:
Originally posted by Phlebas: So, my point in using Mozart as an example is, revolutionary ideas, and innovation leading to a change, in large or small ways, in how future composers approached music - which describes Debussy - should not be the sole criteria people use to assign greatness. [/b]
Alright; sorry for the misunderstanding. I agree completely that it should not be the sole[/b] criteria, but I think it should definitely be one of the most important. Second to perhaps your point of "artistic quality". Thanks for clearing that up. \:\)
_________________________
Musically,
Benjamin Francis
http://www.myspace.com/benjaminfrancis
(I just changed my sig., so no grief, yeah?)
----------
Sofia Gilmson regarding Bach:
"Bach didn't write the subject; he wrote the fugue."

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