I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Friday, January 21, 2011

Top Ten Composers

A silly exercise, but why not?

OK, Bach's a good choice for #1, but any list without Duke Ellington is pointless. "Oh, but it's supposed to be 'classical' composers." Please - Ellington is stylistically closer to Bach then a lot of Bartok or any late Stravinsky (or early, for that matter). He was America's greatest composer and belongs somewhere on here.

Mozart and Beethoven are no-brainers. Schubert leaves me cold - sorry. Most opera after Mozart and before Glass is also lost on me, but I freely admit that's a personal preference and more an indication of my lack of sophistication about these things than anything. But I'd have Haydn on any list before Verdi even if I loved opera.

Debussy - sure, but not before Stravinsky, the best orchestrator and formal thinker of the past century. I like Brahms, but Chopin created these beautiful little worlds, as did Webern.

So, for me:

  1. Bach
  2. Beethoven
  3. Mozart
  4. Stravinsky
  5. Ellington (close...)
  6. Chopin
  7. Haydn
  8. Debussy
  9. Brahms
  10. Tchaikovsky (Seriously? Yeah, maybe...)


calugg said...

Ok....I'll dig out my musical past and go with:

1. Bach
2. Mozart
3. Beethoven
4. Brahms
5. Haydn
6. Stravinsky
7. Shostakovich (tortured soul that he was).
8. Vaughn Williams
9. Ellington, Strayhorn.
10. Hindemith (love his Sonatas).

There are a host of additional composers whom I adore (Miles Davis, John Corigliano, Debussy), but this is a good start.

Duke said...

Mozart or Beethoven? Matter of taste, I think. As a composer, I empathize with struggling over every stupid note, so I come down with "Lovely Ludwig B," but I sure can see the other side.

You and I are apparently in agreement that any list without Haydn makes no sense.

Shosty? Hmm... OK, that's enough for me to give him another shot. Hindemith seems to be championed mostly by those who play his music.

No opera, huh (except Mozart)? Yeah, me neither. Just not my thing, but I haven't tried in a few years.

I think there was a rule about a composer having to have been dead for a good while before he/she could get on the list, so Corigliano's out, although there's some great stuff there. Personally, George Crumb may have made my list if not for that restriction. And Phil Glass, although I know I'm not supposed to say things like that and be considered a serious person.

To me, Miles isn't really a composer: he does set up great frameworks for improvisation, but I don't see him as a composer like Ellington or Monk or Ornette Coleman or Pat Metheny or Bob Brookmeyer. His works with Gil Evans, however, are some of the most beautiful " jazz compositions" ever.

Hey, see above about "Glee." Always glad when you drop by.