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Initial post: Nov 18, 2012 3:07:29 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 18, 2012 3:08:10 PM PST
Auntie Lynn says:
...okay, maybe two...I am asked to start a thread on atonal music. My serialist instructor in grad school was Pulitzer Prize winning professor/composer Wayne Peterson (Royal Academy/London). After I turned in the assignment on Webern's Funf Saetz, he told me my diagrams looked like a bunch of seaweed on a plate of spaghetti. However, this course fostered a lifelong love of 12-tone, etc., particularly Krenek.

And what do I do for excitement: well, I play piano all day for a first tier, world class performing arts org., I am a competitive weightlifter, I subscribe to most of the local performing arts venues, etc. etc. And if all else fails, there's always my 19-year-old boyfriend...

Your turn...

Posted on Nov 18, 2012 3:31:17 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Nov 18, 2012 3:44:51 PM PST]

Posted on Nov 18, 2012 4:30:05 PM PST
Mahlerian says:
The last thread on atonal music didn't turn out so well...

Atonal music is just like any other music. There's good music, great music, and not-so-great music. I think that Schoenberg was a great composer in the Germanic tradition; he created great pieces in every genre, except the symphony, and as with all great artists, his detractors will fade with time. Champions such as James Levine, Simon Rattle, and Pierre Boulez have done a great deal for his music by raising the standards for performance considerably.

Other masterpieces of atonal music, in my opinion:

Berg: Lyric Suite, which makes a string quartet sound fuller than in almost any other work.

Webern: Cantata No. 1, lyrical and dramatic.

Pierre Boulez: Le marteau sans maitre, which I recently spent some time listening to, score in hand. Boulez took serialism and gave it an inimitable glimmering sheen.

Stravinsky: Threni, inspired by Webern as well as Webern's beloved Renaissance polyphonists. It needs a new recording, though, and while I hope that Naxos makes one in its Stravinsky/Craft series (or rereleases the one he put out for Koch, at least), I would prefer to hear the take of someone like Gielen or Knussen (both of whom have made recordings of some of Stravinsky's late works).

Messiaen: Oiseaux exotiques, in my opinion the most successful work of his 50s-60s atonal phase. Previous birdsong-inspired works were only a warm-up to this orgy of polyrhythm.

Berio: Sinfonia, encompassing the whole history of Western music and then some.

Posted on Nov 18, 2012 5:32:26 PM PST
<<Atonal music is just like any other music. There's good music, great music, and not-so-great music.>>

Theoretically, perhaps. In reality, atonal music is not like other music. The rush to comment in this thread should tell you all you need to know about atonal music.

The rest is there is not a single piece of atonal music regularly played in any concert cycle. If one were to list the 10 greatest pieces of atonal music, or ask critics what they were, it is likely 10 different pieces would be listed No. 1 on a ballot. There is no "signature" piece of atonal music unless you consider Stravinsky's ballet such. Most people don't.

The only time I witnessed anyone brave enough to play atonal music in concert (Ravinia Festival 1976) it was mercilessly booed. People continue to make recordings of it but that's as good as it gets.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 18, 2012 5:42:16 PM PST
John Ruggeri says:
Posted on Nov 18, 2012 5:32:26 PM PST

Larry VanDeSande says:

<<Atonal music is just like any other music. There's good music, great music, and not-so-great music.>>

Theoretically, perhaps. In reality, atonal music is not like other music. The rush to comment in this thread should tell you all you need to know about atonal music.
============
You got it.

John

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 18, 2012 5:58:21 PM PST
K. Beazley says:
Mahlerian,

While you know that I would side with Larry's estimation of atonal & serial techniques, particularly when set up as alternatives to tonality, I wouldn't for one minute want to deny anyone the right to discuss it, & I hope this thread prospers for you. I'll take Voltaire's lead:

"I do not agree with what you have to discuss, but I'll defend to the death your right to discuss it."

I hope others will do likewise. Good luck.

Kim.

Posted on Nov 18, 2012 6:04:37 PM PST
M. You says:
"If one were to list the 10 greatest pieces of atonal music, or ask critics what they were, it is likely 10 different pieces would be listed No. 1 on a ballot."

I suspect the same would happen with tonal music.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 18, 2012 6:07:52 PM PST
Mahlerian says:
"Theoretically, perhaps. In reality, atonal music is not like other music."

In my experience, the people who say this are generally unable to produce a satisfying definition of tonality that A) includes all tonal music, including that of the 20th century AND B) excludes all (or even most) music commonly referred to as atonal.

"The rest is there is not a single piece of atonal music regularly played in any concert cycle."

Wozzeck and Lulu regularly appear in opera houses. The orchestral repertoire doesn't include much in the way of atonal music, but the New York Philharmonic and Seattle Symphony, among others, regularly program modernist music, atonal and otherwise, as did the Boston Symphony before Levine's unfortunate departure.

There are a great many atonal pieces that I am sure are performed more often than the vast majority of tonal music. There are others that are played once or twice and then forgotten. Like I said before, it's no different.

"If one were to list the 10 greatest pieces of atonal music, or ask critics what they were, it is likely 10 different pieces would be listed No. 1 on a ballot."

How is this different from the result you would get if you asked critics what the best pieces of tonal music were? It's such a broad category that there's bound to be variety of opinion. It also proves absolutely nothing.

"The rush to comment in this thread should tell you all you need to know about atonal music."

It doesn't tell me anything except that people on this particular forum are not particularly interested in it.

Posted on Nov 18, 2012 6:13:41 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 18, 2012 6:13:59 PM PST
<<<It doesn't tell me anything except that people on this particular forum are not particularly interested in it.>>>
or too many bad experiences with the topic on this forum.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 18, 2012 6:21:51 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 18, 2012 6:34:58 PM PST
KenOC says:
Auntie Lynn writes, "And what do I do for excitement: well, I play piano all day for a first tier, world class performing arts org., I am a competitive weightlifter..."

Seems to me that this thread has two different purposes. If we're expected to tell somewhat of our real selves, I am a past Nobel Prize winner (two categories, different years). I used to box professionally and lost the world welterweight title only by a split decision. Gave up on the Olympics after finding out what the pawnshop would give me for those four golds from the '84 games.

I have climbed many of the world's great peaks solo, including all the eight-thousanders except Nanga Parbat (next year maybe). I am also a concert pianist, under a different name but one most here will easily recognize, specializing in the more difficult 20th-century repertoire. Finally, I was a Navy Seal for some time but obviously can't talk about that.

My hobbies are collecting matchbooks and crocheting, which I learned from "Rosey" Grier.

I hope that others will bare themselves similarly, and with equal candor and honesty.

Posted on Nov 18, 2012 7:44:57 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Nov 18, 2012 7:45:09 PM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 18, 2012 7:51:08 PM PST
Applesauce says:
Autie Lynn,

Maybe you can now see why this site is getting "boring". The level of discourse here has deteriorated. One reason is because a clique has taken control and has determined that certain subjects are taboo, including atonal music. Whenever an individual starts a thread concerning one of the unacceptable topics, the same crowd shows up in attack mode.

Mahlerian tries to provide a rational response to you initial entry and look at the many of the responses.

As a result many knowledgeable individuals have either given up and left, or have been driven out of this forum.

In their world atonal music is inherently inferior to tonal music and they want to aggressively debate this issue. Well a debate is a game. And the object of the game is to win the argument. If I want to play a game I will play MONOPOLY.

Another problem is that there is an apparent animus toward anyone who has any musical training. I had no problem with it but look at some of the responses to your musical background. I have a Masters Degree in Music but in this forum that is a curse. In the eyes of many in spite of my training the majority of my observations are worthless.

If you want and intelligent and informed debate concerning the pros and cons of atonal music you are not going to find it here.

Before you anti-atonal types respond you should take into consideration that you have won the game. Many of the proponents of atonal music are no longer active participants in the Amazon Classical Music Forum. You can bash it to your hearts content without fear of any resistance.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 18, 2012 8:05:37 PM PST
KenOC says:
Steven Apergis, welcome back for a visit! There is no "clique" here, in fact nobody knows the other. On a forum such as this, it's hardly odd that views differ, or that more people will hold to one opinion rather than another. Or that people will wrangle endlessly over these views. And an "animus toward anyone who has any musical training"? Please! There is something very strange about your perceptions.

BTW the most active proponent of "atonal music" has indeed left, though hardly voluntarily. As you know. Otherwise, the others are still around and kicking, though people do come and go in the natural course of events.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 18, 2012 8:25:38 PM PST
K. Beazley says:
Steven,

"Maybe you can now see why this site is getting "boring". The level of discourse here has deteriorated."

It seems to me the only time you post on this forum, it's to complain about it.

"If you want and intelligent and informed debate concerning the pros and cons of atonal music you are not going to find it here."

Good grief! Here's a thread started up for the express purpose of discussing atonal music, & you use it to whine about the lack of opportunity to discuss atonal music? Get a grip & take the opportunity you've been given!

Posted on Nov 18, 2012 8:55:41 PM PST
Wyote says:
No, this thread is much better used for us to reveal ourselves to each other. Get to know one another. Become buddies.

The only alias with which you all might recognize me is "D. B. Cooper." I backpacked around the world, for a time I owned a face club in Moscow, then IBM put me inside a computer and had me play chess with some Russian named Casper Off, and now I own a hobby farm near Vancouver--spinach, pot, broccoli, that kind of thing. My hobbies are helping young Eastern European and Asian women immigrate, and brewing my own beer. My own teacher of music was J. S. Bach, whom I contacted through a Burmese shaman, paying a chicken for each four hour lesson. My counterpoint is technically flawless, but as an atheist I am unable create or appreciate transcendent beauty, and therefore I burn most of my works with the remainder to be published upon my death. I am currently working on my magnum opus: a history of politics since the dawn of agriculture, with special emphasis on the role of religious belief in legitimizing the upper classes' privileged access to the food, labor, and young women of the lower classes. I expect to finish it within a few weeks, and then I will begin work on a translation of Finnegan's Wake into English.

Posted on Nov 18, 2012 9:48:59 PM PST
<<<I expect to finish it within a few weeks, and then I will begin work on a translation of Finnegan's Wake into English>>>best thing in this thread so far.

Posted on Nov 18, 2012 9:54:22 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Nov 18, 2012 10:06:21 PM PST]

Posted on Nov 18, 2012 10:00:17 PM PST
I rate most 12 tone music right up there with lima beans--Hate them both!! but i do like Stravinsky's Agon.

Posted on Nov 18, 2012 10:15:14 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 18, 2012 10:33:48 PM PST
David M. says:
My favorite atonal composers are Schoenberg, Berg, Ligeti, Zimmerman, and Skalkottas, all of whom used modern language but were old-fashioned in their creative purpose. They wanted primarily to write dramatic, expressive music, to create experiences that would move audiences (as opposed to merely disorienting them). There was none of the cynicism and sensationalizing that afflicted so many other composers.

Schoenberg's "Five Orchestral Pieces" is one of the flat-out masterpieces of the early 20th century, IMO as fresh and innovative as Rite of Spring. It's evocative. I enjoy it the same way I enjoy Brahms.

Finally, I'm glad the mid-century obsession with serialism has reached its end. Some of it's good, a lot wasn't; my biggest objection to serialism is the cult-like worship and dogmatic enforcement of its (now almost all dead) proponents. Pierre Boulez said that anyone who didn't write serial music was worthless. That makes as much sense to me as some fugue-obsessed German declaring "anyone who doesn't write fugal music is worthless!"

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 18, 2012 10:30:52 PM PST
K. Beazley says:
Wyote,

I thought I was laughing hard until I read, "....and then I will begin work on a translation of Finnegan's Wake into English". I reckon that post's right up there with the best of Omar al Cayenne's pretzel logic flights of fancy!

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 18, 2012 10:39:06 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 19, 2012 6:13:32 AM PST
Well, OK, I'll bare myself similarly. I did all those things Ken did. It's possible I climbed Nanga Parbat the year Ken was on sabbatical in Paris, but I can't remember for sure.

In addition, in 1967 a question I submitted was actually used on the Texaco Opera Quiz. That was better than climbing Nanga Parbat. It was also better than not climbing it. They sent me four operas and a twelve-transistor Sylvania portable radio made in the USA. I still have the radio and used it during the blackouts of Hurricane Sandy. Not the 1967 batteries though, you have to change the batteries every so often.

I'm not sure I know what atonal music is. When the CD booklet says "atonal music" then I say to myself: "This is atonal music". For example, Carl Ruggles's "Sun-Treader" is atonal music. And it's also magnificent. So the two concepts are not incompatible. Schonberg's quartets are atonal music. Moses und Aaron is atonal music. Moses und Aaron is surprisingly accessible. The quartets grow on you. How about the Berg Violin Concerto? Accessible AND atonal.

I don't go looking for it and I don't avoid it. Actually, as I think about it, I don't believe I search for any music by genre. At least I don't think I do. Also, I don't think I avoid music by genre, either. Well, OK, I avoid rap. I avoid many of Strauss's tone poems. Which is not to say that I don't have the Kempe EMI compilation box and the Reiner BMGSony compilation box of Strauss's tone poems and other orchestral stuff. I have them. (I don't avoid Death and Transfiguration, though.)

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 18, 2012 11:08:30 PM PST
K. Beazley says:
Between Angelo, Ken & Wyote, this thread's reminding me of a certain "Monty Python" sketch from "Live at the Hollywood Bowl":

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=13JK5kChbRw

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 18, 2012 11:15:02 PM PST
KenOC says:
A good one! My kids don't believe me when I tell them this stuff.

Posted on Nov 19, 2012 3:49:08 AM PST
I was adopted by Gypsies.

Posted on Nov 19, 2012 5:27:40 AM PST
Wyote says:
Actually, Mr. Ginn, we stole you. But we had to. You were such a cute one.
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Discussion in:  Classical Music forum
Participants:  18
Total posts:  55
Initial post:  Nov 18, 2012
Latest post:  Dec 4, 2012

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