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Century's Best - Final Round


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Posted on Jun 7, 2012 8:22:43 AM PDT
Dichterliebe says:
Copy/paste of an earlier post of mine in this thread:

Schnittke CG #1 (12) > Ravel (0) + Hindemith (0) + Copland (0) + Strauss (0) + Holst (0) + Vaughan Williams (0) + Shostakovich (2) + Debussy (2) + Stravinsky (6) + 1 aggregate vote == ??

In time, this will be sorted out. I'm surprised Ravel and Bartok get such short shrift in these discussions but I always keep in mind the larger musical world. This is a very narrow and skewed sample. And your great respect for Hindemith is shared by many, myself included (although it wasn't always the case with me).

Nonetheless, a love for any classical composer is to be celebrated!

Posted on Jun 7, 2012 5:15:38 PM PDT
MF says:
Dichterliebe

'I think aspects of history can burden art with unnecessary baggage, using hindsight as a means of grafting one's own values onto the past': just so. While there are innumerable ways in which a historical perspective of music can be immensely valuable, the insistence on evaluating music primarily in terms of its contribution to some narrative of historical development seems to me often questionable and sometimes absurd - not least because these narratives are themselves so ephemeral and so much servants of given stylistic preferences. Preoccupation with this developmental perspective as a criterion of musical value I would contend is a species of C20th intellectual bewitchment from which we would do well to awaken. Your point about 'spirit of the 20th century' is well made - Rachmaninov's inability to adapt to compositional approaches then current is as much a part of the 20th century as are the approaches - as the ongoing debates on this forum assuredly testify.

Posted on Jun 7, 2012 5:42:41 PM PDT
Dichterliebe says:
MF --

Very well stated. The 20th century is bewildering in its variety and each style and trend can teach us something. I believe we both recognize a certain amount of potential projection in our hindsight; I think much of the debate you mention is also fueled by the natural urge to simplify, to collate and label, and to choose representatives as neatly as we can, whether we look favorably upon them or not (the anti-Modernists being just as prone).

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 7, 2012 6:08:10 PM PDT
MF says:
Dichterliebe

Just to clarify: I was not wishing to identify with either side of these debates - though clearly I take issue with the modernist emphasis on influence, and to a lesser degree, on innovation (though this is more complex), as evaluative criteria. My point was only that the currency of these debates shows that the phrase 'the spirit of the 20th century', if it is to have any salience, cannot merely be identified with the innovative approach to music, but must be more inclusive. The reference to the debates on the forum was not partisan, it was illustrative: presumably all the contributors here are children of the 20th century and therefore, each in different ways, expressive of its 'spirit'. Curiously, those of us who might be tempted to identify themselves as estranged from this 'spirit' and feel themselves to be anachronistic, are for just this reason, ironically, expressive of a crucial dimension of 'the spirit of the 20th century' - just as much as are those who consider themselves as contented 'modernists' and 'post modernists'.

Posted on Jun 7, 2012 6:25:13 PM PDT
Dichterliebe says:
MF --

Good clarification and nor do I wish to identify with any particular 'aesthetic' except, perhaps, beauty. Also, the vanguard and the conservative depend upon each other for definition -- if definition means anything to anyone at all except the honest, unflinching historian.

Posted on Jun 7, 2012 6:29:41 PM PDT
MF says:
Dichterliebe

Yes - the reciprocity is crucial.

Posted on Jun 8, 2012 4:58:59 AM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Nov 26, 2013 10:10:50 AM PST]

Posted on Jun 8, 2012 12:22:49 PM PDT
"Rachmaninov's inability to adapt to compositional approaches then current is as much a part of the 20th century as are the approaches". This much tauted "inability" is just plain wrong. I'm sure lots of you are sick of this example, but his famous tune is the inversion of Paganini's Theme at the tritone.

So he was willing and able, but used the compositional approaches fit to his aesthetic rather than the other way around (Stravinsky).

Relatedly, Rachmaninov knew this theme would "sell" and I think it's a mistake to ignore how these guys -- Schoenberg and Stravinsky -- actually made a living.

Posted on Jun 8, 2012 12:30:20 PM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Nov 26, 2013 10:10:51 AM PST]

Posted on Jun 8, 2012 12:33:55 PM PDT
Dichterliebe says:
?? The 18th Variation is the enharmonic equivalent of the Picardy mediant of Paganini's original theme (in the original key, which Rachmaninoff observes).

Posted on Jun 8, 2012 12:40:37 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 8, 2012 12:44:07 PM PDT
It's the original theme? it's not inverted?? it's not in Db instead of A minor? The two-piano score I'm looking at is lying? Where do I get my money back?

Indeed, ME.

Posted on Jun 8, 2012 12:44:02 PM PDT
Dichterliebe says:
The original theme is in a-minor. Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody is in a-minor. D-flat is the enharmonic of C-sharp, the Picardy third of the a-minor scale. The tritone from A-natural is E-flat (d5) or D-sharp (a4).

Posted on Jun 8, 2012 12:45:54 PM PDT
Thanks, D. You're right, it's not the tritone. But it's not the original theme, it's the inversion.

Posted on Jun 8, 2012 12:54:23 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 8, 2012 12:58:23 PM PDT
Dichterliebe says:
Yep, it's the inversion. That wasn't what I was addressing (I was curious about your invoking the tritone).

Edit to add: since a tritone is technically an interval of three whole steps, D-sharp (ascending) is notationally correct, E-flat being its enharmonic equivalent, although the diminished chord can be built with either, particularly in that the starting note is not an accidental in the C-diatonic scale.

Posted on Jun 8, 2012 10:52:57 PM PDT
MF says:
MZ

I am responding to Rachmaninov's remarks about his approach to composition, not suggesting he had any technical deficiencies or incapacities as a composer. Perhaps I should have said 'he could not bring himself to' rather than 'he was unable to'. My remarks are intended as an affirmation of Rachmaninov and of his importance as a C20th composer - if this was not clear then I have expressed myself badly.

Posted on Jun 10, 2012 10:01:18 AM PDT
Thank you for the clarification, MF! Certainly get the reading from what you wrote and glad we were in accord all along ;-)
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Discussion in:  Classical Music forum
Participants:  19
Total posts:  466
Initial post:  May 25, 2012
Latest post:  Jun 10, 2012

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