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Showing 1-25 of 62 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 24, 2012 2:14:45 PM PDT
Pernickity says:
Which composers are known for being masters of orchestration?

1. Respighi

2. Bax

3. Ravel

4. Tchaikovsky

5. Richard Strauss

Posted on Oct 24, 2012 2:16:47 PM PDT
Dichterliebe says:
6. Haydn

7. Rimsky-Korsakov

8. Weber

9. Liadov

10. Berlioz

11. Mozart

12. Stravinsky

Posted on Oct 24, 2012 2:24:57 PM PDT
Anonymouse says:
I wonder how many of us could distinguish between instrumentation and orchestration?

I wonder how many of us say "orchestration" when we mean "instrumentation"?

I certainly think that Adrian has done so. Adrian, who's answered his own question, leaving only "You've left *** off your list" and "I wonder how many..." kinds of responses for the rest of us.

By the way, you've left Berlioz off your list. And Lachenmann. And Lidia Zielinska. And about a gazillion others.

Posted on Oct 24, 2012 2:25:13 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 24, 2012 2:26:00 PM PDT
Larkenfield says:
Among the 20th Century greats:
Mahler (straddling two centuries)

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 24, 2012 2:38:14 PM PDT
DavidRFoss says:
Well, you can't have orchestration without instrumentation. :-)

I don't know if its the textbook definition but the effective and tasteful use of combinations of instruments during a piece is what I usually think of. It could be the wall of sound effect of a Respighi or Rimsky-Korsakov suite or it could be just a brief and subtle doubling of two instruments that aren't typically doubled which creates a unique effect.

Posted on Oct 24, 2012 2:42:53 PM PDT
Pernickity says:
I've always found Berlioz to be overrated as an orchestrator. Take for example his opera Les Troyens when compared to Wagner's Tristan und Isolde or Parsifal.

Posted on Oct 24, 2012 2:50:02 PM PDT
KenOC says:
Shostakovich was (rightly) mentioned, and I'd add Prokofiev. Shostakovich sneered a bit at Prokofiev, accusing him of assigning his orchestration to his students. He must have had some really talented students!

Posted on Oct 24, 2012 2:50:47 PM PDT
DavidRFoss says:
Orchestration minutiae trivia of the day. The famous opening of Beethoven's Fifth doesn't sound like interesting orchestra... it just sounds like strings all playing the same notes offset by an octave or two. But the clarinets alone are doubling the strings.

Anyone ever notice this? If it wasn't pointed out to me during one of the BBC Discovering Music programs I likely would never have noticed. Does this add anything to anyone? A single doubling wind usually gets swamped by the strings section but can make a subtle contribution. A doubling oboe can add a little bite to the strings. A doubling flute can create a bit of a ghostly feel to the strings. But I don't know what a doubling clarinet would do.

Posted on Oct 24, 2012 2:53:59 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 24, 2012 3:08:11 PM PDT
Edgar Self says:
Shostakovich, Beethoven, Wagner.

Shostakovbich is on record as saying when he met a problem in orchestration, he could usually find the solution in Tchaikovsky, whom he otherwise didn't much care for.

Igor Stravinsky had this to say: M any speak of Rimsky-Korsakoff's brilliant orchestration, and perhaps even something of mine. But no-one talks about what Beethoven does in the trio of the scherzo of his eighth symphony with just a clarinet, two horns, and basses."

Posted on Oct 24, 2012 2:56:11 PM PDT
Thomas E. says:
Holst was surely a master orchestrator. And I'm often impressed by young contemporary composers.

Posted on Oct 24, 2012 2:58:49 PM PDT
Dmitri says:
My favorite movement from a Shostakovich symphony is the second of the 6th. This is a very conventional movement, but the orchestration is spectacular and as Jorge Mester says done in an unexpected way.

Posted on Oct 24, 2012 3:05:50 PM PDT
"If you want to learn how to orchestrate, don't study Wagner's scores, study 'Carmen'.... It is sheer perfection. What wonderful economy, how every note is in its proper place."

-- Richard Strauss

Posted on Oct 24, 2012 3:07:24 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 24, 2012 3:11:22 PM PDT
I would also add Gustav Holst to the list of masters of orchestration. Everything sounds with an astonishing clarity, irrespective of the size of the ensemble at hand.

Posted on Oct 24, 2012 3:17:47 PM PDT
Pernickity says:
I also remember reading about Wagner's orchestration of Beethoven's 5th symphony. It was assumed that Beethoven didn't know what he was doing because of his deafness. However Beethoven's own orchestration was perfect and has a far darker opening than Wagner's.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 24, 2012 3:37:38 PM PDT
K. Beazley says:

"I wonder how many of us could distinguish between instrumentation and orchestration? I wonder how many of us say "orchestration" when we mean "instrumentation"?"

I'm with you on this one, Michael. How often do we define those composers who had a particular knack for tone painting, like Rimsky-Korsakov or Richard Strauss for example, as being pre-eminent as "orchestrators"? But this is only one facet of the composer's art, & yes, the kind of "instrumentation" David mentions in Beethoven's 5th symphony, by being less noticeable, is nevertheless just as artistically & aesthetically rewarding & valuable in it's own fashion as, say, Strauss' musical portrait of Don Quixote or Rimsky's of Princess Scheherazade. It could even be said that the overtness of these is trumped by the subtleties of the kind we find in the Beethoven example, which are "the art which conceals Art".

Posted on Oct 24, 2012 4:17:07 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 24, 2012 4:17:35 PM PDT
Mahlerian says:
I know he didn't work with an orchestra in the modern sense, but Bach deserves a mention as one of the true masters of instrumentation. Among 20th century composers, I'd add Schoenberg and Takemitsu (and not Berg, whose orchestration often strikes me as thick mush, sort of like what Schumann's often accused of). Messiaen's orchestration is interesting and immediately recognizable, but again very thick and bloated in parts, sort of like Bruckner (probably because they were both organists).

Posted on Oct 24, 2012 4:24:18 PM PDT
Robert Craft: "What is good instrumentation?

Igor Stravinsky: "When you are unaware that it IS instrumentation."

Posted on Oct 24, 2012 5:43:40 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 24, 2012 6:03:54 PM PDT
Larkenfield says:
Technically speaking from a musician's point of view, the assignment of a specific instrument to a specific part of the music is known as "instrumentation". It can also be the choice and number of instruments used that contribute to the overall blend, texture and transparency of the "orchestration", such as using three clarinets or flutes instead of two for a fuller sound, or Dvorak's use of the English Horn rather than Oboe in the slow movement of his New World Symphony.

While the words are technically not the same thing, the confusion comes in because the instrumentation and orchestration interact with each other to create the overall effects of sound that the composer has in mind, and the composer could readily assign a different instrument to a different part - adjust the instrumentation - and that would affect the overall colors or quality of the orchestration. If the composer changes a fortissimo passage to pianissimo in the score, that would be a change in the orchestration and not the instrumentation. In short, one way of considering the relationship between the two words is that the orchestration is the result of the creative use of the instrumentation. In general usage though, both words are often used interchangeably to mean the same thing. ♬

Posted on Oct 24, 2012 6:43:23 PM PDT
HB says:
Mendelssohn wrote some wonderful orchestration in his brief career. Take the Midsummer Nights Dream Overture. There is one part where the strings are playing a very fast passage and playing it extremely soft. It goes on for quite awhile and then suddenly out of nowhere, horns blast away. It is really shocking the first time you hear it, providing you are listening close enough. George Szell recorded the overture three times (Cleveland twice, Concertgebouw once) and all three recordings have the best horn blast on any conductor I have ever heard.

Posted on Oct 24, 2012 11:22:01 PM PDT
Skaynan says:
I didn't see Sibelius and Puccini mentioned. They should be.

Posted on Oct 25, 2012 2:15:56 AM PDT
Pernickity says:
Sibelius was a master at orchestration with works such as the Violin Concerto & Kullervo.

Szymanowski and Karlowicz should also be added to the list.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 25, 2012 4:49:24 AM PDT
I'dd add Elgar to the list.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 25, 2012 6:43:36 AM PDT
HB says:
"I didn't see Sibelius and Puccini mentioned. They should be."


I agree. In the Sibelius 2nd finale, the brass parts put shivers up my spine. The 5th is another great example.

I would rank Puccini 3rd among opera composers in orchestration, right after Wagner and R. Strauss. Massenet would be my fourth choice.

Three other French composers that I really love for their orchestration are Chabrier, Delibes and Ambroise Thomas.

Posted on Oct 25, 2012 7:49:32 AM PDT
Dichterliebe says:
And Debussy.

Posted on Oct 25, 2012 8:02:49 AM PDT
Auntie Lynn says:
Back in the good old bad old days, we had to take it to graduate...
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Discussion in:  Classical Music forum
Participants:  21
Total posts:  62
Initial post:  Oct 24, 2012
Latest post:  Nov 25, 2013

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