Sunday, August 13, 2006

Stravinsky - the last great composer?

The composer George Perle observed when Stravinsky died that the world was without a great composer for the first time in six hundred years. It still is.
From Michael Kimmelman's review of Stephen Walsh's new book Stravinsky: The Second Exile: France and America, 1934–1971 in the current New York Review of Books.

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What exactly is a 'classic'?

7 comments:

Berend de Boer said...

I can't believe that. Just looking at my CD collection, what about Peteris Vask and Zbigniew Preisner? Not the level of Mozart, but pretty good stuff.

What about Hans Zimmer? Howard Shore?

If you're a really good composer would you be swetting on some chamber music that will at most be performed for a couple of people in their 50s? If you're a really good composer would you be contend with your government allowance that you will get whatever you produce, or even if you produce the most dreadful stuff, because you're an artist right? And government should take from the people that have (hard working parents) and give it to artists that have nothing to give, right?

Nope. If you're good, you would be working in Hollywood or wherever good movies are made these days. I believe you will find the good composers where big money is made.

Mozart is doing movie scores right now.

Berend de Boer said...

Maybe I should start to add "currently listening to" footnotes :-)

Currently listening to Apollo performed by Igor Stravinsky (Sony Classical).

Pliable said...

Nice thought (and response?) provoking comment Berend.

Here to supplement it are some hot links.

Peteris Vasks

Zbigniew Preisner

Hans Zimmer

Howard Shore

Garth Trinkl said...

Interesting. ... Last night while delisting review copy and used CDs from my collection I happened to put on (prior to listening to Arvo Part's Symphony #3 [1971] and Sofia Gubaidulina's 1986 Symphony) celebrated film composer Jerry Goldsmith's 2002 recording with the London Symphony Orchestra of his 1969 and 1970 twelve-tone Ray Bradbury cantata Christus Apollo and his Short Music for Orchestra (for Leonard Slatkin). He claimed in his note that he had no hesitation about using 12 tone music for his most serious musical thoughts in that period, though that style was perhaps dated by 2002. In reading this, I remembered that Stravinsky was still alive in Los Angeles at this time. (Goldsmith claimed to be trying to synthesize, as did Toru Takemitsu, impressionism and 'atonality' and 12 tone music.)

Some 'near great' still composing composers are certainly Elliott Carter, Hans Werner Henze, and Harrison Birtwistle. No? ... Pliable will no doubt add Sir Malcolm Arnold and the neo-cons will no doubt add Robert Simpson.

Henry Holland said...

Robert Simpson, yes. His symphonies are fantastic--the CD with the 6th & 7th is one of my favorites. Of course, he's slightly dead, so he doesn't fit Perle's criteria.

I know many wouldn't agree, but I think Boulez is a great composer and he's still alive.

Others that might not be GREAT in the Three B's (which for me are Berg, Bartok & Britten) sense but are still damn fine and alive:

Birtwistle
Saariaho
Sallinen

Garth Trinkl said...

Thanks for the correction regarding Robert Simpson, Henry. On Saturday afternoon, I listened to the BBC Proms premiere performances of Jonathan Harvey, James Dillon, and Julian Anderson; and then on Sunday, the Simpson #9 and the Arnold #9 on CD. While I did note that they were both born in 1921, I forgot to check whether they were both alive. I guess I only wished that Simpson were still alive and composing.

*

Now remember, Henry, Boulez hated Britten's music (and Tchaikovsky's)and their focus on 'melody' ....

Pliable said...

If you follow this link you will find more than 8 minutes of Robert Simpson's music as downloads, go right to the bottom of the article.