Author Topic: April. 2017: What "Great" Composer Do You Think is Overrated?  (Read 1952 times)

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Ron

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I am listening to Gabriel Fauré's "Requiem" as I write this. It is a sublimely wonderful work. He was a contemporary of Brahms (Fauré: 1845-1924; Brahms: 1833-97). Once again I am left wondering why Brahm's is considered one of the "Great" composers while very few have heard of Fauré. I always thought that Brahms was overrated--a ham-fisted amateur in comparison with the subtlety and elegance of Fauré. Is there a German versus French prejudice in the "classical" music rating system?
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Who is your favorite overrated "master"?
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Michel.R.E

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Re: April. 2017: What "Great" Composer Do You Think is Overrated?
« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2017, 10:41:09 AM »
ummmm.. I could probably write a list pages long of composers I think are over-rated.
but let's start with Boulez and Schoenberg.
then Mahler and Wagner.

there's a couple to start with.
the first two took the music out of music-making.
the latter two made the music go on WAY beyond the time it should have ended.

A friend once said of a Mahler symphony: "This is quite beautiful... will it continue being beautiful for very long still?" (rough translation from the French: "C'est très beau, mais est-ce que ça va être beau encore longtemps?")
"Writing music to be revolutionary is like cooking to be famous: Music’s main function is not revolution. – Alan Belkin "

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sandalwood

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Re: April. 2017: What "Great" Composer Do You Think is Overrated?
« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2017, 02:18:08 PM »
I am listening to Gabriel Fauré's "Requiem" as I write this. It is a sublimely wonderful work. He was a contemporary of Brahms (Fauré: 1845-1924; Brahms: 1833-97). Once again I am left wondering why Brahm's is considered one of the "Great" composers while very few have heard of Fauré. I always thought that Brahms was overrated--a ham-fisted amateur in comparison with the subtlety and elegance of Fauré.
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Yay for Fauré! :)

I have always felt similar to you about Brahms and put the blame on myself for failing to hear what the whole world seemed to hear. One day I saw a quote on Brahms by Tchaikovsky, he said "What a giftless bastard". I still blame myself, a bit less perhaps, and try to concentrate on form, orchestration etc. when once in a while I listen to his music.

I also find it very interesting that he (B) advised R Strauss to take Schubert as example and incorporate memorable melodies in his music.


perpetuo studens

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Re: April. 2017: What "Great" Composer Do You Think is Overrated?
« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2017, 04:30:45 PM »
I don't claim to be knowledgeable enough to call him overrated, but you can add me to the list of people who don't "get" Brahms. I love Fauré though (thanks Michel).

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whitebark

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Re: April. 2017: What "Great" Composer Do You Think is Overrated?
« Reply #4 on: April 04, 2017, 06:20:21 PM »
Not much love for Brahms here!  His calm, conservative style seems to age better than some of the flashier 19th century composers...like Mahler.  I can't stand Mahler's first and often played "Titan" symphony much anymore, although I still occasionally enjoy a rip-roaring performance of the 2nd "Resurrection" symphony.   I've tried to like Mahler's 8th "Symphony of a Thousand" and I just can't  do it, despite the awe-inspiring title. I certainly agree that Faure's Requiem is a wonderful piece, along with his other works like the piano quartets and quintets.

How about Berlioz and his Fantastic Symphony?  It does get played a lot, but I just can't get into it.  Even when my community orchestra performed the work ( I was in the string bass section), I didn't enjoy it then either.  Is this symphony really a good work, or does it get performed because of its alluring name?  In contrast, I have also performed Brahms' Requiem and loved that experience.
« Last Edit: April 04, 2017, 06:40:16 PM by whitebark »

Tokkemon

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Re: April. 2017: What "Great" Composer Do You Think is Overrated?
« Reply #5 on: April 04, 2017, 08:22:21 PM »
A couple contenders:

Brahms: His symphonies (mostly) are quite difficult to listen to because of their "sameness" to me, as is much of his other orchestral stuff. His German Requiem is popular beyond bound, but I never understood why other than the extreme pathos. I suppose a lot of his Chamber work is great too, but I think it suffers from the same problems, mostly lack of color and contrast.

Berlioz: He has his moments, but a lot of it has no good structure or if it does, it doesn't make much sense. I went to the Grand Messe de Morts last year at Royal Albert Hall and it was a snoozefest except for a couple really sublime moments here and there (like the Tuba Mirum and Sanctus). I think he gets way too much credit for  Symphonie Fantastique too, the fifth movement is really the only one that's really cool I think.

Schoenberg, Stockhausen, Xenakis, Boulez: Modernist stuff that's very difficult to listen to. Not really overrated in the wider world, just within the community of composers.

I could be controversial and say Mozart, but I'm not going to go there!  :D

Periwink

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Re: April. 2017: What "Great" Composer Do You Think is Overrated?
« Reply #6 on: April 09, 2017, 11:58:33 AM »
I agree Ron, Faure his requiem is my favorite (Ligeti's is starting to grow on me as well). I have to admit that there aren't many works I'm familiar with by Faure, I heard he had some amazing chamber works. Could you maybe leave a few suggestions?

Hm I can't really think of composers that are overrated to be honest, only underrated composers (Hindemith and Messiaen come to mind). Maybe Haas is overrated at the moment, but that's just the hype probably. Maybe it's because I'm european unlike most of you, but I love Mahler, Brahms, and Berlioz (haven't really looked deep enough into Wagner yet). The tranquillity of mind I leave the concerthall with after a Mahler symphony is exceptional, there aren't many works that are over an hour long where I can keep such a strong focus throughout. But these things are very personal of course :D .

Anyway, I guess it depends where you studied, with whom, the year, and with what kind of people you hang out with now? I'm nearing the end of my first year and while the importance of these (pre)serialists is stressed often enough there is a general consensus that a lot of the works by Boulez, late Schoenberg, Lachenmann, etc aren't really made for listening lol.
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Michel.R.E

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Re: April. 2017: What "Great" Composer Do You Think is Overrated?
« Reply #7 on: April 09, 2017, 01:24:08 PM »
great Fauré works:
Piano quintet no2
Piano quintet no1
Piano trio (one of his very last works)
"Cantique de Jean Racine" (I'm not a religious person, but this piece moves to tears every time)
String quartet

A famous piece of his: Fantasy for flute and piano (or orchestra)

One of his most famous art songs: Claire de lune

And my personal favourite of all his art songs, Les Berceaux (the lyrics are heart breaking).
« Last Edit: August 21, 2017, 07:40:15 AM by Michel.R.E »
"Writing music to be revolutionary is like cooking to be famous: Music’s main function is not revolution. – Alan Belkin "

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Periwink

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Re: April. 2017: What "Great" Composer Do You Think is Overrated?
« Reply #8 on: April 09, 2017, 10:56:19 PM »
Thank you Michel I'll check them out.
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MikeL

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Re: April. 2017: What "Great" Composer Do You Think is Overrated?
« Reply #9 on: April 20, 2017, 02:37:44 PM »
I struggle with Bruckner. Tried to listen to his symphonies occasionally but give up after the first few minutes. :-[

Although I appreciate Mahler I find the choral ending of the second uninspired compared to the first movements.

Sorry Ron, Love Brahms. Tchaikovsky was upset that the critics were with Brahms and though he (T) was a second rate. On the occasions they met they got on well, mainly because Brahms would lay on the booze.
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Re: April. 2017: What "Great" Composer Do You Think is Overrated?
« Reply #10 on: May 01, 2017, 05:27:48 AM »
My favorite music to hate is Vivaldi's "Four Seasons".  Also not fond of Telemann.  I keep hearing that the Seasons are the most popular classical music in the world, and can't imagine why.  My sister in law has the piece as background while you wait for her to pick up the phone, and I'm getting where I hate to call her because of that aural ice pick in my ear.  There is some music that starts out nowhere and goes nowhere.

My community orchestra played Bruch's Kol Nidri this last season and I really like that a lot.  The oboe parts aren't hard to play either   ;D

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sandalwood

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Re: April. 2017: What "Great" Composer Do You Think is Overrated?
« Reply #11 on: May 01, 2017, 11:46:05 PM »
The Lindy Effect might provide an interesting framework to estimate future popularity of composers.

RJB54

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Re: April. 2017: What "Great" Composer Do You Think is Overrated?
« Reply #12 on: May 04, 2017, 09:25:28 AM »
I know this is a little late, but...

For me it's fluctuation of particular composers within levels based upon broad based nationalistic stylistic categories. I tend towards rating levels of (1) German composers, (2) American/English composers, (3) Russian composers, (4) French composers, and (5) Italian composers, as, in broad terms,  the compositional interests of composers in these various groups are to a greater or lesser degree in keeping with what I respect in compositions.
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Jamie Kowalski

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Re: April. 2017: What "Great" Composer Do You Think is Overrated?
« Reply #13 on: May 04, 2017, 09:58:33 AM »
I totally get what people are saying about Brahms... EXCEPT for the third and fourth symphonies. Some wonderful stuff in there.

I could be controversial and say Mozart, but I'm not going to go there!  :D
I have also often been tempted to go there, but I'm just not ready for the public scorn.

Michel.R.E

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Re: April. 2017: What "Great" Composer Do You Think is Overrated?
« Reply #14 on: May 04, 2017, 10:04:28 AM »
Well, Mozart has his masterpieces, and he has MORE than his fair share of duds.
"Writing music to be revolutionary is like cooking to be famous: Music’s main function is not revolution. – Alan Belkin "

"Saying something new about something old is still saying something new. – Jamie Kowalski"