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"Composer Chapter of the Week" Club


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Oct 17 during the day is fine with me. Night, I'll be unavailable.

 

Linwood,

 

Call Empire Publishing

818-784-8918

 

At this point, I've only ordered a catalog. I'm not yet certain whether these are full scores, or a "songbook" (I hope not). If it's anything but full scores I'll be disappointed.

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Yea, to take a look at a score would be nice. I really need to learn how to write for strings correctly. My approach is to turn a knob till it says strings and then wing it. It's so hard at my age and with the little time that I have to even think about studying with someone here. I hear the horn stuff that you do and wish I could do it. I hope Carlo will come over here. That's another cat I could really learn something from.

 

Oh and geoff... very cool thing you've done here.

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How's it going folks? I'd like to be first to admit

I haven't done my homework yet :D

 

I'm off to a conference in 2 days and am meeting Alvin Toffler - so trying to read Future Shock between now and then :eek:

 

I'm still damn keen though :thu:

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That's cool, David. Have fun, and join in when you can. :wave:

 

Does anyone here have thoughts or questions about chapter one?

 

I enjoyed Gilreath's history of the evolution of the orchestra, and I agreed with a lot of his listening recommendations - both in choice of material and in what to listen for.

 

However, I disagree with his characterization of classical music as conservative. Of course, it was relatively conservative compared to the romantic era that followed; but then, the romantic era was conservative compared to the modern era that followed. Also, it should be noted that Bach wrote in relative obscurity; and his music didn't rise to prominence until long after his death:

 

Originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica:

Bach died of apoplexy on the 28th of July 1750. His loss was deplored as that of one of the greatest organists and clavier players of his time. Of his compositions comparatively little was known. At his death his MS. works were divided amongst his so^s, and many of them have been lost; only a small fraction of his greater works was recovered when, after the lapse of nearly a century, the verdict of his neglectful posterity was reversed by the modern upholders of polyphonic art. Even now some important works are still apparently irrecoverable.

 

The rediscovery of Bach is closely connected with the name of Mendelssohn, who was amongst the first to proclaim by word and deed the powers of a genius too gigantic to be grasped by three generations. By the enthusiastic endeavours of Mendelssohn, Schumann and others, and in England still earlier by the performances and publications of Wesley and Crotch, the circle of Bach's worshippers rapidly increased. In 1850, a century after his death, a society was started for the correct publication of all Bach's remaining works.

I'll be interested to read your impressions!

 

Best,

 

Geoff

My Blue Someday appears on Apple Music | Spotify | YouTube | Amazon

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After reading it I realized how much I had forgotten about the composers mentioned and their music. I haven't really listened to any of those pieces in years and I'm really unfamiliar with them. All the classical stuff I have is on lp's and I don't even have a turntable set up anymore. I think I'll check out itunes and get a few things and reacquaint myself. When I listen to an orchestra, it is always a film score or someone like Ogerman or Mandel. I haven't been to hear the real thing since I was in my teens. So, that chapter will get me off my ass and I'll got hear the Las Vegas Philharmonic this fall.
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Originally posted by linwood:

After reading it I realized how much I had forgotten about the composers mentioned and their music. I haven't really listened to any of those pieces in years and I'm really unfamiliar with them. All the classical stuff I have is on lp's and I don't even have a turntable set up anymore. I think I'll check out itunes and get a few things and reacquaint myself. When I listen to an orchestra, it is always a film score or someone like Ogerman or Mandel. I haven't been to hear the real thing since I was in my teens. So, that chapter will get me off my ass and I'll got hear the Las Vegas Philharmonic this fall.

Linwood, those are all great ways to check out the orchestra.

 

David and Mark, any impressions to share before we continue on to "Chapter Two: The String Section?"

 

Best,

 

Geoff

My Blue Someday appears on Apple Music | Spotify | YouTube | Amazon

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I have completed Chapter 1 - was a very interesting overview.

 

Do any of you have particular CD recommendations for orchestral pieces to listen to? The book lists a large number I know, but thought I'd like to be influenced by you folks as well. I'm thinking of buying one claasical CD and a soundtrack one.

 

:thu:

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David, Igor Stravinsky's "Rite Of Spring" is my favorite from both an orchestration and a composition standpoint. It's been copied to death; but at the time of its premiere (1913), it was revolutionary enough to cause a riot!

 

On the other hand, it may be better to study the traditional first in order to better understand how Stravinsky broke from it

 

In that case, Ludwig van Beethoven's 5th Symphony is, of course, a classic; but my favorite 19th century composer is Johannes Brahms. All four of his symphonies are worthwhile - I particularly like his third, especially the third movement ("Poco Allegretto").

 

Claude Debussy's "Prélude à laprès-midi dun faune" and "La Mer" helped pave the way for Stravinsky's "Rite Of Spring," as did Stravinsky's own "Firebird Suite" and the many works of Richard Wagner. (Wagner's music was, later, also an influence for John Williams's "Star Wars" scores.)

 

Other popular 20th century works that I like include Béla Bartók's "Music For Strings, Percussion And Celesta," Gustav Holst's "The Planets," Aaron Copland's "Appalachian Spring" and "Rodeo," Samuel Barber's "Adagio For Strings," and Carl Orff's "Carmina Burana." These were all written after Stravinsky's "Rite Of Spring."

 

Best,

 

Geoff

My Blue Someday appears on Apple Music | Spotify | YouTube | Amazon

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Sorry to be an interloper ...

 

I've been slowly building up my classical cd collection over the years. It's amazing how many good finds end up in bargain bins or are offered at rediculously low prices.

 

To add to Geoff's good recommendations, here are some from my (limited) personal collection.

 

I picked up Mozart Collection at one of the membership/warehouse stores: 10 cds for about the price of 3 pop cds. I've always liked "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik", but my wife recommends any of the operas, such as "The Magic Flute", "Don Giovanni", "The Marriage of Figaro", etc. (According to this timeline , Mozart and Beethoven are grouped together, so I don't think I'm going back too far.) This collection is not comprehensive, but is worthwhile none the less as a sort of "crash course" to Mozart.

 

I don't have any Franz Schubert, but I remember from my "Intro. to Music Literature" class that he was known for his sweet melodies. (Quite possibly the text we used was Music: The Art of Listening by Jean Ferris , which includes a compilation cd as a supplement. The class was a great way to get an overview of music from "antiquity to present" over the course of an entire academic year. The cd itself would be worth a listen.)

 

Moving on, the timeline shows Wagner in good company. I have some Frederik Chopin (MIA) and Robert Schumann, but Franz Liszt was the pianist when it came to performance. I have some of his works for piano and orchestra that hopefully highlight his mastery of piano. (Perhaps Geoff would know? Piano Concerto No.1 and No.2, Totentanz, and Hungarian Fantasy [based on Hungarian Rhapsody].)

 

I, too, am a sucker for Brahms' harmonies. Sadly I don't have any of his works in my collection.

 

My Debussy has "Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun" (obviously a translation of what Geoff posted) and includes 3 of the very popular "Nocturnes".

 

Since my H.S. marching band played it, I had to have a copy of Copland's "Appalachian Spring". (The year after I graduated they marched to Holst's "The Planets".)

 

I'm also soft on Dvorak, as some of my ancestors came from Slovakia, through Prague, to the U.S. You can't go wrong with a "Slavonic Dance".

 

For a composer more recent than Stravinsky I like George Gershwin, probably because he used elements of jazz (one of my favorite genres) most notably "Rhapsody in Blue" and "Porgy and Bess". (He may be too modern to have been included in your chapter.)

 

The key is to have diversity in your collection, I think. As David points out, the problem is trying to choose from such a huge collection. To further complicate the matter, not every recording is a good recording. But, I figure I can't go wrong with the price of a bargain bin cd. Still, I think I prefer to hear this music performed live by my local symphony orchestra.

 

* Look through bargain bins.

* Look for compilation cds.

* See your local symphony orchestra.

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Ok, I've caught up and completed Chapters 1 and 2. Seems very straightforward thus far. Of course, application is a whole 'nother story.

 

For me personally, this process is complicated by the fact that I don't enjoy much classical music or film music. The music I want to create is more harmonically modern, along the lines of Claus Ogerman, Don Sebesky and Vince Mendoza. But I'll play along....

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Another interloper here: I'm lucky to still be in university and surrounded by wonderful musicians, and have a great music library and solid student and professional orchestras around. So I've been exposed to a lot of classical music in my time here. Just last week I went to see the Montreal Symphony perform Richard Strauss' "Four Last Songs" and Bruckner's 9th symphony, and the McGill symphony played Elgar's Cello Concerto and Dvorak's 8th Symphony. I didn't care for the Strauss too much, but Bruckner, Elgar, and Dvorak really impressed me.

 

Cnegrad - Mendoza and Ogerman are heavily indebted to Debussy and Ravel. I'd also suggest checking out Shostakovich and Copland, as well as Bruckner. Work backwards - who did Mendoza, Sebesky and Ogerman listen to and/or study with?

 

David

My Site

Nord Electro 5D, Novation Launchkey 61, Logic Pro X, Mainstage 3, lots of plugins, fingers, pencil, paper.

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David,

Cnegrad - Mendoza and Ogerman are heavily indebted to Debussy and Ravel. I'd also suggest checking out Shostakovich and Copland, as well as Bruckner. Work backwards - who did Mendoza, Sebesky and Ogerman listen to and/or study with?
Thanks for your insight. I honestly don't know whom their influences are. Regarding the above mentioned suggested composers: Can you recommend specific pieces that exhibit sophisticated harmonic content? Not to sound snobbish, but conventional "safe" harmony bores me. What little I've heard from Copeland (the "Americana" stuff) doesn't really do anything for me. If you've heard the scores that Mendoza and Ogerman have done with Michael Brecker, THAT'S the kind of harmonicism and orchestrational colors that I'm looking for.
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I'm not familiar with their work with Michael Brecker - I'm actually not too familiar with Ogerman at all. I know Mendoza's string arrangements for Bjork and others and his compositions like "Esperanca."

 

I would definitely suggest checking out Bruckner Symphony #9. Some great orchestration, as well as some intriguing harmonic things (triads related by major/minor thirds, stacked fourths).

 

I've stolen a few chords from Shostakovich symphony #15. Shostakovich alternates between fairly traditional harmony (like Piano Concerto No. 2) and pretty wacky stuff (Symphony #15). One of the things I love about Copland's Americana stuff and Shostakovich's more innocent, playful stuff is the vitality that they coax out of the orchestra.

 

Debussy and Ravel's orchestral stuff to my ears is more coloristic than harmonically meaty, but it's those colours that Mendoza, Ogerman et al. For Debussy, I second the suggestion of "La Mer," as well as the Nocturnes (especially "Nuages" - the fuzzy stacked fifths in the strings is what EVERYONE steals from him). Ravel's "Le Tombeau de Couperin" is quite good.

 

Also, if you're really into adventurous harmony, check out Alban Berg, especially the Piano Sonata in B Minor and the Violin Concerto.

 

David

My Site

Nord Electro 5D, Novation Launchkey 61, Logic Pro X, Mainstage 3, lots of plugins, fingers, pencil, paper.

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