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How Could These composers (in 1600) Be So Good?


Fellow

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Hi all,

I revisited (by playing some pieces ) of G. Tartini's " Devil's trills " My God, it is so good.

I don't believe it was written 400 years ago. A music illiterate player ( no more than

high school music classes) like me, can appreciate its beauty of sound. How could Tartini write it?

The violin as a musical instument was only in its infancy. ( Cat-gut strings, yeaky, forgive me

I would not like to near it) It makes up for it by good music. Unbelieveable. What is your thought?

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In answer to the first question: Devil's Trill wasn't written 400 years ago, right? It was certainly less than 300 years ago, probably closer to 250. Interesting fact: it is nearly impossible to date Tartini's compositions because he never dated his manuscripts and a lot of his stuff wasn't published until after his death. The simple answer to your question, yuen, is that all the rules governing common practice theory were set during Tartini's life (he died in 1770). Until Schoenberg broke with tonality in 1908, the rules that composers followed were just a logical extension of those same rules Tartini composed under. Also (and most importantly), he was inspired by THE DEVIL in a dream.

DSutton,

Who could rival Vivaldi's Four Seasons? Not that I dislike the work, but is that a serious question?

A brief list of works (by no means complete... just examples) rivalling the "Four Seasons."

1. Mozart: Have you ever heard Don Giovanni?

2. Beethoven: All 9 Symphonies manage to rival, as do most of the string quartets.

3. Schubert: Surely you can't have ever heard any Schubert lieder if you can't think of anything equal in beauty to Four Seasons.

4. Schoenberg: 2nd String Quartet

5. Bartok: String Quartets #s 1, 2, and 6.

6. Stravinsky: Rite of Spring

I suppose, most of all, I just object to the use of Vivaldi as the example of Baroque perfection. If you had argued Bach and said something about the Magnificat or the Solo Sonatas and Partitas for Violin or the Suites for Cello... heck, as much as I believe that there is a possibility that Bach was a divine messenger, I still wouldn't say that music has been on the decline. In fact, I regard it as our duty as musicians to support and love the art as it stands today. It certainly takes a lot more work to appreciate a modern piece, but the effort is more than worth it. The expressive language of music has been dramatically augmented since Tartini, and if we as artists don't support music as it stands today, then artistically we are irrelevant.

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Tartini flourished in the mid-18th century (1692-1770), only about 250 years ago. By that time the violin was by no means in its infancy.

"I suppose, most of all, I just object to the use of Vivaldi as the example of Baroque perfection. If you had argued Bach and said something about the Magnificat or the Solo Sonatas and Partitas for Violin or the Suites for Cello... heck, as much as I believe that there is a possibility that Bach was a divine messenger, I still wouldn't say that music has been on the decline."

Well, even if the Four Seasons isn't the standard, we can definitely say that music has all been downhill since Pachelbel's Canon.

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Frank Zappa made so bold as to state that all the good music had already been written, by dead white guys in wigs.

On the whole I tend to agree with him. Not much in the 20th century has had the power to move me. I suspect it will only get worse, as recorded muzak replaces the folk tradition that was so heavily mined by the composers of the past. Variations on a Theme by McCartney? Norwegian Wood Symphony? You can't always get what you want, but sometimes you can get the London Bach Choir a decent recording gig.

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We tend to forget that a lot of the music we now consider to be masterpieces scandalized audiences and was ridiculed when first presented. Over time the pieces lost their novelty and became beloved by audiences everywhere (e.g., people at the premiere of Beethoven's 5th Symphony laughed at his opening motif as being too simplistic and his violin concerto was mocked as the "concerto for kettledrum" because of the beginning...). Although I also have trouble believing that much 20th century art music will stand the test of time, I'm willing to admit that I might have had the same reaction to Beethoven, Wagner, etc. had I lived in that time period!

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quote:


Originally posted by:
Bob A
You can't always get

what you want, but sometimes you can get the London Bach Choir a

decent recording gig.

Ha! Don't worry, Bob.  Some of us

understood that joke!

Yuen,  yes Jerry Garcia was a guitarist.  He was the

leader of the rock band "The Grateful Dead."

He is also an ice cream flavor, sort of.

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I love Baroque music too, but Prokofiev's violin concertos and sonatas are fantastic works, as well as Shostakovich's music (violin concertos, sonatas, quartets and the piano quintet).

The repertoire is much more bigger than most people think. Take for instance all Mozart and Beethoven quartets... there is a whole world to be discovered there. And there are the relatevely unknown composers... Kodaly is fantastic (I've been listening to his cello works, Naxos, 2 CDs). Martucci, Villa-Lobos (his quartets and trios are quite good too). And we have all those fantastic French composers too.

A good way to listen to unknown composers is listening to the radio. The BBC 3 is quite good, and we can listen to it on the net.

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I knew you'd get it, Allan.

Let's remember, too, the (in)famous remark that Wagner's music is better than it sounds. Not so sure it'd apply to Stravinsky.

Possibly proving my plebeian roots, I find a lot to like in Ralph Vaughn Williams' work. The granddaughter is at present delighting me with his workup of old English folk songs. Just a reactionary old olfactory accident, myself, I tend to prefer lyricism and melody to 12 tone experimental stretching of aural boundaries.

Where are the Bachs and Mozarts of today? I suspect that half the people who've ever walked the Earth are alive today. We whould be awash in genius. Sadly, however, we don't seem to promote its promise.

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We're totally awash in genius. It's just that they're [also] working in the contemporary idiom, exactly as the composers of 200 years ago were, and today that equivalent idiom isn't modern "serious" music. I suspect that the proper comparison to this: "people at the premiere of Beethoven's 5th Symphony laughed at his opening motif as being too simplistic and his violin concerto was mocked as the "concerto for kettledrum" because of the beginning. . ." would be the the comments that people on this forum would make about conteporary rock (or whatever it's called these days). If all those incredibly talented kids who chose to play in rock bands had devoted themselves to the violin, instead, a lot of now-violinists would be looking for work now, and not finding any.

A friend of mine is enthusiastic about modern music, and asserts, properly, that I don't get it because I don't understand it, intellectually, structurally, etc. My response is that music is to be heard and felt, not "understood". The intellectual part may be a bonus, beyond the sensual but if the audio-sensual part isn't there, it ain't music, in my opinion.

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Some great new music in a feel-able idiom is still being written for film scores. Although the limitations of the medium make it difficult to compare to great music of the past, now and then some very fine things get done.

Let's see, tonal music was supposed to have died how long ago? But that language is being used to say new things even now. See Howard Shore's score for the Lord of the Rings movies for an example.

For a very interesting and even deceptive exercise in the application of much of the trappings of atonal music to the purpose of moving people emotionally, see Jerry Goldsmith's score for Planet of the Apes (1968). People call it 'atonal', but it is actually mostly organized in a tonal way.

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quote:


Originally posted by:
Michael Darnton
If all those

incredibly talented kids who chose to play in rock bands had

devoted themselves to the violin, instead, a lot of now-violinists

would be looking for work now, and not finding any. .

So very true. Check out Steve Vai, as one blazing

example, or Yngvie Malmsteen.  They play like Pagannini on

steroids.  Some of Zappa's compositions (his rock stuff, not

that classical noise he experimented with before his death) are

amazingly complex and deep. etc, etc .....

It will also be interesting to see what might come out of China,

now that they are culturally so open to western influence.

 With so many people there, there's likely to be a few musical

geniuses in the lot, just waiting to absorb western musical theory

and then combine it with their eastern roots.  

Should be a hoot.

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I feel that I need to encourage quite a few of you to give contemporary composers a fighting chance. There is so much awesome music being composed right now--even by students. Here's a short string quartet a friend of mine wrote: http://www.takumaitoh.com/works/string_quartet.html He wrote this as a Junior. Now granted, I suspect he's at the front of the next generation of composers, but still... he's a student.

Check out Pierre Jalbert: http://www.ruf.rice.edu/~jalbert/sounds.html

A professor of mine from Rice. Incredible composer. Check out the Horn Concerto and the selection from In Aeternum. I played on the In Aeternum recording... the piece is truly stunning. One of my favorite things I've ever done in orchestra.

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quote:


Originally posted by:
Allan Speers

It will also be interesting to see what might come out of China,

now that they are culturally so open to western influence.

With so many people there, there's likely to be a few musical

geniuses in the lot, just waiting to absorb western musical theory

and then combine it with their eastern roots.


Tan Dun

Bright Sheng

just to name a couple. Or were you thinking more along the lines of pop/rock?

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Tartini, an excellent violin player in his own right, was born in

1692 in the state of Venice.

Violin making standards was reaching its peak in northern Italy as

his playing matured.

But let's face it, even though Bach only had harpsichord, his

keyboard works work great on the modern piano.

Great music transcends the physical limitations of the instrument.

 

Now that 20th century is over, I have to say my relationship with

20th century classical music is a kind of love-hate.  I hate

the fact that so there is so much junk that is based on absurd

theories instead of how real human beings respond to music.

 But there is much 20th century music to love.  I once

read Rostropovich saying that Shostakovich is the Beethoven, the

Mozart or the Bach of our times.  He said he did not realize

 that when they were music and drinking buddies.

 But the older he gets the more he realizes what a genius he

is.  At first I thought Rostropovich only said that because he

missed his friend.  Now I realize Shostakovich is the Bach of

20th century.  It will take some time for Shostakovich's

reputation to grow (Bach had to wait for Mendelssohn to promote his

name).

Look at Mahler, his 9 symphonies are no less an achievement than

Beethoven's.  It has been 100 years since he died, and his

reputation as a great symphonist is still growing, and now it is

approaching Beethoven. Perhaps 100 years from now Mahler will be

considered a greater symphonist than Beethoven.  

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quote:


Originally posted by:
Michael Darnton

A friend of mine is enthusiastic about modern music, and asserts, properly, that I don't get it because I don't understand it, intellectually, structurally, etc. My response is that music is to be heard and felt, not "understood". The intellectual part may be a bonus, beyond the sensual but if the audio-sensual part isn't there, it ain't music, in my opinion.

Modern (or even postmodern) or not, music is no more (or less) than "what feelings sound like." Hence I agree that it must be "felt," not "understood." What is unclear to me is whether or not it ought to be felt by the mass (including the "unschooled" mass). Then again, who are we to say that "high-culture" ought to be separated and preserved from "low-culture"?

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There is more than one modern train of thought on "cerebral" and "academic" compositions.

One, which I like very much, relegates them to disertations and academic lecture circuits, but leaves it all out of real music.

All eras have their elitists. What does change is the amount of money available to produce something that speaks both to academic circles and the common man.

Today, there simply is no money in it. I would argue that the elitist and cerebral music composed today in most academic circles is pure drivel---simply for the fact that its intended audience and therefore its practitioners have no other motive than to speak to and please itself---however erroneous or inconsequential they become.

It should be very telling when the vast majority of modern composers cannot perform on stage.

let's get back to having our music makers be our music writers. I suppose when you can't play it, you end up thinking way too much about it and then writing about your thinking about it.

To me, that is NOT music.

After all, the old man Bach never went around thinking about how he'd explain his music according to rules of the "common practice.' He never thought, "wait, oh no, I CAN'T use doubled fiths here because it is against the rules." All one needs for proof is to look at some of the Chorales.

-E

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Steve,

As I understand it (by and large) music composed in the Baroque period was either for the Court or for Church.

There is the first answer to your question: church in those day was the masses. Church music was meant to inspire awe and religious fervor in its audience.

However, outside of church, music wasn't really democratized, that is, via large public concert series, until the Classical period, and even then, those concerts were not for the "masses" so much as for the burgeoning middle class.

In the later 19th century Entrepreneur Conductors were some of the most successful at actually bringing Classical and Romantic repertoire to the actual masses. These conductors would form orchestras and tour extensively throughout Europe with incredibly varied programs and low ticket prices. The two most well-known of these men were the Strausses: Johann Sr. and Jr. Look for John Spitzer's soon-to-be-published article in the 19th-Century Music Review "The Entrepreneur-Conductors and Their Orchestras."

---------------------

On a side note: I think both Beethoven and Shostakovich are better symphonists than Mahler. Furthermore, Shostakovich is the Beethoven of the 20th Century and Bartok is the Bach. Haha, this could get fun. Schoenberg is the Brahms. Webern is the Schubert. And heck, why not, Stravinsky (whose neoclassical stuff is ridiculously good) is the Mozart.

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