I know, I know. My previous attempt to do an intro to classical music was insanely long and pedantically detailed and nobody really cared and it never got anywhere.
The general intent, however, remains: perhaps people might listen to more great music if "classical music" weren't a colossal creature sprawling over 400 years filled with dozens of names that mean nothing to most people, and into which there are few easy entry points.
So this time, I've skipped ahead. What I intend to do here is just tell people about classical composers. What I'm going to do is organise composers into a rough hierachy of tiers, starting with the best and most essential, and working down into examples of less significant composers, with, accordingly fewer and fewer words as you go down the list. The idea is that people can get a sense of who the significant figures are, their relative level of significance, and what sort of music they wrote. If anybody's interested, they can then investigate in more detail on their own time.
So to start with, I'm going to talk about the Trinity. These are, by far, the most important composers, with large oeuvres of masterpieces spanning many genres, so I'm going to do a detailed post on each one of the three. After these, the word count will reduce exponentially with each 'tier'. I'll hopefully do at least four tiers, but after that I may just list some names.
Anyway, if this is of any interest to anyone, please do say, since otherwise I may just get bored and abandon it (again). Also, if anyone has any comment - on the posts or the music - or questions, please do contribute!
Now, to start:
Tier 1: The Holy Trinity
There is no consensus on the identity of the greatest ever composer. However, in any list of, say, four or five of the greatest composers, from any vaguely reputable observer, three names will almost universally appear, fixed in the firmament for a century and a half or more, as their rivals have gradually fallen by the wayside with the fluctuations of fashion: Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven. Classical music fans, in discussing these three, frequently stray into an almost (or even explicitly) religious vocabulary: they are not merely heroes, but demigods of supernatural ability. The idea of the three as a divine trinity is strengthened by the differences between them: they seem not only to represent the highest achievable human excellence, but to represent three different visions of the nature of excellence. As SF author Douglas Adams famously put it: “Mozart tells us what it’s like to be human; Beethoven tells us what it’s like to be Beethoven; Bach tells us what it’s like to be the universe.”
But the river tripped on her by and by, lapping
as though her heart was brook: Why, why, why! Weh, O weh
I'se so silly to be flowing but I no canna stay!