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 Post subject: Re: Classical Composers
PostPosted: Thu Feb 15, 2018 5:45 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: Classical Composers
PostPosted: Thu Feb 15, 2018 5:53 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: Classical Composers
PostPosted: Fri Feb 16, 2018 12:03 am 
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Never heard of Brouwer, despite taking years of guitar. I wouldn't have guessed that would get so close to (a stupid name) -- but then, the division between the two isn't always clear-cut, especially when there are no fancy pop music tricks involved.

(Then again, Carson McWhirter says he doesn't care about music theory and doesn't write down any of his music.)

One of the nice things about certain parts of modernism is that you don't have to know a whole lot about them to start noticing it everywhere. claims to have been influenced by Tchaikovsky, but can you tell? It sure sounds like a natural outgrowth of the delta blues "pick a riff or two and elaborate on it" deal (which, like syncopation, was a natural outgrowth of pre-existing trends within European music), and of course metal was originally British guys discovering the folk music of the Southern US and playing it really loud so that's not a surprise. But if you've heard anything by Philip Glass, you can tell that is Rob Hubbard trying to be Philip Glass.

It does help to know that Rob Hubbard was like that -- him trying to be Jarre, for example. It also helps to know that the title music he wrote for the same game, which is now solidly within the VGM canon, is... .

With the result that there are now , by people who have no idea that it's the theme to Koyaanisqatsi. But Glass is the sort of composer who and , so.

And then you have Liturgy. To be fair, isn't quite minimalism, but then you have and and the idea of "general tremolo", which is where you go "you know how black metal is really into tremolo picking? well, what if we did that for things that aren't guitars?".

Such as, for example, the glockenspiel on most of The Ark Work, and the piano technique in that Eastman piece. I don't know if there was direct influence, and AFAIK the band hasn't mentioned him, but he started being remembered in exactly the right time and place (late 2000s NYC) for influence to be probable, and they do at least refer to Reich and place themselves within the Reich/Branca/Chatham/Sonic Youth NYC art-classical continuity.

As for minimalism itself, the canon, AFAICT, is Steve Reich, Philip Glass, and Arvo Part. But I won't say anything about them because I don't know shit

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 Post subject: Re: Classical Composers
PostPosted: Fri Feb 16, 2018 8:31 am 
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Well, see my first thread for a brief discussion of minimalism and its influence. But in short:

- the hardcore minimalist canon is LaMonte Young, Steve Reich and Terry Riley. To those can be added Philip Glass and also John Adams, both of whom share a clearly minimalim-born aesthetic but who have expanded their repertoire more in the direction of common practice and other forms of modernism.

- Arvo Part belongs to a genre known as 'holy minimalism' or the like; there, he's joined by Henryk Gorecki and John Tavener (not to be confused with John Taverner, another composer born hundreds of years earlier), as well as a host of less known composers, many from eastern europe and the baltic - the movement is closely connected to religion, and particularly orthodoxy (although I did once hear some latvian neopagan minimalism at a concert). Holy minimalism tends to be more accessible than minimalism proper - it's more consonant, and it tries to connect minimalism with mediaeval religious music, rather than with the avant garde.

- however, all of the above have denied being minimalists of any kind, so it's hard to have clear definitions

- yes, the influence of minimalism is widespread in modern popular music, and has been since the beginning. The Velvet Underground was basically a pop spinoff from LaMonte Young's circle (cf Brian Eno), and The Who were outright impersonating Terry Riley at times. "Tubular Bells" is a straightforward minimalist piece that mysteriously got promoted as pop. Muse are often imitating Glass. Particularly in film and TV scoring, there's a considerable blurring of genre lines, often using pop-y melodies and harmonies with minimalist accompaniment, and minimalist scoring in the non-melodic passages. Popular electronic music and some styles of dance music are obviously indebted to minimalism too, and modern "DJ"ing is derived from the methods of repetition and mixing pioneered primarily by early minimalism (as well as of course by other modernist movements - none of this would exist without Elektronische Musik and musique concrète).

- I suspect that the inevitable future fusion of classical and popular traditions will lean very heavily on the bridge of minimalism.

- on the other hand, it's largely easier to spot modernist influences because they stand out against a background of common practice. Most popular music is pretty solidly in the common practice language, which makes it hard to pin down specific influences - whether a pop musician might lean toward Tchaikovsky or might lean toward Brahms, they're still basically writing in the same language, just in slightly different accents. Plus, if someone who doesn't know much classical music discovers just one composer and tries to emulate them, they'll end up emulating a lot of things that are common to many composers. So common practice music is like this big liquid sea underneath pop music, from which pop music is continually drawing up undifferentiated bucketfulls. Whereas when they happen to draw up a minimalist lobster instead, that's really obvious - that stands out because it's different.

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 Post subject: Re: Classical Composers
PostPosted: Fri Feb 16, 2018 10:03 am 
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 Post subject: Re: Classical Composers
PostPosted: Fri Feb 16, 2018 2:03 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: Classical Composers
PostPosted: Fri Feb 16, 2018 3:42 pm 
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Johannes Brahms
1833-1897 (mid- to late Romantic)
b. Hamburg; d. Vienna

Who? – Brahms was in many ways a contradictory man. Born into a Lutheran family in northern Germany, he soon migrated to Vienna and became, it’s believed, an atheist, whose works often explicitly or implicitly depict the alienation of mortal man in an uncaring universe. A studious and academic composer (and minor prodigy), some of his formative experiences were his concert tours with the Hungarian violinists Joachim and Reményi, from whom he absorbed elements of a ‘gypsy’ style. Resolutely formalist, historical, abstract, and passionate about Bach and early music, he was nonetheless a relentless innovator. Yet despite this fearlessness in his writing, and despite (or because of) his annointing as a young man at the hands of Schumann, in print, as the Chosen One “fated” to be the standard-bearer of the future of music, he was desparately perfectionist and insecure. A major public figure, he seems to have been too timid to engage with his rivals, becoming instead the butt of public mockery. He fell in love once, was rejected, and lived the rest of his life alone; his closest relationship was his adoration of Clara Schumann (Schumann himself had been confined to a lunatic asylum shortly after proclaiming Brahms’ destiny), with whom he lived, but their relationship appears to have been platonic. A clean-shaven, sternly neat man, in his last decade or so he suddenly grew an immense, unruly, Karl Marx beard, with which he is now best remembered. He was acclaimed as part of a holy trinity, the ‘Three Bs’, by Hans von Bülow, the most famous conductor of his age, who declared: “I believe in Bach the Father; in Beethoven, his Son; and in Brahms, the Holy Spirit”.

What? – Brahms’ reputation was mostly founded upon his titanic, large-scale works, in which he attempted to respectfully advance the legacy of Beethoven, combining innovation with academic rigour. As a result, he was admired more than loved – the more highbrow counterpole to the looser, more impressionistic and more popular Liszt – a composer’s composer. Yet despite his concern for technical excellence, he is also capable at times of moments of extreme passion, when he permits himself. Some believe, however, that his talents are best displayed in his small oeuvre of chamber music, where his technical skills (particularly his extensive use of counterpoint), innovation and approachability most fruitfully unite. His music is often noted for its rhythmic complexity.

Such As? – took 21 years to write, and was immediately both acclaimed and derided as “Beethoven’s Tenth”. However, while all four of his symphonies are considered classics (each regularly considered among the top dozen or two symphonies in the repertoire), it’s the final two, and particularly the , that command the greatest respect. Even more monumental is his (not a formal religious mass, but a collection of death-related texts from the Bible*; here I’ve linked the most famous, second movement, common in high-profile funerals (it was used for the death of JFK, for example; if you’re impatient, turn the volume up to max and skip to 2.15 in for the buildup to the second entry of the choir, one of music’s great drive-listeners-to-their-knees-in-awe moments; it’s even more powerful when it comes back five minutes later). On a lighter note, an enduring orchestral favourite is his (the theme isn’t actually by Haydn, so it’s sometimes called Variation on St Anthony’s Chorale or the like). Spoiler: it ends . Brahms also appears near the top of lists when it comes to concertos: his epic first piano concerto was originally intended as a symphony, and was a landmark in the genre with continued admiration, but his is considered among the greatest of all concertos. It pales in mass popularity, however, beside his unusually crowd-pleasing (that’s the celebrated third movement – modern listeners may recognise it from, e.g., “There Will Be Blood”).

In chamber music, his three string quartets certainly have fans (particularly among later modernist composers), especially (modern listeners may recognise it from, e.g., “Marvel’s The Defenders”). But Brahms explored a great many subgenres of chamber music (including sextets, piano quartets, violin and cello sonatas, a horn trio and so on) and interest is spread out among his works – such as the relatively early , and his very late .

Brahms’ best-known pieces, however, both in his lifetime and since, come from much smaller works. His bestseller during his life was his of (although ironically that one, the best known, was never a folk song in the first place, but instead was written by Brahms’ popular contemporary, Béla Kéler, who did a good enough job emulating folk music that Brahms didn’t realise that it wasn’t; Brahms did something similar himself by sneaking a few original compositions into the compilation.

Nothing, though, in Brahms’ oeuvre, or that of almost any other composer, compares to the enduring fame of a short song that he wrote for a childhood sweetheart to celebrate the birth of her second child, in which an old song the teenagers had sung to one another was reworked in softer tones to provide (and probably the only Brahms piece recorded by Sinatra...).

*the Requiem does turn eventually to optimism, but much of it puts “emo” music to shame with its lyrics: the first three movements begin “Blessed are they that mourn”, “For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of mankind but the flowers of grass: the grass withers, and the flowers fall away” and “Lord, teach me that I must have an end”. Fun times.

**the “Hungarian Dances” are not exactly “Hungarian”. For one thing, they’re a translation of (mostly) folk music into the idiom of Viennese Romanticism, by a German composer. But more fundamentally, the folk music in question isn’t autochthonous Hungarian – it’s a professional “gypsy” style that fuses Roma and Hungarian and Balkan influences. As “gypsy” musicians (Roma and those who emulated their style) dominated the easily-accessible popular musical culture of towns in Hungary and the Balkans, most “Hungarian”-style music prior to around 1900 was actually gypsy-style; only in the late 19th and early 20th century did researchers actually go into the countryside and record the music of local inhabitants to uncover the “genuine” Hungarian (and Balkan) musical cultures that the “gypsy” professionals had been adapting. So the Hungarian Dance no. 5 is a German’s attempt to Westernise a composition by a Hungarian that attempted to imitate “gypsy” music that itself interpreted native Hungarian folk music.

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 Post subject: Re: Classical Composers
PostPosted: Fri Feb 16, 2018 3:55 pm 
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Not criticising Sal here
Just reminding everyone that "gypsy" is considered a slur when us gadjo use it. Outside of discussions of history like here, don't use it. Just don't. And don't say "gyped". It's a derivation and once you know that it is based off the Romani it's obvious that it is a slur even if you don't know "gypsy" is one.

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 Post subject: Re: Classical Composers
PostPosted: Fri Feb 16, 2018 4:54 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: Classical Composers
PostPosted: Fri Feb 16, 2018 4:56 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: Classical Composers
PostPosted: Sat Feb 17, 2018 3:17 am 
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 Post subject: Re: Classical Composers
PostPosted: Sat Feb 17, 2018 10:38 am 
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 Post subject: Re: Classical Composers
PostPosted: Sat Feb 17, 2018 11:18 am 
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 Post subject: Re: Classical Composers
PostPosted: Sat Feb 17, 2018 4:11 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: Classical Composers
PostPosted: Sat Feb 17, 2018 5:31 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: Classical Composers
PostPosted: Sat Feb 17, 2018 6:13 pm 
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Uh, yes, that's what I was trying to say: that Pete Townshend was pretty clear about the song's main source of inspiration. The song title is clearly a shout-out, and is unrelated to the actual lyrics. (And "Baba" refers to Meher Baba, his spiritual inspiration.)

By the way, I prefer the . I've spend hours trying to replicate Pete's live guitar tone.


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 Post subject: Re: Classical Composers
PostPosted: Sun Feb 18, 2018 10:22 am 
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 Post subject: Re: Classical Composers
PostPosted: Sun Feb 18, 2018 5:40 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: Classical Composers
PostPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2018 10:54 am 
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 Post subject: Re: Classical Composers
PostPosted: Tue Feb 20, 2018 4:55 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: Classical Composers
PostPosted: Tue Feb 20, 2018 5:31 pm 
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RICHARD WAGNER
1813-1883 (mid- to late Romantic)
b. Leipzig; d. Venice

Who? – Stepson (and possibly actually son) of a small-town actor, Wagner’s first creative impulse was as a playwright; the desire to set music to his plays seems to have led him to take up music as a teenager, and almost all his compositions are in the field of opera, to libretti he wrote himself. He lived a peripatetic life: debt, political exile (Wagner was a socialist who took part in an attempted revolution as a young man), and public moral outrage (over his relationships with women; not only did the married Wagner sleep with the wife of the conductor of ‘Tristan and Isolde’, his opera about adultery, but when he impregnated her he had her name the resulting daughter ‘Isolde’ just to rub salt in the wound) forced him to move home repeatedly. [his travels spanned London, Venice and Riga, but he's particularly associated with Paris, Dresden, Munich, a villa on Lake Lucerne, and finally Bayreuth]. Against this insecurity, his greatest weapon was his unparalleled personal magnetism, which reduced otherwise intelligent men and women to obsequious submission, at least for a period of time (many of his adoring disciples, most famously Friedrich Nietzsche, later turned against him); he required his followers to refer to him as “Master”. Most important of his entourage was the gay, teenage King of Bavaria, whose enthusiasm was extreme even among Wagnerians – “O Holy One, I worship you!”, the king gushed; Wagner prevailed upon him to cancel his outstanding debts and provide large ‘loans’ (these, allied to other extravagancies, drove the king into debt, leading to his removal from power and possible murder). The culmination of Wagner’s improbable financial power – funded jointly by the infatuated monarch and by a mass-crowdfunding initiative by worldwide ‘Wagner societies’ – was the construction of Wagner’s own opera house in Bayreuth, dedicated to performing music by Wagner, with words by Wagner, in costumes designed by Wagner, in front of sets designed by Wagner, in a building designed and built by Wagner.

In his early career, however, he was penurious, forced to borrow money from Jewish composers who were more successful than him. Bitterness over this, combined with constant fears (and attacks by others) over his own ancestry (born in the Jewish quarter, possibly illegitimate; some speculated that his stepfather, who may have been his real father, may have been of Jewish ancestry) seems to have inspired a lifelong, passionate antisemitism; Wagner largely saw malign Jewish influence, and the dilution of Aryan blood through miscegenation, as imperilling the purity and strength of the German nation, and called for the Jews to commit “self-annihilation”. [oddly, this did not weaken the ardour of his many Jewish disciples, and he was even a favourite with early Zionists, until his posthumous adoption by the Nazis made him politically poisonous]. For most of his life, he was himself an ardent follower of Schopenhauer, with his philosophy of universal and inescapable suffering only temporarily relieved through contemplation of the transcendental works of the great composers; this philosophy and his nationalism lead him to an interest in pagan myth. Late in life, however, he increasingly embraced a mystical form Christianity, which he came to see as the unifying, salvific force in European nationhood.

What? – Wagner wrote opera. He wrote a couple of other things too, but they aren’t important. Early on, he attempted French-style Grand Opera, but grew increasingly convinced that music must be only the servant of drama. Accordingly, he later denied writing opera, and instead claimed to write “Total Music Works” or “Music Drama”: opera shorn of such decadent fripparies as memorable tunes (in his last works he backed off slightly from this extreme view) – instead, he developed on an unprecedented scale the use of ‘leitmotifs’, recurring thematic fragments that musicaly linked disparate parts of the whole, and provided narrative subtext to the listener (an approach that has gone on to dominate modern film scoring). This was only one aspect of his relentless innovation: he modernised orchestras (bigger!), instruments (deeper and louder!), singers (bigger and louder!), and structures (less structured!) but also, more importantly, harmony itself. Wagner led the drive to expand the Romantic musical language to functionally incorporate more and more ‘chromatic’ and ‘discordant’ sounds; this drive eventually lead to the total collapse of the three-century-old Common Practice. He is thus considered by many the father or grandfather of modernism, and 20th century music, from Serialism to Jazz, is deeply indebted to his experiments.

Such As? – It’s hard to point out the unmissable bits in Wagner, for two reasons: the first is that I’ve never been a Wagner fan and don’t know much about individual numbers in his works; the second is that he almost entirely composed large, through-written operas, from which it is is intentionally difficult to extract individual ‘pieces’ for tasting – most of the operas are not even divided into ‘numbers’, but only into huge indivisible ‘acts’.
The canon is easy enough to list. The core of his work is the goliath ‘Ring Cycle’, a fifteen hour epic pagan fantasy opera composed over decades and divided into four componant part (The Rhinegold, The Valkyrie, Siegfried, and The Twilight of the Gods. To this must be added his divisive final major work, the Christian-mystic ‘Parsifal’ (Max Reger reported: “I cried for two weeks and then became a musician”; Mark Twain noted, “I was not able to detect... anything that might with confidence be called rhythm, or tune, or melody”; Nietzsche opined, “I despise everyone who does not experience Parsifal as an attempted assassination of basic ethics”), and the epochal, modernising ‘Tristan and Isolde’. In addition, there is the fellow late, lighter-hearted ‘The Mastersingers of Nuremberg’, and the three main earlier, more traditiona works: ‘Tannhauser’, ‘The Flying Dutchman’, and ‘Lohengrin’. The overture from his early attempt at grand opera, ‘Rienzi’, is also sometimes heard (particularly in Nazi Germany, where Hitler commanded it be played to open the Nuremberg Rallies).

As for individual parts of these works, two of the more conventional short fragments have entered the public consciousness: Lohengrin’s [ye god, why is that version sung by giant translucent-faced rats!? Presumably only to give people nightmares!], which has become the most common bridal march in Protestant ceremonies, and Valkyrie’s “Ride of the Valkyries” (note how that piece never actually ends, but just turns into something else...).

Anyway, a random bit from The Valkyrie – note both how this isn’t a coherent ‘song’, an aria, but a continually changing dramatic scene set to music, and also note the valkyrie leitmotifs in parts (shared with the ‘Ride’ music linked above). the death and funeral of Siegfried, a popular excerpt for orchestra – would John Williams, Howard Shore or Hans Zimmer exist without it? And a Romantic ending to put something like Star Wars to shame (of course, the Star Wars ending also doesn’t follow a world-destroying self-immolation, because Star Wars may be epic, but it’s not Wagner...).

And then there’s the most revolutionary work since the Eroica: [url=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L44Ml8K_mDg[/url]Tristan and Isolde[/url]. Composed after the first two parts of the Ring, but before the latter two, it is the piece that most famously and clearly demonstrates the decisive turn that Wagner imposed upon classical music. It contains music’s most controversial moment, the Tristan Chord – the fourth note heard in that link. It’s not particularly dissonant – certainly when compared to later controversies like the Electra Chord or the Petrushka Chord – but it has baffled theorists every since, and is seen as having heralded a reconfiguration of the classical tradition. Essentially, it clearly works in context, but nobody really knows why – what its “function” is in conventional harmonic theory. It appears to indicate a movement away from conventional harmonic progression toward an appreciation of sound itself – the chord recurs throughout the opera – or toward (back toward, perhaps, in the longer historical context) a harmony that arises from the concerns of melody. Wagner appears to have intended it as incorporating a functional duality – different chords, with different functions, played at the same time. Equally remarkable, however, is its “resolution” into another dissonance. This is a microcosm of how Tristan works as a whole: instead of the conventional alternation of (tension-raising) dissonance and (tension-relaxing) consonance, Tristan constantly “resolves” tension into tension, its cadences (like those of The Representation of Chaos decades earlier, on a grander scale) are all subverted, either through false resolutions or simply through interruption. This creates intense tension. The prelude, for example, continually builds tension for ten minutes – but does not resolve it, instead merely dying away. Tristan is, in effect, the transformation of music into a tantric sex practice: Wagner gives his audience cycles of mounting arousal, continually broken or diverted, continually delaying orgasm (no, literally – the clandestine lovers almost achieve a musical climax during the second act, but are interrupted at the last moment). Release is only granted four hours later, in the , where Isolde finally achieves the “supreme bliss” of death – four hours of music finally reach their first cadential resolution in the final chord of the opera, as the curtain is already descending...

No wonder people felt enraptured. No wonder others felt bewildered...

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 Post subject: Re: Classical Composers
PostPosted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 8:55 am 
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 Post subject: Re: Classical Composers
PostPosted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 4:41 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: Classical Composers
PostPosted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 7:16 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: Classical Composers
PostPosted: Sun Feb 25, 2018 2:54 am 
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Salmoneus, I really liked your speculation on the future of classical and pop music and their place in musical history.

I just wanted to add my two cents to this. I pretty much exclusively listen to classical music. I don't have any knowledge whatsoever of music theory, so it goes to show that it's really not necessary to enjoy classical music. For me, a lot of popular music is fun (or simply useful) to dance to, since it provides a steady beat, but I've never really encountered any type of popular music that brings me any pleasure to actually sit down and listen to.

Though, I pretty much only listen to classical music written after 1870 or so. Some of Bach and Beethoven are okay, but Mozart absolutely bores me to death. I will turn off the radio if Mozart comes on.

I think maybe more people would be attracted to classical music if there wasn't such a heavy emphasis on the "Holy Trinity" of Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven, and the "Common Practice" period in general. Obviously, this is just my tastes speaking, but there's so much stuff from the 1880s onward that I think might appeal a lot more to contemporary sensibilities, not just due to the rise of programmatic music (though that certainly helps), but, I don't know, when I listen to a typical piece by Rimsky-Korsakov or Prokofiev, as opposed to a typical piece by Mozart, there's a certain aesthetic or sensibility that's a lot closer to what people today think of as "music". I mean, I suppose that's just because they're closer in time to us, so of course their "sound" is more familiar.

And when talking about my tastes in music, well, it's not just that I'm careful not to be snobbish or elitist about it - there's no chance I could be, I'm usually more embarrassed by it. But not because people I talk to think it's ridiculous that I listen to classical music (people pretty much always express approval in some way), it's that I'm almost totally ignorant of the popular music of the past fifty years (and the problem is, I don't really have much of a desire to acquaint myself with it). But that's another issue entirely.

Anyways, just because I don't get to talk about my tastes in music often, here's what might be my favorite few pieces:

Ravel's
, orchestrated by Zoltan Kocsis, from Claude Debussy's Images Oubliées (Inédites)
from Bizet's L'Arlésienne Suite No. 2
Rachmaninoff's
from Prokofiev's Wedding Suite
Bernstein's
John Adams'
from Philip Glass' Akhnaten

Okay, there's plenty more I could probably call my favorites, but I'll stop there.

As one last comment - when I listen to classical music, I get different things out of it, but it often tends to involve things like...evoking a timeless, wistful sense of nostalgia, which may or may not be fully resolved; or entering a hypnotic or ecstatic state; or taking an exhilarating ride on a rollercoaster or flying through the sky; or experiencing an electrifying, anxious energy that (often but not always) is satisfyingly resolved; or in general, regardless of the piece's overall feel, experiencing an ending that so wholly and satisfyingly resolves and sums everything up that it is like a representation of a final restoration or completion of the world, forming a perfect, timeless, and harmonious whole.


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