Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Best Composers

These are the all time top ten composers according to the survey in the New York Times (cited in today's Guardian)


Clearly there has been some mistake.  The best composers are:

J.S. Bach
Francois Couperin
Domenico Scarlatti
Richard Strauss


a musician said...

Rameau after Britten? No way.
What about Marin Marais?
And why no pre-1700s?
Where are Monteverdi, Purcell, Dowland, Lully, Charpentier?
And before that Dufay, Palestrina and all that lot?
And what about Anon?

Glad to see Vivaldi isn't on either list (though what Bartok is doing there is beyond me)

Nomad said...

Entirely subjective of course, but I would have extended that list to include Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky - not to mention Mendelssohn, Gershwin, Gilbert and Sullivan and Lennon and McCartney.

But as I say, entirely subjective. I agree about Bartok; totally unlistenable to.

hatfield girl said...

Musician, I have spent the morning playing. Well, I was playing music, but still. Britten is there for the songs; Angels do a great deal of singing and have a lot of time for it.

Marin Marais makes me want to cry. And anyway Couperin le Grand is there. Monteverdi worried me - I will sacrifice Beethoven except for the Quartets.

Look (or do I mean listen?) The first is immovable, as is the second, as is the third. After that it gets personal. On second thoughts, no, Schubert is universal, as is Scarlatti (D).

Anyway what about C.P.E. Bach, and Louis Couperin, and Biber, and ....
What is clear is that Brahms, Stravinsky, Verdi, Wagner, Bartok and Debussy are ridiculously out-classed.

johnse19 said...

I think many people (though not all) might agree on the top three (J.S. Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, not necessarily in that order) but by the time you get to 4th, let alone 10th, opinions diverge greatly.

I would have J. Haydn somewhere on my list. Great pioneer (quote from his solitary position at the court of Prince Esterhazy, "Having no one to advise me or torment me I was forced to be original").

Fair claim to be the inventor of the modern symphony, string quartet and piano trio. Massive influence on Beethoven. (It has been suggested that Beethoven was hesitant to write masses because he was aware of the standards Haydn had set, even though Beethoven claimed uncharitably and wrongly that he had not learned anything from Haydn.)

I read that Benjamin Britten used to take the scores of Haydn's string quartets to bed with him to study and learn from.

hatfield girl said...

Nomad, this is 'of all time'. Not sing along. We can't sing along with the Russians (too low) but I chose Richard Strauss for all that emotional whoosh; he does it to make an angel wince.

G&S etc., are another game.

Bartok I have tried, and tried, and given up.

hatfield girl said...

J, I concede Beethoven for Haydn (except for the quartets). Oh, he's been sacrificed already for Monteverdi.

Right, I give up Handel for Monteverdi and Beethoven for Haydn.

a musician said...

I wouldn't sacrifice Handel if you want tunes. Yes to Haydn but then you'd want C. P. E. as well.
If we're doing the master's masters too, we need Frescobaldi for Bach.
I'm troubled by lack of Purcell if we're doing songs (no Sweeter than roses?). I'm sure Ben wouldn't mind if you swapped him.

Chief of men said...

I am worried now.You cannot dump Beethoven - that's just wrong.is there something wrong with the water where you live,maybe to much fluoride or is this a lea valley water thing which has resulted in this heinous choice.reconsider Hatfield Girl.your be voting labour next !

Weekend Yachtsman said...

Well, you're being provocative, Hats, of course - but here goes:


The first four are immovable and non-negotiable imho; the next four have to be in the list somewhere but the order could be debated. The last two I could discuss and perhaps substitute - Rachmaninov? Bruckner for his motets? I would not have put the last in at all until recently but there are things that demand it - the 5th and 7th Symphonies are Stalin's Russia put into music, moving, exciting, and terrifying. I can do without Britten: I much enjoyed Noye's Fludde when I was a chorister, but frankly find a lot of his stuff rather hard work.

Let the battle continue!

Nick Drew said...

an ultra-highly qualified friend opines intriguingly thus:

if Bach had been Italian, he would be #1 without doubt

but as it is, #1 = Handel

I don't agree, but it's interesting

have always suspected that Prokofiev is in fact #1, or could have been if he'd ever taken things seriously enough for long enough

Brahms has to be top 10, also Bruckner

Nomad's suggestions need to be considered seriously

Wagner is sui generis