Monday, January 10, 2011
Greatest Composers: Get in on the argument
Some candidates above, from left, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Mozart, Schoenberg, Haydn, and Stravinsky; below, from left, Schumann, Brahms, Schubert, Handel, Bach, and Debussy.
These 13 men from Tommasini's list of greatest composers include two Russians, one Pole, one Frenchman and nine Germans. Not one Italian name appears. What does this list tell us about standards for musical greatness? It tells us that these standards originate from German sources.
It tells us that greatness derives from development of forms in the repertoire for keyboard and orchestra. Or else why not the sainted Wagner?
I guess I already established my opinions in Opera as Drama. There is something intensely satisfying about form and analysis, so satisfying that one is inclined to be drawn into the belief that it is the be all and end all of Classical Music.
What if we proposed Palestrina, Monteverdi, Vivaldi, Rossini, Bellini, Verdi and Puccini for our list? We would be laughed from the room.