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Discussion in 'Radio' started by Mitchell, Apr 2, 2015.
Who are some of your favorite composers? and why?
- My favorite is Giuseppe Verdi
John Williams. One of the greatest composers of the modern age.
Wow. How many pages would you like me to write?
Whether discussing so-called true classical music, or popular eras music? Generally speaking, most of the greats, or best known, are well known for very good reasons. They wrote good stuff. Giuseppe Verdi totally earned his place high on the list with a long list of favorite major works. Between "La Traviata", "Aida", "Il Trovator", "Rigoleto", (how many more of his top best known should I name? So many wonderful passages to love.), do we need to discuss how many other lesser works?
However, I tend to prefer both Richard Wagner (in spite of his personal life and politics) or Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, both for the shear power, depth, and breadth of so many of their works. I often listen to passages from "Tannhauser", "Swan Lake", and the "Ring Cycle". Those two are my top favorites. Although even that feeling has been a bit fluid over 55 years.
There are so many great composers and incredible works of music. Puccini's "Turandot" and so much more. Rossini's "William Tell Overture" has to be the best fluff piece of music ever written, overshadowing his greater works. Franz Liszt, Edward Grieg, Alexander Borodin, Mozart, and the "three Bs" Beethoven, the Bach and Brahms families, and the list of greats goes on and on.
A lot of people like to throw Gustav Mahler's name out there. Maybe it belongs on the list of "greatest", maybe it doesn't. I have listened to a fair amount of Mahler's works. I have yet to hear a piece that I wanted to listen to over and over and over again. Every one of the names I mentioned before Mahler, has written at least several pieces that I have in fact listened to, over and over and over again. I figure that puts him in a lesser list, along with Saint-Saens, Georges Bizet, and a hundred other wonderful composers that have written a lot of music I love.
Pop music has several era/styles, generally distinctive differences in style, yet overlapping in the common time-frames. For me? My favorite "pop" era is the roaring '20s, otherwise known as the "jazz age". It ran from the late '10s, or arguably fifteen years before. It ended rather sharply around 1932, although much of the music has remained popular ever since. Probably, the major reason for the sharp change about 1932 was the technological advancements in recording and live performance provided by the beginning of the electronic age. Before 1927, nearly all recordings were what are known as "acoustical" recordings. Before about 1920, nearly all live performances were done without any electronic aid. They were both prone to serious limitations in tone quality and frequency. Nearly all popular music was created to fit within those limitations.
By 1932, music writers, performers, and recording companies, had all realized that they were no longer held back by those limitations. The "Big Band" era was born, with a whole new sound.
For whatever strange reason, I prefer the sounds of music recorded, or at least created, before 1932.
For shear volume of major hits. For the shear numbers of songs that are among my hundred or so favorite popular hits of all time. There are three composers I call my favorites for popular music. First, for again, shear volume and numbers, I have to say Irving Berlin. Everybody knows his name. But how many people realize that an average TV watcher today will hear an Irving Berlin tune nearly every day, if not the song itself, a bit of background music in a commercial or TV show.
Second, I would automatically say Gus Kahn. Although his name is not nearly so well known, his music is. His music is still commonly played today.
Third, in an interesting connection between "classical" and "popular" music forms, is Gershwin. George may be best remembered as a modern classical composer, his modern opera "Porgy and Bess", "Rhapsody in Blue", and "An American in Paris". All are great works of musical art. But I prefer Ira Gershwin.
Mixed with a little history, and my silly musings, those are my favorite composers, classical, and popular. For me, nothing since comes even close.
Jerome Kern, Cole Porter, and Gershwin. Popular music in America hit its absolute peak with the work created for the Broadway stage and the movies between 1930 and 1937, but there were high points before and after up until 1942, when the bottom fell out. Postwar popular music has been a long, slow slide into brain-liquefying banality.
"The Way You Look Tonight," written in 1936 by Kern and Dorothy Fields, stands as the greatest single composition ever to come out of American music. Its 1936 Brunswick recording by Fred Astaire and Johnny Green's Orchestra stands as its single finest performance.
Mozart. No one else even comes close. I love the subtlety, the grace, and the mathematical symmetry of his music.