Sunday, January 9, 2011

top ten?

Camerata Pacifica's Facebook page recently drew to its followers attention an - ostensibly incomplete - article by New York Times music critic Anthony Tommasini, concerning how one might tabulate a list of the top ten greatest composers of classical music. While I do see the point of such an endeavor, it is one which I would be neither qualified for, nor particularly interested in attempting. Surely Bach and Beethoven would be near the top of the list. But to make such a list I'd have to set aside personal taste, and approach the matter from a purely academic perspective. And the primary reason I listen to music is for emotional stimulation. Certainly, greater understanding of style, form, and theory has informed and enhanced that enjoyment, but I would be terribly bored to spend much time trying to use that angle to share my love of music with a fellow human. (And if the goal of such a process, undertaken by a connoiseur, isn't to share, what would be the point at all?)

But I could make a list of roughly ten composers I most enjoy listening to, which is quite another thing than a scholarly perspective. I love music from the Romantic period, and I mostly like solo piano, chamber, and orchestral music. So, something like Chopin, Schumann, Sibelius, Brahms, Dvorak, Saint-Saens, Ravel, Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky. That's nine. Bach and Beethoven can fight it out for the tenth spot, but the places of the other nine are secure.

I note that I love art song in English and I like a lot of 20th century music that I've heard, but I'm not well-versed enough in these areas to include an important composer of either among my favorites, besides Ravel. This must be remedied.

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