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Classical music

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I've read some posts here, and the opinions of various Objectivists, and have noticed some patterns regarding taste in classical music. I'm asking about types of classical music in particular because that's what I'm familiar with, and I'd like to know better--I'd like to hear described in more detail--why Objectivists have the particular tastes they do in classical music, where they do like the genre.

One observation is that Rachmaninov is almost invariably exalted as the primal example of musical genius, and his piano concertos (2 and 3) are given as iconic examples. A description about what appeals about Rachmaninov, and these concertos, would be appreciated.

Another is that 'modernist' classical music, by composers such as Schoenberg, is almost invariably despised by Objectivists. Reasons for this--and examples of other composers and works--would also be appreciated.

Any other information regarding tastes in classical music, (e.g. performers, how taste fits into aesthetic philosophy) would also be appreciated.

(By the way, I've already read The Romantic Manifesto, for those who would just point me to that. I'm looking for your opinions, judgments, and understanding of the philosophy.)

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I don't think many here have heard of him but there was a composer Leo Ornstein that I have been pretty impressed with. It's fairly expressive and talented music and some of it is just beautiful.

here's a link where you can listen to plenty

Here

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I've read some posts here, and the opinions of various Objectivists, and have noticed some patterns regarding taste in classical music. I'm asking about types of classical music in particular because that's what I'm familiar with, and I'd like to know better--I'd like to hear described in more detail--why Objectivists have the particular tastes they do in classical music, where they do like the genre.

One observation is that Rachmaninov is almost invariably exalted as the primal example of musical genius, and his piano concertos (2 and 3) are given as iconic examples. A description about what appeals about Rachmaninov, and these concertos, would be appreciated.

Another is that 'modernist' classical music, by composers such as Schoenberg, is almost invariably despised by Objectivists. Reasons for this--and examples of other composers and works--would also be appreciated.

Any other information regarding tastes in classical music, (e.g. performers, how taste fits into aesthetic philosophy) would also be appreciated.

(By the way, I've already read The Romantic Manifesto, for those who would just point me to that. I'm looking for your opinions, judgments, and understanding of the philosophy.)

You might like my blog, orpheusremembered.blogspot.com, as well as adambuker.com. The former is dedicated to Rand's questions in "Art and Cognition" regarding music (and the debate that has ensued), and the latter is the site of a composer/musician who just started a series of youtube podcasts exploring the question of art and philosophy.

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You might like my blog, orpheusremembered.blogspot.com, as well as adambuker.com. The former is dedicated to Rand's questions in "Art and Cognition" regarding music (and the debate that has ensued), and the latter is the site of a composer/musician who just started a series of youtube podcasts exploring the question of art and philosophy.

That's a very detailed blog, and more-or-less has the kind of detail I was looking for in making a query. Thanks very much. I'll check out the podcasts when I have the time.

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That's a very detailed blog, and more-or-less has the kind of detail I was looking for in making a query. Thanks very much. I'll check out the podcasts when I have the time.

You're welcome, and thank you.

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I'm curious, have you listened to Rach's 2nd and 3rd concertos yourself? If so, did they appeal to YOU? If yes/no, why/why not?

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I'm curious, have you listened to Rach's 2nd and 3rd concertos yourself? If so, did they appeal to YOU? If yes/no, why/why not?

I have listened to them, and they haven't appealed to me too much, though they are nice. I can't really put my finger on why. (I usually find that to be the case for music I like or dislike, which is part of why I wanted to ask people who probably have a philosophy-based understanding of their musical taste, and are probably more articulate than me anyway.) I like his solo piano music more, however.

What are your opinions on the concertos?

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I have listened to them, and they haven't appealed to me too much, though they are nice. I can't really put my finger on why. (I usually find that to be the case for music I like or dislike, which is part of why I wanted to ask people who probably have a philosophy-based understanding of their musical taste, and are probably more articulate than me anyway.) I like his solo piano music more, however.

What are your opinions on the concertos?

I've only recently, in the past 3 months or so, started listening to classical music again, after not having actively listened to it in around 12 years (when I was around 12 too). At that young age, I appreciated only a few pieces and not to the extent that I can appreciate them today. I had never listened to Rachmaninov though.

12 years later, I can now say with absolute certainty that Rach's 2nd concerto (with his 3rd concerto and Tchai's 1st concerto trailing closely behind) is the greatest piece of music I have ever heard. It does what all great music should do. It strikes hard at an emotional level. I'm also a sucker for beautiful melodies and it offers that in bucketloads. I must say that the first couple times I heard it, I was not all that crazy about it, but after listening to it attentively a few times, I grew in love with it. The emotions that Rach has sewn into the piece are deep, raw and full of power. The feelings I get from listening to it actually resembles the emotions I felt while reading Atlas Shrugged. A sombre/melancholy story with bits of light here and there, ending in a climax of great release and immense grandeur.

Perhaps you haven't heard a good performance of the piece? Give Earl Wild's interpretation a try. I'm a sucker for the 2nd movement (although I love all 3 equally for different reasons): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PG6Y-6cWVno...feature=related

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As for a philosophy-based approach to the music, while I'm probably not qualified enough (as I haven't read much about music as it relates to philosophy) to speak about this yet, I'd say you have to interpret the emotion (if any exists) that the composer is attempting to convey in their music. From Rach's 2nd concerto, I get a feeling of immense benevolence. He takes the listener on a journey of struggle and hardship, ending in great triumph.

Edited by Grant

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I tend to favor Late Romantic era classical music such as Tchaikovsky, Rach, etc. I personally don't like much of the modernist stuff because it tends to reject the more harmonic and melodic elements of the Romantic era that I love. I like to hear lyrical melodies and experience moments where the power of harmony moves me emotionally, and I don't get that from many modernist compositions. Perhaps Rachmaninoff himself says it best: "The new kind of music seems to create not from the heart but from the head. Its composers think rather than feel. They have not the capacity to make their works exalt—they meditate, protest, analyze, reason, calculate and brood, but they do not exalt."

Rach's Piano Concerto No. 2 is one of my favorite musical compositions as well, but there are many interpretations where it is played too slow and overdone. When played right, the lyrical melodies and rich, texturized harmonic moments are astounding (especially when seen live). The first movement is brilliant to me because of the way Rach structures it so as to reach its emotional climax slowly. Whoever wrote the entry on Wikipedia characterized the development of the first movement as "agitated and unstable", which I think is quite accurate. The second movement is my favorite, and I think it is the emotional centerpiece of the work. The piano trades the melody with the flute at the beginning, which is just beautiful to me. I tend to characertize this movement as melancholy at first, but if you listen carefully, there seems to be something underneath the initial melancholy mood that comes out. To me, it builds throughout the movement, with the few emotional moments brilliantly transititioned into with the piano and the horns. I'm no expert on music, but from an active listener's perspective, I label these moments as that "something" emerging from the initial melancholy mood, fiercer and fiercer. My favorite part of the second movement is the ending when the pianist is striking the huge dramatic chords and the orchestra playing behind, which I like to label as the triumph of whatever that "something" is. The third movement is my least favorite, but I love listening to the coda, because it is technically amazing the way Rach put it together.

Other good classical music that I have discovered (from my limited exploration of it):

Vivaldi's Le quattro stagioni

Rach's Piano Concerto No. 3

Rach's Symphony No. 2

Rach's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini

Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1

Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto

Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite

Bach's Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring

Mendelssohn's On Wings of Song

Liszt's Liebesträume (absolutely beautiful)

Grieg's Piano Concerto No. 1

Chopin's Etude for piano No. 3 in E major

Chopin's Nocturne for piano No. 2 in E flat major

Tchaikovsky's Symphony #6 (Pathetique)

Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique

Elgar's Serenade for Strings in E minor

There's many more, but I can't think of anymore off the top of my head.

Edited by adrock3215

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Another is that 'modernist' classical music, by composers such as Schoenberg, is almost invariably despised by Objectivists. Reasons for this--and examples of other composers and works--would also be appreciated.

My very limited exposure to Schoenberg (excerpts from Pierrot Lunaire) was most unhappy; that music sounds like it was written by a madman.

I've also listend to Rach's symphonies and concerti and though I did not *dislike* them there wasn't much to them either, at least not to this ear; I believe his penultimate work in both categories was somewhat better than the rest. I found Rhapsody utterly unrewarding; it sounded to my ears like an excuse to play scales. Granted I have listened to these works only once or twice so it may be too early to tell.

Tchaikovsky has never failed me, though I have not listened to any of his piano works; Mozart and Beethoven have been pretty consistent as well. (I tend not to like works focused on the piano for some reason.)

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I can't say much about The Rach; one can scarcely find a harsh word. It's all technically very sound, and inventive at times (I'm not a huge Rach fan).

I will give you a word or two about the so called "modernists" (I dislike this term, as I am an avid Prokofiev & Stravinsky fan) such as Schoenberg, Hindemith, etc: the prevelance of atonality in music today is as embarrassing as praising Pollock as a gifted man. Years from now, musicians will look upon the absurd mush of the Atonalists and wonder what in the hell people were thinking to have actually endorsed that stuff.

I would go further in depth with the theory of atonality, and why it is inherently a worthless system, but I'll drop that and make a simile, as most here aren't well versed in theory. An atonal work is like a novel written in a recognizable language (such as English), but with no sentence structure, punctuation, ideas, concepts, or emotions. The only emotion atonality can convey is madness. And that makes me mad.

-WCM

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I can't say much about The Rach; one can scarcely find a harsh word. It's all technically very sound, and inventive at times (I'm not a huge Rach fan).

I will give you a word or two about the so called "modernists" (I dislike this term, as I am an avid Prokofiev & Stravinsky fan) such as Schoenberg, Hindemith, etc: the prevelance of atonality in music today is as embarrassing as praising Pollock as a gifted man. Years from now, musicians will look upon the absurd mush of the Atonalists and wonder what in the hell people were thinking to have actually endorsed that stuff.

I would go further in depth with the theory of atonality, and why it is inherently a worthless system, but I'll drop that and make a simile, as most here aren't well versed in theory. An atonal work is like a novel written in a recognizable language (such as English), but with no sentence structure, punctuation, ideas, concepts, or emotions. The only emotion atonality can convey is madness. And that makes me mad.

-WCM

I'm fairly versed in music theory, and I am looking for depth, so feel free to go further in depth.

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You know, I was going to go in depth, until I realized there was no depth to go into it. The premise of atonality is self-explanatory: take away tonality (that which gives coherance to music) and replace it with chromaticism in no logical order, with no consonant harmony, and with unstable and displeasing intervals to form a meandering melody with no definate beginning or end or purpose.

I could have deleted that paragraph, and instead posted this:

Edited by W.C.Meyer

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Yep, that captures it rather well. Sounds like the ravings of a lunatic, to the soundtrack of a slasher film. Must be movement one of 21. (21 too damned many.)

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My review of Schoenberg's concerto

Every now and again what appears to be a melody will attempt to break through - but always it is quickly drowned by the crazed and butchered sounds coming from another instrument. The emotion invoked: futility.

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Grant, that recording did help. It still doesn't do much for me, but it is an improvement, and I can appreciate the work a little better.

So, thanks everyone for the input on Rachmaninov and Schoenberg.

Now I'm wondering: are any of you familiar with Nikolai Medtner and his piano concertos? And what do you think--especially in comparison with Rachmaninov.

And I'm wondering if there's familiarity and opinions on Bela Bartók, perhaps in comparison with Schoenberg.

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Grant, that recording did help. It still doesn't do much for me, but it is an improvement, and I can appreciate the work a little better.

So, thanks everyone for the input on Rachmaninov and Schoenberg.

Now I'm wondering: are any of you familiar with Nikolai Medtner and his piano concertos? And what do you think--especially in comparison with Rachmaninov.

And I'm wondering if there's familiarity and opinions on Bela Bartók, perhaps in comparison with Schoenberg.

For Medtner, I'd say he's a less impressive Prokofiev who can't write anything if it doesn't involve a piano. This isn't to say the man isn't good; I simply couldn't give him more credit than Prokofiev (my favorite composer), either as a composer or pianist. Making a comparison between Rach and Medtner is really interesting, actually. He'd taken the concrete themes of Rachmaninov and post-Romanticism, and melded it with the oddities of the modernists. In this regard, the man is very unique.

There is no comparison between Bartok and Schoenberg. Though Bartok did delve into atonality, it certainly did not make up a majority of his work, and I'm a fan of the majority of his work. Many have either never heard of Bartok, or were displeased when they did. His style is certainly one that takes getting used to; unless you're Hungarian.

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What about people who like Schoenberg? Would you say, "that's their taste, it's not our business", or would you say they have a "malevolent sense of life", or what?

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What about people who like Schoenberg? Would you say, "that's their taste, it's not our business", or would you say they have a "malevolent sense of life", or what?

It's not my business; at least it wouldn't have been had people not praised it as genius. I need to put my foot down on absurdity at some point; and Schoenberg and his ilk bring it out of me.

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Those two are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

I would suspect in many cases that a lot of people that "like" things like Pierrot Lunaire do so because they think they won't be taken seriously if they won't. If that were the case for a specific individual, that's not a malevolent sense of life, that's secondhandedness.

But I suspect that some people do see "meaning" in Pierrot Lunaire and that genuinely puzzles me unless they revel in nothingness. When I watched the youtube video posted earlier in this thread, I could not help but think what an utter waste of talented musicians' time. Like a sous chef making mudpies.

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Other good classical music that I have discovered (from my limited exploration of it):

Vivaldi's Le quattro stagioni

Rach's Piano Concerto No. 3

Rach's Symphony No. 2

Rach's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini

Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1

Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto

Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite

Bach's Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring

Mendelssohn's On Wings of Song

Liszt's Liebesträume (absolutely beautiful)

Grieg's Piano Concerto No. 1

Chopin's Etude for piano No. 3 in E major

Chopin's Nocturne for piano No. 2 in E flat major

Tchaikovsky's Symphony #6 (Pathetique)

Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique

Elgar's Serenade for Strings in E minor

There's many more, but I can't think of anymore off the top of my head.

So, I went by your recommendations here and bought Grieg's Concerto, Liebestraume and Bach's Jesu. All 3 are incredible, especially the concerto.

Thank you.

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So, I went by your recommendations here and bought Grieg's Concerto, Liebestraume and Bach's Jesu. All 3 are incredible, especially the concerto.

Thank you.

I'm glad you like them! In Grieg, I love the drumroll leading to the chords of the piano at the start of the first movement. Additionally, there are some beautiful melodies in that piece. Oh, and the cadenza is terrific. And the finale.

Edited by adrock3215

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I'm glad you like them! In Grieg, I love the drumroll leading to the chords of the piano at the start of the first movement. Additionally, there are some beautiful melodies in that piece. Oh, and the cadenza is terrific. And the finale.

I actually like the 2nd movement especially. I'm a sucker for a great adagio.

Here's all the music I've bought in the past few months since my classical music addiction began: http://www.grantshapiro.com/playlist.gif

Let me know if you think I'm missing any critical pieces :) And yeh, I have a few duplicates of the pieces I love.

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