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

Hmm...Looks like a lot of good stuff. There are so many Chopin pieces that are terrific that you seem to not have. Vivaldi's Four Seasons is missing. Also Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto, and his "On Wings of Song".

You have some on your list that I haven't listened to yet, so I'm going to give those a try.

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

On a related note, I find it strange that this particular composition of Grieg's has not made it onto the top of Objectivists' lists. It is absolutely stunning. Did you get Leif Ove Andsnes performance of it? By far he is the top performer who I have heard. He's from Norway and is a great admirer of Grieg, in general. There is a video of him expressing his admiration here.

Edited by adrock3215

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Hmm...Looks like a lot of good stuff. There are so many Chopin pieces that are terrific that you seem to not have. Vivaldi's Four Seasons is missing. Also Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto, and his "On Wings of Song".

You have some on your list that I haven't listened to yet, so I'm going to give those a try.

Yeh, I'm reluctant with solo violin pieces. I haven't quite grown used to the violin as a solo instrument, but stick 10 of them in an orchestra and I love it. I tend to prefer the piano as a solo instrument, but I will give those pieces a try.

There's a number of pieces on my list that I haven't actually listened to yet. Many of them came on the same album as other pieces I purchased.

Do you think Berlioz's Fantastique is a must?

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On a related note, I find it strange that this particular composition of Grieg's has not made it onto the top of Objectivists' lists. It is absolutely stunning. Did you get Leif Ove Andsnes performance of it? By far he is the top performer who I have heard. He's from Norway and is a great admirer of Grieg, in general. There is a video of him expressing his admiration here.

I actually watched his performance on Youtube last night. Absolutely incredible. I didn't end up buying his album though. For $10 you get the Grieg and the Schumann (which I already have) concertos and it wasn't with the same orchestra as he performed with in that video, so I wasn't sure how great the recording would be. I opted for an $8 album instead which got great reviews on Amazon (not sure how much that means). It has the Grieg, Mendelssohn's 2nd and Liszt's 1st - none of which I had.

Edited by Grant

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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.

I saw no Sibelius on there. Tisk tisk. I highly recommend his 1st and 3rd symphonies, as well as his violin concerto. Judging by some of the other material on that list, you'll fall in love with him, start to finish.

I have a differant taste, and I wouldn't recommend my likes to the passive listener, but if you want a work out in your listening, I highly recommend the Prokofiev Piano Concerti 1-3, and Stravinsky's Firebird (and for a very adventurous listener, The Rite of Spring).

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I saw no Sibelius on there. Tisk tisk. I highly recommend his 1st and 3rd symphonies, as well as his violin concerto. Judging by some of the other material on that list, you'll fall in love with him, start to finish.

I definitely second the recommendation for Sibelius's 1st symphony. I am unfamiliar with the 3rd, but can recommend the Karelia suite as well. I am less enthused with Finlandia, in my recollection it doesn't seem to cohere to a theme.

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I definitely second the recommendation for Sibelius's 1st symphony. I am unfamiliar with the 3rd, but can recommend the Karelia suite as well. I am less enthused with Finlandia, in my recollection it doesn't seem to cohere to a theme.

I'm not sure why that particular piece has gained so much popularity; you're correct in your statement that it has no coherent theme. I do believe it's success is in it's treatment of 'nationalism'. Finlandia, I'd venture, is the epitome of the nationalist movement which had, was, and still would, take place in Europe in the musical scene.

I'm glad Sibelius was brought up; I've fallen in love witht he first again. The man's symphonic form is impeccable, and his sonority is entirely his own.

In regards to The Rite; I don't recommend that piece to many, and I, myself, have my misgivings about the piece. In terms of tonality, it is either nonsensical or totally lacking (though it has sections of pure brilliance). In terms of rhythm, and above all, orchestral coloring, I'd say that The Rite is one of those timeless pieces sure to turn a few heads (more often than not, towards the exit).

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Just bought Sibelius' symphonies 1 to 4. Will let you guys know what I think.

The Paavo Berglund recordings? I own that particular cd set.

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In regards to The Rite; I don't recommend that piece to many, and I, myself, have my misgivings about the piece. In terms of tonality, it is either nonsensical or totally lacking (though it has sections of pure brilliance). In terms of rhythm, and above all, orchestral coloring, I'd say that The Rite is one of those timeless pieces sure to turn a few heads (more often than not, towards the exit).

Did you know that at the opening performance, there was a literal riot? People actually went insane from hearing it, trampling and hitting each other in the aisles. But some time later, at the second performance, it was incredibly well received. This radio show investigates a bit into why:

http://www.wnyc.org/shows/radiolab/episodes/2006/04/21

It also talks about perfect pitch, and how a computer program has been built which can actually read the "DNA" of a composer's style, given enough music, and create new pieces of music that sound like that composer.

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I saw no Sibelius on there. Tisk tisk. I highly recommend his 1st and 3rd symphonies, as well as his violin concerto. Judging by some of the other material on that list, you'll fall in love with him, start to finish.

I have a differant taste, and I wouldn't recommend my likes to the passive listener, but if you want a work out in your listening, I highly recommend the Prokofiev Piano Concerti 1-3, and Stravinsky's Firebird (and for a very adventurous listener, The Rite of Spring).

Just to let you guys know, I'm actually preferring Sibelius' 2nd to his 1st at the moment. Seems to be a bit more melodic.

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Just to let you guys know, I'm actually preferring Sibelius' 2nd to his 1st at the moment. Seems to be a bit more melodic.

Interesting. Of all Sibelius symphonies, the 2nd is my least favorite. I'm going to have to go back and listen closer.

Just wait till you get to the 3rd!

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Schoenberg the hero

Intellectually, I view Schoenberg as probably the most heroic—and perhaps tragic—figure in 20th-century music. Had Rand been as well-versed in music as she was in the other arts, I think she would have agreed.

To get an idea of Schoenberg’s sense of life, listen to his early work, Verklarte Nacht, composed in more of a late-Romantic idiom. As Schoenberg came of age, the tonal system on which Western music had been based for centuries was disintegrating. What was emerging was a much more primitive language largely influenced by dadaist principles that was utterly incapable of the sophisticated expressive range of the music that came before—and this was just fine with many composers of the day. To the superior intellect that Schoenberg indisputably possessed, however, it was a nightmare. Imagine, as some already have in this thread, if Shakespeare (or Hugo, or Rand herself) lived in a culture with a primitive language with only 500 words, or if Michelangelo had only mud and clay to work with.

Schoenberg agonized over this situation, although he didn’t put it in those terms. What he did was to single-handedly construct a sophisticated musical language in which he (and most importantly, others) could once again create complex, expressive works. The 12-tone system he devised enabled him to apply his intellect to his craft without self-consciously adopting a style that had such strong associations with the previous generation, a style that had been exhaustively mined at any rate.

Other composers who felt caught in the same trap adopted his compositional technique to suit their own purposes, creating radically different and stylistically coherent works of their own, truly qualifying Schoenberg’s system as a “language” in its own right. The 12-tone system soon became the standard musical language for academic music for most of the remainder of the century.

Unfortunately, the 12-tone system was based on an artifact of the even-tempered Western scale rather than on nature, resulting in music that failed to have the same direct emotional impact as earlier music, which relied on the brain’s perception of natural harmonies (i.e. closely associated frequency ratios) to achieve its effects. Also, the language was not easily mastered, and many subsequent composers corrupted the system by introducing randomness and other anti-rational elements until most listeners—and many composers—could not tell the difference, just as the uninitiated cannot tell the difference between a complex computer language and gibberish made to look as such.

Schoenberg’s heroicism lies in his refusal to accept the constraints of the primitive post-tonal language on his intellect, and in his largely successful efforts to forge from the chaos a language in which to once again express profound musical thoughts. His tragedy lies in the doomed condition of a language that does not correspond to nature, and in the failure of audiences and subsequent composers to appreciate what he managed to achieve.

In other words, Schoenberg was much closer to Howard Roark than to Lois Cook, though the same cannot be said of his successors.

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That's one hell of a thesis on Schoenberg! It makes me sad to disagree with it, out of respect for the sheer chutpah.

"Intellectually, I view Schoenberg as probably the most heroic—and perhaps tragic—figure in 20th-century music. Had Rand been as well-versed in music as she was in the other arts, I think she would have agreed."

Really? REALLY? One, it's never safe to make assumptions like that. (You don't know that she would have agreed, first of all, but unlike others online who claim she's a "musical ignoramus" because she didn't like Beethoven, or "unteachable" because she preferred tiddlywink, I think she knew enough to call shenanigans...).

"Imagine, as some already have in this thread, if Shakespeare (or Hugo, or Rand herself) lived in a culture with a primitive language with only 500 words, or if Michelangelo had only mud and clay to work with."

You say the "tonal system was disintegrating." How does a tonal system disintegrate? Does the sound decay? No, it was not the tonal system, it was the minds using the tonal system that could be said to be in decay...if that's even the case. Maybe boredom, or dissatisfied, etc....Rand made the case that "modern" art and music was in a state of deconstruction, by the artist's own admission. (This is pretty much the case, and it's no surprise that this started around the same time that physicists were embracing quantum theories.)

"Schoenberg agonized over this situation, although he didn’t put it in those terms. What he did was to single-handedly construct a sophisticated musical language in which he (and most importantly, others) could once again create complex, expressive works. The 12-tone system he devised enabled him to apply his intellect to his craft without self-consciously adopting a style that had such strong associations with the previous generation, a style that had been exhaustively mined at any rate."

Ok, so there was a primitive strain happening via Stravinsky, Rite of Spring, etc. There was dissatisfaction with the diatonic scale and the tonal system. But was the solution to construct a complex system without heirarchy, i.e., the tonal row? Was it any better to replace the limited vocabulary of grunts with pomo-complex cacophony dressed in academic robes?

"Unfortunately, the 12-tone system was based on an artifact of the even-tempered Western scale rather than on nature, resulting in music that failed to have the same direct emotional impact as earlier music, which relied on the brain’s perception of natural harmonies (i.e. closely associated frequency ratios) to achieve its effects. Also, the language was not easily mastered, and many subsequent composers corrupted the system by introducing randomness and other anti-rational elements until most listeners—and many composers—could not tell the difference, just as the uninitiated cannot tell the difference between a complex computer language and gibberish made to look as such."

There's also the matter of the political implications of the 12-tone row. Schoenberg, Adorno, Varese, et. al spoke of "liberation" and freedom of sound from heirarchy...because heirarchy was "unnatural." This is an endorsement of anarchy, or communism...you say 'artifact of the even-tempered scale" as if "artifact" was a bad thing compared to nature...artifact, artificial, art, artifice, artisan. Man-made. You suggest that man-made scales cannot have an emotional impact? The Western scale has made quite an emotional impact, last I heard...

But these composers spoke of freedom from artifice, as if it were a fascist limitation, that the conductor was a tyrant, that the composer was imposing his will on the musicians...As one commentator puts it, "Schoenberg does not impose a new set of abstract formulae on his music as later serial composers were tempted to do...but liberates the individual moments of his composition from their subordination to the whole. Or, in Schoenberg's own words, "In this music, the only thing that still matters is the particular, the now and here of the musical events, their own inner logic."

In other words, disintegration. I believe this bears comparison to another "genius," Lois Cook, and her "book," The Gallant Gallstone.

"Schoenberg’s heroicism lies in his refusal to accept the constraints of the primitive post-tonal language on his intellect, and in his largely successful efforts to forge from the chaos a language in which to once again express profound musical thoughts. His tragedy lies in the doomed condition of a language that does not correspond to nature, and in the failure of audiences and subsequent composers to appreciate what he managed to achieve."

Sure, blame the victim...

'In other words, Schoenberg was much closer to Howard Roark than to Lois Cook, though the same cannot be said of his successors."

See above.

Edited by spaceplayer

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"You say the "tonal system was disintegrating." How does a tonal system disintegrate? Does the sound decay? No, it was not the tonal system, it was the minds using the tonal system that could be said to be in decay...if that's even the case."

That was sloppy shorthand on my part. Composers work within stylistic constraints that evolve over time, and this evolution is guided by the cumulative choices of composers. In order for composers and their works to have an impact, they must "push the envelope" of listener expectations by stretching these inherited constraints.

The style inherited by Schoenberg had had its constraints stretched to the point that its lynchpin--the association of dissonance with tension and consonance with resolution--finally gave out. Schoenberg could have chosen to work within an older style in which these associations were still intact, but it would have been impossible to avoid a sense of second-handedness as those "envelopes" had already been pushed by others. Also, audiences expectations had moved beyond the old constraints.

"There was dissatisfaction with the diatonic scale and the tonal system. But was the solution to construct a complex system without heirarchy, i.e., the tonal row?"

It was A solution, yes. Not ideal, though, as I explained.

"There's also the matter of the political implications of the 12-tone row. Schoenberg, Adorno, Varese, et. al spoke of "liberation" and freedom of sound from heirarchy...because heirarchy was "unnatural." This is an endorsement of anarchy, or communism."

I never said I agreed with his politics. I admire what he did, not what he said.

"You suggest that man-made scales cannot have an emotional impact?"

I suggest no such thing. The even-tempered scale is a rather arbitrary compromise that renders certain intervals out of tune in order to accommodate key changes on instruments of fixed pitch. Basing the system on these de-tunings rather than on pure frequency ratios guaranteed that the brain would not perceive the music in the same, emotionally immediate way.

"Or, in Schoenberg's own words, "In this music, the only thing that still matters is the particular, the now and here of the musical events, their own inner logic." "

Sounds like something Roark would say!

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Real quick response, heading out:

The biggest problem I have with the "modern composers" and the claim of "pushing envelopes," and "streched contraints" is...well, let me compare it to language: one doesn't say that

"the English language has been pushed to its limits, that it's an artificial construct and a compromise, so in order not to devolve into grunts, I'm going to devise a new system of language...not Chinese, not German, not Spanish, they've been pushed as well, and are also artificial. No, I'm going to liberate the word from the paragraph, and the letter from the word, so that every letter is as important as the next. We have WAR AND PEACE, there is no where left to go with the language."

Oh, wait, someone did do that. His name was James Joyce. :(

Disintegration.

But the above is what the Lois Cooks do, not the Howard Roark's. Maybe Roark would say something LIKE the Schoenberg quote, but there would be a different context. It is not for nothing that Rand created Lois Cook as a foil for Roark, to distinguish the individual from the pseudo-individual.

What was the reasoning provided for this statement?

Adrock, I'll send you a private message, so as not to derail the thread. :)

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"the English language has been pushed to its limits, that it's an artificial construct and a compromise, so in order not to devolve into grunts, I'm going to devise a new system of language...not Chinese, not German, not Spanish, they've been pushed as well, and are also artificial. No, I'm going to liberate the word from the paragraph, and the letter from the word, so that every letter is as important as the next. We have WAR AND PEACE, there is no where left to go with the language."

Excellent point. The only response that comes to mind is "But music is different", which is admittedly lame. The fact is that musical style changes quickly over time in ways that language does not. Perhaps the semantic content in language gives it stability while musical expectations are continually reset by new works, which must slightly deviate from existing expectations in order to be interesting. The medium and the content are intermingled in music.

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I wasn honestly thinking about posting that youtube video again; but it seems too easy.

Point is, you can defend Schoenberg for whatever reason you want, but don't use Objectivism as your source material.

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Rand made the case that "modern" art and music was in a state of deconstruction, by the artist's own admission. (This is pretty much the case, and it's no surprise that this started around the same time that physicists were embracing quantum theories.)

So are you saying that quantum theories are all wrong? (Just a quick question, I don't want to side track from classical music too much. I liked how thorough a discussion was occurring here.)

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So are you saying that quantum theories are all wrong? (Just a quick question, I don't want to side track from classical music too much. I liked how thorough a discussion was occurring here.)

Quatum theories are not all wrong, the fluff surrounding them is.

When Galileo and Newton explained motion, the fad in philosophical thought was machines and determinism.

When quantum mechanics came along, the fad became indeterminism and uncertainty.

Trends in physics set the trends in philosophy because the physicists know what they are doing and the philosophers do not. Certainty is a compelling ideological force.

There is no certainty in music theory, so it drifts along mainly motivated by a quest for novelty and influenced by the popular philosophy of the time.

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So are you saying that quantum theories are all wrong? (Just a quick question, I don't want to side track from classical music too much. I liked how thorough a discussion was occurring here.)

I'm not saying QM is wrong per se, but that modern art of that time developed around the more "wrongheaded" interpretations of QM. This is laid out pretty well in ART AND PHYSICS: Parallel Visions in Space, Time, and Light by Leonard Sheldon (the book itself is about how artists mirror the physics of their respective times.)

As to my own understanding of QM: well, I'm a good musician...:dough:

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Interesting. Of all Sibelius symphonies, the 2nd is my least favorite. I'm going to have to go back and listen closer.

Just wait till you get to the 3rd!

Yeh, just gave the 3rd a listen. Didn't really do anything for me. So far, the 2nd is my favorite by a country mile. Oozes emotion and power in certain parts.

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