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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.

Perhaps we're analyzing in differant manners; I listen to the 3rd and hear perfect structure. From a theory standpoint, his third is by far the best planned. For raw emotion, I'd say the 2nd, and more so the 1st take the cake.

The way in which the main theme is played out in the first movement in the 3rd is stunningly well crafted.

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So this thread doesn't run into the ground:

What piece of music/composer do you folks think would best represent Objectivism? Because Rand stated Rachmaninoff as her composer of choice, I think that he gets more play around here.

The more I listen to Sibelius, the more I think that his particular brand of Romanticism is true to an Objectivist's sense of life.

As a side, who here is familiar with Mussorgsky? I'm beginning to think that his "Great Gates of Kiev" from "Pictures at an Exhibition" (as orchestrated by Ravel) would make for one hell of an anthem for rational men. Something to be played at the burial of capitalism.

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"What piece of music/composer do you folks think would best represent Objectivism?"

I prefer music that not only makes an impact on first hearing, but that rewards repeated listenings and close study, revealing not just "inspiration" but also the competence and craftsmanship of the composer. As a musicologist (currently writing my PhD diss, which I should be doing now instead of posting this) I like to get under the hood and see how pieces "work" - indeed, that's why I got into musicology, which is the study of music, after all.

That said, number 1 on my list has to be Beethoven. My god, do I feel powerful when I listen to Beethoven! And the more closely I study his music (which, thankfully, one still does a lot of in school), the more I feel that way. No one depicted human struggle and triumph more forcefully, and he achieved this compositionally in part by pushing and stretching the constraints of the strict Classical forms of Mozart and Haydn, without which he simply would not have been Beethoven. To break the mold you first need a mold, thus it's impossible to fully appreciate his music without an intimate knowledge of the mold itself - the Classical style he inherited - which takes time and effort and some fundamental musical-theoretical knowledge (perhaps partially explaining Rand's apparent undervaluation).

"As a side, who here is familiar with Mussorgsky?"

Mussorgsky was one of the first Russian nationalist composers, part of a group of five often referred to as "The Mighty Handful". Previously, Russian composers were trained in Western Europe (Paris, usually), and composed in Western styles. The nationalists felt it their duty to create a Russian musical tradition based on folk music and the Russian language - a bit of a return to the primitive, if you will. They were largely self-taught, and their music, while capturing some of the uniquely Russian spirit, lacked the polish and craftsmanship of their Western-trained colleagues.

Consequently, Mussorgsky wasn't much of an orchestrator, and "Pictures at an Exhibition" was composed for piano. Much of the majesty of the work's finale, "The Great Gates of Kiev", as well as most of the interest of the work as a whole (imho), is due to the later orchestration by Ravel. That said, he's fun to listen to, very exciting and affecting music. He just doesn't blow me away with the mastery of his work.

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"What piece of music/composer do you folks think would best represent Objectivism?"

In a "Q&A" session from AYN RAND ANSWERS:

"So many combinations of premises are possible that you can't make a rule applicable to everyone who claims to like all kinds of art. You can say the same about people who claim they only like "romantic" art or-be careful here-"Objectivist" art (if there ever were such a thing, which there isn't.) You cannot always be sure what a person's premises are; most people are inconsistent."

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That said, number 1 on my list has to be Beethoven. My god, do I feel powerful when I listen to Beethoven! And the more closely I study his music (which, thankfully, one still does a lot of in school), the more I feel that way. No one depicted human struggle and triumph more forcefully, and he achieved this compositionally in part by pushing and stretching the constraints of the strict Classical forms of Mozart and Haydn, without which he simply would not have been Beethoven. To break the mold you first need a mold, thus it's impossible to fully appreciate his music without an intimate knowledge of the mold itself - the Classical style he inherited - which takes time and effort and some fundamental musical-theoretical knowledge (perhaps partially explaining Rand's apparent undervaluation).

I too agree with you on Beethoven, and disagree with Rand's assessment.

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I too agree with you on Beethoven, and disagree with Rand's assessment.

did she give an objective assessment? I saw only a personal opinion.

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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...:thumbsup:

Wrongheaded interpretations ... you mean hidden variable theories, or those fucking idiotic "consciousness controls the universe" ones? From my experiences, actual physicists reject both. I haven't heard of musicians having an opinion on QM though.

As for heroic sounding stuff (to keep the topic from having cardiac arrest), there's:

Haydn (London symphonies)

Mozart (especially 41st symphony)

Beethoven (especially the fifth and ninth symphonies)

Wagner (Siegfried ... other operas are more tragic/downfallish types)

Mahler (second ... other symphonies tend to be more downfallish type things)

To name a few.

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did she give an objective assessment? I saw only a personal opinion.

No, she didn't give an objective assessment; she gave an assessment. If she had given an objective assessment I would have said: "I too agree with you on Beethoven, and disagree with Rand's objective assessment."

The word assessment means an act of assessing; that is to say, an act of appraisal or evaluation. Whichever one you pick corresponds to an estimation or judgement on the nature of something or someone. Etmologically, it comes from the Latin assidere, which means "to sit beside." According to the Online Etmology Dictionary, the term was originally used to describe one who "sat beside" a judge and estimated (or judged) the value of a property to be taxed. The word has evolved to mean, as written on the above-linked site, "to judge the value of a person, idea, etc." There is no, nor has there ever been, any qualification of objectivity contained in the meaning of the term assess, or--by extension--on the term assessment.

Edited by adrock3215

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Did Ayn Rand give any reasons for disliking Beethoven?

Personally, from the little i've heard of him, I find some of it maelvolent(like the fith and ninth).

The more I listen to classical music though, the more i've found that I can hardly listen to anything else but Rachmaninov.

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Wrongheaded interpretations ... you mean hidden variable theories, or those fucking idiotic "consciousness controls the universe" ones? From my experiences, actual physicists reject both. I haven't heard of musicians having an opinion on QM though.

In a nutshell, the latter. But also, the more earthly idea of "decentralization" in the political sphere (communism, egalitarianism.) The idea of a central, tonic key became seen as a relic of the old physics, while QM offered a "scientific" basis for relativism in politics and music in the form of the 12 tone row.

From ART AND PHYSICS:

"Atonality was a dramatic departure from previous forms of music because it destroyed the central unitary principle of a home key...Each note has the same relative importance as all the others. As a result, dissonance becomes harmony....Thus Einstein pulled the stool out from the stationary observer in science at the same time Schoenberg finally dethroned the two-century reign of King Key."

"A century of musical trends culminated in Schoenberg's 'special (musical) theory of relativity,' which was consonant with Einstein's democratic principle regarding the Galilean inertial frames of reference in time and space...Schoenberg then carried this egalitarian principle to its logical extreme."

Another composer influenced by QM, directly or indirectly, was Anton Webern, "a student of Schoenberg," who "compressed one piece into nineteen seconds and focused the listener's attention on the element of time."

So, whether directly or indirectly, these musicians were doing this at the time of the rise of QM.

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Did Ayn Rand give any reasons for disliking Beethoven?

Personally, from the little i've heard of him, I find some of it maelvolent(like the fith and ninth).

The more I listen to classical music though, the more i've found that I can hardly listen to anything else but Rachmaninov.

Yes, as you've described it, she too found it malevolent. I struggle to see that in the fifth though. Perhaps it's somewhat evident in the 9th, but even that ends on a triumphant note.

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Both the 5th and 9th start out malevolent but the whole program of the symphony is overcoming the malevolence.

Also similar is Tchaikovsky's 4th (consciously modeled on Beethoven's 5th) and 5th symphonies.

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Both the 5th and 9th start out malevolent but the whole program of the symphony is overcoming the malevolence.

Also similar is Tchaikovsky's 4th (consciously modeled on Beethoven's 5th) and 5th symphonies.

For those looking for more direct quotes from Rand re Beethoven: orpheusremembered.blogspot.com has a collection of posts on the topic with those quotes.

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I consider myself an Objectivist and I love the music of Schoenberg, Webern, Ligeti, etc. Essentially everybody you are not supposed to like as an Objectivist. I just wrote an account of my own musical philosophy on the Objectivist Music thread. I will explain here that my respect for these composers comes from recognition of their technical prowess which are made evident to anyone trained in music with a mind open enough to actually spend time with one of their scores. Atonality does not eliminate form, rather it creates a new set of rules, especially Serialism. Having been trained in the composition of atonal music, I can assure you that form in the traditional sense is a constant point of discussion. I direct you to the Passacaglia movement of Pierot Lunaire, which features masterful treatment of an intervallic theme. Or Webern's Second Variation for Piano, in which he combines tone rows in such a way that each pitch is an equal distance from A 4 as its corresponding pitch in the row with which it is being combined. If you have studied twelve tone theory at all, you would recognize that a considerable amount of mathematical consideration is necessary for the creation of such a piece. I understand that atonal music doesn't correspond with Rand's aesthetic values, nor does it promote Objectivism. I personally have been tending towards tonality in my own music (I am a composer), however it is completely ignorant to discount what were really remarkable achievements made by these musical pioneers. After all, Beethoven was considered a "madman" in his day. Also, for those who are interested in tonal modern music, I recommend the minimalist movement of the late 20th century, some of this music is very beautiful, and is almost all tonal. I particularly enjoy the music of Arvo Pärt, even though it is spiritual. And of course, Rachmaninoff, as always is a mastermind. His Second Piano Concerto is one of the pieces that got me interested in composing in the first place. Also, though he went through many styles, Stravinsky did write twleve tone music. A composer who I find of specific significance to Objectivism is Shostakovich. Though on the surface some of his works were Soviet propaganda, a closer inspection shows mockery of the Soviet Beuracracy that was so intent on transfoming his life into a living hell, as well as assertations of his individuality, most prominiteyly the DSCH motif, which spells his initials in the German notation system. I view his music as a triumphant laughing in the face of the forces of tyranny, as well as a tribute to the victims of such a horrible Collectivist regime.

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For the time being, my favorite composer is Bach. I appreciate the sheer mathematical genius behind his work. Some of it is pretty malevolent (which may explain why it occasionally makes its way into horror films) but the brainpower behind it all is impressive. For more on that, check out a recording of Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor.

I also am on a kick right now where I am listening almost exclusively to solo piano stuff, rather than orchestra or accompanied piano... and currently, the disk that's stuck in my player is Glenn Gould playing Bach's Goldberg Variations (the 1981 version). There are some thirty-two tracks, bookended by absolutely beautiful (though tragic, maybe) arias. And I think he gets to every emotion you'd care to name in there. I can't recommend it highly enough.

Rachmaninov's name has come up enough in this thread. He's great. There's a lot of good out there... I'm surprised Handel isn't mentioned more often by Objectivists. Purcell has some good tunes, Vivaldi...

Edited by Jas0n

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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...

What a useless thing to say. All of Western tonality's traditions stem from mystics (particularly Greek philosophers and leaders of churches). Does that mean we shouldn't listen to Beethoven, Mahler, Bach, or Schumann because it is an endorsement of Christianity, or mysticism?

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What I find very interesting in this extended discussion is that every piece, except for Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, is instrumental. I love instrumental music, and much (but not all) of the music all of you have mentioned. But, I find that the human voice is the most powerful musical instrument, powerful in the sense of moving my emotions.

I didn’t start out that way, I mean for over 10 years after I learned to enjoy classical music I disliked vocal music. Then I offered, i.e., leased, the Blumenthal music course and heard his examples of vocal music, and I became hooked. If you want to listen to some of the greatest music written, in terms of melody, creativity, drama, and sheer power, listen to Verdi and Puccini. They are the best, but there are many others.

No one has mentioned chamber or piano music either. If you like Grieg, listen to the “Lyric Pieces”. Rachmaninoff’s solo piano music is marvelous (the 2nd Symphony is a must, too!). Fellow music lovers, there are literally thousands of pieces of music you have yet to enjoy. I have gotten all of my music onto my computer (including my 1500+ LPs - I am an older guy) and have something like 4 months or more of 24/7 music. Most of it is good. Go for it!

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Frankly, I don't think anyone should be giving suggestions for classical music. Naming a few composers is fine, but you should just listen to stuff and judge for yourself. You can't force yourself to appreciate art. If you don't like it after listening to it say, twice, then forget it. You just don't like it and you may never like it. Maybe you can come back to it in 10 years and find that you like it then. Also, forget what Ayn Rand said about her particular tastes. Music is not "do or die" unless it is explicitly malevolent, like rap "music." Don't hesitate to feel emotions other than happiness, too! That's the whole point of art: to experience emotions that mean something to you, and you need to feel everything. Sadness, longing, rage, triumph, etc. They're all important and have meaning.

So, to name some composers who have never failed me: Rachmaninoff, Beethoven, Chopin, Dvorak, Shostakovich, sometimes Bach, sometimes Mozart, Liszt. Sometimes Vivaldi, too.

I would suggest them all; anything they composed, seriously. Just try all their pieces and find what you like, and reject what you don't. You don't have to like a piece just because thousands of others do. Numbers is not an argument. Go find other composers, too. There are tons of Romantic, Classical, and Baroque composers worth listening to, even if only a handful of their pieces are good.

Edited by Krattle

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Krattle,

Your post was excellent, well, personally, I don't understand anyone liking Shostakovich, but that is personal, and who cares about "my understanding"! But, I do disagree with your first sentence.

Frankly, I don't think anyone should be giving suggestions for classical music.

I am very interested in suggestions. I think that is the best way to find new music. Just naming a composer is of limited helpful. Many composers have hundreds of works and starting cold makes it very difficult to pick a composition. As long as one understands that a suggestion is merely a statement of personal preference, not a command, or expectation, or anything other than a personal preference, it is a help. Although I have lots of music, I always want to find composers I don't know. (I want all kinds of suggestions, like, I have run out of sci-fi and mystery authors.)

Allow me to vent on one of my favorite subjects? Just think what it was like in the 19th Century, when there were great composers presenting new music throughout the year! There were new music inventions, new approaches that were melodic, new creations. With our present day ability to distribute music, we could have a level of enjoyment that we can only imagine. We live in such value deprivation.

Edited by Bob G

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^^True, my only intention was for my suggestions to just be taken as suggestions, not commands.

Yeah, if only we had those kinds of composers nowadays! Instead of the current pop music and rap, we'd have people raving about the latest so-and-so's Symphony. Oh well...

Blame bad philosophy and its effort to supplant tonality with atonality. John Cage is (was?) a living reductio ad absurdum of that philosophy.

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From the AR Bookstore: "Essential developments towards musical romanticism"

http://www.aynrandbookstore2.com/prodinfo.asp?number=MJ01M

This will give you a fantastic perspective, understanding and will increase your appreciation of the great men.

I'd be willing to sell to my friends here actually.

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Ravels G Major Piano Concerto is among my favorite pieces of music. The second movement in particular is the most delicate and emotionally expressive music that I've heard.

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I'm particularly fond of Chopin's 24 Preludes, composed for solo piano, one in each key, each a exquisite miniature composition. I've arranged all 24 for five singers, guitar, bass, and drums (and violin, in the case of No. 16). You can hear samples of my recordings here: http://www.cdbaby.com/johnlinkproject

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On the vocal cassical non-operatic front some excellent composers are Samuel Barber, Ralph Vaughan Williams (also a symphonisy but his vocal compositions are often neglected, unjustly so), Stefano Donaudy (pure romanticism), Victor Carbajo, Lee Hoiby, Amy Beach, Manuel De Falla, Paolo Tosi and Heitor Villa-lobos.

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