Author Topic: 850 Essential 20th-to-21st-Century Works "for beginners"  (Read 3275 times)

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Offline James

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Re: 850 Essential 20th-to-21st-Century Works "for beginners"
« Reply #20 on: October 23, 2016, 06:19:43 AM »
What can be more so than a list larger than most people's entire collection called an essential list for beginners? For just one century to boot!

You can sum up the century with roughly a dozen essential pieces (ditto prior eras of Art music!). Challenging works or not, the best of the century is the best place for beginners to start.
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Offline The new erato

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Re: 850 Essential 20th-to-21st-Century Works "for beginners"
« Reply #21 on: October 23, 2016, 07:48:27 AM »


We have people here who have been listening to music on an industrial scale for decades, many of whom will not know all those pieces. Essential for a beginner?
I have heard about half of them , mostly, but not exclusively, those from before WWII.

Offline DaveF

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Re: 850 Essential 20th-to-21st-Century Works "for beginners"
« Reply #22 on: October 23, 2016, 12:43:44 PM »
Can there really be 850 "essential" post-1900 works for a beginner? Isn't that impossibly daunting?

The description of Birtwistle's Pulse Shadows as an "opera" suggests that not even the blogger is completely familiar with all of them.
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Offline jessop

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Re: 850 Essential 20th-to-21st-Century Works "for beginners"
« Reply #23 on: October 23, 2016, 03:15:12 PM »
The description of Birtwistle's Pulse Shadows as an "opera" suggests that not even the blogger is completely familiar with all of them.
It might also be better to list them as the two works they were originally composed as. Pulse Shadows is a combination of the two, alternating movements and songs from 9 movements for string quartet and 9 settings of Celan (i think) although that is not to say that the recording of the two released by Arditti Quartet et al called 'Pulse Shadows' isn't worthy of hearing!

Btw two pieces I wouldn't hesitate to substitute for those two would be Silbury Air and Pan.

Offline Crudblud

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Re: 850 Essential 20th-to-21st-Century Works "for beginners"
« Reply #24 on: October 23, 2016, 03:28:29 PM »
Saw this and thought I might have a go myself, but I limited myself to the 20th century only. As stated in the preamble, the main goal is to provide jumping-off points for newcomers rather than to be exhaustive, to encourage exploration by offering a few basics instead of dumping an encyclopædia at their feet and walking off patting myself on the back for being aware of 850 works of 20th century classical music...

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B9-PkKpTlnleS2hGSkxBTXVoWTQ/view?usp=sharing

This is my first run-through, so pointers for revision are more than welcome. Lack of Nono is nagging at me, but I'm not really familiar enough with his work to feel confident about it, I was thinking possibly Il canto sospeso or Composizione No. 1 but I don't know yet.

Offline jessop

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Re: 850 Essential 20th-to-21st-Century Works "for beginners"
« Reply #25 on: October 23, 2016, 04:18:02 PM »
Saw this and thought I might have a go myself, but I limited myself to the 20th century only. As stated in the preamble, the main goal is to provide jumping-off points for newcomers rather than to be exhaustive, to encourage exploration by offering a few basics instead of dumping an encyclopædia at their feet and walking off patting myself on the back for being aware of 850 works of 20th century classical music...

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B9-PkKpTlnleS2hGSkxBTXVoWTQ/view?usp=sharing

This is my first run-through, so pointers for revision are more than welcome. Lack of Nono is nagging at me, but I'm not really familiar enough with his work to feel confident about it, I was thinking possibly Il canto sospeso or Composizione No. 1 but I don't know yet.
This is very good! It seems very representative, including some more conservative composers along with the other big names of the 20th century. Perhaps there could be room for some short early tape/electronic works from the 40s/50s/60s?

Offline Ken B

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Re: 850 Essential 20th-to-21st-Century Works "for beginners"
« Reply #26 on: October 23, 2016, 04:29:14 PM »
Saw this and thought I might have a go myself, but I limited myself to the 20th century only. As stated in the preamble, the main goal is to provide jumping-off points for newcomers rather than to be exhaustive, to encourage exploration by offering a few basics instead of dumping an encyclopædia at their feet and walking off patting myself on the back for being aware of 850 works of 20th century classical music...

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B9-PkKpTlnleS2hGSkxBTXVoWTQ/view?usp=sharing

This is my first run-through, so pointers for revision are more than welcome. Lack of Nono is nagging at me, but I'm not really familiar enough with his work to feel confident about it, I was thinking possibly Il canto sospeso or Composizione No. 1 but I don't know yet.

Well The Threepenny Opera has to be on any list. And few composers should appear twice. Only possibly Stravinsky or Debussy as they both so foundational. Less is more in lists for beginners.
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Offline Crudblud

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Re: 850 Essential 20th-to-21st-Century Works "for beginners"
« Reply #27 on: October 24, 2016, 07:32:48 AM »
Well The Threepenny Opera has to be on any list. And few composers should appear twice. Only possibly Stravinsky or Debussy as they both so foundational. Less is more in lists for beginners.

Threepenny is far too long for this. It's the same reason I chose Kindertotenlieder over a full Mahler symphony for 1900-1909.

As for repeating composers, I've been careful not to repeat a single composer within a decade, but several major composers did undergo significant stylistic evolutions over time, and I feel these are worth exploring for beginners. Furthermore, I think they're going to appreciate having familiar names to latch onto as they move forward, especially as they hit the post-war period, when things started to move even faster than before both stylistically and technologically.

This is very good! It seems very representative, including some more conservative composers along with the other big names of the 20th century. Perhaps there could be room for some short early tape/electronic works from the 40s/50s/60s?

Thanks! Yes, electronic music is the major gap right now, I threw a couple of good works in but I'm not too sure what else to include at the moment. The second revision is at least going to have Schaeffer's Suite for 14 Instruments, which I think is a really good way to introduce basic tape/electronic concepts in the '40s.

Offline Monsieur Croche

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Re: 850 Essential 20th-to-21st-Century Works "for beginners"
« Reply #28 on: October 25, 2016, 08:00:17 AM »
Well, Schoenberg's mature music is not tonal.   So are you against these terms entirely, or do you have a different term you'd like to suggest?

A piece is atonal if it doesn't work.
 

Whatever, folks, love'm or loathe'em, it is pretty much uncontested that Schoenberg's pieces 'work.'

The term atonal is itself an extreme misnomer, the Latin 'a' + tonal literally means "music without tones."  Of course, there is no such thing as per the definition of Music.  The relative academic meaning is music without a tonic (and that means tonic triad) center or home base. 

Ultimately, the term has become an automatic turn-off or turn-away for people who have never even sat down to give atonal music any real and unbiased listening attention, which is why, imo, it is best dropped from the vocabulary.; I do know that as terms, Modal, Tonal and Neotonal have seen next to no such misunderstanding and abuse ;-)

Think, when a piece is described as tonal -- and just how much that alone really tells you about the piece... which is actually nigh unto zip-nada... other than to let you know it is not modal or atonal, lol.  I can not think of the legions of misuses of the term atonal I have read or heard (Prokofiev = 'atonal,' The double fugue from Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms = 'atonal.' are but a few.                                               

Modal, Tonal, Neotonal and Atonal are but categorical terms for various general harmonic usages, labels that will tell you next to nothing about a piece other than its most general harmonic usage.  Outside of academia, I don't see much practical, or legitimate, need or use for the terms.  The only thing any of those four terms as descriptors might tell you is that a piece is not one of the other three.

Better, imo, "more or less dissonant," in context with the era from whence the music comes.  That is more accurate, requires more effort vs slapping Tonal or Atonal on as (too superficial and easy/glib) identifiers.  Rameau and Bach, near to exact peers by date -- and of equal 'greatness' in that how high up Mount Parnassus are the composers game -- are both quite dissonant from that era.  Mozart and Beethoven were both quite dissonant for their eras.  Hell, even Musica Ficta in its time was considered wildly dissonant, and to unaccustomed contemporary ears it can sound pungently tangy on the dissonance front.

Consider some of the more acutely angular and dissonant serial ('atonal') music from the 1950's, and then think on the soaring late romantic lyricism of Berg's Violin Concerto, or Schoenberg's late Piano Concerto, veritably littered with his lingering sentimentalism for all things older from 'German music,' the interpolation of simpler old song and dance forms and other like variants within.  There is also Dallapiccola, whose atonal music bears the sundry stamps of the typically Italianate; lyricism, emotive drama, etc.   They're all 'atonal' by category, yet...  which is why I consider modal, tonal, neotonal and atonal as being of very little real service to the general listener.

I offer you and anyone else this challenge:
Since the term Atonal is a dreadful misnomer, come up with another term for this music other than atonal.  Serial is apposite, Second Viennese School, too, though less pithy, while 'neotonal,' though it applies, is a Johnny come later -- and already taken.  Have at it, then ;-)
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Re: 850 Essential 20th-to-21st-Century Works "for beginners"
« Reply #29 on: October 25, 2016, 10:01:16 AM »
Saw this and thought I might have a go myself, but I limited myself to the 20th century only. As stated in the preamble, the main goal is to provide jumping-off points for newcomers rather than to be exhaustive, to encourage exploration by offering a few basics instead of dumping an encyclopædia at their feet and walking off patting myself on the back for being aware of 850 works of 20th century classical music...

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B9-PkKpTlnleS2hGSkxBTXVoWTQ/view?usp=sharing

This is my first run-through, so pointers for revision are more than welcome. Lack of Nono is nagging at me, but I'm not really familiar enough with his work to feel confident about it, I was thinking possibly Il canto sospeso or Composizione No. 1 but I don't know yet.
I do not agree with your choice for Francis Poulenc (the sextet).  For me his major works are
1) Le dialogue des Carmelites (opera)
2) The sacred music : by order of composition Salve Regina, Stabat Mater, Gloria
 
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Re: 850 Essential 20th-to-21st-Century Works "for beginners"
« Reply #30 on: October 25, 2016, 10:05:17 AM »
I do not agree with your choice for Francis Poulenc (the sextet).  For me his major works are
1) Le dialogue des Carmelites (opera)
2) The sacred music : by order of composition Salve Regina, Stabat Mater, Gloria
Chamber works are a significant contribution to Poulenc's oeuvre, but it is the late sonatas for a wind instrument (clarinet, flute, oboe) with piano accompaniment that stand apart.
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Offline Crudblud

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Re: 850 Essential 20th-to-21st-Century Works "for beginners"
« Reply #31 on: October 25, 2016, 11:23:34 AM »
I do not agree with your choice for Francis Poulenc (the sextet).  For me his major works are
1) Le dialogue des Carmelites (opera)
2) The sacred music : by order of composition Salve Regina, Stabat Mater, Gloria

I think opera is significantly distinguishable from concert music that it deserves its own list, aimed at people who are specifically interested in opera. In most cases opera requires willingness on the part of the audience to engage for several hours with a single theatrical work with text sung in a foreign language. Even if you're familiar with classical music of prior eras that is a daunting prospect, let alone for a complete newcomer, and the purpose of the list is to invite, not to intimidate. I will look into those choral works, however. Thanks!

Thanks also for the suggestion of the sonatas for piano and winds, North Star!

Offline Ken B

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Re: 850 Essential 20th-to-21st-Century Works "for beginners"
« Reply #32 on: October 25, 2016, 12:00:50 PM »
New list, 867 essential items.
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Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: 850 Essential 20th-to-21st-Century Works "for beginners"
« Reply #33 on: October 25, 2016, 12:14:51 PM »
New list, 867 essential items.

Is there an editor in the house?  8)

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Offline Androcles

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Re: 850 Essential 20th-to-21st-Century Works "for beginners"
« Reply #34 on: October 30, 2016, 01:57:18 PM »
Saw this and thought I might have a go myself, but I limited myself to the 20th century only. As stated in the preamble, the main goal is to provide jumping-off points for newcomers rather than to be exhaustive, to encourage exploration by offering a few basics instead of dumping an encyclopædia at their feet and walking off patting myself on the back for being aware of 850 works of 20th century classical music...

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B9-PkKpTlnleS2hGSkxBTXVoWTQ/view?usp=sharing

This is my first run-through, so pointers for revision are more than welcome. Lack of Nono is nagging at me, but I'm not really familiar enough with his work to feel confident about it, I was thinking possibly Il canto sospeso or Composizione No. 1 but I don't know yet.

Thanks for this. A really interesting list. I might just work my way through it, though I'm probably not a beginner.
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Re: 850 Essential 20th-to-21st-Century Works "for beginners"
« Reply #35 on: November 04, 2016, 03:09:13 AM »
New list, 867 essential items.

I'm trying to imagine what this person is like packing luggage for a trip away from home.
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Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: 850 Essential 20th-to-21st-Century Works "for beginners"
« Reply #36 on: November 04, 2016, 04:40:42 AM »
Thanks for this. A really interesting list. I might just work my way through it, though I'm probably not a beginner.

That's fine, because I respectfully question whether the list is really for a beginner.
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Offline Crudblud

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Re: 850 Essential 20th-to-21st-Century Works "for beginners"
« Reply #37 on: November 06, 2016, 12:35:35 PM »
That's fine, because I respectfully question whether the list is really for a beginner.
My list? I believe that's what Androcles is talking about.

Thanks, btw, Androcles, hope it is of some use to you.

Offline SimonNZ

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Re: 850 Essential 20th-to-21st-Century Works "for beginners"
« Reply #38 on: November 06, 2016, 12:46:34 PM »
Your list interested me also, Crudblud, and I've made a list of a few items I was unaware of. Particularly looking forward to hearing a Harry Partch work that had escaped my attention.

Offline Crudblud

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Re: 850 Essential 20th-to-21st-Century Works "for beginners"
« Reply #39 on: November 06, 2016, 01:49:22 PM »
Your list interested me also, Crudblud, and I've made a list of a few items I was unaware of. Particularly looking forward to hearing a Harry Partch work that had escaped my attention.

US Highball is a real gem, technically forming part of a thematic tetralogy with Barstow and a couple of other pieces, all together called The Wayward. Hope you like it!

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