Author Topic: Unnecessary titles for symphonies  (Read 2310 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Parsifal

  • Guest
Re: Unnecessary titles for symphonies
« Reply #20 on: October 24, 2017, 02:05:31 PM »
Thank you. We were just discussing that the other day in the Haydn thread.

Sarge

Quite so. Does anyone know if the nickname The Flatulent was authorized by Haydn himself?

Offline Sergeant Rock

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 21150
  • Location: Wine Country Germany
Re: Unnecessary titles for symphonies
« Reply #21 on: October 24, 2017, 02:07:10 PM »
Quite so. Does anyone know if the nickname The Flatulent was authorized by Haydn himself?

Undoubtedly, and I think it was coined by Mozart  ;D

Sarge
the phone rings and somebody says,
"hey, they made a movie about
Mahler, you ought to go see it.
he was as f*cked-up as you are."
                               --Charles Bukowski, "Mahler"

Offline Archaic Torso of Apollo

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 2996
  • Location: Chicagoland
Re: Unnecessary titles for symphonies
« Reply #22 on: October 24, 2017, 02:10:12 PM »
All of the Bruckner titles for his symphonies: like the ‘Philosophic,’ ‘Apocalyptic,’ ‘The Saucy Maid,’ ‘Wagner,’ etc.

I'm glad these have fallen out of use, but "The Romantic" is still used for #4. Which is odd, since all of his symphonies are Romantic.
formerly VELIMIR (before that, Spitvalve)

"Who knows not strict counterpoint, lives and dies an ignoramus" - CPE Bach

Parsifal

  • Guest
Re: Unnecessary titles for symphonies
« Reply #23 on: October 24, 2017, 02:13:25 PM »
Undoubtedly, and I think it was coined by Mozart  ;D

Now, my dear Sarge, according to our knowledgeable Gurn, it was written in 1792. Well, perhaps Mozart visited Papa Haydn in a dream.

Offline Sergeant Rock

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 21150
  • Location: Wine Country Germany
Re: Unnecessary titles for symphonies
« Reply #24 on: October 24, 2017, 02:16:52 PM »
Now, my dear Sarge, according to our knowledgeable Gurn, it was written in 1792. Well, perhaps Mozart visited Papa Haydn in a dream.

Mozart's influence lingered on far after his death  ;D

Sarge
the phone rings and somebody says,
"hey, they made a movie about
Mahler, you ought to go see it.
he was as f*cked-up as you are."
                               --Charles Bukowski, "Mahler"

Offline Mahlerian

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1876
Re: Unnecessary titles for symphonies
« Reply #25 on: October 24, 2017, 02:21:25 PM »
I'm glad these have fallen out of use, but "The Romantic" is still used for #4. Which is odd, since all of his symphonies are Romantic.

Unlike the others, that one does come from the composer.  In his mind, it was connected with Medieval romances somehow.

I'll agree with Florestan that "Symphony of a Thousand" is a particularly bad offender here, but I really don't care for unsanctioned titles generally.  Why is that Haydn symphony with an English horn called "The Philosopher" anyway?

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 44765
  • Et quid amabo nisi quod ænigma est?
    • Henningmusick
  • Location: Boston, Mass.
  • Currently Listening to:
    Shostakovich, Frescobaldi, Stravinsky, JS Bach, Liszt, Chopin, Haydn, Henning
Re: Unnecessary titles for symphonies
« Reply #26 on: October 24, 2017, 02:33:19 PM »
But considering the delightful and whimsical names you've given most of your compositions, you can imagine how disappointed I am that your Symphony has no nickname  :(

Sarge

Very grateful for the compliment!
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Offline Christo

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 3090
  • ... an opening of those magic casements ...
  • Location: Netherlands
Re: Unnecessary titles for symphonies
« Reply #27 on: October 24, 2017, 02:40:19 PM »
Perhaps unnessary but, anyhow, the most inspired titles that I know are those of the seven symphonies by Matthijs Vermeulen (1888-1967):

1. Symphonia Carminum (1914)
2. Prélude à la nouvelle journée (1920)
3. Thrène et Péan (1921)
4. Les Victoires (1941)
5. Les lendemains chantants (1945)
6. Les minutes heureuses (1958)
7. Dithyrambes pour les temps à venir (1965)
… music is not only an `entertainment’, nor a mere luxury, but a necessity of the spiritual if not of the physical life, an opening of those magic casements through which we can catch a glimpse of that country where ultimate reality will be found.    RVW, 1948

Offline Monsieur Croche

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1410
Re: Unnecessary titles for symphonies
« Reply #28 on: October 24, 2017, 03:30:13 PM »
Careful, some wag might give it one to spite you!

Lol, there is that.  Historically, just look at what happened to the original titles of Beethoven's Sonata No. 14 "Quasi una fantasia" Op. 27, No. 2, and each of Chopin's Études Op. 10 and Op. 25, and the Preludes Op. 28.  Dubbed after the fact and after the death of those composers by critics and journalists, right there are enough horrid titles to summon up the enraged spirits of the deceased composers, so precious - ugly are the nicknames, and of course none of the nicknames have anything whatsoever to do with the 'content' of those pieces!
Beethoven: "Moonlight? My ass! That is a 1.) death knell 2.) interlude, and 3.) outrage -- after watching a friend slowly die."
Chopin: "They named them what!?! You're not being serious, are you?"


With those Beethoven and Chopin instances in mind, I've often thought that if the composer does not give it a name, others certainly will!  This is near to a "Damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation! :-)

During the late 1980's and early 90's you couldn't help but trip over a title of something in the new (American) rep of the time without stumbling upon a title starting with an elipsis, like Joseph Schwantner's ...And the Mountains Rising Nowhere.  Fickle fashion is a factor in titling.

Between composers not naming their pieces as per form (some are unnameable by that measure, which is certainly a prime reason as to the 'why' of other sorts of titles) and audiences very much liking the much easier for them to remember (and sometimes highly suggestive) titles like "Common Tones in Simple Time," or "Blue Cathedral," etc. the trend for dubbing pieces with titles that are cute, humorous or that quite cleverly allude to the premise of a piece (as well the inevitably overly precious or downright obnoxious) continues. (I have to wonder if Jennifer Higdon's Blue Cathedral would not have gained its current popularity if it had instead been called Essay for Orchestra.)

I do rather like Morton Feldman's M.O. of the title being a sort of list of the piece's instrumentation, Bass Clarinet and percussion, Piano and String Quartet, Piano and orchestra because they proclaim 'what is in the tin' without any hint of word coloring to affect what the listener hears. Others seen to really like -- or love -- the more suggestive and descriptive titles.

I prefer titles that in no way will affect my disposition toward what I am going to hear.


~ I'm all for personal expression; it just has to express something to me. ~

Offline Monsieur Croche

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1410
Re: Unnecessary titles for symphonies
« Reply #29 on: October 24, 2017, 03:33:01 PM »
Why, of course, painting with the broadest possible brush is one of your favorite pastimes.

TD: Symphony of a Thousand.

Symphony of a Thousand is quite a misnomer, wouldn't you say? Better, 'the Faust' symphony, though that is really only the second half....

"Symphony No. 8 in E-flat major by Gustav Mahler is one of the largest-scale choral works in the classical concert repertoire. Because it requires huge instrumental and vocal forces it is frequently called the "Symphony of a Thousand", although the work is normally presented with far fewer than a thousand performers and the composer did not sanction that name." ~ Wikipedia

Just the facts, ma’am.” ~ Detective Sergeant Joseph "Joe" Friday, of "Dragnet.'
« Last Edit: October 24, 2017, 03:47:38 PM by Monsieur Croche »
~ I'm all for personal expression; it just has to express something to me. ~

Offline Monsieur Croche

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1410
Re: Unnecessary titles for symphonies
« Reply #30 on: October 24, 2017, 03:36:49 PM »
What about Symphony Fantastique?

Program music, to one degree or another, from the get-go. (see below)

"In the first score from 1845, Berlioz writes:

    The composer's intention has been to develop various episodes in the life of an artist, in so far as they lend themselves to musical treatment. As the work cannot rely on the assistance of speech, the plan of the instrumental drama needs to be set out in advance. The following programme must therefore be considered as the spoken text of an opera, which serves to introduce musical movements and to motivate their character and expression.

In the 1855 preface, a different outlook towards the work's programmatic undertones is established by Berlioz:

    The following programme should be distributed to the audience every time the Symphonie fantastique is performed dramatically and thus followed by the monodrama of Lélio which concludes and completes the episode in the life of an artist. In this case the invisible orchestra is placed on the stage of a theatre behind the lowered curtain. If the symphony is performed on its own as a concert piece this arrangement is no longer necessary: one may even dispense with distributing the programme and keep only the title of the five movements. The author hopes that the symphony provides on its own sufficient musical interest independently of any dramatic intention." ~ Wikipedia
« Last Edit: October 24, 2017, 03:49:28 PM by Monsieur Croche »
~ I'm all for personal expression; it just has to express something to me. ~

Offline Mahlerian

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1876
Re: Unnecessary titles for symphonies
« Reply #31 on: October 24, 2017, 04:02:57 PM »
Between composers not naming their pieces as per form (some are unnameable by that measure, which is certainly a prime reason as to the 'why' of other sorts of titles) and audiences very much liking the much easier for them to remember (and sometimes highly suggestive) titles like "Common Tones in Simple Time," or "Blue Cathedral," etc. the trend for dubbing pieces with titles that are cute, humorous or that quite cleverly allude to the premise of a piece (as well the inevitably overly precious or downright obnoxious) continues. (I have to wonder if Jennifer Higdon's Blue Cathedral would not have gained its current popularity if it had instead been called Essay for Orchestra.)

I have to admit I enjoy Milton Babbitt's punning/cute titles for works, from My Complements to Roger [Sessions] (yes, that's spelled correctly) to The Joy of Sextets.

Still, The Most Often Used Chords by John Harbison might be a bit too far for me.
« Last Edit: October 24, 2017, 04:07:09 PM by Mahlerian »

Offline jessop

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 4067
    • jessop's SoundCloud
Re: Unnecessary titles for symphonies
« Reply #32 on: October 25, 2017, 01:55:15 AM »
I would say "all," not excluding those given by the composers.

Especially Gerhard's symphony no. 4

Offline North Star

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 15981
  • Location: Kuopio, Finland
Re: Unnecessary titles for symphonies
« Reply #33 on: October 25, 2017, 02:31:58 AM »
Atterberg's 6th, nicknamed the 'Dollar Symphony' after winning the 192 Columbia Graphophone Company sponsored competition to write a symphony completing, or inspired by, Schubert's "Unfinished" Symphony.
"Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it." - Confucius

My photographs on Flickr

Offline ritter

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 4246
  • Set design for Le Tricorne (Pablo Picasso)
  • Location: "La Villa y Corte"
Re: Unnecessary titles for symphonies
« Reply #34 on: October 25, 2017, 02:44:14 AM »
Atterberg's 6th, nicknamed the 'Dollar Symphony' after winning the 192 Columbia Graphophone Company sponsored competition to write a symphony completing, or inspired by, Schubert's "Unfinished" Symphony.
...and leaving Franz Schmidt's delightful Symphony No. 3 as runner-up in that competition. As a matter of fact, Schmidt's work was recognized as the best Austrian entry, so it could well be nicknamed the "Groschen-Symphonie" .  ;D
Ritter
-------------------------------------------------------------
« Là, tout n'est qu'ordre et beauté,
   Luxe, calme et volupté ».

Offline Marc

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 3137
  • Sine Cerere et Bach friget Venus
Re: Unnecessary titles for symphonies
« Reply #35 on: October 25, 2017, 02:44:58 AM »
Symphony of a Thousand is quite a misnomer, wouldn't you say? Better, 'the Faust' symphony, though that is really only the second half....

"Symphony No. 8 in E-flat major by Gustav Mahler is one of the largest-scale choral works in the classical concert repertoire. Because it requires huge instrumental and vocal forces it is frequently called the "Symphony of a Thousand", although the work is normally presented with far fewer than a thousand performers and the composer did not sanction that name." ~ Wikipedia

Just the facts, ma’am.” ~ Detective Sergeant Joseph "Joe" Friday, of "Dragnet.'

Fact: the first performance in München had more than 1000 performers.
Hence its nickname.

Topic duty: maybe even some symphonies are unnecessary.
Let alone their nicknames. :P
Help support the GMG Classical Music Forum by purchasing from Amazon using this link, this link, or this link

Offline some guy

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1928
  • Location: Somewhere else
  • Currently Listening to:
    Music
Re: Unnecessary titles for symphonies
« Reply #36 on: October 25, 2017, 03:46:19 AM »
Arthur "Two Sheds" Jackson.

Offline Florestan

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 13912
  • Mihai, King of Romania (1921 - 2017)
  • Location: Bucharest, Romania
Re: Unnecessary titles for symphonies
« Reply #37 on: October 25, 2017, 08:26:14 AM »
Lol, there is that.  Historically, just look at what happened to the original titles of Beethoven's Sonata No. 14 "Quasi una fantasia" Op. 27, No. 2, and each of Chopin's Études Op. 10 and Op. 25, and the Preludes Op. 28.  Dubbed after the fact and after the death of those composers by critics and journalists, right there are enough horrid titles to summon up the enraged spirits of the deceased composers, so precious - ugly are the nicknames, and of course none of the nicknames have anything whatsoever to do with the 'content' of those pieces!
Beethoven: "Moonlight? My ass! That is a 1.) death knell 2.) interlude, and 3.) outrage -- after watching a friend slowly die."
Chopin: "They named them what!?! You're not being serious, are you?"
[/quote]

I fully agree with Sir Compton Mackenzie's, founder of Gramophone, take on Moonlight.

Quote from: Wikipedia
[he]found the title "harmless", remarking that "it is silly for austere critics to work themselves up into a state of almost hysterical rage with poor Rellstab", and adding, "what these austere critics fail to grasp is that unless the general public had responded to the suggestion of moonlight in this music Rellstab's remark would long ago have been forgotten."

« Last Edit: October 25, 2017, 08:27:52 AM by Florestan »
Regele şi Patria!

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 44765
  • Et quid amabo nisi quod ænigma est?
    • Henningmusick
  • Location: Boston, Mass.
  • Currently Listening to:
    Shostakovich, Frescobaldi, Stravinsky, JS Bach, Liszt, Chopin, Haydn, Henning
Re: Unnecessary titles for symphonies
« Reply #38 on: October 25, 2017, 08:37:55 AM »
Well, enter Music's abstract nature: some of the public will respond positively to perhaps any textual clue.

Separately: I'm not saying that I'll never write a symphony with a “sanctioned" nickname. I'll take it on a case-by-case basis.
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 44765
  • Et quid amabo nisi quod ænigma est?
    • Henningmusick
  • Location: Boston, Mass.
  • Currently Listening to:
    Shostakovich, Frescobaldi, Stravinsky, JS Bach, Liszt, Chopin, Haydn, Henning
Re: Unnecessary titles for symphonies
« Reply #39 on: October 25, 2017, 08:41:00 AM »
A lot of the Fantasia public respond positively to the dinosaur association for Le sacre. Is that really the touchstone for "authenticity"?

Just saying.
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Buying Music From Amazon?
Please consider using these links. A small percentage of every sale using these links is passed on to GMG and helps keep this forum online.
Amazon US
Amazon Canada
Amazon UK