Author Topic: Most Intelligent Composers  (Read 60523 times)

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Offline rappy

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Most Intelligent Composers
« on: May 06, 2008, 10:40:35 AM »
Which composer do you think shows the greatest amount of intellect in his music?
I don't mean music which is just composed as complex as possible. The ideal conditions of a score which shows the highest level of sophistication would mean for me (also a point to discuss!): each note stands in relation to all the other notes, not a single note can be dropped without lowering the impression on the listener, there's nothing more to be said, the thematic material and its instrumentation is full of wit, etc.

I just listened to the Brahms 2nd PC and followed the score. I think I have never seen such a conclusive, awe-inspiring score. He definitely gets my vote.
Other candidates could be Bach and Mahler. Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven in most of their later works.

Now it's your turn.

Offline Norbeone

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Re: Most Intelligent Composers
« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2008, 01:17:37 PM »
Webern, I suppose. Particularly the 12-tone works.

Offline rappy

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Re: Most Intelligent Composers
« Reply #2 on: May 06, 2008, 01:23:53 PM »
Interesting. I read that Webern didn't show much talent in school etc.
But of course, that might have nothing to do with his music, yeah.

Offline Josquin des Prez

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Re: Most Intelligent Composers
« Reply #3 on: May 06, 2008, 01:32:44 PM »
I don't mean music which is just composed as complex as possible.

Thank you for making this distinction.

For me it has to be Bach, followed by Mozart as a close second. There are many others who over around ths spot but they all fall short by some margin, however small.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2008, 01:39:51 PM by Josquin des Prez »

Offline Josquin des Prez

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Re: Most Intelligent Composers
« Reply #4 on: May 06, 2008, 01:39:09 PM »
Interesting. I read that Webern didn't show much talent in school etc.
But of course, that might have nothing to do with his music, yeah.

He was a fair student, particularly considering schools were a lot tougher then then they are now. I don't know how much that counts tough. Jazz virtuoso Art Tatum wrote some excruciatingly complex (and intelligent) music but his IQ must have been scarcely at college level.

I'd give Webern an IQ of 130+ with a standard deviation of 15, more or less Mensa entry level. His musical IQ must have been through the roof however. Even as a teen he was already able to grasp the genius of Mahler when others (including Schoenberg) were still coming to terms with his music, and his criticism of his contemporaries was spot on almost 100% of the time.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2008, 01:54:38 PM by Josquin des Prez »

lukeottevanger

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Re: Most Intelligent Composers
« Reply #5 on: May 06, 2008, 01:45:47 PM »
Webern managed a PhD, so he can't have been a total intellectual loss...

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Most Intelligent Composers
« Reply #6 on: May 06, 2008, 03:23:42 PM »
Not sure if I can follow the definition of 'intelligent' used in the original posting.

The most intellectual composer in British music though is-most probably-Sir Michael Tippett. Although I am not a huge fan of his music(at least not his later music) it is obvious from the interviews that he gave and from his writings that Tippett was a man of the deepest intellect whose philosophical train of thought was often extremely difficult if not impenetrable to we lesser mortals!

bwv 1080

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Re: Most Intelligent Composers
« Reply #7 on: May 06, 2008, 03:50:15 PM »
So who then was the dumbest major composer?

And Webern can't be that smart otherwise he would have paid attention to the curfew in effect


Offline Josquin des Prez

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Re: Most Intelligent Composers
« Reply #8 on: May 06, 2008, 03:55:42 PM »
So who then was the dumbest major composer?

Tchaikovsky?  ;D

Haffner

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Re: Most Intelligent Composers
« Reply #9 on: May 06, 2008, 04:03:34 PM »
I always thought Mahler would be fascinating to speak with.

I see J. S. Bach and Mozart as being probably the smartest too. Schoenberg didn't seem like a dummy either, nor Copland.

Offline BachQ

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Re: Most Intelligent Composers
« Reply #10 on: May 06, 2008, 04:56:18 PM »
JS Bach
Beethoven
Brahms
Mozart

Offline Josquin des Prez

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Re: Most Intelligent Composers
« Reply #11 on: May 06, 2008, 05:50:57 PM »
Not sure if I can follow the definition of 'intelligent' used in the original posting.

Why not? Incidentally (or not), this conception of complete formal and developmental dependence between the smallest elements of a composition is what eventually led to the idea of "continuous variation" which is at the basis of the 12-tone system, more so then the often cited "emancipation" of dissonance. This is at the very core of Webern's art and is probably why he manages to make serialism work even though i personally believe the theory to be erroneous (at this point in time), particularly in it's role as substitute-tonality.


Offline (poco) Sforzando

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Re: Most Intelligent Composers
« Reply #12 on: May 06, 2008, 05:54:10 PM »
Which composer do you think shows the greatest amount of intellect in his music?
I don't mean music which is just composed as complex as possible. The ideal conditions of a score which shows the highest level of sophistication would mean for me (also a point to discuss!): each note stands in relation to all the other notes, not a single note can be dropped without lowering the impression on the listener, there's nothing more to be said, the thematic material and its instrumentation is full of wit, etc.

I just listened to the Brahms 2nd PC and followed the score. I think I have never seen such a conclusive, awe-inspiring score. He definitely gets my vote.
Other candidates could be Bach and Mahler. Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven in most of their later works.

Now it's your turn.

If one believes, as I do, that composition is not just a matter of pouring out one's feelings but of creating sculptures in sound, which calls for a very specifically musical type of braininess (and which may have nothing to do with conventional verbal or mathematical intelligence) - then how is your question any differerent from asking who was the greatest composer of all? I don't think you're talking about extramusical intelligence such as might be found in the writings of Tippett or Berlioz or Boulez, but rather about the musical intelligence of putting together a superbly sophisticated (but not complex for its own sake) piece of music. And so, likely candidates would include the Beethoven of the C# minor quartet and Diabellis, the Verdi of Falstaff, the Mozart of The Magic Flute, the Bach of the huge organ fugues, the Berlioz of the Love Scene from R+J, the Brahms of the Clarinet Quintet, the Chopin of the 4th Ballade, the Debussy of La Mer, the Berg of Wozzeck, and more - in short, most of the very greatest works by the very greatest composers, pure and simple (whether or not anyone else accepts my examples).

Or am I missing something from your original question?
"I don't know what sforzando means, though it clearly means something."

springrite

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Re: Most Intelligent Composers
« Reply #13 on: May 06, 2008, 06:12:52 PM »
Webern
Bach
Carter

Offline val

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Re: Most Intelligent Composers
« Reply #14 on: May 07, 2008, 12:04:51 AM »
Beethoven

JS Bach

Schönberg

Symphonien

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Re: Most Intelligent Composers
« Reply #15 on: May 07, 2008, 01:15:31 AM »
And Webern can't be that smart otherwise he would have paid attention to the curfew in effect

At least he was smart enough to recognise the dangers of passive smoking around his grandchildren.

lukeottevanger

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Re: Most Intelligent Composers
« Reply #16 on: May 07, 2008, 02:05:37 AM »
Not sure if I can follow the definition of 'intelligent' used in the original posting.

The most intellectual composer in British music though is-most probably-Sir Michael Tippett. Although I am not a huge fan of his music(at least not his later music) it is obvious from the interviews that he gave and from his writings that Tippett was a man of the deepest intellect whose philosophical train of thought was often extremely difficult if not impenetrable to we lesser mortals!

If one takes the implications of that last sentence as our definition of 'intelligent' then Brian Ferneyhough is going to be difficult for anyone to top. Though I rather tend to agree with Sforzando on this one.

Offline (poco) Sforzando

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Re: Most Intelligent Composers
« Reply #17 on: May 07, 2008, 02:18:11 AM »
If one takes the implications of that last sentence as our definition of 'intelligent' then Brian Ferneyhough is going to be difficult for anyone to top. Though I rather tend to agree with Sforzando on this one.

As do I. But if the caveat against music that is "complex as possible" is applied, I'm not sure Ferneyough would escape.
"I don't know what sforzando means, though it clearly means something."

lukeottevanger

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Re: Most Intelligent Composers
« Reply #18 on: May 07, 2008, 02:20:13 AM »
I wasn't referring to his music here as much as to his bristling intellect as displayed in his writings - and believe me, he speaks like that in real life!  :o

Offline BachQ

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Re: Most Intelligent Composers
« Reply #19 on: May 07, 2008, 02:22:41 AM »
each note stands in relation to all the other notes, not a single note can be dropped without lowering the impression on the listener, there's nothing more to be said, the thematic material and its instrumentation is full of wit, etc.

Beethoven and Brahms have this nailed.