Author Topic: Living Symphonic Composers  (Read 15099 times)

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Offline Dundonnell

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Living Symphonic Composers
« on: May 08, 2008, 12:31:17 PM »
(I know that there is a previous thread entitled "Today's Greatest Symphonies" but I though that I would look at the issue of the Symphony in the early Twenty-First Century from a different angle. This is my second go at this post; I wrote out the whole thing and then inadvertently deleted the lot >:()

In his fine book "A Companion to the Symphony" Robert Layton expressed his concern for the future of the Symphony as a musical form. I am an ardent collector of symphonic music and it worries me sometimes that so many of the leading composers of symphonies are members of a diminishing group.

Without any claims(!) to being a comprehensive list, those who have written more than one symphony and have had some of their symphonies recorded would include-

Britain:
Richard Arnell(91)-six symphonies
John Gardner(91)-three symphonies
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies(74)-eight symphonies
Sir Richard Rodney Bennett(72)-three symphonies
John McCabe(69)-five full-scale symphonies
David Matthews(65)-six symphonies
James Macmillan(49)-three symphonies

France:
Henri Dutilleux(92)-two symphonies

Spain:
Leonardo Balada(75)-six symphonies

Germany:
Hans Werner Henze(82)-ten symphonies

Denmark:
Ib Norholm(77)-ten symphonies
Per Norgard(76)-seven symphonies

Finland:
Einojuhani Rautavaara(80)-eight symphonies
Aulis Sallinen(73)-eight symphonies
Kalevi Aho(59)-fourteen symphonies

Norway:
Ragnar Soderlind(63)-four symphonies(?)
Halvor Haug(56)-three symphonies

Poland:
Krzystof Penderecki(75)-seven symphonies(plus No.6 not completed)
Henryk Gorecki(75)-three symphonies

Latvia:
Peteris Vasks(62)-three symphonies

Russia:
Boris Tishchenko(69)-ten symphonies

Ukraine:
Valentin Silvestrov(71)-seven symphonies

Georgia:
Giya Kancheli(73)-seven symphonies

Bulgaria:
Henri Lazarof(76)-seven symphonies

USA:
Robert Ward(91)-five symphonies
Benjamin Lees(84)-five symphonies
Philip Glass(71)-eight symphonies
John Corigliano(70)-two symphonies
John Harbison(70)-five symphonies
Ellen Taaffe Zwillich(69)-four symphonies
Christopher Rouse(59)-two symphonies

Over the next couple of decades or so most of these composers will disappear from the list. Most are already of somewhat advanced years. Are there the younger composers around to take their places as composers of symphonies which will be performed or recorded?

bwv 1080

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Re: Living Symphonic Composers
« Reply #1 on: May 08, 2008, 12:37:44 PM »
Does the word "Symphony" mean anything anymore?  There are obviously things which aren't symphonies - short one movement pieces, concertos etc.  But there are plenty of larger orchestral works where the composer chose to title it something other than "Symphony no x", that are as much "symphonies" as the titled pieces above.  For example, Dutilleux's Metaboles is as much of a "symphony" as his 2nd.


Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Living Symphonic Composers
« Reply #2 on: May 08, 2008, 12:47:49 PM »
Does the word "Symphony" mean anything anymore?  There are obviously things which aren't symphonies - short one movement pieces, concertos etc.  But there are plenty of larger orchestral works where the composer chose to title it something other than "Symphony no x", that are as much "symphonies" as the titled pieces above.  For example, Dutilleux's Metaboles is as much of a "symphony" as his 2nd.



Interesting point! My only response would be that Dutilleux could have entitled 'Metaboles' his Symphony No.3 but chose not to do so. Perhaps the word may mean nothing anymore in which case maybe it is dead as a form.

lukeottevanger

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Re: Living Symphonic Composers
« Reply #3 on: May 08, 2008, 12:59:47 PM »
... Are there the younger composers around to take their places as composers of symphonies which will be performed or recorded?

I'm open to commission  ;D ;)

Though BWV's point is a good one - there are the three-movement Adams pieces, for instance - Harmonielehre, or Naive and Sentimental Music - which share many of the traits of 'The Symphony'. We discussed this on another thread (perhaps the one you referred to above) - if a composer chooses not to call his piece a symphony, does that mean it cannot be one? Even if it appears to be one in all other ways?...

eyeresist

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Re: Living Symphonic Composers
« Reply #4 on: May 08, 2008, 09:28:17 PM »
I would define "symphony" as a large-scale orchestral work which is not programmatic. That would exclude a number of these "not actually called a symphony" candidates (and also a lot of Mahler).

pjme

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Re: Living Symphonic Composers
« Reply #5 on: May 08, 2008, 10:22:47 PM »
From Belgium :

Piet Swerts ( °1960) : 2 symphonies
Nr2 "Morgenrot"( with soprano & chorus ..and quite Mahlerian in scope) is available on a Phaedra CD (live perf.)



Luc Brewaeys (°1959) : 8 symphonies ( nr 8 isn't yet finished)



Symphony n°1
Symphony n°2
Requialm* for soprano & orchestra
Symphony n°3
Non lasciate ogni speranza*° for soprano, saxophone(s) & orchestra
Symphony n°5 "Laphroaig"** for 2 orchestras with live-electronics


Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of Flanders
Conductor : Arturo TAMAYO
* Mireille CAPELLE, soprano
°Daniel KIENTZY, saxophones
**Dirk BROSSE, second conductor
**Piet VAN BOCKSTAL, oboe solo
**Fons ADRIAENSEN & Greet SWINNEN, live-electronics


Cyprès CYP 2609 (2cd)
Released: 00/00/1995
www.cypres-records.com

(There a huge amount of never performed symphonies by very active composers from the late 19th - early 20th century...Meulemans : 15 symphonies, Baeyens 8 symphonies, Legley 8 symphonies, Poot 7, Chevreuille 7.....Jef Maes :3,Willem Kersters : 5 Sternefeld :2)

In France : Jacques Castérède ( at least 2 symph,propably more..;), Thierry Escaich : 1 symphony (recorded), Charles Chaynes : at least 1 symphony ( 1955), Jacques Charpentier (°1933) : at least 5 symphonies, even filmcomposer Georges Delerue wrote 4 symphonies ( don't know if he's still alive..)
Anyway, I'll check younger composer ( Bacri, Lenot, Pausset,Brenet, Canat de Chizy .......etc)

I'm sure my Dutch ( German, Luxemburgian...) neighbours will come up with an exiting list of symphonies by still living composers.


Peter
« Last Edit: May 08, 2008, 10:32:42 PM by pjme »

Offline Lethevich

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Re: Living Symphonic Composers
« Reply #6 on: May 08, 2008, 11:49:52 PM »
Erkki-Sven Tüür has produced four (I've heard 2-4, all worthy, the 3rd probably brilliant) and as he's barely out of his nappies in composer years, there will be more in future.
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Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Living Symphonic Composers
« Reply #7 on: May 09, 2008, 01:14:01 AM »
Erkki-Sven Tüür has produced four (I've heard 2-4, all worthy, the 3rd probably brilliant) and as he's barely out of his nappies in composer years, there will be more in future.

Tuur yes-I had forgotten about him. Actually I have never heard any of his symphonies to be honest!

There are, undoubtedly symphonies which have been written or are being written by other living composers but are they being heard and will they be recorded in the future so that they can achieve wider recognition?

Maybe I am being just too pessimistic? I certainly hope so. As I made up that list(I am an inveterate compiler of such lists, I'm afraid!) it did strike me how old these composers actually are.

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Living Symphonic Composers
« Reply #8 on: May 09, 2008, 01:52:53 AM »
Can anybody tell me what Tuur's music sounds like? I have read the reviews of his music but wonder if there is any other composer to whom he can be profitably compared?

Offline Grazioso

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Re: Living Symphonic Composers
« Reply #9 on: May 09, 2008, 03:31:08 AM »
I collect complete symphony cycles, so this thread is right up my alley :)

Here are some more:

Britain:
John Joubert-2

Bulgaria:
Emil Tabakov-7

China:
Tan Dun-2

Czech Republic:
Karel Husa-1

Estonia:
Arvo Pärt-3

Lithuania:
Osvaldas Balakauskas-5

Finland:
Jouni Kaipainen-3
Pehr Nordgren-6

Greece:
Mikis Theodorakis-7

Netherlands:
Peter-Jan Wagemans-7(?)

Russia:
Alla Pavlova-5

USA:
Elliot Carter-2(?)
Gloria Coates-15
James Cohn-8
Carson Cooman-3(?)
David Del Tredici-1
Frank Levy-4(?)
Adolphus Hailstork-3
Michael Hersch-2
Ned Rorem-3
Jose Serebrier-3
Harold Shapero-1
William Bolcom-8


« Last Edit: May 09, 2008, 03:58:10 AM by Grazioso »
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Offline Lethevich

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Re: Living Symphonic Composers
« Reply #10 on: May 09, 2008, 03:34:27 AM »
Can anybody tell me what Tuur's music sounds like? I have read the reviews of his music but wonder if there is any other composer to whom he can be profitably compared?

If you didn't like the Akutagawa Elora symphony (sorry if I am mixing people up), I am not sure whether you would like some of his output. He straddles two camps: there are echoes of the popular "spiritual" cluster of composers (Vasks, Pärt, etc) who utilise modified tonality and minimalism, but he is somewhat less easy listening or more experimental in some pieces (oddly, sometimes just one, not the other - usually the two are mutually inclusive) and can have a cragginess comparable to Nørgård, or the slightly shapeless feel of Penderecki's "transitional" pieces. A few examples of the range of styles:

Conversio [for piano and violin]: This is a bit like American minimalism in the first half, rather literaly repetitive with a gradually shift into a theme to "resolve" it.

Architectonics: These are neat pieces each for different ensemble setups and in different styles. There are a few discs which include a couple as stand-alone pieces, but there are two discs with a set on - one OOP. Surprisingly listenable and with some unusual textures due to the odd instrumentation (one has, for example, saxophone, violin, basson and electronics). His jazz influences are more noticable in these works than the orchestral ones.

Lighthouse, Insula Deserta, The Path and the Traces: This will be quite familiar to anyone who has heard a range of the previously mentioned "spiritual" types of music. The works are for string orchestra (what else? :P), and generally mysterious in mood and alternating between attractively tuneful in a pseudo-minimal style (especially Lighthouse) to mind dissonances. Lighthouse may compare slightly to Vasks' first symphony "Voices".

Symphony No.2, Zeitraum: Rather more rugged sounding. The 2nd symphony is quite feral, with loud brass climaxes that may remind you of Kancheli's symphonies, but generally the dynamics are not so artificial. Generally pretty dissonant, more so than Pettersson, but not atonal.

Symphony No.3, Violin Concerto, Cello Concerto: The 3rd symphony is one of his most well-known pieces, and quite a bit more refined than the 2nd. These works can feel a little shapeless, but they are appealing and reward further listening, as there is quite a lot going on, and their architecture is also strong.

Choral pieces: Too under-represented in the catalogue to properly judge. The two included on the symphony no.4 disc (Virgin) are superb, especially the long piece. Very tonal, although not romantic - the textures are quite transparent and light. There was an oratorio Ante Finem Saeculi on an OOP Finlandia disc but sadly, while the other piece on that disc (symphony no.2) has been reissued, this has not. From what I remember, it fitted perfectly with its coupling :(

The interesting thing is that he manages to produce works in these differing styles without coming across as a chameleon like Schnittke (for eg.) - they are rather well integrated into his sound world. Perhaps the biggest obstacle to getting into his work is the prices of the ECM discs which form a substantial part of his discography. Fortunately the Apex and Virgin discs can be found very affordably. For some inexplicable reason, ever since it was released, the Virgin full price disc of the 4th has been on Amazon marketplace for under £4, atm it seems to have gone under 3. Link. The 4th symphony is a percussion concerto, to be honest. I find that its mood is somewhere between the 2nd and 3rd, so is perhaps a good introduction. Plus it has a nifty choral piece Inquiétude du Fini. Generally the music has a transparency which allows for details such as small percussion instruments to stand alongside an orchestra that occasionally gets pretty loud without becoming trivial. I find it to be a very naturalistic style of composing.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2008, 03:39:19 AM by Lethe »
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karlhenning

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Re: Living Symphonic Composers
« Reply #11 on: May 09, 2008, 03:37:00 AM »
Does the word "Symphony" mean anything anymore?

An important question, but here, tendentiously phrased.

I should ask instead, What does the word "symphony" mean at present?

karlhenning

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Re: Living Symphonic Composers
« Reply #12 on: May 09, 2008, 03:39:17 AM »
USA:
...
Carson Cooman-3(?)
...

Carson is, I am pleased to say, an acquaintance of mine (indeed, he once played a short organ piece of mine in a recital at Harvard) . . . Wuorinen is one of his favorite composers, and Carson would likely be aghast at your omitting him  8)

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Living Symphonic Composers
« Reply #13 on: May 09, 2008, 04:26:55 AM »
I collect complete symphony cycles, so this thread is right up my alley :)

Here are some more:

Britain:
John Joubert-2

Bulgaria:
Emil Tabakov-7

China:
Tan Dun-2

Czech Republic:
Karel Husa-1

Estonia:
Arvo Pärt-3

Lithuania:
Osvaldas Balakauskas-5

Finland:
Jouni Kaipainen-3
Pehr Nordgren-6

Greece:
Mikis Theodorakis-7

Netherlands:
Peter-Jan Wagemans-7(?)

Russia:
Alla Pavlova-5

USA:
Elliot Carter-2(?)
Gloria Coates-15
James Cohn-8
Carson Cooman-3(?)
David Del Tredici-1
Frank Levy-4(?)
Adolphus Hailstork-3
Michael Hersch-2
Ned Rorem-3
Jose Serebrier-3
Harold Shapero-1
William Bolcom-8




I knew that my list was a hostage to fortune!

How could I forget John Joubert(age 81), Jouni Kaipainen(52), Arvo Part(73), Alla Pavlova(56), William Bolcom(70), Frank Levy(78), Ned Rorem(85), Jose Serebrier(70)-some of whose symphonies are sitting on my own shelves!! I also omitted Kamran Ince-one of the youngest at a mere 48 years old!

Having been busy reading some reviews of the works of those composers I don't know I think that I should investigate the Naxos releases of-at least-Carson Cooman and Adolphus Hailstork

Thanks for these additional names!!

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Living Symphonic Composers
« Reply #14 on: May 09, 2008, 04:34:39 AM »
Many thanks, Lethe, for your incredibly helpful introduction to Tuur's music!!

I think that perhaps I might try either the 3rd or 4th Symphonies. I do know all the Kancheli symphonies and like them in bits(though they do tend to batter one into submission at times!). Ditto with the Schnittke and-of course-Pettersson, although I do like the latter's gloomy idiom now and again. Not a fan of Penderecki pre-1980, I regret to say.

Offline Lethevich

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Re: Living Symphonic Composers
« Reply #15 on: May 09, 2008, 04:36:42 AM »
Many thanks, Lethe, for your incredibly helpful introduction to Tuur's music!!

I think that perhaps I might try either the 3rd or 4th Symphonies. I do know all the Kancheli symphonies and like them in bits(though they do tend to batter one into submission at times!). Ditto with the Schnittke and-of course-Pettersson, although I do like the latter's gloomy idiom now and again. Not a fan of Penderecki pre-1980, I regret to say.

I would be happy to upload some sample tracks if you like (It'd be a while - I'd need to rip CDs to do it, but I was going to in the near future, anyway, and no time like the present).
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Mark G. Simon

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Re: Living Symphonic Composers
« Reply #16 on: May 09, 2008, 04:51:43 AM »

Czech Republic:
Karel Husa-1

Karel Husa wrote his 2nd symphony in 1983 under the title Reflections (Symphony no. 2).

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Living Symphonic Composers
« Reply #17 on: May 09, 2008, 04:55:33 AM »
I would be happy to upload some sample tracks if you like (It'd be a while - I'd need to rip CDs to do it, but I was going to in the near future, anyway, and no time like the present).

That would be great, thanks!

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Living Symphonic Composers
« Reply #18 on: May 09, 2008, 04:56:10 AM »
Karel Husa wrote his 2nd symphony in 1983 under the title Reflections (Symphony no. 2).

Do you know the work by any chance?

Offline The new erato

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Re: Living Symphonic Composers
« Reply #19 on: May 09, 2008, 05:12:51 AM »
Norway: Terje Rypdal