Author Topic: The conductor as composer  (Read 19957 times)

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Offline Cato

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Re: The conductor as composer
« Reply #100 on: December 22, 2013, 10:50:43 AM »
Okay, I happened to see a mention of Christoph Graupner and it jogged a far distant memory.

When I was in Germany (Tuebingen) in the early 1970's, I often listened to German classical radio.  One day I hear the announcer go on and on about a man "who is creative in an uncreative time" and who dares to follow his own way without bothering about fashionable trends like "serialism or musique concrete," etc. etc.

"Dieser Mann heisst Kurt Graunke!"

More lionization was spoken, and then finally we were about to hear the "Symphony #2 by Kurt Graunke, Kurt Graunke conducts the Kurt Graunke Symphony Orchestra!"

And so how was the symphony?  I do not recall being at all impressed!

So... I just "googled" his name, and came across a Wikipedia entry in German about him:

http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kurt_Graunke

And I was amazed to discover that the present Munich Symphony Orchestra is the descendant of the "Kurt Graunke Symphony Orchestra."   :o :o :o

Amazon.de lists several CD's, including the symphony I heard!



Soapy Molloy did indeed find this in his archives:

You have reminded me that somewhere I have a copy of this:


Bruckner Symphony No.8
Graunke Symphony Orchestra
Kurt Graunke conductor


Which I must have played at some point but of which I retain absolutely no memory.  Think I will seek it out and give it a whirl (this may take some time... ::))

...and gave it a "not bad" rating.

A few bum notes aside.  Otherwise pretty good, in fact.  Would have been very happy to hear that in concert. :)  Heard plenty worse. >:(

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Offline Cato

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Re: The conductor as composer
« Reply #101 on: December 22, 2013, 12:32:19 PM »
Yes, I was surprised how good that Bruckner 8th turned out to be.  A strong, well-balanced performance slap in the middle of the range.  If I'd had to guess blind, I might have gone for someone like Günter Wand or Takashi Asahina from around the same vintage. :o

Are those Graunke symphonies really stinkers?
  I wasn't that keen on either Furtwängler's or von Hausegger's own efforts at composition, fine Bruckner conductors though they be.

Like I wrote earlier, I heard Symphony #2 c. 40 years ago, and recall not being impressed.

YouTube has this: a rehearsal of Graunke's Symphony #9:

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/BGyI8WnBAEc" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/BGyI8WnBAEc</a>

Here is what someone wrote on another website:

Quote
I've just dug out the Sedina LP of Graunke's 4th Symphony that I haven't listened to in decades. I recall the style as being rather dense, restless (if somewhat exhausting), and chromatic, though the movements adhere to classical forms (sonata form in the outer of the 4 movements with two fugue themes in the latter). Not fair to review by memory, though, is it?

http://classicalmusicguide.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=8031
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Offline San Antone

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Re: The conductor as composer
« Reply #102 on: April 16, 2015, 02:12:47 AM »
The criteria for my list is that these men made their living from conducting, either having had an official position or doing enough conducting to have left a sizable recorded legacy.   However, they are known mainly as composers.

Those for whom we do not have any record of their conducting:

JS Bach.  His primary occupation was as music director/conductor, and there is some documentary evidence of his expertise in that area, but of course his music is all we consider nowadays.

Joseph Haydn.  Same as above.

Gustav Mahler.  There may be a recording here or there, but mainly it is through reputation that we know he was a great conductor.

Others that come to mind.

Igor Stravinsky.  While there is grumbling that his versions of his own work are not the best, and he did not conduct the music of other composers, he still worked a lot as a conductor.

Benjamin Britten.  He never had an offical post, but he was offered the musical directorship of the Covent Garden Opera in 1952 but declined.  Besides his own music, Britten's repertory included Purcell, Bach, Haydn, Mozart and Schubert.

Bruno Maderna.  Also not having a position, but his recorded repertory is extensive.  If you have not heard his Mahler 7th or 9th, do.

Leonard Bernstein.  Harder to make a case for his composing, at least, compared to the others on this list; but, I can't leave him off.

Pierre Boulez.

Peter Eötvös.

Offline ritter

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Re: The conductor as composer
« Reply #103 on: April 16, 2015, 02:32:33 AM »
Nice list, sanantonio. But Richard Strauss should be on it, don't you thinkl?  :)

Cheers,
ritter
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Offline San Antone

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Re: The conductor as composer
« Reply #104 on: April 16, 2015, 02:37:00 AM »
Nice list, sanantonio. But Richard Strauss should be on it, don't you thinkl?  :)

Cheers,

Of course;  but since I never listen to his music, I didn't even think of him.  I am sure there are many others; my list is made up of low hanging fruit, but might jump start a conversation.  Or not.

 :D


Offline Mandryka

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Re: The conductor as composer
« Reply #105 on: April 16, 2015, 02:54:32 AM »
The criteria for my list is that these men made their living from conducting, either having had an official position or doing enough conducting to have left a sizable recorded legacy.   However, they are known mainly as composers.

Those for whom we do not have any record of their conducting:

JS Bach.  His primary occupation was as music director/conductor, and there is some documentary evidence of his expertise in that area, but of course his music is all we consider nowadays.

Joseph Haydn.  Same as above.

Gustav Mahler.  There may be a recording here or there, but mainly it is through reputation that we know he was a great conductor.

Others that come to mind.

Igor Stravinsky.  While there is grumbling that his versions of his own work are not the best, and he did not conduct the music of other composers, he still worked a lot as a conductor.

Benjamin Britten.  He never had an offical post, but he was offered the musical directorship of the Covent Garden Opera in 1952 but declined.  Besides his own music, Britten's repertory included Purcell, Bach, Haydn, Mozart and Schubert.

Bruno Maderna.  Also not having a position, but his recorded repertory is extensive.  If you have not heard his Mahler 7th or 9th, do.

Leonard Bernstein.  Harder to make a case for his composing, at least, compared to the others on this list; but, I can't leave him off.

Pierre Boulez.

Peter Eötvös.

I wonder if it's so obvious that Bruno Maderna is known mainly as a composer. The recordings are cherished by music lovers, and not just the Mahler, it's a real shame that they were hard to find on CD, that could all change now of course. The compositions, well there are four or five "well known" ones, I suppose.
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Offline North Star

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Re: The conductor as composer
« Reply #106 on: April 16, 2015, 03:04:23 AM »
From here:
Quote
Jean Sibelius conducted his music in Finland and also with foreign orchestras for over three decades. He was one of the most successful composer-conductors of his time and he established his own tradition with some of the top orchestras of Sweden and Britain. However, the only recording of Sibelius as a conductor is Andante festivo, which was recorded in 1939.

Esa-Pekka Salonen is of course much better known as a conductor, but well known as a composer too.
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Offline ritter

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Re: The conductor as composer
« Reply #107 on: April 16, 2015, 03:06:35 AM »
Well, I for one am happy to start a conversation on this...

Some additions to the list (apart from the aforementiioned Richard Strauss):

Richard Wagner: He started his career as GMD in places such as Magdeburg, Königsberg and Riga, and got the (significnt) post of music director in Dresden. Later he would conduct almost exclusively his own works on tour...

George Enescu: The complete musician (compsoer, violinist, teacher, pinaist and conductor). He was considered as MD of the NY Philharmonc-Symphony in the mid-30s (but IIRC, Barbirolli was chosen instead).

Cristóbal Halffter: He has conducted regularly throughout his long career, and was also being considered as MD of the Spanish National Orchestra in the mid-90s. But well, this major Spanish composer (a personal favourite of mine) revceives almost no attention here GMG  :(

Giuseppe Sinopoli: His compositional oevre is almost forgotten (I only know the Lou Salomé suites), and he gave up composing at one point, but still qualifies.

I wonder if it's so obvious that Bruno Maderna is known mainly as a composer. The recordings are cherished by music lovers, and not just the Mahler, it's a real shame that they were hard to find on CD, that could all change now of course. The compositions, well there are four or five "well known" ones, I suppose.
What amazes of Maderna is the breadth of his repertoire as conductor (from Scarlatti to Boulez and beyond). I cherish his recordings, and am irrritated that so many of the volumes of the "Maderna edition" on the defunct Arkadia label are almost impossible to find. I included him among my top 10 favourite conductors in the appropriate thread  8)
ritter
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Offline North Star

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Re: The conductor as composer
« Reply #108 on: April 16, 2015, 03:17:29 AM »
JS Bach.  His primary occupation was as music director/conductor, and there is some documentary evidence of his expertise in that area, but of course his music is all we consider nowadays.

Joseph Haydn.  Same as above.
And Vivaldi, teaching violin, rehearsing choirs and leading performances of the Pio Ospedale della Pietà.
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Offline San Antone

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Re: The conductor as composer
« Reply #109 on: April 16, 2015, 03:20:57 AM »
I wonder if it's so obvious that Bruno Maderna is known mainly as a composer.

Dunno.  For myself his composing is far and away what I think of when I think of him. But I also think of him as a very generous musician, promoting an entire generation of younger composers.

Offline North Star

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Re: The conductor as composer
« Reply #110 on: April 16, 2015, 03:21:05 AM »
George Enescu: The complete musician (compsoer, violinist, teacher, pinaist and conductor). He was considered as MD of the NY Philharmonc-Symphony in the mid-30s (but IIRC, Barbirolli was chosen instead).
Yes, one of the most talented musicians ever to have lived. It has been told that Cortot said Enescu was a better pianist than he was. And I remember reading that D'Indy claimed that Enescu could write from memory the scores of all of Beethoven's works if the manuscripts were destroyed.

http://www-control.eng.cam.ac.uk/hu/Enescu.html
Quote
The story goes that George Enescu took on a young, untalented violinist as a pupil, to earn some money. The lad's father, who was rich, paid for a concert for his son, who was to play the violin while Enescu played the piano accompaniment. At the concert, a number of Enescu's friends turned up, including Cortot. Enescu needed some help with the score, and Cortot offered to turn the pages.

 The Paris press reported this curious event more or less as follows: "We were treated to a strange concert last night. The man who turned pages should have played the piano. The man who played the piano should have played the violin. The man who played the violin should have turned the pages."
« Last Edit: April 16, 2015, 03:24:47 AM by North Star »
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Offline San Antone

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Re: The conductor as composer
« Reply #111 on: April 16, 2015, 03:24:43 AM »
And Vivaldi, teaching violin, rehearsing choirs and leading performances of the Pio Ospedale della Pietà.

I just named a couple but prior to Mozart it was very common for composers to have a position as music director, so just about every composer, prior to 1750, whose work has survived wrote the music as part of larger official position.  Beethoven was one of the first to insist on pushing the idea of the composer as composer.

Offline Florestan

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Re: The conductor as composer
« Reply #112 on: April 20, 2015, 01:48:24 AM »
Yes, one of the most talented musicians ever to have lived. It has been told that Cortot said Enescu was a better pianist than he was. And I remember reading that D'Indy claimed that Enescu could write from memory the scores of all of Beethoven's works if the manuscripts were destroyed.

Legend has it that he read Ravel´s Violin Sonata while travelling by train and then performed it flawlessly in front of the composer the next evening. (or something like that, I´m too lazy to look for the whole thing)

Quote
"We were treated to a strange concert last night. The man who turned pages should have played the piano. The man who played the piano should have played the violin. The man who played the violin should have turned the pages."

 :D :D :D

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Offline king ubu

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Re: The conductor as composer
« Reply #113 on: April 20, 2015, 02:02:05 AM »
Not very familiar, both as composer and conductor, but I guess he deserves mention here: Hans Zender
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Offline Rons_talking

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Re: The conductor as composer
« Reply #114 on: April 22, 2015, 02:06:25 AM »
Gunther Schuller is pretty accomplished at both, as well as being a leading Jazz scholar.

Offline calyptorhynchus

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Re: The conductor as composer
« Reply #115 on: May 01, 2015, 02:25:45 AM »
I've just been listening to Furtwängler's Symphony No.1. At an hour and twenty minutes  it's in Bruckner, Mahler and Havergal Brian territory. In fact there are quite a few allusions to Bruckner, Brhams and Beethoven in the piece, and though none to Mahler that I noticed,

It's quite a pleasant piece and doesn't drag, I was quite surprised when it ended, as I hadn't realised that the time had gone by. However, it isn't really a great symphony. The maestro seems mainly to be fitting Brahmsian themes to a Bruckner sized framework, and the two don't go together. There also isn't much tension in the piece, which is amazing considering it was written during WW2, when Furtwängler was still in Germany, but was being uncooperative with the Nazis (quite a risky thing to do).

One for the enthusiasts.