Author Topic: Your Top 5 Most Joyful Composers  (Read 851 times)

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Offline Jo498

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Re: Your Top 5 Most Joyful Composers
« Reply #40 on: October 12, 2020, 08:44:50 AM »
I am struggling to see Schubert and Tchaikovsky as mostly joyful. Schubert is one of the most melancholy composers, I think, although I am skeptical about the alleged remark of his that he didn't know any happy? joyful music. Sure, as with Tchaikovsky that aspect might have been exaggerated in reception and the latter has a lot of festive music to balance the gloom of the "Pathetique" and others.
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
(Bob Dylan)

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Your Top 5 Most Joyful Composers
« Reply #41 on: October 12, 2020, 09:00:01 AM »
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline Christo

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Re: Your Top 5 Most Joyful Composers
« Reply #42 on: October 12, 2020, 09:44:55 AM »
Dvořák
Braga Santos
Respighi
Poulenc
Saint-Saëns
… 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 Brian

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Re: Your Top 5 Most Joyful Composers
« Reply #43 on: October 12, 2020, 10:47:57 AM »
I am struggling to see Schubert and Tchaikovsky as mostly joyful. Schubert is one of the most melancholy composers, I think, although I am skeptical about the alleged remark of his that he didn't know any happy? joyful music. Sure, as with Tchaikovsky that aspect might have been exaggerated in reception and the latter has a lot of festive music to balance the gloom of the "Pathetique" and others.
To me they are maybe the most bipolar composers? I agree with you that Schubert immediately makes me think of melancholy, and of course Tchaikovsky is famously moody...but then there are things like Schubert's symphonies 2/3/6 and Tchaikovsky's orchestral suites and ballets. Not too many people spent so much time working at both extremes of the emotional spectrum.

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Your Top 5 Most Joyful Composers
« Reply #44 on: October 12, 2020, 11:00:00 AM »
JS Bach
Haydn
Scarlatti
de Victoria
Vivaldi

I don't think that [music in listening to which I joy] is the same as [joyful music]
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
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http://www.karlhenning.com/
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Offline alkan

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Re: Your Top 5 Most Joyful Composers
« Reply #45 on: October 13, 2020, 06:58:04 AM »
Well I don't agree with Martinu !!!
Tragic music should sound tragic.    If it was joyous then it would sound rather superficial IMHO ....        In fact Martinu's quote referred to Dvorak and what I think he meant to say was that Dvorak was such a joyful person that even if he tried to write tragic music it still sounded joyous!

Nevertheless, the composer I most associate with writing joyous, life-affirming music is Carl Nielsen.     His symphonies are a monument to his character, even the 6th in which he faces death with flashes of humour.
The two most common elements in the universe are Hydrogen and stupidity.
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Offline Symphonic Addict

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Re: Your Top 5 Most Joyful Composers
« Reply #46 on: October 13, 2020, 07:03:55 AM »
Nevertheless, the composer I most associate with writing joyous, life-affirming music is Carl Nielsen.     His symphonies are a monument to his character, even the 6th in which he faces death with flashes of humour.

I agree. When you want vitality, Nielsen is your man.

Offline André

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Re: Your Top 5 Most Joyful Composers
« Reply #47 on: October 13, 2020, 07:30:36 AM »
Milhaud would certainly make the cut.

Offline some guy

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Re: Your Top 5 Most Joyful Composers
« Reply #48 on: October 13, 2020, 07:21:42 PM »
Playing off of Karl's observation, I'd say that all composers are pretty joyful. They're doing a job they enjoy, after all. They keep doing it, anyway, even when bad things happen, which they do, in any job.

Most composers do have other jobs. The jobs that make them money. Often teaching jobs. But what really gives an artist joy is making art.
I would also say that any piece that's well done (or that engages a listener or two) is a cause for joy, a cause of joy, no matter what the subject. I can think of dozens, hundreds, of pieces that have grim or tragic or sad subjects that are a joy, a delight to listen to. We probably none of us take any pleasure in the beheading of nuns, but many of us listen to Poulenc's Dialogues des Carmélites over and over again because it's a smashing piece.

Online Mandryka

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Re: Your Top 5 Most Joyful Composers
« Reply #49 on: October 13, 2020, 07:40:28 PM »
Stockhausen (Klang Trios)
Franco Donatoni
Dufay

Hard to write interesting joyful music, I’m reminded of Tolstoy: all happy music is happy in the same way, each unhappy piece is unhappy in it’s own way.
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Offline Old San Antone

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Re: Your Top 5 Most Joyful Composers
« Reply #50 on: October 14, 2020, 01:11:43 AM »
Overall, I think French composers are more joyful than German composers.  For me playfulness sounds joyful, so my choices are inspired by a sense of playfulness I sense in the composer's process.

Poulenc, for sure
Erik Satie
Stravinsky
Cage

Offline Jo498

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Re: Your Top 5 Most Joyful Composers
« Reply #51 on: October 14, 2020, 02:45:12 AM »
Overall, I think French composers are more joyful than German composers.  For me playfulness sounds joyful, so my choices are inspired by a sense of playfulness I sense in the composer's process.
For me these are not so clearly related. I often tend to find the French style playfulness silly or frivolous and while we are at stereotypes Italian musical jollity seems more authentic to me.  My favorite French composers are all "serious" and neither playful nor joyful (Berlioz, Ravel, Debussy, Roussel). The playfulness in some Ravel or Debussy piano music I tend to find "neutral", like "playing of the waves" in nature. (Maybe Rameau is an exception but I usually prefer German and Italian baroque to French). It's not that I strongly dislike Milhaud or Poulenc, but it's not music that grabs me. This is not to deny that some German/Austrian composers are in fact quite gloomy. But with a few exception like Berlioz I tend to find French composers detached or aloof, not very emotional at all (for Satie this seems to be the central point, musical wallpaper).
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
(Bob Dylan)

Offline Florestan

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Re: Your Top 5 Most Joyful Composers
« Reply #52 on: October 14, 2020, 04:18:38 AM »
I am struggling to see Schubert and Tchaikovsky as mostly joyful. Schubert is one of the most melancholy composers, I think, although I am skeptical about the alleged remark of his that he didn't know any happy? joyful music. Sure, as with Tchaikovsky that aspect might have been exaggerated in reception and the latter has a lot of festive music to balance the gloom of the "Pathetique" and others.

Well, yes, I agree that Schubert is essentially a melancholy guy. But...

Firstly, there is melancholy and melancholy. His is not of the gloomy, hopeless and despairing kind, but a gentle, mild, bittersweet one. Not a cloudy, cold, and snowy mid-winter late evening (Winterreise notwithstanding) but a warm, glowing and beautiful Indian summer sunset.

Secondly, for all his melancholy, to my ears his music sounds mostly joyful (admittedly, this may have possibly got something to do with his infallible melodic gift). The only work of his which has no joy whatsoever, no ray of hope at all, no moment of relief is Winterreise. All others juxtapose sorrow and joy in the most natural manner, and in the end the lighter mood generally prevails.

Pretty much the same applies to Tchaikovsky as well, melodic gift included, the difference being that he has no completely doom-and-gloom work (at least none known to me). Even the Pathetique has that charming waltz.

Overall, I'd say that judging by the works I've heard (not all of them but a susbtantial part and certainly all of the important ones), both Schubert and Tchaikovsky wrote more joyful, or cheerful, at least bittersweet, than sorrowful music. And yes, their reception tended to obscure this fact.


To me they are maybe the most bipolar composers? I agree with you that Schubert immediately makes me think of melancholy, and of course Tchaikovsky is famously moody...but then there are things like Schubert's symphonies 2/3/6 and Tchaikovsky's orchestral suites and ballets. Not too many people spent so much time working at both extremes of the emotional spectrum.

These are good points. But why do you single out Schubert's  symphonies 2/3/6? There's not a single one of all others, not even the Tragic, not even the Unfinished (the second movement strikes me as rather cheerful), which does not have joyful moments interspersed with sorrowful ones. As for Tchaikovsky, there's much more joyful music to him than just the ballets and the suites: all the concertos, the Serenade for String, the Capriccio Italien, Snegurochka, most of the piano music fits the bill. Heck, even Manfred has that delightful pastoral movement.

Now that I think of it, Chopin is not very gloomy either. The PCs and other works for piano and orchestra, mazurkas, waltzes, some of the preludes, polonaises, scherzos, ballades, impromptus and nocturnes, the barcarolle, the bolero and the juvenilia are quite cheerful, actually --- either completely or partially.



« Last Edit: October 14, 2020, 04:35:39 AM by Florestan »
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Offline Florestan

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Re: Your Top 5 Most Joyful Composers
« Reply #53 on: October 14, 2020, 04:29:33 AM »
Here's an alternative list of mine, comprising only names which have not been mentioned so far.

Telemann
Paganini
Offenbach
Paul Graener
Leroy Anderson

“Play Mozart in memory of me --- and I will hear you.” — Chopin

Online Mandryka

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Re: Your Top 5 Most Joyful Composers
« Reply #54 on: October 14, 2020, 04:32:47 AM »
For me playfulness sounds joyful

Ha, that made me wonder what you'd think of Samuel Beckett's Endgame.
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Offline Florestan

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Re: Your Top 5 Most Joyful Composers
« Reply #55 on: October 14, 2020, 04:34:50 AM »
Ha, that made me wonder what you'd think of Samuel Beckett's Endgame.

We're talking about music, right?
“Play Mozart in memory of me --- and I will hear you.” — Chopin

Online Mandryka

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Re: Your Top 5 Most Joyful Composers
« Reply #56 on: October 14, 2020, 06:40:19 AM »
We're talking about music, right?

Absolutely

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/ALFiOCXQUek&amp;t=979s&amp;ab_channel=Gygovich" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/ALFiOCXQUek&amp;t=979s&amp;ab_channel=Gygovich</a>

But my real point was that one interpretation of Endgame is that it is a game, people are playing a game which, in fact they wish to bring to an end. But joyful doesn't sound right to me for this work at least. So the connection between play, game etc on the one hand, and joy on the other, is possibly defeasible. 

This is not brought out well in the opera IMO and seems to me a major weakness of Kurtag's work.

« Last Edit: October 14, 2020, 06:45:57 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Brian

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Re: Your Top 5 Most Joyful Composers
« Reply #57 on: October 14, 2020, 08:30:00 AM »
My favorite French composers are all "serious" and neither playful nor joyful (Berlioz, Ravel, Debussy, Roussel). ... But with a few exception like Berlioz I tend to find French composers detached or aloof, not very emotional at all (for Satie this seems to be the central point, musical wallpaper).

Oddly and maybe totally wrongly, I thought about suggesting Berlioz as a "joyful" composer. But maybe the more accurate thing to say is that he clearly takes personal joy in the wide range and capabilities of a symphony orchestra and/or chorus. So his music seems happy as a side effect of his own love of composing. There are things in his work which are indisputably happy - parts of the Te Deum, the ball and scherzo from Romeo and Juliet, the Roman Carnival. But when I think of things that give me joy from Berlioz, like the finale of Fantastique or the "chasse royale et orage," those aren't inherently joyful, they're exuberant. The joy was in the writing and hearing, not necessarily in the content.

Many of my favorite composers are the ones who clearly had the best time while they were composing. Haydn. I suspect that Janacek, for all his tortured love story, was having a grand time when he wrote things like the Sinfonietta. Or maybe I am projecting my own emotions onto them, and imagining their personalities in a way that is totally false.  :)

Offline Jo498

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Re: Your Top 5 Most Joyful Composers
« Reply #58 on: October 14, 2020, 08:41:53 AM »
I agree that "joyful" is a very broad term, maybe overly so. Janacek's Sinfonietta is exuberant, extravert etc. and while I would not directly deny that one could call it joyful, I would not take it as a typical example. Almost every composer, at least most of the great once wrote music in a rather broad emotional spectrum. They could express almost everything, not only in opera or illustrative music. Berlioz can also be ecstatic in the love scene or the first movement of Fantastique or raucously funny as in the Scene with Mephisto and the students (Auerbach's Keller) and some of the pieces you mention could also be called joyful and I'd add the "Harold" theme and most of the first movement of that piece, but it does not seem a dominant strain.
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
(Bob Dylan)

Offline ritter

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Re: Your Top 5 Most Joyful Composers
« Reply #59 on: October 14, 2020, 11:22:13 AM »
Probably nobody would call Wagner a “joyful” composer, and yet...is there a more joyful composition (or work of art for that matter) than Die Meistersinger?
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