Author Topic: The Worst First!  (Read 64922 times)

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Offline DavidW

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Re: The Worst First!
« Reply #360 on: April 10, 2021, 05:53:50 AM »
This is going to be a super unpopular opinion but...I do think Brahms' First is at best "problematic." All that drama in the first movement, and then the movement ends happily and resolves itself into peace, followed by 15 minutes of peaceful calm and cheer, followed by a heroic finale completely out of proportion to the bucolic simplicity of the previous two movements. Of course, Mahler did the same thing in some of his symphonies, having super dramatic beginnings and endings with a whole lot of cheery pastoral fluff in between. It leaves me......well, not cold, I like all those pieces, but it does leave me with mixed feelings.

This hot take is hilariously pretentious!  I obviously disagree, it is a masterpiece.  But not only that but your narrative description is just bizarre.  It is the kind of criticism I would have expected from a Wagnerian at the time. ;D

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: The Worst First!
« Reply #361 on: April 10, 2021, 06:23:41 AM »
I really like Taneyev's first.  :-[ :-X


I should give it a listen.
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Offline Brian

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Re: The Worst First!
« Reply #362 on: April 10, 2021, 07:54:54 AM »
This hot take is hilariously pretentious!  I obviously disagree, it is a masterpiece.  But not only that but your narrative description is just bizarre.  It is the kind of criticism I would have expected from a Wagnerian at the time. ;D
What can I say, I'm a pretentious guy  ;D ;D

Offline Florestan

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Re: The Worst First!
« Reply #363 on: April 10, 2021, 07:59:19 AM »
Let that one of you who wrote a symphony cast the first stone!  ;D
"Melody is the essence of music."  --- Mozart

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: The Worst First!
« Reply #364 on: April 10, 2021, 08:40:11 AM »
This hot take is hilariously pretentious!  I obviously disagree, it is a masterpiece.  But not only that but your narrative description is just bizarre.  It is the kind of criticism I would have expected from a Wagnerian at the time. ;D

Brian's having mixed feelings is one thing, and not to be disputed. Going from there to dubbing the symphony problematic is undue haste.  Heck, I would have dismissed all the Mahler symphonies when I was his age ... though, like the peasant who was turned into a newt, I got better.
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
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[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
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His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: The Worst First!
« Reply #365 on: April 10, 2021, 08:44:43 AM »
Let that one of you who wrote a symphony cast the first stone!  ;D

If I were more ambitious, I might check to see if I posted to this thread earlier.  My read on the question isn't that any First Symphony which is known to us is likely to be genuinely bad, but an exercise in sifting out the minimis inter pares.
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
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[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
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His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Offline Florestan

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Re: The Worst First!
« Reply #366 on: April 10, 2021, 08:52:01 AM »
minimis inter pares.

Good point but then again, which is it? Go on, call a spade a spade!  ;D





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Offline Cato

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Re: The Worst First!
« Reply #367 on: April 10, 2021, 09:02:35 AM »
I really like Taneyev's first.  :-[ :-X

Amen! 


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Offline Cato

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Re: The Worst First!
« Reply #368 on: April 10, 2021, 09:34:46 AM »
Perhaps mentioned earlier: a symphony by a teenager, perhaps not on the level of Bizet's felicitous creation, or of Mendelssohn's quasi-homage to Mozart...


Is it a "worst First" when it is the only symphony composed by the man?  The comments are interesting.


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Offline Florestan

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Re: The Worst First!
« Reply #369 on: April 10, 2021, 09:39:05 AM »
Perhaps mentioned earlier: a symphony by a teenager, perhaps not on the level of Bizet's felicitous creation, or of Mendelssohn's quasi-homage to Mozart...


Is it a "worst First" when it is the only symphony composed by the man?  The comments are interesting.


<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/d0d-yI3fMVc" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/d0d-yI3fMVc</a>

That's not fair...  not fair at all...
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Offline Cato

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Re: The Worst First!
« Reply #370 on: April 10, 2021, 09:42:50 AM »
That's not fair...  not fair at all...

I agree!   :D
"Meet Miss Ruth Sherwood, from Columbus, Ohio, the Middle of the Universe!"

- Brian Aherne introducing Rosalind Russell in  My Sister Eileen (1942)

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: The Worst First!
« Reply #371 on: April 10, 2021, 10:58:06 AM »
Good point but then again, which is it? Go on, call a spade a spade!  ;D






Let me see if I have posted an opinion earlier, either to affirm or emend.
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
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[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
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His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Offline DavidW

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Re: The Worst First!
« Reply #372 on: April 11, 2021, 06:31:59 AM »
lol I didn't even know that Wagner wrote a symphony!

Offline Cato

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Re: The Worst First!
« Reply #373 on: April 11, 2021, 06:42:07 AM »
lol I didn't even know that Wagner wrote a symphony!

It is an interesting artifact at the least!
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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: The Worst First!
« Reply #374 on: April 11, 2021, 06:48:55 AM »
Nielsen has a good case for worst last and best first. (Though my own personal "Best First" rankings would probably go Berlioz, Walton, Prokofiev, Schumann, Nielsen.)

This is going to be a super unpopular opinion but...I do think Brahms' First is at best "problematic." All that drama in the first movement, and then the movement ends happily and resolves itself into peace, followed by 15 minutes of peaceful calm and cheer, followed by a heroic finale completely out of proportion to the bucolic simplicity of the previous two movements. Of course, Mahler did the same thing in some of his symphonies, having super dramatic beginnings and endings with a whole lot of cheery pastoral fluff in between. It leaves me......well, not cold, I like all those pieces, but it does leave me with mixed feelings.

Super unpopular, indeed, although I’m not much of a Brahmsian (unless Schoenberg gets ahold of him ;)) and Mahler’s 1st is a good symphony, but I wouldn’t claim it to be one of his best. We’re definitely in disagreement about Nielsen’s 6th. I think its one of his best works and I love the fact that it is so unconventional and, most of all, quirky. But I seldom listen to any symphony aside from Mahler’s and Bruckner’s these days. If I do listen to a symphony outside of these two composers, it’s usually some of the more compact ones like those last two from Roussel or Szymanowski’s 3rd and 4th. Of course, I have plenty of time for the chamber symphonies of composers as well, especially Schoenberg, Enescu and Milhaud.
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Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: The Worst First!
« Reply #375 on: April 11, 2021, 06:58:58 AM »
Perhaps mentioned earlier: a symphony by a teenager, perhaps not on the level of Bizet's felicitous creation, or of Mendelssohn's quasi-homage to Mozart...


Is it a "worst First" when it is the only symphony composed by the man?  The comments are interesting.


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A first is a first, even if there is no second, right? (e.g. the fallacy of claiming that Mary had children after Jesus because he is described as her "firstborn")
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
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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 Cato

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Re: The Worst First!
« Reply #376 on: April 11, 2021, 10:22:57 AM »

A first is a first, even if there is no second, right? (e.g. the fallacy of claiming that Mary had children after Jesus because he is described as her "firstborn")


Amen to both of those, Karl!  0:)


Here is a thought: find a composer who is not very good, and you might find a "worst First" symphony!

Any candidates?  My first thought - or deaf spot - would be Ferde Grofe, but I do not believe he composed a symphony.  (Many years ago I confessed to a great dislike of his music: it usually makes me laugh out loud because of its corny nature.) 

Anyway...there might be no such thing as a "worst First,'' as Karl mentioned, only a "symphonia minima inter pares."
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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: The Worst First!
« Reply #377 on: April 13, 2021, 06:50:04 PM »
Unpopular opinion time: I’m definitely not fond of Rachmaninov’s 1st. In fact, I don’t think it should’ve been rescued at all. >:D May the firing squads commence. ;D
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Offline Florestan

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Re: The Worst First!
« Reply #378 on: April 13, 2021, 11:39:13 PM »
Unpopular opinion time: I’m definitely not fond of Rachmaninov’s 1st. In fact, I don’t think it should’ve been rescued at all. >:D May the firing squads commence. ;D

I was with you until recently, having heard only Previn/LSO which is an unqualfiied dud. Then I heard Nezet-Seguin/The Philadelphians and changed my mind.
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Offline DavidW

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Re: The Worst First!
« Reply #379 on: April 14, 2021, 04:30:38 AM »
Then I heard Nezet-Seguin/The Philadelphians and changed my mind.

I listened to them in the piano concertos and they were really good (and the piano playing was also excellent).  Now I'm thinking from what you said I should track down their performances of the symphonies.