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The Music Room => Composer Discussion => Topic started by: Greta on May 16, 2007, 12:23:45 PM

Title: 'Difficult' Mid 20th c. Composers - Where to Begin?
Post by: Greta on May 16, 2007, 12:23:45 PM
Okay, I'm trying to explore the serialists and avantgardists all that mid 20th c. jazz, but don't know where to begin with the following composers...

Karlheinz Stockhausen
Luciano Berio
Anton Webern
Alban Berg
Milton Babbitt
John Cage
George Crumb
Iannis Xeniakis
Elliott Carter
Edgar Varese
Arvo Part
Pierre Boulez
Luigi Dallapiccola
Sofia Gubaidulina

I see this list is the noted "2nd Viennese" or "Darmstadt" guys. ;)
 
If there are any others that would be good to listen to please suggest! Maybe it will help if I say what I've liked too...well, I like Messiaen a lot, love Ligeti, doing fair on Schoenberg, but am just getting into his later stuff. I think I might like Berio of all things, because I like some pieces by younger composers that are said to be influenced by him. I love humor. :D

I'm pretty familiar with the rather accessible guys (Bartok and Hindemith are faves), or at least have an idea where to begin.
Title: Re: 'Difficult' Mid 20th c. Composers - Where to Begin?
Post by: 71 dB on May 16, 2007, 12:37:50 PM
Begin with the one you are most interested of.
Title: Re: 'Difficult' Mid 20th c. Composers - Where to Begin?
Post by: Brewski on May 16, 2007, 12:38:29 PM
Greta, you'll get probably many suggestions, but since you suggested Berio, try one of the recordings of Sinfonia.  The central movement takes the Scherzo of Mahler's Resurrection Symphony, and grafts onto it bits and pieces of Beethoven, Ravel and other composers, along with texts by Samuel Beckett.

And since Gubaidulina is one of my favorites, perhaps seek out any of her string quartets, which are excellent introductions to her singular sound world.  She is heavily concerned with texture, and explores many unusual combinations of instruments, as well as unusual uses for those instruments.

If you like solo piano music, Paavali Jumppanen's recording of Boulez's three piano sonatas is quite remarkable.

Just to get you started!   ;D

--Bruce
Title: Re: 'Difficult' Mid 20th c. Composers - Where to Begin?
Post by: Maciek on May 16, 2007, 12:43:02 PM
Hi Greta!

Wow, only while I was typing this - 3 new replies popped up!

I think 12-tone Part is rather insignificant in comparison to his later work. But I'm no Part expert.

That's a pretty good list. Though, of course, there are always names you could add... But maybe expanding is not what you should be doing at the moment.

I've started several threads on particular Polish post-1945 composers - and have listed those threads (along with the composers' birth dates) in the first post of this (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,50.0.html) thread. I think Lutosławski would fit your list nicely. And maybe Penderecki...

Maciek
Title: Re: 'Difficult' Mid 20th c. Composers - Where to Begin?
Post by: Drasko on May 16, 2007, 12:43:53 PM
Luciano Berio - Sinfonia, Folk Songs, Voci

(http://ec1.images-amazon.com/images/I/41BTPR5P2YL._AA240_.jpg)
(http://ec1.images-amazon.com/images/I/317B01Z3ZBL._AA240_.jpg)
(http://ec1.images-amazon.com/images/I/513KPVGC1RL._AA240_.jpg)

Arvo Part - Tabula Rasa, Fratres, Cantus in memory of Benijamin Britten

(http://ec1.images-amazon.com/images/I/61FMPFPEVKL._AA240_.gif)
Title: Re: 'Difficult' Mid 20th c. Composers - Where to Begin?
Post by: Maciek on May 16, 2007, 12:45:19 PM
Alexandra Vinao : Son Entero

Interesting. Care to elaborate? (I've never heard of this composer.)

Maciek
Title: Re: 'Difficult' Mid 20th c. Composers - Where to Begin?
Post by: Maciek on May 16, 2007, 12:59:02 PM
Thanks. 8)
Title: Re: 'Difficult' Mid 20th c. Composers - Where to Begin?
Post by: Greta on May 16, 2007, 01:11:42 PM

I've started several threads on particular Polish post-1945 composers - and have listed those threads (along with the composers' birth dates) in the first post of this (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,50.0.html) thread. I think Lutosławski would fit your list nicely. And maybe Penderecki...

Maciek

I adore Lutoslawski!! Really, he was amazing. Penderecki is great too. Yeah, I see them as a bit more 'accessible' than the ones I named. ;D Definitely Szymanski and Szymanoski (I always get them confused, don't know if that's spelled right!) are on my list...do they also fall under the sort of more accessible crowd?

And I completely forgot Birtwhistle! Knew that list didn't look right. ;) And Tippett, I've been meaning to hear A Child of Our Time for ages...

I'm pretty open to anything really. I'm at that listening point where I'm just trying various things to see what sticks!
Title: Re: 'Difficult' Mid 20th c. Composers - Where to Begin?
Post by: Maciek on May 16, 2007, 01:29:10 PM
I adore Lutoslawski!! Really, he was amazing. Penderecki is great too. Yeah, I see them as a bit more 'accessible' than the ones I named. ;D

That's probably always the case before you get to know a composer better. ;)

Quote
Definitely Szymanski and Szymanowski (I always get them confused, don't know if that's spelled right!) are on my list...do they also fall under the sort of more accessible crowd?

Well, definitely not part of a crowd ;) but I'd say they're quite accessible. Szymanowski is of a completely different time (died in 1937). Szymanski is always using a sort of decontextualized tonal system, so in a way he's very accessible (his music almost always sounds familiar in an uncanny way). I think all of those composers I listed in the Polish post-1945 thread are quite accessible, maybe Meyer and Bloch less so but only very slightly. But then, I'd call many (perhaps most :o) of the composers on your list quite accessible, so maybe you shouldn't take my word for it... ;D

Happy exploring! I'm sure it will be.

Cheers,
Maciek
Title: Re: 'Difficult' Mid 20th c. Composers - Where to Begin?
Post by: Cato on May 16, 2007, 01:38:01 PM
Dudes!  Dudettes!   8)  Something is terribly wrong here!!!

You have all failed so far to mention the one composer who is "difficult," yet is one of the greatest ear-stretching, soul-smashing, take-no-prisoners composers of the 20th century!!!

Karl Amadeus Hartmann!!!

Start with the First Symphony, and if you survive, continue your journey, grasshopper!!!    0:)


Title: Re: 'Difficult' Mid 20th c. Composers - Where to Begin?
Post by: gomro on May 16, 2007, 04:53:12 PM
Don't know all these guys and gals. Some I do:

Karlheinz Stockhausen - Mantra; Michaels Reise; Tierkreis; Refrain; Kontakte; Gruppen; Oktophonie; Lichter-Wasser; Inori (probably my favorite Stockhausen piece for orchestra); Trans. And many others...

Luciano Berio - one of my favorite works by Berio, the 2-Piano Concerto, is apparently not available on CD. Too bad. Otherwise, the starter list would be Points on the Curve to Find; Visage; Sinfonia; & the Chemins and Sequenza series.

Anton Webern - Symphony; Concerto

Alban Berg - Lulu Suite; Concerto for violin

Milton Babbitt - Relata I

John Cage - Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano; String Quartet in four parts; The Seasons

George Crumb - Voice of the Whale; Ancient Voices of Children; the Makrokosmos series; Star-Child; A Haunted Landscape; Black Angels; Echoes of Time and the River

Iannis Xenakis - Pleiades (for percussion sextet); Jonchaies; Orient-Occident; Terretektorh; Eonta; Akrata; Pithoprakta

Edgard Varese - Ameriques; Arcana; Ionisation; Ecuatorial; Poeme Electronique; Octandre

Pierre Boulez - Repons; Pli Selon Pli; Sur incises; Le Marteau sans Maitre; Third Piano Sonata

Luigi Dallapiccola - Il Prigioniere; Variazioni for orchestra

Mauricio Kagel - Duodramen; Liturgien; Szenario (these three are on a superb Naxos disc); Sankt-Bach-Passion; 1898

Charles Wuorinen - Genesis; Mass; Third Piano Concerto; Two Part Symphony; The Mission of Virgil; Trio for Bass Instruments; New York Notes

Title: Re: 'Difficult' Mid 20th c. Composers - Where to Begin?
Post by: pjme on May 17, 2007, 12:03:43 AM
Dudes!  Dudettes!   8)  Something is terribly wrong here!!!

You have all failed so far to mention the one composer who is "difficult," yet is one of the greatest ear-stretching, soul-smashing, take-no-prisoners composers of the 20th century!!!

Karl Amadeus Hartmann!!!

Start with the First Symphony, and if you survive, continue your journey, grasshopper!!!    0:)

For Hartmann fans :

Capriccio recently issued a disc with Sinfonia tragica and the concerto for viola, piano, winds and percussion.¨Possibly both works in world premiere performances ( I'm not sure..).
Berlin Radio SO conducted by Marek Janowski. tatjana Masurenko is the viola soloist, Frank Immo Zilcher the pianist

Capriccio CAP 7112

(http://www.recordsinternational.com/images/cds/02I069.jpg)

Since I haven't heard the CD yet, I quote records International :

Description: First recording of the 1954-56 viola concerto, dedicated to Primrose. Berg’s chamber concerto is the work’s primary inspiration, the piano and viola separated in the same way as in the older composer’s work while there are also similarities to Bartók’s unfinished viola concerto. With all the warmth of strings removed (and of oboes and horns too), Hartmann adds an extensive percussion group to still provide a kind of opulence when he wants to. In the first movement if often seems as if a lighthearded viola concerto with wind accompaniment and a more aggressive piano concerto, accompanied by percussion have been squashed together. The slow second movement is densely polyphonic while the finale adds Blacher’s concept of “variable meter” to the techniques of the first movement. Also otherwise unavailable on CD is the Sinfonia (1940 with small revisions from 1943), whose first movement was later used as part of the Symphony No. 3 and whose second is full of quotes and allusions to other “degenerate” musicians, Berg in particular with elements of Wozzeck depicting the brutality of the Nazi regime. Tatiana Masurenko (viola), Frank-Immo Zichner (piano), RSO Berlin; Marek Janowski. SACD





Title: Re: 'Difficult' Mid 20th c. Composers - Where to Begin?
Post by: Sergeant Rock on May 17, 2007, 02:16:54 AM
We know you love Mahler, Greta. I agree with Bruce. You must hear the Sinfonia.

Greta, you'll get probably many suggestions, but since you suggested Berio, try one of the recordings of Sinfonia.  The central movement takes the Scherzo of Mahler's Resurrection Symphony, and grafts onto it bits and pieces of Beethoven, Ravel and other composers, along with texts by Samuel Beckett.

Sarge
Title: Re: 'Difficult' Mid 20th c. Composers - Where to Begin?
Post by: Don Giovanni on May 17, 2007, 07:44:28 AM
Okay, I'm trying to explore the serialists and avantgardists all that mid 20th c. jazz, but don't know where to begin with the following composers...

Karlheinz Stockhausen
Luciano Berio
Anton Webern
Alban Berg
Milton Babbitt
John Cage
George Crumb
Iannis Xeniakis
Elliott Carter
Edgar Varese
Arvo Part
Pierre Boulez
Luigi Dallapiccola
Sofia Gubaidulina

I see this list is the noted "2nd Viennese" or "Darmstadt" guys. ;)
 

Webern is probably the best place to start before you experience the later serialists. You can pick up Boulez's recording of Webern's complete (numbered) works at a reasonable price.

As many people have said, Berio is another composer to try out: listen to some of the Sequenzae to hear some instruments taken to their extreme (no.3 for voice especially).

Since your list contained the 'Darmstadt' composers, it was missing two important names: Luigi Nono and Bruno Maderna. Nono, who coined the term 'Darmstadt', was one of the greatest composers of post-1950 serialism. His work is probably the most uncompromisingly political I've ever heard.
Title: Re: 'Difficult' Mid 20th c. Composers - Where to Begin?
Post by: CS on May 17, 2007, 09:00:46 AM
If you like Mahler, you might like Webern's Passacaglia, Berg's 3 Pieces for Orchestra, and Hartmann's Symphony No.1.
Title: Re: 'Difficult' Mid 20th c. Composers - Where to Begin?
Post by: Maciek on May 17, 2007, 01:36:47 PM
Nono, who coined the term 'Darmstadt', was one of the greatest composers of post-1950 serialism. His work is probably the most uncompromisingly political I've ever heard.

I don't think you can call Nono's (or anyone else's) music political. Even The Internationale is not political as music.
Title: Re: 'Difficult' Mid 20th c. Composers - Where to Begin?
Post by: Joe Barron on May 17, 2007, 01:52:22 PM
Elliott Carter is neither a serialist, nor a Viennese, nor a member of the Darmstadt school, but he certainly is a challenging mid-20th-century composer. I'd recommend you begin with the stuff he was writing at midcentury. There's a great disk on Nonesuch that contains the Double Concerto for Harpsichord and Piano with Two Chamber Orchestras (1961), the Cello Sonata (1948) and the Sonata for Flute, Oboe Cello and Harpsichord (1954). These are all imprtant works and a great place to start. You should also try first two string quartets (1951 and 1959) — both major major major pieces — which are also available on Nonesuch, in great performances by the Composers Quartet.

Another poster recommended the Night Fantasies (1980) for piano. That takes some getting used to, I think, but you can listen to it for free at artofthestates.com, in a great performance by Stephen Drury. Art of the States also also offers Changes, a short work for guitar, and the Eight Etudes and a Fantasy for Woodwind Quartet (1950), which is another great starting point.

Enjoy!
Title: Re: 'Difficult' Mid 20th c. Composers - Where to Begin?
Post by: not edward on May 17, 2007, 02:23:03 PM
Okay, I'm trying to explore the serialists and avantgardists all that mid 20th c. jazz, but don't know where to begin with the following composers...

Let me jump in late on a few of these:
 
Luciano Berio: Sinfonia is one of the key 60s works. The Chailly recording on Decca is the best I've heard, but Boulez's recording is almost as good and now available at budget price.

Anton Webern: The cheap entree is the first volume of Robert Craft's Webern series on Naxos. The expensive one is one of the Boulez complete works sets.

Alban Berg: The violin concerto. Eloquence has Szeryng's fine account along with the violin and piano concertos of Schoenberg.

John Cage: ECM has a great disc with the early ballet The Seasons, the Concerto for Prepared Piano and Orchestra, and the late Seventy-Four. This gives you a sample of each of Cage's three main periods.

Iannis Xenakis: there's a Col Legno disc in their Collage midprice series that includes three of Xenakis' best works: Ata, Metastasis and Jonchaies. Great stuff.

Elliott Carter: The Nonesuch recording of the Cello Sonata, Sonata for Flute, Oboe, Cello and Harpsichord, and Double Concerto is the touchstone for new Carterites. The two sonatas are tonal but use the techniques of his mature music, the Double Concerto is his mid-period style in full flow. For a blast of his late works, the new Bridge disc with Dialogues, the Boston Concerto, Cello Concerto and ASKO Concerto is hard to beat.

Edgar Varese: Chailly's two-disc set on Decca is outstanding--and contains every note he published.

Arvo Part: Two ECM discs contain most of the best of Part: Tabula Rasa and Arbos. As far as I'm concerned, nothing else he wrote touches the magnificent beauty of Tabula Rasa, Cantus and Stabat mater.

Pierre Boulez: Probably the sur Incises disc on DG. Rituel is the work that got me into Boulez in the first place, though.
Title: Re: 'Difficult' Mid 20th c. Composers - Where to Begin?
Post by: Maciek on May 17, 2007, 02:34:24 PM
Okay, I'm trying to explore the serialists and avantgardists

Arvo Part


I've mentioned my ignorance in this field earlier - I'd really like to hear a recommendation of some of the earlier, 12-tone Part. Has anyone heard anything worth hearing? Or anything at all? ;)

Maciek
Title: Re: 'Difficult' Mid 20th c. Composers - Where to Begin?
Post by: not edward on May 17, 2007, 02:40:07 PM
I've mentioned my ignorance in this field earlier - I'd really like to hear a recommendation of some of the earlier, 12-tone Part. Has anyone heard anything worth hearing? Or anything at all? ;)

Maciek
I'm not sure if any of Part is strict 12-tone: even the most 'modernist' pieces of his tend to suddenly throw in tonal chords or whatever. I guess the most obvious selections would be the first two symphonies, the cello concerto and Credo, but all of them have more in common with Schnittke than any kind of serialism. (And they're way less subtle and less fun than Schnittke, IMO.)
Title: Re: 'Difficult' Mid 20th c. Composers - Where to Begin?
Post by: quintett op.57 on May 17, 2007, 02:56:45 PM
you should not find Arvo Part difficult, actually
Title: Re: 'Difficult' Mid 20th c. Composers - Where to Begin?
Post by: Maciek on May 17, 2007, 03:08:31 PM
I'm not sure if any of Part is strict 12-tone: even the most 'modernist' pieces of his tend to suddenly throw in tonal chords or whatever. I guess the most obvious selections would be the first two symphonies, the cello concerto and Credo, but all of them have more in common with Schnittke than any kind of serialism. (And they're way less subtle and less fun than Schnittke, IMO.)

OK, then I guess I can safely pass... ;D
Title: Re: 'Difficult' Mid 20th c. Composers - Where to Begin?
Post by: Don Giovanni on May 18, 2007, 09:17:55 AM
I don't think you can call Nono's (or anyone else's) music political. Even The Internationale is not political as music.

Of course sound/music can't in itself be political. His incessant referencing of political figures and uprisings and his choice of texts leads me to classify him about as political as any composer can get.
Title: Re: 'Difficult' Mid 20th c. Composers - Where to Begin?
Post by: scottscheule on May 18, 2007, 09:03:12 PM
Of course sound/music can't in itself be political. His incessant referencing of political figures and uprisings and his choice of texts leads me to classify him about as political as any composer can get.

I agree. 

And I don't see why music can't be political.  If, for instance, the low minor melody of the bassoons is intended to be the downtrodden proletariat, or something, that's obviously political.
Title: Re: 'Difficult' Mid 20th c. Composers - Where to Begin?
Post by: Maciek on May 19, 2007, 04:22:39 AM
Well, if a low minor melody of the bassoons is what you meant all along, then I'm backing out. That, of course, would always be political. I can't think of a single low minor melody of the bassoons that wouldn't have made me think of the downtrodden proletariat and feel a sudden urge to start acting on their behalf! Why, I think the bassoon itself is simply the most political intrument there ever was!
Title: Re: 'Difficult' Mid 20th c. Composers - Where to Begin?
Post by: Drasko on May 19, 2007, 04:57:42 AM
And counterbassoon is then an obvious paradigm for the rotten bourgeoisie and other similar retrograde elements. 
Title: Re: 'Difficult' Mid 20th c. Composers - Where to Begin?
Post by: scottscheule on May 19, 2007, 06:52:14 AM
Methinks I'm being mocked.
Title: Re: 'Difficult' Mid 20th c. Composers - Where to Begin?
Post by: S709 on May 19, 2007, 07:51:13 AM
I've mentioned my ignorance in this field earlier - I'd really like to hear a recommendation of some of the earlier, 12-tone Part. Has anyone heard anything worth hearing? Or anything at all? ;)

The only piece of his that I am certain is 12-tone is Nekrolog from 1960. I like it, but not as much as later Part like Tabula Rasa. Nekrolog can be heard on this interesting CD "Searching for Roots" (http://www.amazon.com/Searching-Roots-Eduard-Tubin/dp/B000002SQX) along with works by Tubin and Tüür. That CD also has Symphony No. 1 "Polyphonic" which I think is fully atonal... unlike the 'Pro et Contra' cello concerto, which ends with a Handelian passage after 3 minutes of aggressive atonal writing. I would say it is as fun as Schnittke.... :)
This (http://www.amazon.com/Arvo-Part-Pro-Contra-Symphonies/dp/B00022GJQU) CD has the concerto as well as Symphony no. 2 (the opening for squeek toys is not to be missed).
The CD also has one of Part's most modernist pieces: Perpetuum mobile, which is somewhat impressive.
The downside is that this also includes Part's socialist realist thingie "Our Garden".

Title: Re: 'Difficult' Mid 20th c. Composers - Where to Begin?
Post by: S709 on May 19, 2007, 08:14:34 AM
The suggestions so far have been very good, so I'll just add a bit randomly...

Babbitt: the disc with Philomel for soprano and electronics, Post-Partitions, Reflections etc. I think his music with electronics is the most interesting.

Crumb: Vox Baelaenae and Black Angels both make strong impressions.

Stockhausen: Gruppen is a huge and powerful orchestral work (well, 3 orchestras) that ends in a highly memorable 'extended cacophony' of sorts. The electronic "Etude" from 1952 is a short and wonderful intro to his electronic music. I would recommend Mantra too. Stockhausen has written a gigantic amount of music, it takes a long time to get to know him.. :)

Gubaidulina: 'In croce' for cello and organ, and 'Sieben Worte' are both good examples of the intensity her music often contains.

Title: Re: 'Difficult' Mid 20th c. Composers - Where to Begin?
Post by: Greta on May 19, 2007, 09:02:27 AM
Thanks so much for all these, it will take me ages just to get though the top recommended works...  ;D

I will start with Berio, I listened last night to his Schubert "Rendering" under Eschenbach/Houston and it was so lovely. Really neat what he did with that. I have the Sinfonia to listen to today, and Eindrucke, under Boulez. :)

Oh, and last night I listened to a piece by Niccolo Castiglioni, who has taught some younger composers, the piece was Sinfonia con rosignolo and I liked it a lot, very inventive and actually, I thought it pretty. I'd like to hear more of his.

I have put selected other works mentioned on my list to track down next.

When I hear some of those, I'll come back and report.  :D
Title: Re: 'Difficult' Mid 20th c. Composers - Where to Begin?
Post by: Maciek on May 19, 2007, 12:05:05 PM
And counterbassoon is then an obvious paradigm for the rotten bourgeoisie and other similar retrograde elements. 

Brilliant! ;) Now the meaning of all music finally becomes clear...

Methinks I'm being mocked.

Sorry, couldn't help myself... ;D (Somehow the thought of the downtrodden bassoons sighing a low minor melody expressing their sad state in the world and........................ etc.)
Title: Re: 'Difficult' Mid 20th c. Composers - Where to Begin?
Post by: scottscheule on May 19, 2007, 07:59:46 PM
Sorry, couldn't help myself... ;D (Somehow the thought of the downtrodden bassoons sighing a low minor melody expressing their sad state in the world and........................ etc.)

Fair enough.  But if Beethoven can express the awakening of cheerful feelings upon arrival in the country, then Nono surely can express the exploitation of laborers.
Title: Re: 'Difficult' Mid 20th c. Composers - Where to Begin?
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on May 19, 2007, 08:12:26 PM
Fair enough.  But if Beethoven can express the awakening of cheerful feelings upon arrival in the country, then Nono surely can express the exploitation of laborers.

The first movement of Shostakovich's 7th symphony is infamous for its musical depiction of an army on the march.

Equally famous is Bartok's parody of this march in his Concerto for Orchestra. No question as to intent.

So, agree, composers aren't shy about using music to rouse a particular emotion...




Title: Re: 'Difficult' Mid 20th c. Composers - Where to Begin?
Post by: Lilas Pastia on May 20, 2007, 05:48:44 AM
A lot of that kind of music is experimental and as such is likely to age prematurely. Just my opinion, of course ;D

Composers who almost constantly churn out great music in a modern idiom (no paint-yourself-in-a-corner  'ism' here): Carter, Dutilleux, Gerhard. Argentinian composer Ginastera has also composed in a modern idiom (his Concerto for strings for example), but he didn't restrict himself to it.
Title: Re: 'Difficult' Mid 20th c. Composers - Where to Begin?
Post by: MDL on May 21, 2007, 05:42:38 AM

Karlheinz Stockhausen - Gruppen, Carré, Momente, Trans
Luciano Berio - Sinfonia, Allelujah II, Coro
Anton Webern - Six Pieces for Orchestra, Five Pieces for Orchestra
Alban Berg - Wozzeck, Three Pieces for Orchestra
Milton Babbitt
John Cage
George Crumb - Star-Child
Iannis Xeniakis - Antikthon, Synaphai, Jonchaies
Elliott Carter - Variations for Orchestra, A Symphony of Three Orchestras
Edgar Varese - Arcana, Ameriques
Arvo Part - Fratres, Passio
Pierre Boulez - Pii selon Pli, Rituel
Luigi Dallapiccola - The Prisoner
Sofia Gubaidulina



Title: Re: 'Difficult' Mid 20th c. Composers - Where to Begin?
Post by: karlhenning on June 12, 2009, 04:47:05 AM
Thanks so much for all these, it will take me ages just to get though the top recommended works...  ;D

And how have you been doing with these, O busy Greta?  :D
Title: Re: 'Difficult' Mid 20th c. Composers - Where to Begin?
Post by: jowcol on June 12, 2009, 06:53:10 AM
This may be a bit further afield, but during the mid-60s, some of the free jazz that came out was some of most rough, dissonant stuff (but exciting)  I've  encountered.  Late John Coltrane (Ascension, OM, and Meditations), Ornette Coleman's Free Jazz, and Cecil Taylor (Unit Structures)  is some pretty uncompromising stuff, and has a visceral edge I don't get from a lot of the more self-consciously avante-garde works.



Title: Re: 'Difficult' Mid 20th c. Composers - Where to Begin?
Post by: Franco on June 12, 2009, 07:04:46 AM
This set:

Southwest Chamber Music: Cage, Carter, Harrison, Partch, etc. [BOX SET]  (http://www.amazon.com/Southwest-Chamber-Music-Carter-Harrison/dp/B00004ZE27/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1244822430&sr=1-1)

... is a worthy place to begin, you can buy either the box or the CDs individually.  Charles Wuorinen was briefly mentioned earlier on this thread but should be reiterated as a very worthwhile "difficult" composer to sample.  The disk devoted to him in this set is excellent.
Title: Re: 'Difficult' Mid 20th c. Composers - Where to Begin?
Post by: karlhenning on June 12, 2009, 07:06:44 AM
This may be a bit further afield, but during the mid-60s, some of the free jazz that came out was some of most rough, dissonant stuff (but exciting)  I've  encountered.  Late John Coltrane (Ascension, OM, and Meditations), Ornette Coleman's Free Jazz, and Cecil Taylor (Unit Structures)  is some pretty uncompromising stuff, and has a visceral edge I don't get from a lot of the more self-consciously avante-garde works.

Yes! And incidentally serves as a partial corrective to the notion that all that sonic edginess was an elitist imposition from pasty-faced Darmstadters.
Title: Re: 'Difficult' Mid 20th c. Composers - Where to Begin?
Post by: snyprrr on June 12, 2009, 08:01:14 AM
Cecil Taylor-vs-Klavierstucke I-XI

Of course, the free-jazzers aren't doing any real arithmatic. In this regard they are more like Penderecki than Xenakis. Classical pianists I know don't like Taylor. Even snyprrr can imitate avant piano explorations (albeit, not as well as Taylor, haha).

Isn't free jazz still just a matter of "counting" the beats so you don't get lost (not that that is always the easiest thing to do)?

I was just ever so slightly offended by Taylor's video, Oh, he thinks he can just "play"??? avant-garde music??? without calculations??? actually just sit down and play??? oh, with his funny little hat >:(???

You should hear this 10min. violin "thing" I did into the tape deck last week. Given a little editing and some reverb, I would be willing to pass it off as Polish avant-garde @1971!

No offence to the Polish avant-garde! ::) :P :-*

This is going to degenerate into an anti-improv rant. :-X
Title: Re: 'Difficult' Mid 20th c. Composers - Where to Begin?
Post by: jowcol on June 12, 2009, 01:04:55 PM
I don't want to get into another circular discussion about improv.  (No Snyprr- the previous discussion it wasn't with you.)  But improv is one of those you go for it or you don't.  I'm massively into Indian Classical-- it goes with the territory for me. Your mileage may vary. 

Some free jazz doesn't have an established meter, so it's just always counting beats.   Not all avante-garde is math.  Some is much more loosely structured. What do your call LeMonte Young's piece where you draw and arrow and follow it? What meter  was that in? Or the one where the pianist feeds hay to the piano? ) I'd also warn against drawing arbitrary lines between the two forms-- there was some cross-over-- I like the album Penderecki  did with the New Eternal Rhythm Orchestra.  (which, coincidentally, was Polish Avante Garde 71 just to tie a connection.)


Chance elements also take away some of the composer's control-- as would allowing improv.  Yes, you can say probability is a kind of math.  But a lot of free jazz ensembles were put together with a plan to exploit individual player's tendencies, even some of the most out-there sessions had some kind of plan.  (The Creator has a Master Plan-- okay-- the reference may have flown over a head or two)

One of the coolest things about some of the sax playing during that time is that artists were playing in registers that simply were not thought to be possible, and not composer would have thought to indicate a player to play. 

Still, if that stuff isn't your cuppa joe, or if you like your dissonance in another flavor, more power to you.   It's nice to know that we have a practically infinite selection of material that we can use to annoy the people next door, or chase everybody out of the party when you want to go to sleep. 

I still have fond memories of what would piss off the people in my dorm in College. The winner had to be the Tibetan Buddhist chants.






Title: Re: 'Difficult' Mid 20th c. Composers - Where to Begin?
Post by: karlhenning on July 06, 2009, 04:48:44 AM
I don't want to get into another circular discussion about improv.

We can riff our way out of it . . . .