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The Music Room => Composer Discussion => Topic started by: Sef on October 06, 2008, 01:52:03 PM

Title: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Sef on October 06, 2008, 01:52:03 PM
Having just read The Lives of the Great Composers by Harold Schonberg, and of his indifference to Sibelius (summarizing somewhat begrudgingly that he should occupy a place amongst the minor composers), there is a reference that I am not qualified to answer. He states that although there is a large fondness of his music particularly amongst the English and American public, he knew of no professional musicians who saw anything much in his work. Now perhaps I can get an answer as to whether my love of Sibelius' music is all just sentimental romantic twaddle, or whether some "real" classically trained musicians may want to argue the point (probably in ways that I couldn't possibly understand)!

BTW - Saw CSO perform Sibelius 4 under MTT on Saturday. Music to die for (or die with, more like). Overall a very enjoyable(?) performance though I thought the conclusion was rather too abrupt. I prefer a desolate ending more in tune with the atmosphere of the entire symphony. To his credit though MTT did explain his interpretation before the start, so I wasn't taken quite by surprise.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on October 06, 2008, 01:59:42 PM
Sef,

Jbuck, an old member of GMG who is classically trained (a professional organist) said the following to a Sibelius devotee:

"Why do you have such little sense as to mention Arnold Schoenberg and Jean Sibelius in the same sentence?   One was a giant, the other a simpering mediocrity who might have composed two interesting works in his entire career...." 

Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Brian on October 06, 2008, 02:02:08 PM
Sef,

Jbuck, an old member of GMG who is classically trained (a professional organist) said the following to a Sibelius devotee:

"Why do you have such little sense as to mention Arnold Schoenberg and Jean Sibelius in the same sentence?   One was a giant, the other a simpering mediocrity who might have composed two interesting works in his entire career...." 
Schoenberg composed two interesting works? That many?
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on October 06, 2008, 02:02:47 PM
Schoenberg composed two interesting works? That many?

No, he was referring to Sibelius, obviously.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Brian on October 06, 2008, 02:03:28 PM
No, he was referring to Sibelius, obviously.
I was inserting my own opinion, obviously.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Sef on October 06, 2008, 02:04:27 PM
Sef,

Jbuck, an old member of GMG who is classically trained (a professional organist) said the following to a Sibelius devotee:

"Why do you have such little sense as to mention Arnold Schoenberg and Jean Sibelius in the same sentence?   One was a giant, the other a simpering mediocrity who might have composed two interesting works in his entire career...." 


Interesting. Harold Schonberg mentions the two interesting works also. He does not mention which they are. I wonder if he and Jbuck would agree on which two? Or if anyone else would care to summize, feel free.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on October 06, 2008, 02:05:53 PM
Interesting. Harold Schonberg mentions the two interesting works also. He does not mention which they are. I wonder if he and Jbuck would agree on which two? Or if anyone else would care to summize, feel free.

I believe it's the Violin concerto and Fourth Symphony but I'm not sure.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: some guy on October 06, 2008, 02:39:38 PM
I can't imagine that anyone who would pick the fourth symphony as one of the two would pick the violin concerto as the other one. Not with things like Luonnotar and The Bard to choose from.

I'd say Luonnotar and the fourth symphony would be the likeliest. Be interesting to know, though if Schonberg and Schoenberg picked the same two. Anybody know?
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: greg on October 06, 2008, 02:44:33 PM
I know Schonnberg did.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Mark G. Simon on October 06, 2008, 03:21:21 PM
When Schonberg wrote that book (1970), Sibelius' reputation was at a low point. It has come back quite a bit in the decades since. Many composers, such as John Adams, cite his music as a major influence. So don't take Schonberg as the final word on the subject.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: some guy on October 06, 2008, 03:59:43 PM
I think we were only wondering about which two pieces Schonberg and Schoenberg would have picked as the good ones. Even though I have, and enjoy, practically everything he wrote, I was guessing that the two that curmudgeons would pick would be Luonnotar and the fourth symphony. No matter how grumpy you are, there's nothing in those two pieces that's not to like.

I was very disappointed a few years back when the recording of the original fifth symphony came out. I thought, cool, now we see how Sibelius got from the fourth to the fifth--via the URfifth. Simple. That's been the thing that's puzzled me from when I was just a kid. But when I started asking around if people had heard that recording, what I found was that no one in my circle had heard the fifth in any form! (And when my oldest son took on my request to listen to the revised fifth and then to the original fifth, he couldn't do it. The revised fifth was too hideous (romantic, lush, et cetera) to listen to.

So if I can bother you all, who have listened to the revised version (the familiar one), and who have perhaps been puzzled, in spite of liking it, how Sibelius ever got from the lean and beautiful fourth to the soft and pretty fifth, I'd like to ask how many of you have listened to the original version of the fifth. What did you think of it?
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Szykneij on October 06, 2008, 04:06:01 PM
I found some helpful background information on Harold Schonberg in his obituary here:

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=950DE2D7113FF934A15754C0A9659C8B63&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=1

Since he's quoted as saying "''I write for myself -- not necessarily for readers, not for musicians,'' and "It's not a critic's job to be right or wrong; it's his job to express an opinion in readable English'', I wouldn't get too upset over his views. As much as he didn't care for the music of Sibelius, he was far more critical of Leonard Bernstein's conducting.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Brian on October 06, 2008, 07:37:46 PM
I think we were only wondering about which two pieces Schonberg and Schoenberg would have picked as the good ones. Even though I have, and enjoy, practically everything he wrote, I was guessing that the two that curmudgeons would pick would be Luonnotar and the fourth symphony. No matter how grumpy you are, there's nothing in those two pieces that's not to like.

I was very disappointed a few years back when the recording of the original fifth symphony came out. I thought, cool, now we see how Sibelius got from the fourth to the fifth--via the URfifth. Simple. That's been the thing that's puzzled me from when I was just a kid. But when I started asking around if people had heard that recording, what I found was that no one in my circle had heard the fifth in any form! (And when my oldest son took on my request to listen to the revised fifth and then to the original fifth, he couldn't do it. The revised fifth was too hideous (romantic, lush, et cetera) to listen to.

So if I can bother you all, who have listened to the revised version (the familiar one), and who have perhaps been puzzled, in spite of liking it, how Sibelius ever got from the lean and beautiful fourth to the soft and pretty fifth, I'd like to ask how many of you have listened to the original version of the fifth. What did you think of it?
The original version of the Fifth is a strange beast; it's a bit like the hunk of marble which eventually becomes a glorious statue once enough rock is carved away from it. But then again, I have the exact opposite point of view from yours, being an ardent fan of the lush romanticism of the "final cut."
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: springrite on October 06, 2008, 07:48:56 PM
So if I can bother you all, who have listened to the revised version (the familiar one), and who have perhaps been puzzled, in spite of liking it, how Sibelius ever got from the lean and beautiful fourth to the soft and pretty fifth, I'd like to ask how many of you have listened to the original version of the fifth. What did you think of it?

It is almost impossible for someone who actually likes the revised (final) version of the 5th to have an "objective" opinion on the original. The revised final version is just too familiar and it is always in the back of your head as you listen to the original version. For me, it's like listening for what's wrong with the original! Well, after a while I did find the original rather good. But I will stick with the one I have known for 30 years.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: M forever on October 06, 2008, 09:16:54 PM
I am not into that whole comparison and ranking and "greatest this or that" thing, but if asked directly, I have no hesitation at all to say that I think Sibelius was one of the "greatest" composers ever, a musical genius on a vast scale which completely defies comprehension. I do not know a single piece by him, not even a single phrase or passage, which isn't superbly crafted and original, from the smaller and elegantly entertaining forms of chamber music, lieder, piano music, to shorter orchestral works and incidental music to the tone poems and symphonies which are concise and epic at the same time. His musical language is highly original and concentrated, and it has a compelling inner logic which sounds very "natural" and "organic" but it is the result of an agonizing, highly self-critical and relentlessly reviewing compositional process which led him to create masterpieces which are among the most profound utterances ever made in music. Sibelius was someone who could hear the music suggested by the rustling of leaves, the ripples created on the surface of water by the wind, the natural processes underlying everything and who could translate that into music which isn't naturalistic and imitating, but highly spiritual, a reflection of the way the human spirit perceives and struggles with the world. In some of his greatest pieces, he ventured into regions of the soul which only very few other composers dared to explore, and came back with strikingly original and unique music.
This includes the 5th symphony which isn't a particularly "romantic" or "lush" piece - 80-90% of the music is rather quiet and intimate, and everything, including the greatest climaxes and outbursts, is developed organically from only a few concise musical cells which is what makes this music so coherent and compelling.
Comparing the final version to the first version is highly interesting because one can hear in the first version how all these elements are already there, but Sibelius hadn't yet managed to bring them all into the most concise and coherent form. It shows that the musical elements he originally came up with were born from a higher musical inspiration, an intuitive feeling for the underlying development processes which would be expressed in the revised version, but that he hadn't yet found the ways to express the connection between all of these elements. Which he eventually did. So this shows us what true musical genius consists of. The music isn't "constructed", it's elements are felt and perceived, and the underlying streams and energies which are expressed in the final version are not the result of a random invention process, but of a deeply probing musical and psychological investigation process.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: The new erato on October 06, 2008, 10:45:15 PM
Thanks M. Well put. A composer I feel is one of the essential giants of the 20th century. 
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Wanderer on October 06, 2008, 11:17:36 PM
I am not into that whole comparison and ranking and "greatest this or that" thing, but if asked directly, I have no hesitation at all to say that I think Sibelius was one of the "greatest" composers ever, a musical genius on a vast scale which completely defies comprehension. I do not know a single piece by him, not even a single phrase or passage, which isn't superbly crafted and original, from the smaller and elegantly entertaining forms of chamber music, lieder, piano music, to shorter orchestral works and incidental music to the tone poems and symphonies which are concise and epic at the same time. His musical language is highly original and concentrated, and it has a compelling inner logic which sounds very "natural" and "organic" but it is the result of an agonizing, highly self-critical and relentlessly reviewing compositional process which led him to create masterpieces which are among the most profound utterances ever made in music. Sibelius was someone who could hear the music suggested by the rustling of leaves, the ripples created on the surface of water by the wind, the natural processes underlying everything and who could translate that into music which isn't naturalistic and imitating, but highly spiritual, a reflection of the way the human spirit perceives and struggles with the world. In some of his greatest pieces, he ventured into regions of the soul which only very few other composers dared to explore, and came back with strikingly original and unique music.
This includes the 5th symphony which isn't a particularly "romantic" or "lush" piece - 80-90% of the music is rather quiet and intimate, and everything, including the greatest climaxes and outbursts, is developed organically from only a few concise musical cells which is what makes this music so coherent and compelling.
Comparing the final version to the first version is highly interesting because one can hear in the first version how all these elements are already there, but Sibelius hadn't yet managed to bring them all into the most concise and coherent form. It shows that the musical elements he originally came up with were born from a higher musical inspiration, an intuitive feeling for the underlying development processes which would be expressed in the revised version, but that he hadn't yet found the ways to express the connection between all of these elements. Which he eventually did. So this shows us what true musical genius consists of. The music isn't "constructed", it's elements are felt and perceived, and the underlying streams and energies which are expressed in the final version are not the result of a random invention process, but of a deeply probing musical and psychological investigation process.

A very fine post with which I agree wholeheartedly.

Concerning the original version of the Fifth Symphony, I do occasionally tend to like its closing pages more than the ending of the revised version (it's good to have two alternatives, actually:-). Overall, though, it can't be denied the revision improved the work in many levels; a seemingly effortless but painstaking fine-tuning process, revealing the composer's formidable craft and instincts at work.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on October 07, 2008, 02:45:22 AM
M's post is an excellent piece of informed advocacy. Chapeau!
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on October 07, 2008, 04:25:28 AM
not even a single phrase or passage, which isn't superbly crafted and original.

Let's not get carried away here, please.

Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on October 07, 2008, 04:27:07 AM
Harold Schonberg in the same book, different chapter:

"Debussy's 'Pelleas et Melisande' has never been popular in the sense that the operas of Mozart, Verdi, Puccini and Wagner are popular. It is too refined, to lacking in red blood. These attributes are, of course, the very things that attract the minority who consider 'Pelleas et Melisande' the most subtle and atmsospheric opera ever written... It is set in a dream world, a world of pianissimo sounds, diaphanous colors, subtlety and restraint. It is an opera of 'sensibilite'... It had no followers... It was unique and has remained unique"

********

Harold Schonberg is my kind of guy...

0:)

Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on October 07, 2008, 04:41:59 AM
The thread is taking an unexpected turn.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: karlhenning on October 07, 2008, 04:44:42 AM
I think that "simpering mediocrity" is an awfully strong phrase to apply to the Ardent Pelleastre;  it was an unguarded moment on jbuck's part, and we should move on.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: karlhenning on October 07, 2008, 04:47:36 AM
Harold Schonberg is my kind of guy...

Maybe; he seems an opinionate ignoramus:

Quote from: sef
[Schonberg] states that although there is a large fondness of his music particularly amongst the English and American public, he knew of no professional musicians who saw anything much in his work.

Who does he suppose had been performing Sibelius's music in Finland, Germany and England? Devoted amateurs?
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: karlhenning on October 07, 2008, 04:53:25 AM
Harold Schonberg in the same book, different chapter:

"Debussy's 'Pelleas et Melisande' blah blah blah blah blah blah"

The thread is taking an unexpected turn.

 ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Wanderer on October 07, 2008, 04:54:25 AM
Harold Schonberg in the same book, different chapter:

"Debussy's 'Pelleas et Melisande' has never been popular in the sense that the operas of Mozart, Verdi, Puccini and Wagner are popular. It is too refined, to lacking in red blood. These attributes are, of course, the very things that attract the minority who consider 'Pelleas et Melisande' the most subtle and atmsospheric opera ever written... It is set in a dream world, a world of pianissimo sounds, diaphanous colors, subtlety and restraint. It is an opera of 'sensibilite'... It had no followers... It was unique and has remained unique"

********

Harold Schonberg is my kind of guy...

0:)



He probably just wrote that to get into your good books.  :P
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on October 07, 2008, 04:56:57 AM
Maybe; he seems an opinionate ignoramus:

Nope; his assessment of  Pelleas et Melisande  is exactly right.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Mark G. Simon on October 07, 2008, 05:20:30 AM
What's remarkable about the 2 versions of the 5th is how completely different they are. There's not a measure of the original that Sibelius left intact in the final version. These are basically two different symphonies based on the same material. Both of them show a musical mind that works in a profoundly different way than any other composer's. Just the way he proceeds from one idea to the next and what he chooses as the thread of continuity -- who else thinks like this? And yet when he's all through you get the feeling it couldn't go any other way. But then again, you listen to the two versions of the 5th and you realize that the music could actually go in radically different ways.

One of the more remarkable passages to me is the episode in the first movement with the bassoon solo over this rocking figure in the strings. Both the the rocking figure and the chromatic segments featured in the bassoon solo come from basic motives introduced early on and worked on continually to this point. But the effect of this solo is disconcerting because it seems lost. The music goes on but it doesn't seem to be getting anywhere. In the final version this only sets the stage for, and makes an incredible contrast to, the scherzo which is grafted on to the first movement. Once the scherzo kicks in, the music takes off like a rocket and from there the music proceeds to where it's going at a dizzying pace. In the original it seems that being lost was the whole point. The first movement doesn't come to an end, it just stops. Likewise, Sibelius robs the scherzo of its finality by suddenly breaking off at the point of its greatest forward momentum. In compensation, the original 5th has a much longer finale with a more powerful culmination.

The original 5th is a much more modern-sounding symphony than the revised 5th. It has a higher level of dissonance, and it deals in ambiguities, while the revised 5th arrives at certainties. The original 5th has many striking passages, especially in the finale, which never made it into the revised 5th. I regret their loss, and yet at the same tiime recognize the powerful and profound logic which is gained in the final version
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: The new erato on October 07, 2008, 05:22:57 AM
I wonder why there is no book called "The lives of the Great Critics"?
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Mark G. Simon on October 07, 2008, 05:35:00 AM
Sibelius himself once said "Remember, no one ever erected a monument to a critic".
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on October 07, 2008, 05:50:27 AM
Sibelius himself once said "Remember, no one ever erected a monument to a critic".

It's a well-known saying, but I know it's not true... Opposite the Statens Museum in Copenhagen I saw a statue of Georg Brandes (1842-1927). People may know his name in connection with Ibsen and Strindberg. And he was the first to recognize the importance of Nietzsche.

http://kirjasto.sci.fi/brandes.htm
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: karlhenning on October 07, 2008, 05:51:56 AM
It's a well-known saying, but I know it's not true... Opposite the Statens Museum in Copenhagen I saw a statue of Georg Brandes (1842-1927). People may know his name in connection with Ibsen and Strindberg. And he was the first to recognize the importance of Nietzsche.

http://kirjasto.sci.fi/brandes.htm

Sibelius afterwards added, "All right: so the Danes erected a monument, to one critic."
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: karlhenning on October 07, 2008, 05:57:18 AM
Johan, was the statue cast after Sibelius made his remark?  8)
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on October 07, 2008, 05:59:41 AM
Johan, was the statue cast after Sibelius made his remark?  8)

That might well be. Usually statues are erected to the dead - Brandes died in 1927, and I think Sibelius' remark predates that.

I'll see if I can find out when the statue was made (I can read Danish...)
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Mark G. Simon on October 07, 2008, 06:04:37 AM
Maybe Brandes is included in Lives of the Great Danes.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on October 07, 2008, 06:18:49 AM
I found this (but it's not the statue I meant...)

http://www.adenmarkattraction.com/denmark-attractions/georg-brandes-memorial.htm

This bust was only unveiled in 1993 (the bust itself was made in 1902).

http://vejpark2.kk.dk/apps/monumenter/index.asp?lang=uk&mode=detalje&id=316

Let's leave it there...

Edit: No, the bust is what I saw! I just checked Google Maps.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: lisa needs braces on October 07, 2008, 08:00:19 AM
Some years back, a major orchestra tried to showcase the works of Schoenberg, but the only way they could guarantee that people would show up was to pair him off with Beethoven!  :D

Sibelius doesn't need that sort of "help." Therefore, he wins.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: karlhenning on October 07, 2008, 08:13:13 AM
Some years back, a major orchestra tried to showcase the works of Schoenberg, but the only way they could guarantee that people would show up was to pair him off with Beethoven!  :D

Well, that's one way to spin it.  Although it involves a complete disregard for Levine's point.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Sef on October 07, 2008, 08:19:22 AM
Some years back, a major orchestra tried to showcase the works of Schoenberg, but the only way they could guarantee that people would show up was to pair him off with Beethoven!  :D

Sibelius doesn't need that sort of "help." Therefore, he wins.
Well on Saturday his 4 was the support act for Shostakovich 5, so perhaps someone thought he did need a little leg up.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Cato on October 07, 2008, 08:55:45 AM
On the general question of the "Value" of Sibelius: the answer from me is that his music, particularly in the later symphonies, contains more mysteriously spiritual moments than dozens of other composers.

Curiously, I had come across this article not too long ago on Sibelius, while I was looking for something else:

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/07/09/070709fa_fact_ross

The alcoholism, manic-depression, etc. may contribute to the darker aspects of Sibelius' music: in the above article, Alex Ross writes about the problems of similar composers in the post-WWI era, e.g. Rachmaninoff, Elgar, etc.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Sef on October 07, 2008, 09:37:22 AM
On the general question of the "Value" of Sibelius: the answer from me is that his music, particularly in the later symphonies, contains more mysteriously spiritual moments than dozens of other composers.

Curiously, I had come across this article not too long ago on Sibelius, while I was looking for something else:

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/07/09/070709fa_fact_ross

The alcoholism, manic-depression, etc. may contribute to the darker aspects of Sibelius' music: in the above article, Alex Ross writes about the problems of similar composers in the post-WWI era, e.g. Rachmaninoff, Elgar, etc.

Thank you for posting a link to this article. I found it both interesting and informative, and perhaps answers my original question (and slaps my wrists for preferring a less abrupt ending to the 4th symphony), though of course anyone is allowed to disagree.....
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Mark G. Simon on October 07, 2008, 09:42:05 AM
A revised version of the Alex Ross article became a chapter in his book The Rest is Noise.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: some guy on October 07, 2008, 09:59:27 AM
What's remarkable about the 2 versions of the 5th is how completely different they are. There's not a measure of the original that Sibelius left intact in the final version. These are basically two different symphonies based on the same material. Both of them show a musical mind that works in a profoundly different way than any other composer's. Just the way he proceeds from one idea to the next and what he chooses as the thread of continuity -- who else thinks like this? And yet when he's all through you get the feeling it couldn't go any other way. But then again, you listen to the two versions of the 5th and you realize that the music could actually go in radically different ways.

One of the more remarkable passages to me is the episode in the first movement with the bassoon solo over this rocking figure in the strings. Both the the rocking figure and the chromatic segments featured in the bassoon solo come from basic motives introduced early on and worked on continually to this point. But the effect of this solo is disconcerting because it seems lost. The music goes on but it doesn't seem to be getting anywhere. In the final version this only sets the stage for, and makes an incredible contrast to, the scherzo which is grafted on to the first movement. Once the scherzo kicks in, the music takes off like a rocket and from there the music proceeds to where it's going at a dizzying pace. In the original it seems that being lost was the whole point. The first movement doesn't come to an end, it just stops. Likewise, Sibelius robs the scherzo of its finality by suddenly breaking off at the point of its greatest forward momentum. In compensation, the original 5th has a much longer finale with a more powerful culmination.

The original 5th is a much more modern-sounding symphony than the revised 5th. It has a higher level of dissonance, and it deals in ambiguities, while the revised 5th arrives at certainties. The original 5th has many striking passages, especially in the finale, which never made it into the revised 5th. I regret their loss, and yet at the same tiime recognize the powerful and profound logic which is gained in the final version

I don't usually just hit "quote" and then skip merrily along, but this one could easily be read, again and again, so I won't apologize! All the things Mark mentions illuminate the question (yes, answering is what one usually does with questions--but how jejune!) of how Sibelius could have gotten from the fourth to the fifth. They're so radically and fundamentally different. Well, the original version of the fifth is the missing link, as it were. My first thought on hearing it for the first time was "Ah. So that's how he did it."

Otherwise, I guess I've not spent as much time with the original as I could. The observation that "there's not a measure of the original that Sibelius left intact in the final version," really intrigued me. And here I thought I knew that piece, knew both pieces. It's not as if it won't be fun to give those two another spin or two, after all!
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on October 07, 2008, 10:43:21 AM
The original 5th is a much more modern-sounding symphony than the revised 5th. It has a higher level of dissonance, and it deals in ambiguities, while the revised 5th arrives at certainties. The original 5th has many striking passages, especially in the finale, which never made it into the revised 5th. I regret their loss, and yet at the same tiime recognize the powerful and profound logic which is gained in the final version.

My favourite passage is when 'Thor's Hammer' resumes its swing and the violins enter - the dissonance is excruciating.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: M forever on October 07, 2008, 02:01:13 PM
how Sibelius could have gotten from the fourth to the fifth. They're so radically and fundamentally different. Well, the original version of the fifth is the missing link, as it were. My first thought on hearing it for the first time was "Ah. So that's how he did it."

I don't really see that as a "missing link" because the differences between the 4th symphony and the first version of the 5th are still considerable. There is also a very big difference in style between the first two and the 3rd symphony. And then again between the 3rd and the 4th. And then again between all the later ones. All of Sibelius' symphonies are very original and unique. He didn't repeat himself either.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Kullervo on October 07, 2008, 02:14:17 PM
Now perhaps I can get an answer as to whether my love of Sibelius' music is all just sentimental romantic twaddle, or whether some "real" classically trained musicians may want to argue the point (probably in ways that I couldn't possibly understand)!

One of my favorite composers (and someone whom I think has made some of the best music of the postwar years), Per Nørgård was aware very early-on of the ingenious and subtly-radical structures Sibelius used in his music. From his site:

He studied all the scores and collected all the records he could of Sibelius’ music, and discovered that the idea of metamorphosis, which plays such a central role in Holmboe's music, was already found in a fully developed form in Sibelius' oeuvre. The existence of several independent levels in the music, the shift between foreground and background, and even the idea of hierarchy itself - all this Nørgård found in Sibelius.

At that time these ideas, which for Nørgård were to reach far into his musical future, were more or less ignored or unrecognised, not only in Denmark, but even more in central European countries, where the name Sibelius stood for a hopelessly outdated nationalist romanticism.

When Nørgård had discovered this and thought it over, he wrote a letter to Sibelius setting out the ideas outlined above, and indeed also with the aim of assuring Sibelius that he was not alone with his musical visions, but that these would endure and be further developed.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on October 07, 2008, 02:40:08 PM
When Nørgård had discovered this and thought it over, he wrote a letter to Sibelius setting out the ideas outlined above, and indeed also with the aim of assuring Sibelius that he was not alone with his musical visions, but that these would endure and be further developed.

Beautiful.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: M forever on October 07, 2008, 02:57:48 PM
Now perhaps I can get an answer as to whether my love of Sibelius' music is all just sentimental romantic twaddle, or whether some "real" classically trained musicians may want to argue the point (probably in ways that I couldn't possibly understand)!

Nobody really understands how the minds of musical geniuses such as Sibelius work. One can study and analyze the compositions on many levels, but in the end, what really counts is what impression it leaves on musically perceptive minds.
And there are a lot of of "real" classically trained musicians who might want to "argue the point" - or already did in the most convincing way - by performing his music. There are many eminent musicians and conductors who value his music very highly. The many performances and recordings of his symphonies and orchestral works by many "great" conductors alone should testify to that.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: karlhenning on October 07, 2008, 05:29:01 PM
Nobody really understands how the minds of musical geniuses such as Sibelius work.

In many ways, this is the most important, fundamental consideration.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: greg on October 07, 2008, 05:56:57 PM
Sometimes, they don't quite understand it themselves.
I think it was Samuel Barber who admitted, "As for what goes on during the creative process, I have no idea."  ;D
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Cato on October 08, 2008, 08:38:54 AM
Sometimes, they don't quite understand it themselves.
I think it was Samuel Barber who admitted, "As for what goes on during the creative process, I have no idea."  ;D

Exactly, and when the artist DOES become too conscious of himself, or worries about catalyzing it too much, then you have problems.

My favorite story on this concerns Thomas Mann and his great book The Magic Mountain.

After emigrating to America in the 1930's, Mann heard of a scholarly analysis of his novel by a professor at Harvard.  Mann read it and wrote a very positive letter to the professor, where he famously stated that the professor showed him many things that he "never realized were in the story."

Being too conscious of such things leads to the plot contrivances of the mass-market novel.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Superhorn on October 08, 2008, 10:58:17 AM
   Sibelius and Schoenberg were contemporaries and both are  genuinely great composers, each in his own way.
  And for once Mforever, I am in total agreement with you about Sibelius.
You are right on target. A true Sibelius hater was Virgil Thomson, who wrote one of the stupidest and most vicious reviews ever when he dismissed the 2nd symphony as "vulgar" and "provincial" , and used the review to dismiss the New York Philharmonic as "not part of the intellectual life of New York" because of one concert he happened to hate.
  Talk about dismissing critics such as Donald Rosenberg. Thomson's arrogant, presumptious and condescending review would have made him deserving of being fired. I wouldn't have objected if I had been alive during the 1940s when the review of this concert conducted by Barbirolli took place.
   And furthermore, this review defamed the New York Philharmonic for decades.
   Also, composer and conductor Rene Leibowitz, a confirmed serialist, called Sibelius "The world's worst composer".  Oh well, some people just don't get it.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: karlhenning on October 08, 2008, 11:07:55 AM
. . . A true Sibelius hater was Virgil Thomson . . .

. . . Also, composer and conductor Rene Leibowitz, a confirmed serialist, called Sibelius "The world's worst composer".

Which just goes to show, that you can catch grief from opposite extremes.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Kullervo on October 08, 2008, 11:10:29 AM
A true Sibelius hater was Virgil Thomson, who wrote one of the stupidest and most vicious reviews ever when he dismissed the 2nd symphony as "vulgar" and "provincial" , and used the review to dismiss the New York Philharmonic as "not part of the intellectual life of New York" because of one concert he happened to hate.

I've avoided Thomson's music for this very reason.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: karlhenning on October 08, 2008, 11:13:21 AM
Well, such a vicious review certainly comes across as vulgar and provincial;  so what Thomson thought he was accomplishing is open to question.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: jochanaan on October 08, 2008, 11:16:56 AM
I've avoided Thomson's music for this very reason.
There are other valid reasons to avoid Thomson's music. ;D

As for Sibelius, I've played Finlandia, the Second Symphony, Pohjola's Daughter, and the Violin Concerto (not the solo part! :o).  It's very gratifying for orchestras.  However, I'm not quite with M on the smaller pieces; too many of them seem to be mere craft exercises.  Of his major works, the only one I don't care for is the Karelia Suite; it seems to lack the compelling continuity of his other great works.  Everything else is platinum. :D
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: karlhenning on October 08, 2008, 11:21:36 AM
. . . Everything else is platinum. :D

I'm Karl Henning, and I approve this message  :)
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on October 08, 2008, 11:23:23 AM
Superhorn,

Do we know what Pierre Boulez thinks of Sibelius ?

Has he ever conducted his music ?
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: karlhenning on October 08, 2008, 11:24:31 AM
As for Sibelius, I've played Finlandia, the Second Symphony, Pohjola's Daughter, and the Violin Concerto (not the solo part! :o).

What, haven't played the flute transcription?  ;)
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: edward on October 08, 2008, 11:43:14 AM
Superhorn,

Do we know what Pierre Boulez thinks of Sibelius ?

Has he ever conducted his music ?
To my knowledge, he has not. My memory of hearing him talking in Edinburgh some years ago was that he respected the music but didn't connect with it enough to want to conduct it.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on October 08, 2008, 12:14:56 PM
Thanks edward.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on October 08, 2008, 12:18:12 PM
Hey folks,

Is this the same Virgil Thomson who wrote:

"Debussy is the summit toward which during the two centuries since Rameau's death, French music has risen...Internationally viewed he is to the musicians of our century everywhere what Beethoven was to those of the nineteenth - our blinding light, our sun, our central luminary..."

Wait, I like this guy !

:-)
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: karlhenning on October 08, 2008, 12:20:32 PM
Again:

The thread is taking an unexpected turn.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: jochanaan on October 08, 2008, 05:57:10 PM
Hey folks,

Is this the same Virgil Thomson who wrote:

"Debussy is the summit toward which during the two centuries since Rameau's death, French music has risen...Internationally viewed he is to the musicians of our century everywhere what Beethoven was to those of the nineteenth - our blinding light, our sun, our central luminary..."

Wait, I like this guy !

:-)
That's only batting .500 in my book.  And that's only among the remarks quoted on this thread. ;D
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Kullervo on October 08, 2008, 07:31:55 PM
To my knowledge, he has not. My memory of hearing him talking in Edinburgh some years ago was that he respected the music but didn't connect with it enough to want to conduct it.

That's better than my previous assumption of his opinion — that Sibelius wasn't "radical" enough to join his shortlist of composers whose music he can be bothered to conduct (a list that seems to get longer as he gets older).
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: M forever on October 08, 2008, 09:23:58 PM
You are right on target. A true Sibelius hater was Virgil Thomson, who wrote one of the stupidest and most vicious reviews ever when he dismissed the 2nd symphony as "vulgar" and "provincial" , and used the review to dismiss the New York Philharmonic as "not part of the intellectual life of New York" because of one concert he happened to hate.

I think you place far too much importance on the ramblings of NY critics, be it in this case, or in the case of them writing silly stuff about "HIP". All that doesn't matter that much.


And furthermore, this review defamed the New York Philharmonic for decades.

I don't think it "defamed" the NY Philharmonic at all. Certainly not "for decades". Again, these ramblings don't matter much.


Also, composer and conductor Rene Leibowitz, a confirmed serialist, called Sibelius "The world's worst composer".  Oh well, some people just don't get it.

Comments like this have to be taken and understood in context. The 20th century was an epic battleground of ideologies, philosophies, political and artistic concepts which tried to understand and define a radically changing world. For historical and good reasons, many "intellectuals" rebelled against any form of "conservativism", "romanticism", "subjectivism", any form of ideological or artistic thinking which wasn't intellectually "quantifiable" because these forms of thinking - in their mind - stood in the way of urgently needed reforms and renewals of thinking and led to some of history's worst catastrophes in the clashes between social classes, ideologies, and political systems.

Review and renewal against the opposition of conservative irrationalism in many forms was an essential attitude for many people, and artists like Sibelius or Rachmaninoff who followed no quantifiable, rationally defineable, "logical" paths but their own, deep intuition and personal logic were simply "red flags" for such "intellectuals" for whom the critical review and rejection of *any* form of historic subjectivism was the No.1 priority - understandable against the historical backgrounds of the times they lived in and the conclusions they had to draw from that.

I think the vehemence with with such composers as Sibelius or Rachmaninoff were opposed by some "modernistic" critics testifies to the compelling individuality and persuasiveness of their music - if it hadn't been that impressive, it could easily have been ignored - and that sharp criticism is mostly a "desperate" reaction against that compellingness which defied intellectual understanding and therefore everything that was important to some thinkers at that time.


However, I'm not quite with M on the smaller pieces; too many of them seem to be mere craft exercises.

...on a very high level, displaying great, solid craftsmanship and taste. Which is why I find them so impressive. Sibelius was a great musical craftsman who could apply his "golden touch" even to the smallest musical forms and pieces. His unique musical intuition was based on, defined and refined by that solid craftsmanship. Which is why his greatest works are not just the "random" musical inspirations and inventions of a "random" genius - they are superbly crafted musical visions of a higher nature. Without that solid basis, his music would never have gotten beyond highly inspired rambling - the fate of too many half-geniuses among composers.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Superhorn on October 09, 2008, 07:35:40 AM
    Actually, Thomson's withering dismissal of the  NY Phil as"not part of New York's intellectual life" DID have a negative effect on the orchestra's reputation.

   Some other critics, I can't remember offhand blindly accepted Thomson's claim and  have used it as an excuse to belittle the orchestra. And I read something in a book of writings by the the late Erich Leinsdorf, where he quoted Thomson's arrogant dismissal and excepted it blindly too.

   And even to this day, many critics, including  Anthony Tommasini of the NY Times, routinely accuse the orchestra of "stodginess", and "cautiousness" in programming, no matter what it plays. They make it sound as though the orchestra does nothing but endlessly recycle the same old handful of warhoreses every year, and  from some of the reviews I have read, you would think that the orchestra hadn't played a single new work in the past 30 years.

   But the truth is that the New York Philharmonic actually offers some of the most varied and interesting programming of any orchestra in the world. Ironically, it has actually played MUCH  MORE new music in the past 30 years or so than many other orchestras in the US and Europe. And not exactly easy listening.
 
   The orchestra has played music by Carter, Boulez, Henze, Saariaho, Corigliano,Adams,Glass, Bolcom, Lutoslawski, Messiaen, Harbison,Lieberman, Maxwell Davies, Rihm, Tan Dun, Kernis, and many other prominent living composers. Many other orchestras, such as the LSO and Philharmonia etc in London, don't come remotely close in playing as much new music.
 
   In addition, it has also revived many interesting rarities from the past that had been long neglected.  That's why it's so disingenuous for critics to accuse the orchestra of stale,unimaginative programming by  citing the cycles of the symphonies of Beethoven,Brahms and Tchaikovsky the orchestra has recently done, conveniently ignoring all the new or unusual repertoire.  Critics can be stinkers at times. 
Title: Re: Superhorn on the New York Philharmonic
Post by: karlhenning on October 09, 2008, 07:49:39 AM
Excellent post.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on October 11, 2008, 11:24:31 AM
Sibelius was a great musical craftsman who could apply his "golden touch".

[...]

Displaying great taste.

[...]

Not even a single phrase or passage, which isn't superbly crafted and original and unique.


M,

A suggestion:

If you want to experience superb craftsmanship, originality, uniqueness, great taste and a 'golden touch' in music you really should become intimately familiar with  Debussy's Pelleas et Melisande.

If I remember you still don't know it, correct ?  I really believe it will completely and permanently transform your whole outlook on music.

Send me a private message and I will gladly send you the 1978 Berlin Philharmonic recording under Karajan (EMI). Or if anyone else would like a free copy do not hesitate to PM me. 

Here to get you started is a marvelous review (excerpted) of the opera by a favorite of mine, Lawrence Gilman.

:)

****

'Pelléas et Mélisande' exhibited not simply a new manner of writing opera, but a new kind of music—a new way of evolving and combining tones, a new order of harmonic, melodic and rhythmic structure. The style of it was absolutely new and absolutely distinctive: the thing had never been done before, save, in a lesser degree, by Debussy himself in his then little known earlier work.

It was, for all who heard it or came to know it, a revelation of the possibilities of tonal effect—this dim and wavering and elusive music, with its infinitely subtle gradations, its gossamer fineness of texture, its delicate sonorities, its strange and echoing dissonances, its singular richness of mood, its shadowy beauty, its exquisite and elaborate art—this music which drifted before the senses like iridescent vapor, suffused with rich lights, pervasive, imponderable, evanescent. It was music at once naïve and complex, innocent and impassioned, fragile and sonorous. It spoke with an accent unmistakably grave and sincere; yet it spoke without emphasis: indirectly, flexibly, with fluid and unpredictable expression. It was eloquent beyond denial, yet its reticence, its economy of gesture, were extreme—were, indeed, the very negation of emphasis. Is it strange that such music—hesitant, evasive, dream-filled, strangely ecstatic, with its wistful and twilight loveliness, its blended subtlety and simplicity—should have been as difficult to trace to any definite source as it was, for the general, immensely astonishing and unexpected?

There was nothing like it to be found in Wagner, or in his more conspicuous and triumphant successors—in, so to speak, the direct and royal line. Richard Strauss was, clearly, not writing in that manner; nor were the brother musicians of Debussy in his own France; nor, quite as obviously, were the Russians. The immediate effect of its strangeness and newness was, of course, to direct the attention of the larger world of music, within Paris and without, to the artistic personality and the previous attainments of the man who had surprisingly put forth such incommensurable music...


You can read the whole thing here:

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/1/6/4/8/16488/16488-h/16488-h.htm

****

I look forward to reading your thoughts/opinions on the music of  P&M  in the near future, hopefully.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Kullervo on October 11, 2008, 12:23:50 PM
So Eric, which piece by Sibelius have you heard?
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on October 11, 2008, 12:51:57 PM
So Eric, which piece by Sibelius have you heard?

Symphonies that I know well - 1, 2, 4, 6 and 7... (The sixth I simply do not "get" and never will)

Tone poems - Finlandia, Oceanides and Tapiola

(And his 'Pelleas et Melisande', of course...  ;D)

 
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: greg on October 11, 2008, 03:11:09 PM

I look forward to reading your thoughts/opinions on the music of  P&M  in the near future, hopefully.

Me, too.

Symphonies that I know well - 1, 2, 4, 6 and 7... (The sixth I simply do not "get" and never will)

Tone poems - Finlandia, Oceanides and Tapiola

(And his 'Pelleas et Melisande', of course...  ;D)

 
Do you have a favorite? So far I like 4 the best, though I'm sure that's not a surprise at all.  8)
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Kullervo on October 11, 2008, 03:44:35 PM
(The sixth I simply do not "get" and never will)

This piece opened up for me once I decided to just revel in the mystery. I tend to hear it as sounding very "old". The heartbreakingly beautiful beginning (few pieces have me in tears within the first few seconds) of the first movement reminds me very much of the Renaissance polyphonists, which he in fact studied. The fluttering figure in the flutes with the harp ostinato that comes afterward makes me think of snow flying through the air (I am aware Sibelius and snow/ice is a cliché). The second movement has the feeling of a funeral march for a dead king (I don't think this would be out of place in the final scene of Hamlet). The third movement is an odd sort of dance (in the widest sense of the word) which starts out with a typically Sibelian figure of a melody being whipped back and forth between the winds and strings (reminds me of the first movement of the Third), which then transforms into a very unique sort of strobe-light effect in the orchestra (a gradually alternating "background" and "foreground" — I can't describe it any other way) with an elliptic and vaguely "oriental" (very unusual for Sibelius) flute melody floating over it all. The finale starts with one of his most beautiful and sad melodies (brings tears to my eyes every time), which then cedes into the "snow" music from the first movement, which he subsequently develops to a rushing climax. Everything seems to drop off into a series of chords in the strings, which slowly die away, a pulse, then fading off into silence. I think he must have been obsessed with his own mortality when he wrote this part — nowhere have I heard anything so evocative of death.

I don't mean this to be a guide or anything, but I hoped that my observations might help you in your listening.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: karlhenning on October 11, 2008, 07:30:06 PM
If you want to experience superb craftsmanship, originality, uniqueness, great taste and a 'golden touch' in music you really should become intimately familiar with  Debussy's Pelleas et Melisande.

Y A W N
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: karlhenning on October 11, 2008, 07:32:09 PM
This piece opened up for me once I decided to just revel in the mystery. I tend to hear it as sounding very "old". The heartbreakingly beautiful beginning (few pieces have me in tears within the first few seconds) of the first movement reminds me very much of the Renaissance polyphonists, which he in fact studied. . . .

Let's go back to the tape again:

The heartbreakingly beautiful beginning (few pieces have me in tears within the first few seconds) . . . .

Ditto, ditto.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: karlhenning on October 11, 2008, 07:38:52 PM
And, actually, I've listened to the Sibelius Sixth four times in the past three days.  Can't get enough of it.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on October 12, 2008, 05:35:17 AM
This piece opened up for me once I decided to just revel in the mystery. I tend to hear it as sounding very "old". The heartbreakingly beautiful beginning (few pieces have me in tears within the first few seconds) of the first movement reminds me very much of the Renaissance polyphonists, which he in fact studied. The fluttering figure in the flutes with the harp ostinato that comes afterward makes me think of snow flying through the air (I am aware Sibelius and snow/ice is a cliché). The second movement has the feeling of a funeral march for a dead king (I don't think this would be out of place in the final scene of Hamlet). The third movement is an odd sort of dance (in the widest sense of the word) which starts out with a typically Sibelian figure of a melody being whipped back and forth between the winds and strings (reminds me of the first movement of the Third), which then transforms into a very unique sort of strobe-light effect in the orchestra (a gradually alternating "background" and "foreground" — I can't describe it any other way) with an elliptic and vaguely "oriental" (very unusual for Sibelius) flute melody floating over it all. The finale starts with one of his most beautiful and sad melodies (brings tears to my eyes every time), which then cedes into the "snow" music from the first movement, which he subsequently develops to a rushing climax. Everything seems to drop off into a series of chords in the strings, which slowly die away, a pulse, then fading off into silence. I think he must have been obsessed with his own mortality when he wrote this part — nowhere have I heard anything so evocative of death.

I don't mean this to be a guide or anything, but I hoped that my observations might help you in your listening.

Very nice, Corey. I shall revisit it later in the week. Thanks.  :)
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on October 12, 2008, 05:36:50 AM
Y A W N

Is your 'yawn' directed at the opera itself ?
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: The new erato on October 12, 2008, 05:41:17 AM
Wow.  I have Sibelius 4th symphony as one of my favorite symphonies, and Pelleas & Melisande as one of my favorite operas. I wonder if there's any hope for me?
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on October 12, 2008, 05:43:38 AM
and Pelleas & Melisande as one of my favorite operas.

You're pulling my leg...
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: karlhenning on October 12, 2008, 05:44:17 AM
Is your 'yawn' directed at the opera itself ?

It's directed, Eric, at your tunnel-visioned insistence that flogging your favorite opera is supposedly an activity fit for any and every thread in this forum.  Give it a damned rest.

This is a thread on Sibelius.  So discuss Sibelius.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: karlhenning on October 12, 2008, 05:46:36 AM
I have Sibelius 4th symphony as one of my favorite symphonies . . . .

I was actually very curious about Corey's finding the Sixth a 'meditation upon mortality' . . . I've never heard it that way, and of course the Fourth is a much bleaker, more 'deathly' work.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: karlhenning on October 12, 2008, 05:55:02 AM
Also quite surprised at Corey's 'program' for the piece.  The Sixth always had my complete attention, just as music; not that it's got to be the same for everyone (and I may well be unusual in this).
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Kullervo on October 12, 2008, 05:58:32 AM
Also quite surprised at Corey's 'program' for the piece.  The Sixth always had my complete attention, just as music; not that it's got to be the same for everyone (and I may well be unusual in this).

Well it's not necessarily a program, it's just impossible to describe what is purely musical in non-musical terms any other way (which is unfortunately the only way I can talk about music).
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: karlhenning on October 12, 2008, 06:11:16 AM
Well it's not necessarily a program, it's just impossible to describe what is purely musical in non-musical terms any other way (which is unfortunately the only way I can talk about music).

No worries;  we all labor under the same difficulty.  I think well of your attempt to grapple with the difficulty, especially towards the end of trying to illuminate the piece for Eric.

I've now put on the Maazel/Vienna recording of the Fourth, which is the recording which opened my ears to that great piece.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: karlhenning on October 12, 2008, 06:14:54 AM
There is a drive, energy and cheerfulness in much of the Sixth, so I don't think of its music as at all 'mortal' . . . the Fourth has its clouds, its stern grandeur, a deliberateness to it, which is of a very different character.

Of course, Sibelius never wrote the same symphony twice, which is one of the things I admire about his cycle.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Mark G. Simon on October 12, 2008, 06:27:21 AM
I actually do hear a "program" in the 6th. It is the only Sibelius symphony I have burdened in this way. If I were a film director, I'd want to make a film of it. It would be more a sequence of images than a story. But the program is something totally of my invention and would not necessarily expect anyone else to hear it that way. It all takes place on an isolated stretch of beach and -- well, it's not worth going into details; I don't want to spoil the symphony for anybody. But there's a place close to the end of the first movement where you hear a passing ship blowing its horn as a heavy fog rolls in. Sibelius sometimes uses the cinematic technique of cross-cutting to achieve a transition between sections, for instance at the moment when the opening "Palestrina" music in the strings gives way to a shining C major chord in the brass. For a moment they both linger dissonantly together, but the brass chord fades in and remains after the Palestrina music disappears. That could be why I think of this symphony in cinematic terms.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: karlhenning on October 12, 2008, 06:30:45 AM
. . . Sibelius sometimes uses the cinematic technique of cross-cutting to achieve a transition between sections, for instance at the moment when the opening "Palestrina" music in the strings gives way to a shining C major chord in the brass. For a moment they both linger dissonantly together, but the brass chord fades in and remains after the Palestrina music disappears. That could be why I think of this symphony in cinematic terms.

That is a stunning moment, which has made an indelible impression on me.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on October 12, 2008, 12:18:39 PM
Karl,

How do you know for certain that it was an 'unguarded moment' on Jbuck's part when he declared Sibelius 'a simpering mediocrity' ?

I do not agree with his assessment of Sibelius of course but remember that he has on several occasions said that Brahms and Debussy were the last truly great composers.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Kullervo on October 12, 2008, 12:31:29 PM
It was more probably an unmedicated moment.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: karlhenning on October 12, 2008, 12:39:55 PM
Eric, if anyone calls Sibelius a "simpering mediocrity," it is not a statement which commands anything remotely like musical respect.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on October 12, 2008, 12:49:17 PM
But I am sure that there are many professors at the Harvard and Yale music departments who do not think highly of Sibelius.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: lukeottevanger on October 12, 2008, 01:10:10 PM
But I am sure that there are many professors at the Harvard and Yale music departments who do not think highly of Sibelius.

Oh, give it a rest, Eric. This groundless anti-academicism of yours (and Sean's) is just tedious and, as in most of these oppositions you like to set up, not recognisable in the real world of music.

Of course I can't speak for Harvard or Yale, but at my university, as high profile as either of these, there was the highest respect for Sibelius amongst all the staff of every level. Indeed, he was the subject of part of the Music Tripos during my second year - one of the most striking memories I have, in fact, is the rapt awe with which we were introduced to Luonnotar, and the way in which it held a whole roomful of us budding academics speechless in its spell.

FWIW, a good friend of mine there  (http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/music/staff-homepages/Grimley.html) and a fine academic later became the editor of the Cambridge Companion to Sibelius, among other things.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on October 12, 2008, 03:09:29 PM
Me, too.
Do you have a favorite? So far I like 4 the best, though I'm sure that's not a surprise at all.  8)

The Second.

Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on October 12, 2008, 03:11:26 PM
Oh, give it a rest, Eric. This groundless anti-academicism of yours (and Sean's) is just tedious and, as in most of these oppositions you like to set up, not recognisable in the real world of music.

Of course I can't speak for Harvard or Yale, but at my university, as high profile as either of these, there was the highest respect for Sibelius amongst all the staff of every level. Indeed, he was the subject of part of the Music Tripos during my second year - one of the most striking memories I have, in fact, is the rapt awe with which we were introduced to Luonnotar, and the way in which it held a whole roomful of us budding academics speechless in its spell.

FWIW, a good friend of mine there  (http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/music/staff-homepages/Grimley.html) and a fine academic later became the editor of the Cambridge Companion to Sibelius, among other things.

O.k. Luke.

(Jeez, I better get a hold of a recording of  Luonnotar...and pronto.)

:-[  :-[
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Guido on October 12, 2008, 03:25:19 PM
Just as a side issue, what do people consider essential Sibelius besides the violin concerto and the seven symphonies (i.e. the pieces I own!)? By far my favourite piece of these few that I have already heard is the Seventh Symphony.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: lukeottevanger on October 12, 2008, 03:37:37 PM
Tapiola, as James says, definitely. Luonnotar, as I mentioned earlier. These two stand out, for me, as works of the very highest degree of refinement and quality. The other symphonic poems too, though (Oceanides, Nightride, Pohjula's Daughter, The Bard, En Saga etc....), and the Four Leminkainen Legends - they make a wonderful complement to the symphonies. The early Kullervo is also important to hear, to flesh out the image of Sibelius as a younger composer, but also in its own right, as a hugely ambitious, lusty, full-throated piece.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: karlhenning on October 12, 2008, 03:41:42 PM
. . . and The Tempest suites.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Guido on October 12, 2008, 04:14:47 PM
Cheers guys. I will look for some recordings. What about songs/chamber music?
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: karlhenning on October 12, 2008, 04:29:05 PM
Hmm . . . there are some songs on an gEMIni two-fer I've got, but I haven't listened to them yet.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Guido on October 12, 2008, 04:31:32 PM
This CD seems to have most of the pieces that Luke mentioned: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sibelius-Finlandia-Karelia/dp/B0000041L7/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1223857825&sr=8-1

Good?
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Guido on October 13, 2008, 04:28:09 PM
Cheers. The CD has been ordered.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: karlhenning on November 04, 2008, 04:28:36 AM
Leibowitz is wrong.  Sibelius is not the world's worst composer.  Chostakovich is the world's worst composer, the falsest, most artificious fake imitator the world has seen.

Sibelius is the world's second worst composer. He tried to fill in the shoes Richard Wagner had worn down. No more shoes to fill & not enough feet to fill them.

Well, those are curious opinions, though you are welcome to them.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Kullervo on November 04, 2008, 06:12:28 AM
Yes, everyone is entitled to their opinion, even if it's dead-wrong. :D
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Josquin des Prez on November 04, 2008, 07:34:36 AM
Chostakovich is the world's worst composer, the falsest, most artificious fake imitator the world has seen.

Imitator of whom?

The world's third worst composer?  Penderecki

Then we are truly in deep shit, considering Penderecki is arguably one of the greatest living composers.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Catison on November 04, 2008, 11:12:47 AM
And we thought the forum was going to get boring without certain members?

I am afraid that these opinions show more about the opinioner than the opinionee.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: karlhenning on November 04, 2008, 11:18:12 AM
Can I just say, I love the phrase a confirmed serialist . . . ?
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: greg on November 04, 2008, 12:36:40 PM
Leibowitz is wrong.  Sibelius is not the world's worst composer.  Chostakovich is the world's worst composer, the falsest, most artificious fake imitator the world has seen.

Sibelius is the world's second worst composer. He tried to fill in the shoes Richard Wagner had worn down. No more shoes to fill & not enough feet to fill them.

The world's third worst composer?  Penderecki, as of the Second Symphony, that litteral imitation of Bruckner, musical academism at its worst. Or third worst, I should have said...  ;)
Lol
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: ChamberNut on November 04, 2008, 02:51:22 PM
Chostakovich is the world's worst composer, the falsest, most artificious fake imitator the world has seen.

Two-tone,

Could you please elobarate on why you believe this, or feel this way?

Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Bulldog on November 04, 2008, 03:47:43 PM
Leibowitz is wrong.  Sibelius is not the world's worst composer.  Chostakovich is the world's worst composer, the falsest, most artificious fake imitator the world has seen.

Sibelius is the world's second worst composer. He tried to fill in the shoes Richard Wagner had worn down. No more shoes to fill & not enough feet to fill them.

The world's third worst composer?  Penderecki, as of the Second Symphony, that litteral imitation of Bruckner, musical academism at its worst. Or third worst, I should have said...  ;)

With your negatives out of the way, who are your favorite composers?
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: drogulus on November 04, 2008, 04:13:34 PM

     Sibelius is not just popular, he's respected by other composers, including some ideologues who in their foolish youth said stupid things about composers who didn't follow the authoritarian line.

     And M said this, with which I agree:


Review and renewal against the opposition of conservative irrationalism in many forms was an essential attitude for many people, and artists like Sibelius or Rachmaninoff who followed no quantifiable, rationally defineable, "logical" paths but their own, deep intuition and personal logic were simply "red flags" for such "intellectuals" for whom the critical review and rejection of *any* form of historic subjectivism was the No.1 priority - understandable against the historical backgrounds of the times they lived in and the conclusions they had to draw from that.

I think the vehemence with with such composers as Sibelius or Rachmaninoff were opposed by some "modernistic" critics testifies to the compelling individuality and persuasiveness of their music - if it hadn't been that impressive, it could easily have been ignored - and that sharp criticism is mostly a "desperate" reaction against that compellingness which defied intellectual understanding and therefore everything that was important to some thinkers at that time.


    Composers are individuals even when they don't want to be. All the various collectivisms break down under the pressure of the imagination, which can't be contained by dogma.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Josquin des Prez on November 04, 2008, 04:22:36 PM
Composers are individuals even when they don't want to be. All the various collectivisms break down under the pressure of the imagination, which can't be contained by dogma.

Finally something uttered in this forum that i can agree on. Too bad most people don't see it this way, which is why we no longer have "geniuses", or rather, they aren't being recognized anymore. Our PC society promotes unabashed collectivism while the outstanding individualities of our times are marginalized and seen with suspicion at best.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: drogulus on November 04, 2008, 04:56:06 PM
Finally something uttered in this forum that i can agree on. Too bad most people don't see it this way, which is why we no longer have "geniuses", or rather, they aren't being recognized anymore. Our PC society promotes unabashed collectivism while the outstanding individualities of our times are marginalized and seen with suspicion at best.

     Most people are not dogmatic about what they like. The dogmatists are a minority. If they were the majority they'd have to be against themselves. :P
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Mark G. Simon on November 08, 2008, 03:09:32 PM
All the great 20th century composers, as do composers of the previous centuries, had a distinctive personality.

Shostakovich always resembles Shostakovich. Sibelius always resembles Sibelius. Stravinsky always resembles Stravsinky (even when he uses Webern's methods). That's why these composers continue to be played.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: drogulus on November 08, 2008, 04:16:42 PM
    The composers who flocked under banners don't seem to be doing as well as those who just made music according to their inclinations.

Why is that I don't know but music that is not in sink with the defining style of a time just does not seem to hold up.


     You mean the defining orthodoxy, don't you?  >:D

     Do you ever wonder why progressives seem so concerned with what's approved of? Why should it matter? Or, to be more realistic, why has it actually mattered so little?  :P

     
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Kullervo on November 08, 2008, 05:56:52 PM
Debussy, Scriabin, Bartok, Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Messiaen, Dutilleux, Lutoslawski, Kurtag, Boulez...

The best music of the twentieth-century was modernist, just like the best music of the nineteenth was romantic, classic in the eighteenth century, baroque in the seventeenth, etc.  Why is that I don't know but music that is not in sink with the defining style of a time just does not seem to hold up.

Why artificious, imitative and false, Chostakovich?  Because when his music does not resemble Prokofiev it resembles a degraded Mahler and when it resembles neither Prokofiev nor Mahler it resembles what synthetic, scholastically reinterpreted image of nineteenth-century music Chostakovitch had in mind and reproduced when he composed.

We are in deep shit whether or not Penderecki is a great composer since no really new and original talent is emerging among the younger generations of composers.

And shit is indeed an accurate description of the music of Guillaume Connesson...  >:D

Eerily reminiscent of a time and place when modernism was dismissed as bolchevistic and degenerative...   ::)

Your moniker is very apt; you seem to see everything in black-and-white.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: karlhenning on November 08, 2008, 07:54:59 PM
. . . Sibelius was a belated romantic at a time when romanticism was a spent force, Shostakovich had little to offer save a synthetic rehash of the century preceding his appearance on this earth and what a pompous ass Penderecki must be . . . .

You'd better take this to the What Are You Drinking thread.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: greg on November 08, 2008, 07:59:02 PM

Why artificious, imitative and false, Chostakovich?  Because when his music does not resemble Prokofiev it resembles a degraded Mahler and when it resembles neither Prokofiev nor Mahler it resembles what synthetic, scholastically reinterpreted image of nineteenth-century music Chostakovitch had in mind and reproduced when he composed.

Now, I like how you say that his music is a mix of my two favorite composers, but at the same time, saying he had no original stylistic ideas at all is pushing it.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Kullervo on November 08, 2008, 08:23:41 PM
Sibelius was a belated romantic at a time when romanticism was a spent force

Let us know when you actually listen to Sibelius.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: greg on November 08, 2008, 08:26:09 PM
Let us know when you actually listen to Sibelius.
;D
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Josquin des Prez on November 08, 2008, 08:32:56 PM
I suppose Two-Tone doesn't listen to Bach, Handel or even Brahms for that matter. Their music just doesn't hold up.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Josquin des Prez on November 08, 2008, 08:49:27 PM
Let us know when you do...  ::)

Actually, i'm pretty sure Corey IS Sibelius.  ;D
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Kullervo on November 08, 2008, 08:53:20 PM
Let us know when you do...  ::)

Considering that I've chosen a photo of him as my avatar, there is a slight chance I have.

In refutation of your view of him as a "belated romantic", let me direct you to a post I made earlier in this thread (though I doubt that even this will sway you — or that it's worth my time to respond to your Crusade for Modernism).

One of my favorite composers (and someone whom I think has made some of the best music of the postwar years), Per Nørgård was aware very early-on of the ingenious and subtly-radical structures Sibelius used in his music. From his site:

He studied all the scores and collected all the records he could of Sibelius’ music, and discovered that the idea of metamorphosis, which plays such a central role in Holmboe's music, was already found in a fully developed form in Sibelius' oeuvre. The existence of several independent levels in the music, the shift between foreground and background, and even the idea of hierarchy itself - all this Nørgård found in Sibelius.

At that time these ideas, which for Nørgård were to reach far into his musical future, were more or less ignored or unrecognised, not only in Denmark, but even more in central European countries, where the name Sibelius stood for a hopelessly outdated nationalist romanticism.

When Nørgård had discovered this and thought it over, he wrote a letter to Sibelius setting out the ideas outlined above, and indeed also with the aim of assuring Sibelius that he was not alone with his musical visions, but that these would endure and be further developed.


Actually, i'm pretty sure Corey IS Sibelius.  ;D

Just like you're both Josquin and Webern?  ;)
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on November 08, 2008, 08:56:06 PM
No I don't. I am not into politics, I am into the arts and the conservative smear on progressives is of no more interest to me than the progressive put-down of conservatives.

But YOU sure know how to smear!!!

Quote
The fact remains, though, Sibelius was a belated romantic at a time when romanticism was a spent force...

Bunk.

Quote
Shostakovich had little to offer save a synthetic rehash of the century preceding his appearance on this earth and what a pompous ass Penderecki must be to claim the imitative junk he has produced since his second symphony is more important than those marvels of good, clean, exciting, racy fun, the first two String Quartets and the Capriccio for oboe!

Smear, baby, smear!!! 8)


Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Kullervo on November 08, 2008, 09:29:29 PM
Unadulterated nonsense. Please don't waste our time.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Mark G. Simon on November 08, 2008, 09:54:35 PM
But to go from there and claim Sibelius as a peer to Stravinsky and Schoenberg ...

Sibelius is easily a peer to Stravinsky and Schoenberg.

Some day, when you're a little older and have learned to think outside of the tiny little box you've cornered yourself into, you'll see there's more to music than who did what first, and that plotting numbers of dissonances against date of composition is a foolish way to evaluate music.

Sibelius is a difficult composer to understand. In terms of musical logic and continuity, no one else thinks the way he does. You've got to meet him on his terms.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Josquin des Prez on November 08, 2008, 10:13:36 PM
the invention of western Polyphony by Perotin

Perotin didn't invent polyphony. Just needed to address that point.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Josquin des Prez on November 08, 2008, 10:16:40 PM
Obviously to you, Sibelius seems difficult...  ::)

Ho god, he's one of them. Vibrational fields can only be around the corner.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Mark G. Simon on November 08, 2008, 10:22:23 PM
Obviously to you, Sibelius seems difficult...  ::)

Yeah, I only have a doctorate in composition and 25 years of experience as a professional musician. What could I possibly know?


He's clearly too difficult for you to understand.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Kullervo on November 09, 2008, 04:18:58 AM
Sibelius is easily a peer to Stravinsky and Schoenberg.

Some day, when you're a little older and have learned to think outside of the tiny little box you've cornered yourself into, you'll see there's more to music than who did what first, and that plotting numbers of dissonances against date of composition is a foolish way to evaluate music.

Sibelius is a difficult composer to understand. In terms of musical logic and continuity, no one else thinks the way he does. You've got to meet him on his terms.

Seconded.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: drogulus on November 09, 2008, 08:01:26 AM
No I don't. I am not into politics, I am into the arts and the conservative smear on progressives is of no more interest to me than the progressive put-down of conservatives.  The fact remains, though, Sibelius was a belated romantic at a time when romanticism was a spent force, Shostakovich had little to offer save a synthetic rehash of the century preceding his appearance on this earth and what a pompous ass Penderecki must be to claim the imitative junk he has produced since his second symphony is more important than those marvels of good, clean, exciting, racy fun, the first two String Quartets and the Capriccio for oboe!


     




    I don't know why you think some composers represent spent forces. It's really up to the composers to use whatever combination of old and new they want, and to make it new in their own way. Sibelius doesn't sound like any 19th century composer, does he? Nor does he sound like any of his contemporaries, though some of those have been deeply influenced by him. So, Sibelius is original and influential.

Quote
In 1984, the great American avant-garde composer Morton Feldman gave a lecture at the relentlessly up-to-date Summer Courses for New Music in Darmstadt, Germany. "The people who you think are radicals might really be conservatives," Feldman said on that occasion. "The people who you think are conservative might really be radical." And then he began to hum the Sibelius Fifth.

     That's from The Rest is Noise by Alex Ross. So it's best to see these pigeonholes as temporary slots, if you need them at all. You may want to sort things out differently after giving it more thought. I don't think Feldman is right so much as usefully shaking up preconceptions. Maybe you don't know what you think you know.  :D
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Josquin des Prez on November 09, 2008, 09:23:26 AM
Sibelius, difficult !  What a joke !!  One guesses Comic stips require efforts of concentration, from you dimwits !!!

Now he's being condescending, how cute. There are many layers of understanding and Sibelius is most definitely difficult to comprehend from an ontological point of view. Today we live in a world where science rules supreme, and understanding is applied only to the manipulation of information, to what can be seen and tested in the physical world. But there is another level of intelligence which deals with the world that cannot be seen, the world of concepts and ideas, there world of knowledge, which has nothing to do with the raw memorization of factoids and information. It is from this realm that all creativity springs forth, and what we call genius is merely the manifestation of truth, of real knowledge, which the creative artist or philosopher has mastered after navigating in the unseen.

Many people today are trapped in a purely scientific, materialistic mode of thinking, and most tend to scoff at the concept of genius, because it cannot be proven in a test lab you see, it can only be understood. Because they reject what can only be grasped in abstraction, then the creative artist shifts from the unseen to the physical world, the world of raw technique and the literal interpretation of specific artific values, often manipulated through simple means of semantics. But this is a false art, which is why modernism has been very unsuccessful and will plunge into oblivion once our civilization collapses from a complete lack of any form of conceptual guidance (or eventual adoption of foreign conceptual constructs), which is how all civilizations die.

Thus, to anyone who hasn't eschewed their ability to think in abstractions, it will be clear that Sibelius, like Mozart or Beethoven before him, are much more significant composers then Boulez, irregardless of the inherent simplicity in their manipulations of the physical musical parameters of their compositions in respect to the latter.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Mark G. Simon on November 09, 2008, 09:41:30 AM
Now he's being condescending, how cute.

Yeah, it shows how simple-minded these modernist bullies are. They boil everything down to simple equations:
Dissonant = complex = difficult = good.
Consonant = simple = easy = bad.

With these simple guidelines you can pass judgments on any music without having to think too hard, or even listen.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Josquin des Prez on November 09, 2008, 10:06:31 AM
Influence is irrelevant.

Doesn't this statement simply invalidate your entire argument? Sibelius was not an innovator, he was an original. The difference is usually lost on smaller minds.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Mark G. Simon on November 09, 2008, 10:25:54 AM
Most curious. Our two-toned friend can't seem to detect the irony of

The steady resort to personal attack and smear by this site's Sibelius crowd

on the one hand, and:

Quote
fans of Sibelius are indeed low-quality people, who settle for Sibelius out of incapacity to grasp Boulez and even Bartok, who compensate for their inability to come up with coherent arguments with heavy barrages of insult and smear, and who deal with their envy of the more creative figures of the XXth Century with cretinous as well as false and mendacious claims for their anti-hero, such as that he is the true innovator. 

The XXth Century did not last that long: 1917-1989.  Maybe was that not enough time for the dullards to penetrate it...

Sir, you have given us nothing but personal attack and smear. Must half your sentences your write always contradict the other half????






Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on November 09, 2008, 10:34:26 AM
I think I'm going to listen to Répons and Tapiola tonight, two wonderful works.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: drogulus on November 09, 2008, 10:36:26 AM


The steady resort to personal attack and smear by this site's Sibelius crowd authorizes me to state the obvious, namely, that fans of Sibelius are indeed low-quality people, who settle for Sibelius out of incapacity to grasp Boulez and even Bartok, who compensate for their inability to come up with coherent arguments with heavy barrages of insult and smear, and who deal with their envy of the more creative figures of the XXth Century with cretinous as well as false and mendacious claims for their anti-hero, such as that he is the true innovator.  


    Heavy barrages of insult and smear? What are you talking about?

    Do you think it's not insulting to say people with different musical tastes are "low-quality people"?

    I take Feldman to be suggesting that it's more radical to buck the current trend than to follow it. It's arguable whether this could be used to suggest that Sibelius is really a "radical" in any meaningful sense, but my point is that it doesn't matter. You can be radical in what is ultimately an unimportant way, because few people hear the music, or want to hear it again. Or you can be innovative in a less radical way and have a considerable impact felt by a great many listeners as well as other composers. Influence is not just radical influence, or what radicals acknowledge as influence. I don't say this to disparage any radical composer. I just think that it distorts the whole fabric of musical history to make them all-important.

     OK, Mark, you got there first. :( This is what I get for trying to reply "thoughtfully" instead of squeezing out a speed post.  >:( >:(
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Mark G. Simon on November 09, 2008, 10:44:35 AM
Incapacity to grasp the better part of XXth century music does make you especially vulnerable to it...  ::)

1) I've seen no evidence of your understanding of any music of any century. I've looked through all of your posts here, and see nothing but cheap shots.

2) And you haven't taken the trouble to get to know what I understand of music. You think that because I value Sibelius highly, I must therefore be opposed to Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Bartók and Messiaen, when in fact they are among my favorite composers.

And by the way, please learn to spell: the phrase is "in synch" not "in sink".
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Josquin des Prez on November 09, 2008, 11:22:26 AM
What a gross confusion of philisophy and art - and even worst than philosophy, moral philosophy; the two are quite different activities and require quite different kinds of faculties.  And if truth were a standard of genius then any lab reasearcher would be a genius as lab researchers have come up with plenty of information concerning such things as proteins that are real, and true.

It seems you didn't understand what i was getting at. I'm not surprised.

Debussy, Scriabin, Stravinsky unsuccessful?  What a joke!!!

They were successful in and of themselves but their work represents a dead end. Every composer that followed in their stead has not achieved as much as their predecessor, and it gets worst with each passing generation. This is an historical anomaly, and the problem must lie somewhere in the direction modernism has taken.

When our civilisation collapses everything will fall into oblivion, Josquin Des Prez as well as Boulez, Dante and Genet, Rembrandt and Picasso.

Not necessarily. When classical civilization collapsed a lot of their achievements were salvaged for posterity. Notice of course that not everything from classical Greece or Rome was preserved for future generations. This didn't occur by chance. 

First you claim modernism is excessively conceptual, then you say civilisation will fall over lack of conceptual guidance.  Make up your mind, buddy.

I never claimed that modernism is excessively conceptual, to the contrary, i stated that modern art is as far removed from the conceptual as you can get. This is how false movements like post-modernism are made possible in the first place. See, a concept, an idea, is understood only by means of elevated consciousness. It was Otto Weininger who best understood knowledge in terms of consciousness, the opposite of which is the henid, a state of non-consciousness in which ideas are understood only in a vague, pseudo-emotional sense. When people today say that classical music is "relaxing" or "soft", they are betraying a lack of true understanding, and it can be said that they are experiencing classical music in henid form. They can get a vague sense of what the music is about, but they cannot really understand it, for them the experience is vague and confused.

Thus, it can be said that Post-modernism is essentially a play with ideas and concepts which are purposely left in henid form, and thus it is said that their meaning is subjective and non-existent. 

First you blame modernism for supposed excesses of abstraction, here you claim those who do not give up on their faculty for abstraction will place Mozart above Boulez:  must half the sentences you write always contradict the other half?

Except there's nothing particular "abstract" about the music of Boulez. His works exist in a physical form which is perfectly measurable and quantifiable. Not so with say, Mozart. There is no simple measure for the greatness of Mozart. You can't say that his works are great because of his use of form, or his complex contrapuntal writing. Those things may contribute to the greatness of his works, or they may not. Sometimes you find moments in his music which are of the utmost simplicity, and yet, you'll be scratching your head in wonder trying to understand how any mere mortal could possibly write something so genial, so brilliant. That understanding is based on your ability to grasp abstractions. It cannot be learned by reading books, it cannot be learned by memorizing theories or techniques.

BTW, the subject of this thread is not Mozart vs Boulez, it's Sibelius vs Boulez.  The greatest composers are always on the same plane, Mozart and Boulez, Monteverdi and Stravinsky, etc.

Sibelius may not compare to the likes of Mozart, but neither does Boulez.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Catison on November 10, 2008, 07:07:09 AM
Perhaps this essay Apparition in the Woods (http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/07/09/070709fa_fact_ross) by Alex Ross, already quoted above, can shed some light on the debate.  Even if you don't like Sibelius, Ross does a good job of shedding light on this unconventional composer.  (This essay was expanded into a chapter for The Rest Is Noise.)

Here is an apt excerpt:

“I feel like a ghost wandering in a world grown alien,” Rachmaninoff wrote in 1939. “I cannot cast out the old way of writing, and I cannot acquire the new. I have made intense effort to feel the musical manner of today, but it will not come to me. . . . I cannot cast out my musical gods in a moment and bend the knee to new ones.” Sibelius felt the same pang of loss. “Not everyone can be an innovating genius,” he wrote in his diary. “As a personality and as an apparition from the woods you will have your small, modest place.”

And yet the so-called “regional” composers left an imposing body of work, which is integral to the century as a whole. Their music may lack the vanguard credentials of Schoenberg’s or Stravinsky’s, at least on the sonic surface, but Nielsen, in his 1925 book “Living Music,” makes a good counter-argument: “The simplest is the hardest, the universal the most lasting, the straightest the strongest, like the pillars that support the dome.” And, precisely because these composers communicated general feelings of mourning for a pre-technological past, or, more simply, a yearning for vanished youth, they remained acutely relevant for a broad public.

Mainstream audiences often lag behind the intellectual classes in appreciating the more adventurous composers, but sometimes they are quicker to perceive the value of music that the politicians of style fail to comprehend. In 1952, Nicolas Slonimsky put together a delightful book,“Lexicon of Musical Invective,” an anthology of wrongheaded music criticism in which now canonical masterpieces are compared with feline caterwauling, barnyard noises, and so on. Slonimsky should also have written a “Lexicon of Musical Condescension,” gathering high-minded essays in which now canonical masterpieces were dismissed as middlebrow, with a long section reserved for Sibelius.


Was Sibelius a radical, an innovator, or even a modern?  Other than some novel use of form, I doubt many would argue here.  But that is not the point.

The task for any composer is to find a unique, interesting voice.  Many of the modernist composers mistook finding a unique voice for finding a unique system, generating their voice.  But the system does not make the voice, as we can see in all the wonderful variety of serialist music from Schoenberg to Stravinsky to Copland.  Even the chance composers are not immune.  Cage, in his struggle to take himself out of the music, ends up sounding like Cage.  Feldman, like Feldman.  I don't mean to suggest that systems are bad, because for many composers it aided them in finding their niche, but I argue they are not required, even for good, 20th Century music.

Sibelius is an anachronism in the 20th Century because he didn't need a new system.  His system, an extension 19th Century tonal Romanticism, should have been dead, but he proved it still had enough life to provide him with the tools he needed.  There is simply no other figure in music history that sounds like Sibelius, and I cannot imagine life without his music.  But I also cannot imagine life without Boulez, Babbit, or Sessions.  These are all great composers, and it is a mistake to wall ourselves off from any of their music.

Sibelius had a voice all his own, and that is enough for me.  And now you can find that voice filtering through new composers, like Adams, Lindberg, and Saariaho.  What a wonderful world we live in.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: karlhenning on November 10, 2008, 07:15:18 AM
Quote from: Alex Ross
Mainstream audiences often lag behind the intellectual classes in appreciating the more adventurous composers, but sometimes they are quicker to perceive the value of music that the politicians of style fail to comprehend. In 1952, Nicolas Slonimsky put together a delightful book,“Lexicon of Musical Invective,” an anthology of wrongheaded music criticism in which now canonical masterpieces are compared with feline caterwauling, barnyard noises, and so on. Slonimsky should also have written a “Lexicon of Musical Condescension,” gathering high-minded essays in which now canonical masterpieces were dismissed as middlebrow, with a long section reserved for Sibelius.

Brilliantly apt, Brett.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Sergeant Rock on November 10, 2008, 08:38:03 AM
You'd better take this to the What Are You Drinking thread.

 ;D :D ;D
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: karlhenning on November 10, 2008, 09:20:55 AM
Sarge! Welcome back!
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Sergeant Rock on November 10, 2008, 09:28:14 AM
Sarge! Welcome back!

Thanks, Karl. I missed your one-liners  ;)

Sarge
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: greg on November 10, 2008, 08:08:52 PM
Perhaps this essay Apparition in the Woods (http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/07/09/070709fa_fact_ross) by Alex Ross, already quoted above, can shed some light on the debate.  Even if you don't like Sibelius, Ross does a good job of shedding light on this unconventional composer.  (This essay was expanded into a chapter for The Rest Is Noise.)

Here is an apt excerpt:

“I feel like a ghost wandering in a world grown alien,” Rachmaninoff wrote in 1939. “I cannot cast out the old way of writing, and I cannot acquire the new. I have made intense effort to feel the musical manner of today, but it will not come to me. . . . I cannot cast out my musical gods in a moment and bend the knee to new ones.” Sibelius felt the same pang of loss. “Not everyone can be an innovating genius,” he wrote in his diary. “As a personality and as an apparition from the woods you will have your small, modest place.”

And yet the so-called “regional” composers left an imposing body of work, which is integral to the century as a whole. Their music may lack the vanguard credentials of Schoenberg’s or Stravinsky’s, at least on the sonic surface, but Nielsen, in his 1925 book “Living Music,” makes a good counter-argument: “The simplest is the hardest, the universal the most lasting, the straightest the strongest, like the pillars that support the dome.” And, precisely because these composers communicated general feelings of mourning for a pre-technological past, or, more simply, a yearning for vanished youth, they remained acutely relevant for a broad public.

Mainstream audiences often lag behind the intellectual classes in appreciating the more adventurous composers, but sometimes they are quicker to perceive the value of music that the politicians of style fail to comprehend. In 1952, Nicolas Slonimsky put together a delightful book,“Lexicon of Musical Invective,” an anthology of wrongheaded music criticism in which now canonical masterpieces are compared with feline caterwauling, barnyard noises, and so on. Slonimsky should also have written a “Lexicon of Musical Condescension,” gathering high-minded essays in which now canonical masterpieces were dismissed as middlebrow, with a long section reserved for Sibelius.


Was Sibelius a radical, an innovator, or even a modern?  Other than some novel use of form, I doubt many would argue here.  But that is not the point.

The task for any composer is to find a unique, interesting voice.  Many of the modernist composers mistook finding a unique voice for finding a unique system, generating their voice.  But the system does not make the voice, as we can see in all the wonderful variety of serialist music from Schoenberg to Stravinsky to Copland.  Even the chance composers are not immune.  Cage, in his struggle to take himself out of the music, ends up sounding like Cage.  Feldman, like Feldman.  I don't mean to suggest that systems are bad, because for many composers it aided them in finding their niche, but I argue they are not required, even for good, 20th Century music.

Sibelius is an anachronism in the 20th Century because he didn't need a new system.  His system, an extension 19th Century tonal Romanticism, should have been dead, but he proved it still had enough life to provide him with the tools he needed.  There is simply no other figure in music history that sounds like Sibelius, and I cannot imagine life without his music.  But I also cannot imagine life without Boulez, Babbit, or Sessions.  These are all great composers, and it is a mistake to wall ourselves off from any of their music.

Sibelius had a voice all his own, and that is enough for me.  And now you can find that voice filtering through new composers, like Adams, Lindberg, and Saariaho.  What a wonderful world we live in.
I love that book. He just writes everything so............. good.  0:)
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Joe_Campbell on November 10, 2008, 10:00:38 PM
You mean so well?  ;)  :)

the irony was too tempting
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: karlhenning on November 11, 2008, 06:14:16 AM
You mean so well?  ;)  :)

the irony was too tempting

There are some temptations which it is a civic duty to fail to resist.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: greg on November 11, 2008, 06:57:11 AM
how about awesomely?
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: karlhenning on November 11, 2008, 07:03:11 AM
No, he writes well; and that is enough  :)
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: some guy on December 01, 2008, 10:49:35 PM
Nor can a critic be taken seriously who takes John Adams seriously...

Best one-liner ever!
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Mark G. Simon on December 02, 2008, 04:48:15 AM
Balderdash!!!!  Alex Ross writes like a bad novelist, worst, like a non-novelist who lacks talent to write novels but pretends to write them anyway - still worst, he writes like an essayist who hasn't figured out an essay is not the same thing a novel & shouldn't be written like one. In short, Alex Ross is a poor writer.


"still worst", he he.....
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: karlhenning on December 02, 2008, 04:58:47 AM
Balderdash!!!!  Alex Ross writes like a bad novelist.

Psst! He's not writing a novel!
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Sergeant Rock on December 02, 2008, 05:58:26 AM
Nor can a critic be taken seriously who takes John Adams seriously...

Nor can a critic be taken seriously who misuses the word worst...twice  ;D

Sarge
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Kullervo on December 02, 2008, 06:48:29 AM
Alex Ross is a good writer, though slightly pretentious at times — throughout The Rest is Noise there are moments that feel like he was jazzing up the situations to heighten their poetry; as if the situations themselves weren't interesting enough as is.

If he's done anything, it has been introducing a new audience to 20th Century music — be it traditional listeners of classical music who had no prior interest (or possibly an aversion) to modern music, or otherwise-intelligent people who had avoided classical music in toto due to what they saw as ivory tower elitism and pretentiousness.

Good to know GMG has a plethora of proof-readers.
It's just too bad the proof-readers have so little understanding of music...

More of the same nastiness and ad hominem attacks — I won't tangle with you. "Wrestle with a pig and you both get dirty — but the pig likes it."
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: karlhenning on December 02, 2008, 08:42:14 AM
Alex Ross is a good writer, though slightly pretentious at times — throughout The Rest is Noise there are moments that feel like he was jazzing up the situations to heighten their poetry; as if the situations themselves weren't interesting enough as is.

If he's done anything, it has been introducing a new audience to 20th Century music — be it traditional listeners of classical music who had no prior interest (or possibly an aversion) to modern music, or otherwise-intelligent people who had avoided classical music in toto due to what they saw as ivory tower elitism and pretentiousness.

It is indeed a good book.  I disagree with the emphasis that Ross places upon John Adams;  but since I attribute that to a question of his own musical enthusiasms, I should not take that as any occasion to dismiss the book, or his writing (or even, John Adams).

Whatever my quarrels with detail or emphasis in the book, I find much more that is praiseworthy.  I need to buy the paper edition . . . .
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Mark G. Simon on December 02, 2008, 09:17:26 AM
I think the 5 pages allotted to John Adams in The Rest is Noise are fully warranted. Ross cannot predict which composers of today his readers 50 years from now are most likely to encounter, but he knows his readers today are going to be listening to Adams and wanting to find something about that composer in his book. Clearly personal preference also plays a role in his selection. Admirers of Golijov will have to settle for two paragraphs.

Ross' enthusiasm for 20th century music, as well as his knowledge, is evident on every page, and this makes the book a joy to read.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Brewski on December 02, 2008, 09:22:07 AM
It is indeed a good book.  I disagree with the emphasis that Ross places upon John Adams;  but since I attribute that to a question of his own musical enthusiasms, I should not take that as any occasion to dismiss the book, or his writing (or even, John Adams).

Whatever my quarrels with detail or emphasis in the book, I find much more that is praiseworthy.  I need to buy the paper edition . . . .

I agree, and overall find it quite an amazing thing that a book like this even exists at all.  Further, I would probably recommend it to many people just starting out in their listening, in the same way that I'd recommend Copland's What to Listen for in Music

Certainly many people might quibble with his emphasis or choices here and there, but hey, I still read The Penguin Guide, even though it can be maddeningly British-centric at times.

Just saw Mark's comment, and yes, the key word is "enthusiasm."  A little of that goes a long way.

--Bruce
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Dundonnell on December 02, 2008, 09:35:50 AM
I agree, and overall find it quite an amazing thing that a book like this even exists at all.  Further, I would probably recommend it to many people just starting out in their listening, in the same way that I'd recommend Copland's What to Listen for in Music

Certainly many people might quibble with his emphasis or choices here and there, but hey, I still read The Penguin Guide, even though it can be maddeningly British-centric at times.

Just saw Mark's comment, and yes, the key word is "enthusiasm."  A little of that goes a long way.

--Bruce

"maddeningly British-centric"('The Penguin Guide to Recorded Classical Music') ;D

Sorry...we in the good old U.K just can't help being the centre of the musical universe :)
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Brewski on December 02, 2008, 09:37:56 AM
"maddeningly British-centric"('The Penguin Guide to Recorded Classical Music') ;D

Sorry...we in the good old U.K just can't help being the centre of the musical universe :)

 ;D

--Bruce
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: karlhenning on December 02, 2008, 09:40:21 AM
I think the 5 pages allotted to John Adams in The Rest is Noise are fully warranted. Ross cannot predict which composers of today his readers 50 years from now are most likely to encounter, but he knows his readers today are going to be listening to Adams and wanting to find something about that composer in his book. Clearly personal preference also plays a role in his selection. Admirers of Golijov will have to settle for two paragraphs.

Ross' enthusiasm for 20th century music, as well as his knowledge, is evident on every page, and this makes the book a joy to read.

Agreed, entirely.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Bulldog on December 02, 2008, 10:15:45 AM
1) I've seen no evidence of your understanding of any music of any century. I've looked through all of your posts here, and see nothing but cheap shots.


I've also looked through the posts of Two-Tone, and he is clearly an obnoxious poster.  However, he has posted much more than just cheap shots.

My problem with Two-Tone is that he makes the same mistake as some other posters who have been on the board in the past.  If he doesn't like a particular composer, style, or work, nobody should.  It's the old "I am the universe" attitude that reveals a lack of maturity.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Mark G. Simon on December 02, 2008, 10:22:16 AM
I've also looked through the posts of Two-Tone, and he is clearly an obnoxious poster.  However, he has posted much more than just cheap shots.

Obviously he's taken my criticism to heart. He has, since I posted that remark earlier, expounded at admirable length on numerous works which he enjoys. I hope to see more of such postings from him (and less of the other kind).
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Mark G. Simon on December 02, 2008, 12:19:15 PM
Personally, I'd rather discuss music than attack anyone. I'd rather say good things about composers I like and to keep silent on those I don't.  I suggest that Two-Tone should try the same approach.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Kullervo on December 02, 2008, 12:20:55 PM
The problem with Bulldog, Mark Simon, Corey, Karlhenning, Sergeant York et alii

A group I'm honored to be a part of.

(How significant it is indeed in this respect that they have failed to respond to my posts on Kurtag and Lutoslawski. On the evidence of their posts since my arrival here one would have to conclude they just do not have the ability to discuss music, maturely, knowledgeably, and intelligently.)

Not everyone here shares my enthusiasm for the music of Per Nørgård, but I don't take that as an indication that the people here are unintelligent; they simply haven't heard his music.

Yet another problem with Ross (perhaps is that the reason why he is so well liked around here, lol) is, when he doesn't like a Composer (and Ross usually does not like the better guy), instead of criticizing the music he attacks and smears the man - his intemperate and obsessive vandetta against Pierre Boulez, his focus on alleged flaws of character, being an obvious case in point.

I think Ross is more opposed to Boulez's early striving at justifying his personal taste with manifestos (symptomatic of the latter half of the 20th Century). The vehemence of their tirades belie their horror at not being able to explain away the mystery of preference. He's since mellowed out and has created some of the most interesting music of the past 30 years.

Not that it really matters in the end, as true music lovers are still pondering these platonistic marvels, Boulez's Notations for piano

And worthy pieces they are.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Bulldog on December 02, 2008, 12:28:13 PM
Not that it really matters in the end, as true music lovers are still pondering these platonistic marvels, Boulez's Notations for piano, while the remainders of The Rest is Noise that have not gone down the shredder are getting priced down at Strands book store.


Right - only those who share your musical preferences are true music lovers.  ::)
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Catison on December 02, 2008, 02:13:00 PM
Is it OK to like Boulez, Sibelius, and Alex Ross?
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: drogulus on December 02, 2008, 03:31:31 PM
I think the 5 pages allotted to John Adams in The Rest is Noise are fully warranted. Ross cannot predict which composers of today his readers 50 years from now are most likely to encounter, but he knows his readers today are going to be listening to Adams and wanting to find something about that composer in his book. Clearly personal preference also plays a role in his selection. Admirers of Golijov will have to settle for two paragraphs.

Ross' enthusiasm for 20th century music, as well as his knowledge, is evident on every page, and this makes the book a joy to read.

     Though I might have preferred a different selection of composers to devote long sections to, I found the book fascinating. I would have preferred a longer book, since I wouldn't really throw out any of his choices, I'd just add to them.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Bulldog on December 02, 2008, 03:42:55 PM
Is it OK to like Boulez, Sibelius, and Alex Ross?

NO!
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: karlhenning on December 03, 2008, 05:12:44 AM
(An added problem with Mark Simon and Karlhenning is they try - and fail - to hide their (understandable) complexes of inferiority, behind clownlike, unrealistic claims to domination, arguments of authority, and undue claims to maturity; but perhaps these are ridicules, rather than problems).

Maybe we all enjoy a superiority complex.  Just a thought.

Psst!  You'll be better off discussing music, rather than speculating about the problems of anyone who is not yourself.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Kullervo on December 03, 2008, 06:13:31 AM
Perhaps they would if it was clear what exactly you were talking about.  ::)
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Catison on December 03, 2008, 06:15:56 AM
As a public service:

mendacities

n., pl. -ties.

   1. The condition of being mendacious; untruthfulness.
   2. A lie; a falsehood.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: karlhenning on December 03, 2008, 06:27:37 AM
Site seems pretty active to me.

Or is that a mendacity?

What did Schonberg say about Sibelius, again?  8)
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: greg on December 03, 2008, 02:24:23 PM
No wonder there is so little activity on this site - music lovers would rather stay at home & listen to the music than put up with the mendacities, the false claims, the stupidities, the lies, the insults, and the defamations, of a failed composer.

Perhaps site owners should ponder this...
lol, wtf is up with you?
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: drogulus on December 03, 2008, 02:46:47 PM
No wonder there is so little activity on this site - music lovers would rather stay at home & listen to the music than put up with the mendacities, the false claims, the stupidities, the lies, the insults, and the defamations, of a failed composer.

Perhaps site owners should ponder this...

     Adorno? I was trying to think of an example and he just naturally sprang to mind.  :)

     Somehow I don't think the problem with musical tastes that differ from your own has much to do with lying or defamation. Do you have examples?
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Brewski on December 04, 2008, 09:35:40 AM
Gentlemen, please return to topic, i.e., comments on Sibelius (and/or Schonberg).  If further personal sniping is desired (or goodwill wishes  ;D), please do it via P.M.  Thank you... $:)

--Bruce
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: karlhenning on December 04, 2008, 10:21:25 AM
     Somehow I don't think the problem with musical tastes that differ from your own has much to do with lying or defamation. Do you have examples?

OTOH, Leibowitz's dismissal of Sibelius as "the world's worst composer" clearly is defamation.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: mn dave on December 04, 2008, 10:40:28 AM
Dittersdorf

Or so I hear...
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Kullervo on December 04, 2008, 10:41:54 AM
Dittersdorf

Or so I hear...

Exactly — you just have to hear Dittersdorf.  >:D
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Bulldog on December 04, 2008, 11:10:53 AM
Nah, it's misjudgment. Sibelius clearly is the world's second worst composer, Shostakovich is the worst  ;D

You're repeating yourself - read the transcript.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: The new erato on December 04, 2008, 11:22:16 AM
There's something very like the young Boulez about Two Tone. With age Boulez has become wiser.....
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Kullervo on December 04, 2008, 11:32:46 AM
At least the quality of his music allowed others to pardon somewhat his priggishness. We don't all have such a saving grace.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Mark G. Simon on December 04, 2008, 01:06:53 PM
Gentlemen, please return to topic, i.e., comments on Sibelius (and/or Schoenberg).  If further personal sniping is desired (or goodwill wishes  ;D), please do it via P.M.  Thank you... $:)

--Bruce

It's Harold Schonberg who is the co-subject of this thread, not Arnold. Around 1911 Sibelius was asked which contemporary composers interested him most, and he named Arnold Schoenberg. I think it was the Kammersymphonie op. 9 that caught his ear.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Brewski on December 04, 2008, 01:08:53 PM
It's Harold Schonberg who is the co-subject of this thread, not Arnold. Around 1911 Sibelius was asked which contemporary composers interested him most, and he named Arnold Schoenberg. I think it was the Kammersymphonie op. 9 that caught his ear.

Dang, I'm gonna book me a flight to Australia.  :-[  Thanks, Mark...

--Bruce
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Kuhlau on December 04, 2008, 03:01:37 PM
Having just read The Lives of the Great Composers by Harold Schonberg, and of his indifference to Sibelius (summarizing somewhat begrudgingly that he should occupy a place amongst the minor composers), there is a reference that I am not qualified to answer. He states that although there is a large fondness of his music particularly amongst the English and American public, he knew of no professional musicians who saw anything much in his work.

If I might be permitted to quote a member of CMG (who in turn quotes Schonberg):


Well, the not-always-scholarly Harold C. Schonberg, when doing his '97 revision of The Lives Of The Great Composers, saw fit to change little in his original '70 assessment of Sibelius' standing (ludicrous when considering how much Salonen, Ashkenazy & the Jarvis were performing him at the time):

Sibelius' reputation fast dissipated after his death in 1957. In 1965, the centenary of his birth arrived with all the force of a feather against an iron anvil. There were a few memorial concerts in the US, but the public did not seem to care much one way or the other, and most professional musicians could not have been less interested.

In the US the decline of Sibelius started in 1940. Just as [Owen] Downes had been instrumental in setting Sibelius on his pedestal, so another critic was in tearing him off. Virgil Thomson ... heard the Sibelius Second and found it "vulgar, self-indulgent and provincial beyond all description." In a typical Thomsonian burst he realized that there were sincere Sibelius lovers in the world, "although I must say I've never met one among educated professional musicians."

Thomson was only echoing what many musicians were thinking. To them, Sibelius was little better than an anachronistic relic of post-romanticism. In a way that is curious, for starting with the Fourth Symphony in 1911 Sibelius brought something to music that was new, provocative, and anti-romantic. Breaking away from the long developments of the Mahler and Bruckner symphonic style, Sibelius worked with short motifs and a terse kind of development. It has been described as a mosaic style, and it succeeds in avoiding the romantic rhetoric.

Yet many professionals after WWII found Sibelius a dated bore. Schoenberg and Webern were the heroes; serialism had triumphed (if Mahler was suddenly popular, it was because the serialists had decided that in Mahler lay the seeds of the serial movement). There may have been still another reason Sibelius was scorned. Professionals look for consistency in a composer. They distrust a creator who constantly turns out music not on a high level, and regard as freaks those few works that cause a ripple. How could the composer of Valse Triste and the Romance in D-flat be taken seriously?

A large quantity of Sibelius' work consists of ephemera. He composed a only a handful of works with any chance of survival. If a new age produces a resurgent romanticism, Sibelius could come back with it, talking with an individual voice when at his best, and he deserves an honorable place among the minor composers.


Purest hokum, those last few statements, in view of the Completist CD-Collector Movement.



Those interested in this thread might also want to delve into the one on CMG from which I took the above: Sibelius - Why so despised? (http://www.classicalmusicguide.com/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=25476&p=252907#p252907) (That is, if such hasn't already been suggested - I'll admit to not having read all 11 pages here. :()

FK
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: drogulus on December 04, 2008, 04:01:49 PM


     


Yet many professionals after WWII found Sibelius a dated bore. Schoenberg and Webern were the heroes; serialism had triumphed (if Mahler was suddenly popular, it was because the serialists had decided that in Mahler lay the seeds of the serial movement). There may have been still another reason Sibelius was scorned. Professionals look for consistency in a composer. They distrust a creator who constantly turns out music not on a high level, and regard as freaks those few works that cause a ripple. How could the composer of Valse Triste and the Romance in D-flat be taken seriously?


     I don't know about professionals, but music lovers in the '40s considered Sibelius to be the greatest living composer. Colliers magazine, now long gone, did a survey of its readers and this was the answer they gave. Is this judgment that far off base? I don't think so. Sibelius was more popular than any living composer today. And outside the tiny avant garde cult I'm sure Sibelius would count as among the most influential with his peers. A small group of critics (shall we call them "fellow travelers"?) made a fuss about what counted as permissible styles in music, acting as cheerleaders for the ultras, and these persons exhibited most of the worst behavior. Schoenberg, in contrast, would not hear anything against Shostakovich, saying he was born to compose, and Berg said to Gershwin when he was reluctant to play his music in front of the great man "Mr. Gershwin, music is music".

     
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Brian on December 04, 2008, 06:46:23 PM
Making authority of the readers of Collier's magazine is hardly serious: Collier's in the forties was a mass-circulation magazine that sold itself to ill-educated people by serializing the popular fictions of the likes of Zane Grey and the Fu Manchu series. Fu Manchu!!!! What a joke. And Sibelius, influential?  Among his peers?!!!  What peers is that? Debussy? Scriabin? Stravinsky? Bartok? Messiaen? Lutoslawski? Dutilleux? But none of them were influenced by Sibelius. True enough, Sibelius is not their peer: we are in agreement on that point. LOL. Well then, what peers? Eric Tanguy? Tanguy certainly has studied Sibelius carefully; the poor fool thinks that's something to boast about!!  But Tanguy is so insignificant, even the most rabid of Boulez-haters won't dare promote him. LOL.
LOL's on you. The point of the reader survey is not that Sibelius is the best, but that he was the most well-liked. In other words, Collier's found that people just liked Sibelius better than Bartok, Messiaen, Berg, etc. And it's not hard to see why.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on December 04, 2008, 06:55:20 PM
LOL's on you. The point of the reader survey is not that Sibelius is the best, but that he was the most well-liked. In other words, Collier's found that people just liked Sibelius better than Bartok, Messiaen, Berg, etc. And it's not hard to see why.

LOL is right. Two-Toes totally misread Drog's post. Then brags about it.



Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Mark G. Simon on December 04, 2008, 06:56:49 PM
I must say I've never heard of this Tanguy. I wonder, if he's so insignificant, why he represents such a threat to Two-Tone. Surely Tanguy could be counted on to disappear on his own if his music is so trivial. But since Two-Tone seems terribly threatened by it, I think I'm going to have to look up this Tanguy and give him a listen. Thanks for the tip.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Dundonnell on December 04, 2008, 07:03:13 PM
I must say I've never heard of this Tanguy. I wonder, if he's so insignificant, why he represents such a threat to Two-Tone. Surely Tanguy could be counted on to disappear on his own if his music is so trivial. But since Two-Tone seems terribly threatened by it, I think I'm going to have to look up this Tanguy and give him a listen. Thanks for the tip.

I too had never heard of Tanguy!

http://www.musicweb-international.com/classRev/2008/Jan08/Tanguy_v5078.htm

Now that I have read a little about him I must investigate further. Sounds good! ;D
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Brian on December 04, 2008, 07:05:40 PM
The disc Dundonnell links to (two Tanguy cello concerti) is currently on sale for $12 from ArkivMusic. Interesting that one of the works was commissioned by Rostropovich after he heard Tanguy's music in concert...  :P

I might check the album out of my campus library, if they have it.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Brian on December 04, 2008, 07:10:56 PM
As a matter of fact the LOL's on you, as you have not read drogulus' post before getting involved in this bicker. Drogulus in that post claimed the public during the 1940's "claimed Sibelius to be the greatest living composer," and then used the Collier's survey to make his point. You should read posts before making a fuss over petty details. But that's besides the point. The point is, Collier's was not a journal for literate people; it was a popular magazine, aimed at people who thought the stories of Zane Grey and Sax Rohmer is literature. And to make authority of the musical sentiments of such a public, is no more serious than to make authority of the opinion of Shakespeare, held by fans of Rosanne Barr.
How likely do you think it is that the common, everyday "idiot on the streets" would know Jean Sibelius well enough to write his name in a survey for best composer? Drog's claim is "music lovers in the '40s considered Sibelius to be the greatest living composer," and even if Colliers were the equivalent of Readers Digest, his point would still be a legitimate one. Roseanne fans wouldn't even be able to answer the question, let alone come up with an answer that's viable in field of intellectual battle.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on December 04, 2008, 07:24:49 PM
As a matter of fact the LOL's on you, as you have not read drogulus' post before getting involved in this bicker.

Hey, I read Drog's post. Let me show you the obvious that you somehow missed (*psst*, it's the first five words):


I don't know about professionals...


Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Kullervo on December 04, 2008, 07:51:55 PM
Well then, what peers?

Vagn Holmboe, Per Nørgård, Magnus Lindberg, the entire French Spectralisme school (which essentially sprung from Boulez's IRCAM), basically the entire British scene between the two World Wars — not to mention that there was no serious musical tradition in Finland before him.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Bulldog on December 04, 2008, 08:17:29 PM
Mark Simon should indeed check out Eric Tanguy. That third fiddle's music is indeed taylor made for one - Mark Simon that is - whose balls shrivel to less than peas, when confronted with the word: "Boo" (-lez). LOL.

Have you been spying on Mark?
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Brian on December 04, 2008, 08:54:20 PM
When it fits in the keyhole it isn't worth spying upon   8)
I feel like I'm trapped in the one-liner thread.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: karlhenning on December 04, 2008, 09:06:11 PM
I feel like I'm trapped in the one-liner thread.

Heck, I thought tanguy was the plural of tango.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Kullervo on December 04, 2008, 09:12:04 PM
A different Tanguy (as revealed by a Google search):

(http://www.doddsnet.com/Tanguy/tanguy.jpg)

Would you believe he was a Surrealist?  ;D
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Mark G. Simon on December 04, 2008, 09:57:55 PM
Uh oh. Two-toes is interested in my privates. I'm calling the cops.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Dundonnell on December 05, 2008, 04:41:06 AM
Vagn Holmboe, Per Nørgård, Magnus Lindberg, the entire French Spectralisme school (which essentially sprung from Boulez's IRCAM), basically the entire British scene between the two World Wars — not to mention that there was no serious musical tradition in Finland before him.

Who?? ;D ;D

You are, of course, absolutely correct :) Indeed one could argue that there is hardly a single Scandinavian composer who has not been to some extent influenced by the music of Sibelius :)
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: karlhenning on December 05, 2008, 05:03:46 AM
His shadow looms large.

Must be the low-lying sun in the Finnish winter  ;)
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Dundonnell on December 05, 2008, 05:11:01 AM
We can always rely on Karl for some profoundly insightful comment ;D

Indeed, the long shadow of Ainola :)

As I have said(boasted) before, I bet I am the only member here whose father nearly met Sibelius once. He had an invitation from the future Finnish President, Marshal Mannerheim, in 1937 to visit Sibelius at his country retreat but for some reason(?) the meeting fell through ??? :(
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: mn dave on December 05, 2008, 06:34:31 AM
As I have said(boasted) before, I bet I am the only member here whose father nearly met Sibelius once. He had an invitation from the future Finnish President, Marshal Mannerheim, in 1937 to visit Sibelius at his country retreat but for some reason(?) the meeting fell through ??? :(

How did he get that invite? I mean, who is your father?
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Brian on December 05, 2008, 09:41:48 AM
Who?? ;D ;D

You are, of course, absolutely correct :) Indeed one could argue that there is hardly a single Scandinavian composer who has not been to some extent influenced by the music of Sibelius :)
Berwald  ;)
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: karlhenning on December 05, 2008, 09:42:49 AM
Nicely played, Brian!
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: greg on December 05, 2008, 12:50:19 PM
I must say I've never heard of this Tanguy. I wonder, if he's so insignificant, why he represents such a threat to Two-Tone. Surely Tanguy could be counted on to disappear on his own if his music is so trivial. But since Two-Tone seems terribly threatened by it, I think I'm going to have to look up this Tanguy and give him a listen. Thanks for the tip.
Just go to the beach and you'll find him composing...
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: drogulus on December 05, 2008, 01:18:24 PM
      For opinions on music you go to music lovers. I only care about what professionals think if they too are engaged with listeners. I'm don't read novels for novelists, or care for any art produced only for the delectation of specialists. And, more to the point, there's no reason to believe that the art produced by a small group of initiates for "members only" has any lasting value, while the evidence for the value of art meant to be appreciated outside the realm of experts is overwhelming. It includes Shakespeare, Dickens, Tolstoy, Beethoven, Mozart, Stravinsky, and Sibelius. Dickens, remember, was serialized in the newspapers.

      I see no reason to believe that deliberately restricting the appeal of a work to the smallest possible circle of appreciators has played any role in the history of great art. Art does not become great that way. The ultras have, in my opinion, made a simple but very serious error in thinking they can bypass the only jury that matters by appealing to some abstract idea of art too perfect to be appreciated by mere mortals.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: karlhenning on December 05, 2008, 01:25:13 PM
      I see no reason to believe that deliberately restricting the appeal of a work to the smallest possible circle of appreciators has played any role in the history of great art.

What a blow to the makers of Death Metal . . . .
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Kuhlau on December 05, 2008, 01:44:25 PM

      For opinions on music you go to music lovers. I only care about what professionals think if they too are engaged with listeners. I'm don't read novels for novelists, or care for any art produced only for the delectation of specialists. And, more to the point, there's no reason to believe that the art produced by a small group of initiates for "members only" has any lasting value, while the evidence for the value of art meant to be appreciated outside the realm of experts is overwhelming. It includes Shakespeare, Dickens, Tolstoy, Beethoven, Mozart, Stravinsky, and Sibelius. Dickens, remember, was serialized in the newspapers.

      I see no reason to believe that deliberately restricting the appeal of a work to the smallest possible circle of appreciators has played any role in the history of great art. Art does not become great that way. The ultras have, in my opinion, made a simple but very serious error in thinking they can bypass the only jury that matters by appealing to some abstract idea of art too perfect to be appreciated by mere mortals.

I've said this many times in the past: We need a damned applause smiley in this place. >:( ;D

Very well put, sir. You speak for me, also.

What a blow to the makers of Death Metal . . . .

This, too, is great art - the great art of the one-liner, that is. ;)

FK
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: drogulus on December 05, 2008, 02:03:27 PM
What a blow to the makers of Death Metal . . . .

     Karl, you've hit on something. It doesn't matter whether it's adolescent frustrations or Romantic rebellion or some other process of alienation. Any reason for turning you back on the unworthy audience can have the same result, though I think actively propagating the idea that the audience doesn't matter is a particularly good strategy. That's the "high road". :D Or you can just make loud noises to piss people off and let others make up the reasons.  :)
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: some guy on December 05, 2008, 02:30:47 PM
      For opinions on music you go to music lovers. I only care about what professionals think unless they too are engaged with listeners.

You do not, just for balance's sake, speak for me, however. Professionals in music are music lovers as well. They are listeners themselves, not just "engaged with" them. They are listeners who are engaged with music beyond what one would expect from most concert goers. (Would you go only to patients for opinions on drugs, or would you perhaps also consider the expertise of physicians and pharmacists?)

I'm don't read novels for novelists, or care for any art produced only for the delectation of specialists. And, more to the point, there's no reason to believe that the art produced by a small group of initiates for "members only" has any lasting value, while the evidence for the value of art meant to be appreciated outside the realm of experts is overwhelming. It includes Shakespeare, Dickens, Tolstoy, Beethoven, Mozart, Stravinsky, and Sibelius. Dickens, remember, was serialized in the newspapers.

I see no reason to believe that deliberately restricting the appeal of a work to the smallest possible circle of appreciators has played any role in the history of great art. Art does not become great that way. The ultras have, in my opinion, made a simple but very serious error in thinking they can bypass the only jury that matters by appealing to some abstract idea of art too perfect to be appreciated by mere mortals.

As for the rest of this screed, it relies on a common distortion of the picture, so common that the picture itself, when presented straight, seems itself to be a distortion. Who, one must ask, deliberately restricts the appeal of their work to the smallest possible circle of appreciators? It is true that "it's not appreciated by the masses [whoever the hell they are] therefore it's good" is fallacious. But it's equally true that "works that 'mere mortals' cannot understand are therefore lousy" is equally false. How can you tell if a work that appeals (at first) to only a small circle of appreciators was only made deliberately for them? And why, even if that were true, do you think it's okay to marginalize the experience of that circle, simply because it's small?

Composers are interested in being heard. All of them, I would venture to guess (even though I only know a handful of them personally). But their job is not to guess whether this or that will please everyone, right away. They are interested, first and foremost, with their craft. Which notes go where and played by whom. Which noises to come out of the front speakers and which out of the side and rear ones and when to have them swirl around the circle. Whether to write out every last detail or whether to leave things open to chance. Things like that. That's not to say that they're ignoring "the audience." It's just to say that pleasing an audience, of whatever size, is a side-effect of doing the work itself.

Loud noises, just by the way, do not piss everyone off!
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Mark G. Simon on December 05, 2008, 03:23:48 PM
      For opinions on music you go to music lovers. I only care about what professionals think unless they too are engaged with listeners. I'm don't read novels for novelists, or care for any art produced only for the delectation of specialists. And, more to the point, there's no reason to believe that the art produced by a small group of initiates for "members only" has any lasting value, while the evidence for the value of art meant to be appreciated outside the realm of experts is overwhelming. It includes Shakespeare, Dickens, Tolstoy, Beethoven, Mozart, Stravinsky, and Sibelius. Dickens, remember, was serialized in the newspapers.

      I see no reason to believe that deliberately restricting the appeal of a work to the smallest possible circle of appreciators has played any role in the history of great art. Art does not become great that way. The ultras have, in my opinion, made a simple but very serious error in thinking they can bypass the only jury that matters by appealing to some abstract idea of art too perfect to be appreciated by mere mortals.

Very well put, drogs. I agree.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Dundonnell on December 05, 2008, 03:31:29 PM
Berwald  ;)

I did say "hardly a single". That was meant to exclude those who were born before Sibelius (and died when Sibelius was aged 3!) ;D ;D
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Dundonnell on December 05, 2008, 03:42:52 PM
How did he get that invite? I mean, who is your father?

My father decided to go on holiday to Finland in May 1937. He travelled by sea and also travelling on the same ship was the Finnish general Field Marshal Mannerheim who had been attending the coronation of King George VI in London as the representative of the Finnish Government.

Mannerheim and my father got talking about their common love of classical music(I seem to remember that Mannerheim really admired Mozart). Mannerheim knew Sibelius well and offered to arrange for my father to be taken from Helsinki to Sibelius's country retreat to meet the composer. Why the visit fell through I cannot remember! My father is now long dead...so I can't ask him and I shall never know the answer, I am afraid.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: drogulus on December 05, 2008, 03:43:49 PM

Professionals in music are music lovers as well. They are listeners themselves, not just "engaged with" them. They are listeners who are engaged with music beyond what one would expect from most concert goers.

     They have a vote. I don't know why people can't be argued into liking music the way you try to do here. Maybe the music sends the only message that matters, so the ideologues are missing the point. Their reasons don't matter.

    

(Would you go only to patients for opinions on drugs, or would you perhaps also consider the expertise of physicians and pharmacists?)


     Loving music requires no expertise, and the doctors you want me to consult don't want to cure their patients, they want to replace them. Real patients aren't good enough for them.

      
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: drogulus on December 05, 2008, 04:03:48 PM


Composers are interested in being heard. All of them, I would venture to guess (even though I only know a handful of them personally). But their job is not to guess whether this or that will please everyone, right away. They are interested, first and foremost, with their craft. Which notes go where and played by whom. Which noises to come out of the front speakers and which out of the side and rear ones and when to have them swirl around the circle. Whether to write out every last detail or whether to leave things open to chance. Things like that. That's not to say that they're ignoring "the audience." It's just to say that pleasing an audience, of whatever size, is a side-effect of doing the work itself.

     Composers may have beliefs that conflict with their desire to be heard. One of these is that there's something called the "work" which requires that the audience be considered as secondary, if not a positive nuisance. After all, there's important work to be done!

     What is this work, when it's divorced from music lovers? How does this compartmentalization produce works of art that last for centuries? Has it done so? So far it hasn't. Our artistic experience is with artists going the direct route of making works to be appreciated by those who care. The audience may be large or small, but it is never a side effect. Reaching them is the work.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: mn dave on December 05, 2008, 04:29:44 PM
My father decided to go on holiday to Finland in May 1937. He travelled by sea and also travelling on the same ship was the Finnish general Field Marshal Mannerheim who had been attending the coronation of King George VI in London as the representative of the Finnish Government.

Mannerheim and my father got talking about their common love of classical music(I seem to remember that Mannerheim really admired Mozart). Mannerheim knew Sibelius well and offered to arrange for my father to be taken from Helsinki to Sibelius's country retreat to meet the composer. Why the visit fell through I cannot remember! My father is now long dead...so I can't ask him and I shall never know the answer, I am afraid.

Thank you for sharing that story.
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: Dundonnell on December 05, 2008, 05:03:44 PM
Thank you for sharing that story.

It would have been a better story if he HAD actually met Sibelius though ;D
Title: Re: Schonberg on Sibelius
Post by: some guy on December 05, 2008, 07:12:53 PM
I don't know why people can't be argued into liking music the way you try to do here. Maybe the music sends the only message that matters, so the ideologues are missing the point. Their reasons don't matter.
I don't see where in my post you got the idea that I was trying to argue people into liking music. That would indeed be bootless (though I have made a few attempts now and again ;D). As for music sending the only message that matters, we are in almost total agreement. But we are hampered here, as discussants, by the fact that no names have been named of those you disapprove of. Who are the composers who write only for the delectation of specialists? Who belongs to the small group of initiates? And who are the ideologues who are missing the point?

In the meantime, I'll offer, as a music lover (and therefore someone you'd go to for an opinion) a few composers whose music has been thoroughly enjoyable and thoroughly enjoyed over the years, by music lovers who are professionals and by those who are not, alike. (I chose people who have been accused of deliberately restricting the appeal of their works to the smallest circle of appreciators, by the way, of writing music that not only could not be understood but that would never be understood.)

Beethoven
Berlioz
Schumann
Brahms
Tchaikovsky
Wagner
Debussy
Sibelius
Schoenberg
Varèse
Cage
Boulez
Stockhausen
Lachenmann