A List of Sexy Classical Music Composers
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You don't often hear of something as harmless as music having the ability to trigger riots but in Leo's day it did just that. Anything that disturbs the status quo in some way the reactionary forces will arrive to send you packing before you get a chance to finish. To Leo's credit, he soldiered on, and continued to make music to anger people as well as gain a following along the way. He was an individualist through and through. So much so that he distanced himself from the creed who fed off from the fruits he planted. The shift away from modernist to a reconciliation with the old dealt a heavy blow to his reputation though. All he wanted to do was showcase another dimension of his repertoire that isn't just all tricks and abstraction. The road he took was a more lyrical one without entirely abandoning his earlier experiments. The result was a body of work worthy of any great composer such as the Piano Quintet - a summation of his influences, which includes Schoenberg, and the skills he picked up along the way. It's one of humanity's great tragedies this chamber work is hardly acknowledged nor is it played in concerts, so not a lot of people have experienced its emotional power. But thanks to the Internet, he's getting wider exposure and hopefully over time his music will get the attention it thoroughly deserves.
I heard someone describe his music as akin to the rattling noise a sewing machine makes. What ever way you slice it, you can't deny that it's neat and tidy in construction. I believe to weave all those complex threads of melody together without letting them tangle into a heap of indecipherable mess takes a special brain. The Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue I believe is his magnum opus, a masterwork of Baroque counterpoint interplay. Arrau's technical nous infuses the piece with the mathematical precision it requires.
I see a lot of Bax's music appearing in movie scores, John Williams in particular. It's honestly not so hard to understand what's so endearing about him to them. The instruments in his orchestrations are so diverse there is a plethora of sound colours to be savoured within a vast dynamic range. Film studios came knocking on his door but his talents are just too big to be contained inside that little commercial bubble. He's a real composer's composer.
Listening to Szymanowski's music feels like being surrounded by the fields of nature and its pockets of activity. There's just something quite ethereal and magical about it. He can take something out of the ordinary and frame it as a grandiose event. Everything he perceives right down to its miniscule detail is a miracle.
This man needs no introduction. Where people can do things with their eyes closed, Beethoven can with his hearing gone. I often hear people proclaim the 9th Symphony as the zenith of all musical achievement, but I found the Pastorale Symphony to be the outstanding one. Herbert von Karajan's interpretation of the piece in his second cycle of Beethoven symphonies is my recommended recording. The first movement was condensed to leave it more succinct and he's nailed it in terms of tempo. The 14th String Quartet is not bad either.
There are so many sides to Mozart's music. For one they feel light as a feather, kind of like a New York cheesecake, fluffy and airy in texture but packs a wallop in flavour. Accompanying this floatiness and daintiness is also an undercurrent of foreboding, a deathly air of impending doom which can easily be sensed in his later works.
He once declared that "The music is not in the notes, but in the silence between." It seems strange to comprehend at first, but if one spends time listening to his pieces, you'll find he was a man of his word.
His name may not be familiar to many of you, but you'd have at least heard one piece from this Russian master. My bets would be the iconic Dance of the Knights theme for his Romeo and Juliet ballet. I tend towards the more muscular variety of music so Battle on the Ice was an easy choice for me instead.
You won't find anything sweet sounding in Hindemith's music. He finds a method of constantly blurring the lines between consonance and dissonance, thus reshaping the way we think about what is acceptable. The very essence of his pieces are a full frontal assault on the citadel of cliches. He was clearly a product of the modernist phenomenon who served up his own dose of reality on the establishment after music's honeymoon period with the Romantic era was over.
The greatest piano sonata of the 20th century does live up to its name a great deal. It's an experience of a lifetime which seems to suggest that man's nature resides in chaos. No matter how much order restores itself at one point, disorder will eventually displace it. That's how I feel about the piece anyhow heh.
The more I listen to Chopin, the more I find that a bulk of his pieces were intended for women. They can be so dainty, gentle and ornamental. If something reminds me of the beauty of a woman, chances are I'm going to like it. In fact the guy had quite the love life, and if his creations are a reflection of his self, then muses should receive as much credit for great works as the artists.
I heard this way before I saw Fifty Shades of Grey but if popular films are being used to promote lesser known music then more power to you. Can you find another woman's voice which contains so much beauty behind its sadness?
We are generally in awe of the complexity that modernist composers can dish out but how do we respond to someone in the same category who decides to move in a completely direction? Labels just don't explain men like Dane Rudhyar. Many have flirted with the mystical with mixed results, but with Rudhyar you really do get a sense of the hypnotic, mysterious and nocturnal that can go with the word.
Bach is always regarded as the flagship bearer of Baroque music, but I found his music to have transcended the style. It just felt universal and seems catered towards all sorts of sensibilities. When it's interpreted with more modern instruments, his music becomes transfigured, thus achieving its timeless status. The everyman composer I would say.
Zelenka on the other hand though is really of his time and requires a more trained ear. Nothing wrong with that, especially when a strong sense of history and curiosity of the past figures in my appreciation of certain kinds of music. He's the one composer who can make the oboe and bassoon really sing. I'm not so crazy about his Masses but I can listen to his chamber music, particularly his trio sonatas, for days on end.
The organ is the indispensable instrument of ecclesiastical liturgy and church music repertoire. What I like about pieces like this is that as hopeful and triumphant as it is in its religious context of depicting the battle between good and evil, you can also interpret it in a multitude of other ways. In secular ears, it sounds somewhat morbid. It has a relentless sinking feeling to it, like the whole sky is crashing down onto you. Now I know why religion is antithetic to the hardened atheist.
If it wasn't for Civilisation IV, then John Adams's music might've escaped me. So how can people say video games are a force of evil? Before Adams, I was never really keen on the minimalist movement. Much of it consists of a few bars being played and protracted to an interminable length. Alteration is far too subtle almost as if improvised along the way. At least with Adams' pieces, you get a sense of progression or purpose. They articulate the anxieties of the periods which they represent very well. He draws his inspiration from many early 20th century composers, but the end product still feels refreshing as if new.
In terms of Western Classical Music, I've heard the lot. Baroque, Romantic, Modernist, Contemporary you name it baby. Anyone can enjoy classical music and it's not something that should be confined to the rich. To think that there has only been one publication of the popular 1001 Before You Die series of books concerning Classical music recordings speaks of this generation's lack of appreciation. Maybe it's the stench of the bourgeois that puts them off, that I can understand but without it laying the foundations, many beloved pop tunes would cease to exist.
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