sbeckmesser wrote:There's a reason posterity has called all these composers geniuses.
Posterity considers Schumann a terrible orchestrator. I didn't make that one up. A "genius" would probably not have difficulties orchestrating bland works, and a "genius" wouldn't ruin his performing career by "exercising" his fingers with machines that destroyed them instead. I guess in your rose-colored world, every composer you've ever heard of is a genius. But if you really believe Schumann was a genius, you must have an IQ of about 2, because Schumann's couldn't have been much higher with the stupid stuff he did in his life.
OK, first, please don't take that kind of tone. I, who happen to know a great many composers who I think are not geniuses (starting with Mahler) at least will call Schumann a genius.
If we dismiss Schumann because of his silly mechanical contrivance, one could easily dismiss Van Gogh for cutting off his ear, or even Django Reinhardt for knocking over a candle in a highly flammable area.
I myself believe in the heaviness of Schumann's orchestration (note my comments on the French forum), although Gardiner seems to think that it's underrated. However, if we dismiss all composers who couldn't orchestrate (Fauré comes to mind) and then judge them solely on their orchestral works, we are using not much more than 2 IQ points; one does not judge a politician by his poetry, and similarly we do not judge a composer like Schumann whose piano works and lieder are the very best in their media based on his orchestral works—although I admit that I have a weakness for Genoveva
madcapellan wrote:And I notice how you focused on Mahler, sidestepping the fact that both Schumann and Wolf never wrote a repertory-worthy piece. This is especially true of Wolf, of whom only a few songs are played with any regularity, and certainly nothing for orchestra.
c.f. above. Do you really only care about orchestral music?????? And Wolf, while perhaps a second-rate composer, has quite a few more than "a few" songs in the repertoire...attend Lieder recitals and you shall find...
madcapellan wrote:And it's also funny how you tossed out the word "derivative", failing to mention that Mahler borrowed from himself, not other people, which is what the word is usually reserved for. And you also fail to mention that this self-quotation was actually rather innovative for its time. You won't see the word "innovative" anywhere near Schumann or Wolf.
You started out good, but the second half is plain wrong. Self-quotation is a tradition dating back as far as musical history can remember (lest we forget the looseness of Rossini and Bach in this respect). And innovative is one of the words that will indeed be seen next to Schumann (read any good text on romantic music), and Wolf was at the forefront of the German avant-garde; his fusion of text and music, Mussorgsky-like, was something that he took further even than Wagner.
Again, you judge Schumann on his conservative orchestral works and show your narrow-mindedness.
madcapellan wrote:Audiences of classical music have notoriously been unable to follow composers into the 20th century, and thus works from the 19th century constantly dominate programs to this very day, while contemporary composers have extreme difficulties in getting their works performed (outside of the top few, of course, but even they write for chamber ensembles more often than not now). Audiences are not infallible, as you seem to suggest. Which is what I said before. A lot of people apparently only listening to classical music for something soothing and extremely undifficult. Something they can rely on that won't challenge them at all.
That is very true. What's worse is when a good conductor like Alan Gilbert patronizes his audiences when he plays the Webern Op. 21 (which is hardly a difficult piece anymore). Then again, Jascha Heifetz compared Bach to spinach (in a bad way) when "serving" it to soldiers...
madcapellan wrote:I understand why Brahms and Mahler are still famous. They were great composers, who for various reasons didn't often write great music (especially true of Brahms). But as far as I can tell, Schumann and Wolf are only still famous for their lieder, which aren't all that great either. Schumann is considered a terrible orchestrator, and Wolf as zero orchestral pieces played on any program ever. I do not know why either of these guys are still famous. They don't really deserve to be based on the low quality of their work, but I guess they fit into the style enough that no one notices.
Brahms is a genius (Listen to his Lieder especially
), but he is certainly not "innovative" and frankly Mahler isn't anywhere close in most cases—look at Skrjabin, Bartók, Stravinsky, Ives, Schoenberg, and others and he seems dead conservative (even Debussy looks more forward!). While Wolf was certainly a specialist in Songs, no pianist does not play Arabeske
; frankly one could deride Mahler as being known only for a couple of symphonies and song cycles which aren't that good either. He has zilch in the chamber music, piano, solo, dramatic, or choral repertoire. I do not know why he is still famous. He doesn't really deserve to be called a genius, based on the tastelesness of his work; but I guess that he is popular with audiences who like that which is soothing and extremely undifficult. Something they can rely on that won't challenge them at all.
madcapellan wrote:The Sibelius, Elgar, and Mahler symphonies you mentioned are not great works. Not a one of them. I have given them a chance time and time again (especially the Mahler), but they're just not as consistent or near as good as other symphonies out there (there's no comparison if you look at the top Beethoven, Shostakovich, and even the late Dvorak ones). Sibelius is too gimmicky (and too Brahmsian), Elgar is a stodgy Englishman, and Mahler got too big and out of control in the middle period. They all have their merits, but your all-knowing audience won't see any of these pieces on programs as much as the ones I mentioned (with Shostakovich making strides in recent years). You can make up reasons and justifications, but it won't change the truth.
Well, let's start with Sibelius 4....(gimmicky? Give me a break).
You cannot deride Schumann for being derivative; his innovations in lieder (piano prelude and postlude, form, harmonies, treatment of text), piano music (piano-cycles of character pieces, treatment of stylized dances), and harmony are so well-documented that you are frankly sounding a bit uneducated—IMSLP has all of the scores; try playing some of the piano music through sometime.
Wolf may be tasteless at his worst, and even at his best, but if we ignore Feurreiter
, then we find that his best songs are at least as good as any of Schubert's, and certainly better than Klagende Lied