Discussion:
A Consensus Question
(too old to reply)
JohnGavin
2018-07-31 12:40:55 UTC
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If you’re so inclined, give an opinion on the following:

Lesser known works of music generally deserve their obscurity.

Decades ago I would have strongly challenged this theory (which I heard from a highly accomplished virtuoso). Now I’ve moved closer to it - somewhat. Since many here listen to a wide range of music, your opinions will be interesting.
drh8h
2018-07-31 12:47:50 UTC
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Post by JohnGavin
Lesser known works of music generally deserve their obscurity.
Decades ago I would have strongly challenged this theory (which I heard from a highly accomplished virtuoso). Now I’ve moved closer to it - somewhat. Since many here listen to a wide range of music, your opinions will be interesting.
A tough but good question. I don't consider myself qualified to answer, but I will make one observation: in my lifetime, I cannot recall any previously "unknown piece" by an acknowledged major composer being found that was really of much interest except to scholars and completists. Could there be a completely "unknown" genius out there whose work has never been discovered? Maybe. There might be intelligent life circling a nearby star. But not much chance, and we probably won't ever know it.

So, I am with you on this.

DH
Bozo
2018-07-31 14:44:03 UTC
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I likewise am not qualified to answer, but wonder to what extent past marquee appeal and the economics of the music business has dictated, and continues to insure, " obscure " works become even more obscure as time passes. Are the Liszt PC's heard ,whereas Stavenhagen's are not, for qualitative reasons or name recognition ? Are there qualitative reasons the Medtner pianos sonatas are not heard with the frequency of Rachmaninoff's and Prokofieff's ?

Recently listened first time at YT to Anton Rubinstein's 2nd Symphony, "The Oceans ", 73 minutes but seemed longer, for me more perspiration than inspiration , deserving of its obscurity , but the work has some adherents, its length one issue at least ? His Violin Concerto at YT, also my first hearing , for me as interesting as Bruch's "Scottish Fantasy " , Bruch benefitting from the popularity of his 1st VC and the Fantasy's briefness relative to the Rubinstein VC ?
drh8h
2018-07-31 17:09:38 UTC
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Post by Bozo
I likewise am not qualified to answer, but wonder to what extent past marquee appeal and the economics of the music business has dictated, and continues to insure, " obscure " works become even more obscure as time passes. Are the Liszt PC's heard ,whereas Stavenhagen's are not, for qualitative reasons or name recognition ? Are there qualitative reasons the Medtner pianos sonatas are not heard with the frequency of Rachmaninoff's and Prokofieff's ?
Recently listened first time at YT to Anton Rubinstein's 2nd Symphony, "The Oceans ", 73 minutes but seemed longer, for me more perspiration than inspiration , deserving of its obscurity , but the work has some adherents, its length one issue at least ? His Violin Concerto at YT, also my first hearing , for me as interesting as Bruch's "Scottish Fantasy " , Bruch benefitting from the popularity of his 1st VC and the Fantasy's briefness relative to the Rubinstein VC ?
I had no idea the Rubinstein symphony was so long. No wonder Bernard Shaw detested it.
Bozo
2018-07-31 19:50:16 UTC
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Post by drh8h
I had no idea the Rubinstein symphony was so long. No wonder Bernard Shaw detested it.
The original 1850's was apparently 4 movs. ; Rubinstein added a total of 3 more movs. later , by 1880 ; the Naxos cd I heard at YT was the expanded version :

http://americansymphony.org/symphony-no-2-in-c-major-op-42-ocean/

Based on them longer version I heard , the shorter would probably seem about as long.I dont know which Shaw heard, probably the longer ?
drh8h
2018-07-31 21:04:00 UTC
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Post by Bozo
Post by drh8h
I had no idea the Rubinstein symphony was so long. No wonder Bernard Shaw detested it.
http://americansymphony.org/symphony-no-2-in-c-major-op-42-ocean/
Based on them longer version I heard , the shorter would probably seem about as long.I dont know which Shaw heard, probably the longer ?
After Shaw reached about the fifth year of his life as full-time critic, one notices the references to napping become frequent. I suspect he got some needed shut eye during this one, so he probably wasn't sure or cared which version he somewhat heard. We have to remember how long concerts were then.

DH
Herman
2018-07-31 18:25:08 UTC
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Post by Bozo
Are the Liszt PC's heard ,whereas Stavenhagen's are not, for qualitative reasons or name recognition ?
The Liszt piano concertos have by and large disappeared from concert programs, too, as far as I can tell.
JohnGavin
2018-07-31 19:56:11 UTC
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If televised live concerts on YouTube are an indicator, both Liszt PCs are doing just fine. Argerich, Trifanov, Wang, Zimerman and many others can be seen from 2000 - the present time.
drh8h
2018-07-31 21:21:03 UTC
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Post by Bozo
I likewise am not qualified to answer, but wonder to what extent past marquee appeal and the economics of the music business has dictated, and continues to insure, " obscure " works become even more obscure as time passes. Are the Liszt PC's heard ,whereas Stavenhagen's are not, for qualitative reasons or name recognition ? Are there qualitative reasons the Medtner pianos sonatas are not heard with the frequency of Rachmaninoff's and Prokofieff's ?
Recently listened first time at YT to Anton Rubinstein's 2nd Symphony, "The Oceans ", 73 minutes but seemed longer, for me more perspiration than inspiration , deserving of its obscurity , but the work has some adherents, its length one issue at least ? His Violin Concerto at YT, also my first hearing , for me as interesting as Bruch's "Scottish Fantasy " , Bruch benefitting from the popularity of his 1st VC and the Fantasy's briefness relative to the Rubinstein VC ?
I think the comparison of Rachmaninov (however one spells him) and Medtner might have a clue. I contend that even the greatest and most profound composers have a certain talent for creating "ear worms." One or two hearings of their best and their most popular works--not always the same of course, and something about them sticks to your ribs, to mix up metaphors. I don't care if it is the Monteverdi's Orfeo, B Minor Mass, WTC, "Haydn" Quartets, Op. 111, La Mer, "Classical" Symphony, Wozzeck, Rubinstein's Melody or Danse Macabre. And it keeps you coming back. That's where Rachmaninov and Medtner come in. I have heard the latter's music, mostly in his own recordings and while it has good qualities, nothing sticks to the mind. I suspect this is true whether you hear it one or fifteen times. I bet almost everyone had the opposite experience with the Rach 3. Something brought them back. And it keeps bringing us back. Whereas the others, however well made, just leave a vague feeling of something being missing.

DH
JohnGavin
2018-07-31 21:39:01 UTC
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. That's where Rachmaninov and Medtner come in. I have heard the latter's music, mostly in his own recordings and while it has good qualities, nothing sticks to the mind. I suspect this is true whether you hear it one or fifteen times. I bet almost everyone had the opposite experience with the Rach 3. Something brought them back. And it keeps bringing us back. Whereas the others, however well made, just leave a vague feeling of something being missing.

DH

My own experience is different. True, Medtner doesn’t have the immediate appeal of Rachmaninov’s music, Medtner’s music slowly grows on the listener with repeated hearings, at least for me. In fact, I must confess, I became a sort of Medtner fanatic about 20 years ago. I came to feel that he was as great a composer as Rachmaninov. I wasn’t surprised to read that Rachmaninov said that there were 2 musicians that he would travel anywhere to hear in concert - Chaliapin and Medtner.
drh8h
2018-07-31 21:52:50 UTC
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Post by drh8h
. That's where Rachmaninov and Medtner come in. I have heard the latter's music, mostly in his own recordings and while it has good qualities, nothing sticks to the mind. I suspect this is true whether you hear it one or fifteen times. I bet almost everyone had the opposite experience with the Rach 3. Something brought them back. And it keeps bringing us back. Whereas the others, however well made, just leave a vague feeling of something being missing.
DH
My own experience is different. True, Medtner doesn’t have the immediate appeal of Rachmaninov’s music, Medtner’s music slowly grows on the listener with repeated hearings, at least for me. In fact, I must confess, I became a sort of Medtner fanatic about 20 years ago. I came to feel that he was as great a composer as Rachmaninov. I wasn’t surprised to read that Rachmaninov said that there were 2 musicians that he would travel anywhere to hear in concert - Chaliapin and Medtner.
You may be right, but with all of the music in the world and the short time we are in it, music that grows on one will always be left to niche audiences who find something special in it. Casals claimed that very quality for Roentgen, Moor and Tovey. Sixty+ years later and despite his advocacy, when do you ever hear their music unless deliberately seeking out an obscure recording? Not a reflection of quality; there is so much competing for our time and attention.

DH
Andy Evans
2018-07-31 21:55:35 UTC
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This seems to me one of those fabricated statements which have so many exceptions and which are so subjective anyway that there doesn't seem much point in making the statement in the first place. A foot dangling exercise for wet evenings....
Frank Berger
2018-07-31 22:02:14 UTC
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Post by drh8h
. That's where Rachmaninov and Medtner come in. I have heard the latter's music, mostly in his own recordings and while it has good qualities, nothing sticks to the mind. I suspect this is true whether you hear it one or fifteen times. I bet almost everyone had the opposite experience with the Rach 3. Something brought them back. And it keeps bringing us back. Whereas the others, however well made, just leave a vague feeling of something being missing.
DH
My own experience is different. True, Medtner doesn’t have the immediate appeal of Rachmaninov’s music,
Simply not having the "immediate appeal" (tunes you can hum?) is
enough to relegate Medtner to have less popular appeal than Rachmaninov.
Popular appeal and innate quality are different things.


Medtner’s music slowly grows on the listener with repeated hearings,
at least for me. In fact, I must confess, I became a sort of Medtner
fanatic about 20 years ago. I came to feel that he was as great a
composer as Rachmaninov. I wasn’t surprised to read that Rachmaninov
said that there were 2 musicians that he would travel anywhere to hear
in concert - Chaliapin and Medtner.
drh8h
2018-07-31 22:13:05 UTC
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Post by Frank Berger
Post by drh8h
. That's where Rachmaninov and Medtner come in. I have heard the latter's music, mostly in his own recordings and while it has good qualities, nothing sticks to the mind. I suspect this is true whether you hear it one or fifteen times. I bet almost everyone had the opposite experience with the Rach 3. Something brought them back. And it keeps bringing us back. Whereas the others, however well made, just leave a vague feeling of something being missing.
DH
My own experience is different. True, Medtner doesn’t have the immediate appeal of Rachmaninov’s music,
Simply not having the "immediate appeal" (tunes you can hum?) is
enough to relegate Medtner to have less popular appeal than Rachmaninov.
Popular appeal and innate quality are different things.
Medtner’s music slowly grows on the listener with repeated hearings,
at least for me. In fact, I must confess, I became a sort of Medtner
fanatic about 20 years ago. I came to feel that he was as great a
composer as Rachmaninov. I wasn’t surprised to read that Rachmaninov
said that there were 2 musicians that he would travel anywhere to hear
in concert - Chaliapin and Medtner.
Some composers have it and some don't. Schoenberg survives because he had it long enough to write "Transfigured Night" and "Pelleas and Melisande." Stravinsky had it until he started wanting to be Schoenberg. Saint-Saens had it even though a good part of his music is tawdry, however well made. But Machaut, Dowland and Bach had it too. Sweet mystery of life!
Herman
2018-07-31 13:54:00 UTC
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Post by JohnGavin
Lesser known works of music generally deserve their obscurity.
Decades ago I would have strongly challenged this theory (which I heard from a highly accomplished virtuoso). Now I’ve moved closer to it - somewhat. Since many here listen to a wide range of music, your opinions will be interesting.
Lesser known by which audience?

well-known classical music would be Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn's Messiah, Mahler, Bach Passions and those keyboard pieces composed for Gould, Tchaikovsky and Dvorak and that's it.
JohnGavin
2018-07-31 14:12:10 UTC
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Lesser known by which audience?

well-known classical music would be Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn's Messiah, Mahler, Bach Passions and those keyboard pieces composed for Gould, Tchaikovsky and Dvorak and that's it.
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Thanks. I’ll have to check out Haydn’s Messiah - embarrassed
Herman
2018-07-31 14:14:46 UTC
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Post by Herman
Lesser known by which audience?
well-known classical music would be Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn's Messiah, Mahler, Bach Passions and those keyboard pieces composed for Gould, Tchaikovsky and Dvorak and that's it.
_————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-
Thanks. I’ll have to check out Haydn’s Messiah - embarrassed to admit I don’t know it.
Handel
Frank Berger
2018-07-31 14:22:15 UTC
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Post by JohnGavin
Lesser known works of music generally deserve their obscurity.
Decades ago I would have strongly challenged this theory (which I heard from a highly accomplished virtuoso). Now I’ve moved closer to it - somewhat. Since many here listen to a wide range of music, your opinions will be interesting.
The problem with the theory is the word "deserve." Does it imply the
existence of an inherent quality which is distinct from popularity? If
so, then it should not be surprising that some works which are
objectively good (as rated by experts) may not always be popular.
Ricardo Jimenez
2018-07-31 19:25:11 UTC
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On Tue, 31 Jul 2018 05:40:55 -0700 (PDT), JohnGavin
Post by JohnGavin
Lesser known works of music generally deserve their obscurity.
Decades ago I would have strongly challenged this theory (which I heard from a highly accomplished virtuoso). Now I’ve moved closer to it - somewhat. Since many here listen to a wide range of music, your opinions will be interesting.
The "generally" makes it hard to refute the theory. The two most
cited examples of composers whose music was obscure for a long time
after their deaths and then underwent a permanent revivial are Bach
and Mahler. Maybe the most interesting question is, who will be the
next such example?
weary flake
2018-07-31 21:34:55 UTC
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Post by JohnGavin
Lesser known works of music generally deserve their obscurity.
Decades ago I would have strongly challenged this theory (which I heard
from a highly accomplished virtuoso). Now I’ve moved closer to it -
somewhat. Since many here listen to a wide range of music, your
opinions will be interesting.
My suspicions have always been that music is dismissed for dumb reasons,
and we're supposed to accept the professor or critic's dismissal without
hearing it ourselves: this music is bad because it's in mono, or it's too
old, or it's too sentimental, or it's too dramatic, or it has too much
harmony, or other reputable critics said it's bad, or the composer is a
monarchist, or is ugly, the music is obsolete because it's not serial,
sold too few copies so must be suppressed, the composer's third cousin is
a composer residing in a country we're at war with, etc.
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