Search This Blog

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Ten Composers Whose Music You Should Know

This is the second entry in my series of "tens." Below are ten composers who don't fall into the "standard repertoire" category that you might just find pretty interesting. Happy listening!

Kurt Atterberg (1887-1974)

Outstanding Swedish composer of symphonies, concertos and chamber music. His violin concerto is the finest 20th century work in this genre since Samuel Barber's. His symphonies are sweeping, heart stopping and sensuous.

Paul Moravec (b. 1957)

A superb craftsman and highly original voice. His Time Gallery is one of the best large chamber works that I have ever heard. Fascinating sound world, well worth your investigation.

Alvin Curran (b. 1938)

The first time I heard Alvin Curran's Songs and Views from the Magnetic Garden, I nearly came unglued. His music is like a collage. He captures sounds from anything that moves and turns them into beautiful music.

Antoine Busnoys (c. 1430-1492)

Master of the Burgundian composition school, he was the leading figure of his day after Guillaume Dufay. Haunting textures coupled with some of the most complex rhythmic writing before the 20th century make his music utterly unforgettable.

Erich Wolfgang Korngold (1897-1957)

Prolific and prodigiously talented composer who upon fleeing the Nazis, landed in Hollywood to become one of the first superstar film composers. Most modern orchestral soundtracks owe a heavy debt to Korngold's pioneering work.

Benjamin Britten (1913-1976)

Stravinsky be damned, Britten was the greatest composer of the twentieth century. No other composer was so adept in so many fields, nor was there any twentieth century musician so able to speak originally in traditional forms.

Charles Hubert Hastings Parry (1848-1918)

Traditional composer in the mold of Elgar and Stanford, he is best known for his coronation anthem I was Glad, and for his setting of Blake's Jerusalem. He was also a very fine symphonist.

Peter Schickele (b. 1935)

In spite of his alter ego, P.D. Q. Bach, Peter Schickele is one of America's finest original composers. His is a unique voice, and his subtle twists on traditional harmonic practices are delicious.

Louise Farrenc (1804-1875)

Composer of immense talent, sadly overshadowed by her male contemporaries. A fine pianist and teacher, she would forever live in the shadow of Gabriel Faure. She composed a couple of outstanding symphonies and some chamber music that hearkened all the way back to Mozart.

Herbert Howells (1892-1983)

A master of music for voices, Howells' music is ethereal and surprising. Completely original, you will never hear anything else like it. Even imitators have not quite managed to get it right. Pay special attention to his music for the Anglican Church.

1 comment:

Hildigunnur said...

Moravec and Korngold I know, Britten has been a favourite for ages, of course, Parry I've sung and Howells as well. I don't know any of Schickele's work bar PDQ, but even that's really good music.

Love to hear the others, why don't you upgrade Helios with some of their music? ;-)