Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Ten Modern Composers worth Giving a Chance

Luciano Berio
Kristof Penderevsky
Steve Reich
Frederic Rzewski (especially when played by Stephen Drury)
Karlheinz Stockhausen
Charles Ives
Anton Webern
Jennifer Higdon
Lukas Foss
Ludwig von Beethoven (Check out the late quartets and piano sonatas)

If more people listen to this stuff, it would show up in the concert hall more often. To me, listening to a relatively new piece is much more exciting than hearing a run-through of Mozart (and I love Mozart). And if you ever get a chance to hear Steve Drury in recital, do it--he plays this stuff as well as anyone, and as a bone to the audience, will throw in something less etherial like the Liszt Sonata from time-to-time.



Anonymous said...

Good grief. Stockhausen? If you want to funk it up a little, head for Jazz. Stockhausen? It's worse than needles in your eye. Of course, this is coming from someone who likes melodies! Ok, will give him a listen again, as well as the others to see what you're talking about. If it turns out that these are composers that only economists could love -- we might want to limit their exposure to academic conferences.

AEB2035 said...

Dear Anon, have you ever actually listened to any Stockhausen right the way through? Forgive me but a lot of people who think his music is painful haven't actually heard it. I was the same as you until I attended an 'Evening of Electronic Music' presented by him in London. With just a few words he helped me (and I believe everyone present) to get a way through to the music from another angle so to say. That way of listening to his and other 'modern' music has stood me in good stead ever since.

If you disagree I can suggest some conventionally 'beautiful' works by Stockhausen. Apart from the obvious 'Stimmung', you should try 'Engelprozession' from 'Licht' or one of his last works, 'Freude' for 2 harps. Try track 9 first if you have limited patience.

Chris Cory said...

Bravo to the general idea and especially Lukas Foss. This summer my wife and I were part of a growing revival of the secular cantata that made him famous at the age of 21, "The Prairie," based on a moving and gritty poem by Carl Sandberg (which simultaneously appeared in a new edition of his selected poems in the Library of America). We both sang in the chorus; my wife raised most of the money to finance the performances, which were a tribute to Foss on his 85th birthday.

The work had not been heard in the NYC area for 30 years and a recording, conducted by Foss, is out of print (though occasionally findable on Ebay). Mark Mangini, the conductor of the Greenwich Village Singers and the Choral Society of the Hamptons, merged the two choruses and engaged soloists and the Brooklyn Philharmonic, Foss's former orchestra, in well-reviewed performances at Lincoln Center and in Bridgehampton, NY. (See http://theprairieproject.org/) Last spring The Providence Singers also performed the work, and their recording should be out in a few months.
Listeners should look for this; orchestras and choruses should consider doing it themselves!

Chris Cory

Anonymous said...


Thank you for your suggestions. Will definitely give it a listen once I figure out if we're heading into a regional, global, or just national, recession or depression.

delphis said...

there was a great program on npr a few years ago called american mavericks


some really great modern composers there

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