Krishan P Oberoi to Tony Duggan:
>>In fact it would be hard to overestimate the contribution of British
>>composers to 20th century music. It far outweighs that of some countries
>>I could mention.
>I assume that the US is one of those "other countries", perhaps the
>principal unmentioned one? If so, that's an interesting topic for
>discussion. Other than Benjamin Britten, who is probably my personal
>favorite composer and arguably one of the greatest compositional geniuses
>of the 20th century... who else made significant contributions from that
>side of the pond? RVW was perhaps a pioneer in his use of folksongs, and I
>like much of his music, but find it often to be painfully repetitive (which
>is not to say that he couldn't have been influential; but I don't see it).
I tend to believe that the question of influence is irrelevant
aesthetically. A lot of incredibly minor artists have been very
influential - eg, John Lyly and Cardinal Bomba. The quality of the works
themselves is the most important thing. I happen to disagree with you
about Vaughan Williams and think him a major composer of any period and any
country. And he's one of the least repetitive composers I know. Britain
has a slew of marvelous composers in the century. I think we can start
with Elgar, again a colossus of European music. A partial listing of
incredible British composers (and a few very very good ones) includes:
Vaughan Williams, Holst, Moeran, Lambert, Brian, Walton, Tippett, Knussen,
Leigh, Alwyn, Rubbra, Simpson, Leighton, Lutyens, Runswick, Arnold, Finzi,
Howells, Grainger (Australian-English-American), Ireland, Jacob, Bernard
Stevens, Frankel, Searle, Bax, Berkeley, Maconchy, LeFanu, Davies, Bridge,
Warlock, Delius, and - oh, yes - Britten.
And, remember: Britain isn't a terrifically large country, and this doesn't
include all the expatriate composers who found refuge there, like Gerhard,
Reizenstein, Goldschmidt, Panufnik, and so on.
Actually, the countries that seem to have, in the 20th century, slid from
their position of unquestionable dominance are mainly Germany and Italy.
Czechoslovakia (or whatever it's called now) has always had a very healthy,
though concentrated, musical life, at least since the 18th century.
As far as influence goes in the first half of the 20th century, the main
figures are Debussy, Mahler, Schoenberg, Stravinsky, Webern, Hindemith, and
Bartok. It's a little difficult to figure out the second half, but I'd
propose Webern, Shostakovich, Boulez, Stockhausen, Ligeti, Reich, and
Crumb. Britten's influence seems confined to the British Isles, just as
Copland's influence was confined mainly to United Statespersons.