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CLASSICAL  March 2006

CLASSICAL March 2006

Subject:

Re: How Many Romantic Symphonic Composers Were There?

From:

Hector Aguilar <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Moderated Classical Music List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 9 Mar 2006 15:00:09 -0800

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (44 lines)

Thank you all for your responses, which in fact have humbled me.  Years
ago in school I remember having to formulate various questions for various
projects, and I'd usually begin with what I'd think was a pretty simple
and direct question.  However, because of my general lack of knowledge
on the subject, I'd find that my question was highly unqualified or too
broad, and then I'd have to go back and add more parameters in order to
focus my research to fit the scope of the project.  Now all these years
later, I again find myself being "taken to school.";-)

My initial question, which is the title of the post, sprang from an issue
of whether or not Mahler's 9th symphony was a far more complicated work
than Mahler's 1st (and therefore more difficult to conduct).  In asking
this question, however, I made many assumptions: I assumed that the
"Romantic Period" is a discrete period, when in fact I guess it isn't.
I suppose that if right now i wanted to start on a "pathetic" symphony
which stretched the boundaries of the sonata form, and then write a
second symphony which built on the accomplishments of my first, I could
qualify as a Romantic composer continuing in the spirit of Beethoven.
I guess.  Another assumption I made was that all the large-scale composers
who followed Beethoven were influenced enough by him to want to try to
emulate him.  While this assumption might have carried some weight in
Germany or the Austro-Hungarian Empire, I now see it couldn't have been
true everywhere.  For instance, Tchaikovsky supposedly didn't like
Beethoven's music.  Didn't like Brahms', either, who was probably a model
for my assumption.  And yet Tchaikovsky is largely regarded as a chief
exponent of Romanticism, and if you look at his symphonic works in
sequence, they do follow a trajectory of being more personal, complex,
and epic as the numbers get bigger.  Beyond him, then, there are all of
Tchaikovsky's compatriots, many of whom wrote music to fit their own
nationalistic tastes, and therefore probably were even less influenced
by the history of the west.  And then, this type of story probably repeats
itself in different countries, as they were each trying to establish
their own sense of nationalistic identity during the "Romantic Period."

In the final analysis, I thought I could prove that Mahler's 9th is more
complex than Mahler's 1st by listing innumerable composers who _didn't_
quite make nine symphonies-- as if to imply the complexity of such an
undertaking; and so I asked the question above.  If I were to ask the
question again I think I'd limit the question to German/Austrian composers
up to the time of Mahler, but even then I'm not sure I could use the
result to support my assertion.  In any case, your responses have opened
my mind, and I thank you.

hector aguilar

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