Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Seven Greatest Neglected Composers

  1. Joseph Haydn (1732 - 1809)
  2. Josquin des Prez (1450 - 1521)
  3. Jean Sibelius (1865 - 1957)
  4. Mieczyslaw Weinberg (1919 - 1996)
  5. François Couperin le Grand (1668 - 1733)
  6. Guillaume DuFay (1397 - 1474)
  7. Hector Berlioz (1803 - 1869)
These are composers who wrote wonderful, brilliant, expressive music, but who, for various reasons, tend to be neglected. For several of them, it is simply because they lived at a time remote from our own and their music is unfamiliar for that reason (Josquin des Prez). For others, they have been neglected for ideological reasons (Sibelius) or historic ones (Weinberg) or just because they were surrounded by even more famous composers (Haydn).

Here are some samples:


Bridge said...

Somewhat off-topic, but do you know Mauro Giuliani's guitar concerto in A, op.30? It's not exactly an amazing concerto but I can't get enough of the guitar writing in it. It must be a lot of fun to play.

Bryan Townsend said...

I certainly do, in fact, a copy of the score is sitting on my shelf. I learned most of the first movement once, but never got a chance to play with orchestra. It is hard to get any orchestra to program any concerto other than the Aranjuez!

Rickard Dahl said...

I think Henry Cowell is a good addition here. His music got neglected because he wasn't modernist enough (I guess). Also, why do you consider Hector Berlioz to be neglected? I guess that he is pretty much only known for his Symphonie Fantastique which could explain it. I'm not familiar with his other works.

Bryan Townsend said...

Henry Cowell might be a possible addition--I really don't know enough of his music. But I put people like Haydn, Couperin and Berlioz on the list because I think they are better than they are given credit for.

Bridge said...

Henry Cowell is not a very good composer in my opinion. I like exactly two of his works, The Banshee and Aeolian Harp for the piano but I only like them for the special effects. They are not exactly great compositions and none of his compositions that I've heard I could describe as great. I always cringe a little when people suggest conspiracies, as I find life makes a lot sense without them most of the time. More likely is that he is neglected because he is not particularly noteworthy, in fact I think some of his compositions do qualify as being modernist enough in some sense. Only my opinion.

Rickard Dahl said...

Well, Cowell is a personal favorite of mine, and maybe he isn't so great to deserve to be on this list but I think he's not so well known other than for his modernist works (i.e. using the piano strings or cluster works with lots of dissonance). I'm not suggesting any conspiracy, just pointing out that Cowell basically went the other direction than the modernists at that time and thus is historically considered less important (although there was ofc a return to a more tonal approach through neoclassicism and Cowell was probably a part of it, much of his music could be described as neoclassical I think). Which works have you listened to?

Here are a few you maybe will find to be interesting (just a few pieces I find interesting eventhough):





https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlJRf6jmbMc (and the rest of his "Three Irish Legends")



Rickard Dahl said...

It should say "Here are a few you maybe will find to be interesting (just a few pieces I find interesting):" Forgot to remove "eventhough".

Craig said...

I'm really happy to see two pre-Baroque composers on this list. Josquin and Dufay are indeed unjustly neglected!

Although I think that, if we are giving medieval and "renaissance" composers a hearing, Guillaume de Machaut deserves a place at the table. Personally I think I would swap him in in place of Dufay on your list. So much of his music is seductively beautiful, intricate, and -- what is not always the case with composers of this period -- tuneful. But I do love Dufay too, so it would be a hard decision...

...at least until I bump Berlioz from the list. Done!

Rickard Dahl said...

Also thought about Machaut. Why not just add enough composers so it will be top ten instead of swapping around?

Bryan Townsend said...

The only reason I stopped at seven composers on each of those two lists was that I could only think of seven at the time! Machaut would certainly be a possible addition.

Bridge said...

Sorry Rickard, I didn't mean to insult one of your favorites, Cowell's music just doesn't do anything for me personally.