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Overshadowed by Beethoven??


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Author Topic: Overshadowed by Beethoven??  (Read 406 times)
Neil McGowan
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« on: June 21, 2014, 06:57:50 pm »

As I have lamented perhaps too often, there is a whole generation of fine baroque composers who have been eclipsed - in a very literal sense - by the looming silhouettes of Bach, Vivaldi and Handel.

But isn't the same true a century later - where the magnificent, yet all-obscuring reputation of Beethoven has all but obliterated the reputations of his many fine contemporaries??

Of course, we are aware - perhaps subconsciously - of Weber, and of Spohr. Although I wonder how many of us could claim to know more than a handful of their works? Smiley)

But my point goes rather wider - how many of us could name any composers from France, Britain, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Hungary or Bohemia at the same time?  (In fact Bohemia, rather oddly, seems to get more play than the rest - I have Hummel & Dussek in mind here).

This afternoon I enjoyed a super little opera by a composer I'd never heard of - Carlo Evasio Soliva (27 November 1791 – 20 December 1853). True. he'd be a late contemporary - but nonetheless, a significant talent, who seems to have fallen off the radar (and thus found a place, if that isn't too contradictory, amongst the Unsung).

Who else do we admire from this period?  Were they appreciated in their lifetime?  Or was the Beethoven mania so wide-ranging that it sidelined them even in their own lifetimes?

With all due respect to them, it would be nice to identify major figures who composed in a variety of genres - rather than mere soloist-composers who primarily wrote music as a means of promoting their performing careers alone Smiley
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Gauk
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« Reply #1 on: June 22, 2014, 08:56:17 am »

I have often said the same: the early 19th C is a bit of a blank - there are plenty of performances of music by the composers who came after Beethoven, but the composers who were Beethoven's contemporaries get little attention, with the exception of Weber. There is an interesting but very incomplete list at

http://www.oocities.org/vienna/5325/beethoven/other_comp.html

but which includes a number of later figures like Mendelssohn. It does include the unfortunately named Willy Crotch, whom you never hear of, but was reputedly an even greater child prodigy than Mozart. Hyperion have recorded some of his church music.
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Albion
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« Reply #2 on: June 22, 2014, 09:26:54 am »

Crotch wrote attractive orchestral music, some of which was recorded by Unicorn-Kanchana, conducted by Hilary Davan Wetton - his 1812 oratorio Palestine is probably his finest work and deserves to be revived. Now little-known, Ferdinand Ries (1784-1838) was a pupil of Beethoven and wrote in a similar idiom, but what lovely stuff his symphonies (on CPO) and piano concertos (on Naxos) are!

 Smiley
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« Reply #3 on: June 22, 2014, 12:24:19 pm »

There is of course Rossini, though he's not particularly unsung. In his lifetime he eclipsed Beethoven in popularity (which Beethoven was none too happy about).

For a short list: Clementi, Dussek, Cherubini, Méhul, Reicha, the unfortunately short-lived Pinto, Tomášek, Voříšek, Onslow, Hummel, Jadin. Though there are many others. (Ries, Dittersdorf, Czerny & others have been attaining wider recognition lately, though I've never rated their compositions particularly.)

Beethoven considered Cherubini the greatest living composer after himself, apparently, and his early piano music was heavily influenced by that of Clementi. Reicha was a friend of his in the Vienna days (and his music is in many ways much more "advanced" than Beethoven's or anyone else's of the period, incorporating polytonality, mixed meters and quarter-tones...) I don't know about the others.
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Neil McGowan
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« Reply #4 on: June 22, 2014, 04:09:19 pm »

Ah, I'd forgotten about Ries - thanks for the mention of him!

I am listening to another nice work at the moment - DIE GEISTERINSEL by Johann Rudolf Zumsteeg (10 January 1760 – 27 January 1802). I'd never heard of him before - yet the music is excellent, and easily up there with Marschner and Co.

Daniel Auber is a composer whose great longevity brings him into both the "Beethoven contemporary" and "Beethoven successor" camps. His earlier works failed to find favour, however - his post-Beethovenian success was largely due to a production partnership with the librettist Scribe.
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Gauk
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« Reply #5 on: June 22, 2014, 07:41:25 pm »

The interesting thing about Auber is he must surely exhibit the greatest reputational collapse of any composer. Name one other composer so highly regarded he had a station named after him! And yet now virtually none of his music is played or recorded.

I was going to mention the neglected Ries - good that CPO are taking an interest in him.

I always thought of Moscheles as a Beethoven contemporary, but checking the dates I see he lived to 1870, though stylistically his music stays in the early 19th C. I've always had a soft spot for Moscheles, and it's nice to have all the piano concertos now on CD.
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Jolly Roger
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« Reply #6 on: June 22, 2014, 09:55:49 pm »

The interesting thing about Auber is he must surely exhibit the greatest reputational collapse of any composer. Name one other composer so highly regarded he had a station named after him! And yet now virtually none of his music is played or recorded.

I was going to mention the neglected Ries - good that CPO are taking an interest in him.

I always thought of Moscheles as a Beethoven contemporary, but checking the dates I see he lived to 1870, though stylistically his music stays in the early 19th C. I've always had a soft spot for Moscheles, and it's nice to have all the piano concertos now on CD.
Carl Czerny was a personal friend of Beethoven..highly prolific, esp piano pieces.
But not a successor, since he lived in the same general time span as Beethoven
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Gauk
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« Reply #7 on: June 23, 2014, 07:09:40 am »

Is your Czerny really necessary?
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shamus
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« Reply #8 on: June 23, 2014, 04:16:45 pm »

I realized I hadn't really tried Reicha much before, so I am listening to symphonies I can find, so far, though, I haven't latched on to it as I have (long since) Beethoven, will continue giving it a chance. It is hard to explain, it is not that it isn't beautiful, just some spiritual connection or something is missing. But I am early in the game and willing to keep listening. I have liked any Ries I have heard, but again, nothing that I know I want to hear again and again, as so much of Beethoven is for me. Thanks, Jim
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autoharp
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« Reply #9 on: June 23, 2014, 06:03:47 pm »

Reicha was a friend of his in the Vienna days (and his music is in many ways much more "advanced" than Beethoven's or anyone else's of the period, incorporating polytonality, mixed meters and quarter-tones...)

Any particular works which feature these?
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Jolly Roger
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« Reply #10 on: June 25, 2014, 08:39:14 am »

Is your Czerny really necessary?
Yes, food, water, shelter and Czerny are all necessary..
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calyptorhynchus
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« Reply #11 on: June 28, 2014, 10:51:58 am »

Um, Schubert.
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Neil McGowan
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« Reply #12 on: June 28, 2014, 03:09:36 pm »

Quote
Um, Schubert.

Although perhaps Schubert wasn't overshadowed? Smiley
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