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"The Worst Piece Of Classical Music Ever Written"


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Author Topic: "The Worst Piece Of Classical Music Ever Written"  (Read 11027 times)
Christo
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... an opening of those magic casements ...


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« Reply #45 on: February 02, 2014, 05:57:49 pm »

Can it be that he is actually the composer? A fake? There are a few strange things going on in this piece which arise serious doubts about 1864 as the (latest) year of composition. Wink

At least there was a historical 1864 oratiorio titled 'Ruth' and composed by George Tolhurst - or is there something wrong with this source? http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/5742935
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… music is not only an `entertainment’, nor a mere luxury, but a necessity of the spiritual if not of the physical life, an opening of those magic casements through which we can catch a glimpse of that country where ultimate reality will be found.  RVW, 1948
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« Reply #46 on: February 02, 2014, 07:32:07 pm »

"a very creditable sacred composition", "most favourably received"

hm...  Grin
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Dundonnell
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« Reply #47 on: February 03, 2014, 02:33:59 pm »

Come, come, Kyle Grin

We know that you do not like Richard Strauss but that is surely far too far to go by denouncing "Ein Heldenleben" Huh  I find the Rachmaninov Second Symphony unbearably drawn out and tediously sentimental.....But I realise that a huge number of people like and love the work, so it must have considerable merits.

It is interesting in the context of this thread to recall a discussion we had some time ago about the recent Philip Glass Symphony No.10. All of us (I think) who had listened to the work in its Proms performance-it is on YT-were in full agreement that the symphony was quite dreadful: banal, dreary, pointless, hackneyed, boring.

That is what Martin Anderson, the respected owner of Toccata Classics and a noted music critic, wrote in a recent edition of "Tempo" magazine about the same symphony:

".....it was the strongest piece on the programme. Almost half-an-hour long and cast in five movements, it opens sounding more like Roy Harris, with the same sense of the wide American outdoors, and chugs along amiably. The second movement starts with a percussion refrain decorated by woodwind and strings, the movement growing gradually in ambit and feeling; it is both lovely and emotionally cogent with echoes of Janacek. The central movement has a medieval flavour, a peremptory three-note figure imparting a military cast underlined by drums, before a climax cuts it away to a simple ostinato, below which the brass grows in strength; now the broad phrasing and noble brass-writing suggests Bruckner. The final sections are announced by a hint of Herb Alpert from castanets and trumpets and a celebratory dance slowly gets underway. The whole thing is over-scored, but with such candour that you could hardy object. Nor is there the vaguest hint of development: each dollop of material is simply extended until it runs out and is replaced by something else. A decisive whirling coda brings the work to a close after an unexpectedly enjoyable 26 minutes."

Roy Harris Huh Janacek Huh Huh Bruckner Huh Huh Huh Huh

Anderson gives the game away by using the phrases "chugs along" and "each dollop of material" and by noting that there is not "the vaguest hint of development"...INDEED....but excuses this by describing the piece as "amiable", "enjoyable", "lovely and emotionally cogent".

I have a great deal of respect for Martin Anderson's critical judgment and for his ongoing contribution to expanding our knowledge of unsung composers......but this is really quite extraordinary. Are we all wrong Huh  Does the symphony have any merit at all Huh No, Martin...it doesn't Roll Eyes  If one compares Glass to some other reasonably well-known composers still writing symphonies today-like, say, Kalevi Aho in Finland or David Matthews in Britain-then Glass is very much a symphonist manque.
Some of his work I quite enjoy on a rather subliminal level....but the 10th symphony sunk to the depths in exposing the limitations of Glass as a composer of symphonies (or a composer full stop Huh).
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Gauk
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« Reply #48 on: February 03, 2014, 03:28:16 pm »

Really, I don't see that Glass's 10th is worse than any of his others. They are all variations on the same basic compositional technique, which owes nothing to, say, 19th C Austro-German symphonic construction. Expecting a Glass symphony to be argued at the same level as a Sibelius symphony is missing the point. He does what he sets out to do, and I for one find it perfectly listenable. Good motorway music, by the way.

As to Tolhurst, the performance of it I heard many years ago was certainly presented as being on the level. Inventing fake-bad music that doesn't give the game away is hard to do, and I can't see a lot of point in faking Mr Tolhurst's magnum opus anyway.
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ahinton
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« Reply #49 on: February 03, 2014, 03:55:37 pm »

Really, I don't see that Glass's 10th is worse than any of his others. They are all variations on the same basic compositional technique, which owes nothing to, say, 19th C Austro-German symphonic construction. Expecting a Glass symphony to be argued at the same level as a Sibelius symphony is missing the point. He does what he sets out to do, and I for one find it perfectly listenable. Good motorway music, by the way.
"...nothing to, say..."? "nothing to say", surely?!

Is 10 much worse than 1-9? Probably not so's you'd notice. "Expecting a Glass symphony to be argued" at any level is "missing the point", I think. Whenever I listen to a Glass piece (which I have to admit is not so often!), I cannot resist the urge to listen to one of Carter's orchestral works immediately afterwards, in order to take the lack of taste away (by which I mean blandness and insipidity, not "tastelessness" per se) and to restore my faith in American orchestral music in the latter half of the last century. Yes, PG does what he sets out to do, but quite why he keeps setting out to do it remains a mystery to me - and I for one find it perfectly forgettable!

Sorry!

I, too, have a great deal of respect fo Martin Anderson's writing although, in this instance, I not only fail to get on a level with it but I also wish that, instead of "The whole thing is over-scored", he'd written "The whole thing is overblown"...(groan!)...

But I don't think that any of Glass's symphonies could qualify as the thread topic...
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Gauk
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« Reply #50 on: February 04, 2014, 10:51:04 am »

But I don't think that any of Glass's symphonies could qualify as the thread topic...

No, because for all their thinness of content, they are well-written. For a truly "worst" piece, you need a composer who aims high, but much higher than he can achieve. The sort of thing Mozart satirises in his Musical Joke.

There is a lovely book of verse called The Stuffed Owl, with sections on "the bad poet at his best" and "the good poet at his worst" ("Across the wires the electric message came:/'He is no better. He is much the same.'" - Austin). Probably the truly worst music is the bad composer at his worst, but you will never hear that. The fun is finding the good composer at his worst - Harris 13, anyone?

A university student some years ago turned in a composition entitled "Parabolas", written in such a way that the notes on the page made a series of parabolas. It was not performed ...
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ahinton
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« Reply #51 on: February 04, 2014, 11:06:17 am »

But I don't think that any of Glass's symphonies could qualify as the thread topic...

No, because for all their thinness of content, they are well-written. For a truly "worst" piece, you need a composer who aims high, but much higher than he can achieve. The sort of thing Mozart satirises in his Musical Joke.

There is a lovely book of verse called The Stuffed Owl, with sections on "the bad poet at his best" and "the good poet at his worst" ("Across the wires the electric message came:/'He is no better. He is much the same.'" - Austin). Probably the truly worst music is the bad composer at his worst, but you will never hear that. The fun is finding the good composer at his worst - Harris 13, anyone?

A university student some years ago turned in a composition entitled "Parabolas", written in such a way that the notes on the page made a series of parabolas. It was not performed ...
Since it's been mentioned more than once in more than one source, I really must get to listen to Harris 13! I've never heard it before. I presume that, by it, you mean the piece known as Bicentennial Symphony to which its composer gave the number 14 out of superstition about the use of 13 although, if so, the piece sounds to have turned out most unluckily anyway! At one time, one might almost be forgiven that Harris only ever composed one symphony - his third...
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Dundonnell
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« Reply #52 on: February 04, 2014, 02:41:47 pm »

Just to be absolutely clear....I was NOT suggesting that the Glass Symphony No.10 was "the worst piece" of music ever written. The worst Glass perhaps Grin

Now....the Harris 13th Roll Eyes That might certainly qualify Sad
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calyptorhynchus
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« Reply #53 on: February 17, 2014, 12:32:54 am »

Bartok's Kossuth (early tone poem) is pretty bad. When the perfidious Austrian approaches to lay our hero low the orchestra intones the Emperor's Hymn. Even a musically unsophisicated teenager as I was when I heard it thought this was bathos itself.
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« Reply #54 on: February 17, 2014, 12:45:44 am »

Glass is Glass, yes Glass is also Glass1, Glass1 is Glass2, and yes Glass 99 is certainly Glass 1, and also Glass 1,2,3,4.
ZZZZZZ.....
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