Enjoyed your comments and I think your argument holds water for the most part with a few exceptions: The Choral Fantasy drags in many places; the last movement of the Piano Wind Quintet, op.16 is about as close as you can get to plagiarizing, Mozart’s Rondo closing movement to his piano concerto in E-flat , K.482.
Now as to “acres of well-crafted wall paper music” by Mozart, not sure I can buy into that at all. One should dismiss almost all of the juvenalia of course. He was still just a kid. The violin concertos are early, but have their pleasures. Mozart’s “Eroica” moment if you will, comes with the piano concerto in E-flat major, K.271. The work’s “Jeunehomme” nickname was something of a Mozart family joke. Victoire Jenamy was the French pianist in the formal dedication, and because the work was written for someone else, we have three surviving and fabulous cadenzas that are integral to the overall work. Anyone who has played it (and I have) will share with you the complete joy it brings to both the fingers and ears. The composer was only 21. His list of absolute masterworks is quite large, considering his relatively short life. There are four or five piano sonatas; as many violin/piano sonatas; trios; the string quartets starting with the “Haydn” six need no special advocacy. The quintets (except for the early one, K.174) are sublime in the truest sense of the word, the clarinet quintet is a gift from on high, along with its cousin concerto, K.622. No fewer than six full-length operas are among the treasures of Western art, the keyboard concertos 9, 10, 12, 14, 15, 17, 19, 20–27 are within the highest level of artistic endeavor. And if there is indeed a heaven, they will most certainly be singing the Ave verum corpus.
Yes, many of the earliest symphonies would not be out of place on an elevator ride. But by the time we get to nos. 28 and 29, only Haydn is writing above this level. I have a fairly wide acquaintance with the minor composers of the late 18th and early 19th century. Excluding a small part of J.C. Bach, a larger part of C.P.E. Bach, Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert, and Mendelssohn of course, all the others rarely if ever reached Mozart’s genius during these years. There are some who get close, but not many, and those who do seem unable to sustain their inspirations for anything longer than a single movement or a few short passages. Mozart’s last 3 symphonies are of course summits in Western Art. The A minor piano rondo, K.511 and the B major Adagio are in a class by themselves
Now I know we could go on like this forever, and again, I agree with you that Mozart certainly wrote his share of mediocre works. One thinks of some of the variation sets—which were probably written down after improvisational performance and they sound it too. Anyone who has played through the sonatas for piano would probably agree with the call that only four or six of them are really accomplished works. Maybe Canadian pianist Glenn Gould was right. He hated most of them and though the Haydn sonatas were far more interesting. He was right!
Back to Beethoven, the 2nd piano concerto, op.19, which is really his first venture into this genre is boring. Sorry, I know you won’t agree with that. However, when it come to the 1st concerto in C major, we are in a different league entirely. This is a stupendous creation and although I have to set it aside from time to time, on return, the thrill is still there. I adore all the string quartets—there’s nothing like them in the entire repertoire—and the 32 piano sonata (save the two easy ones, op.49) should be lifetime companions for any serious musician or music lover. Fidelio, the Great Mass, for sure. The Scottish and Irish Folksong arrangements are sheer delights. Of the symphonies, there is nothing left to say, but it is worth noting, that despite his vehement protestations to the contrary—Beethoven said he learned absolutely nothing from Haydn—Beethoven learned a great deal from his aging colleague and studied his music quite closely.
This incredibly long email is written in hope of drawing other ARSC classical fans into the discussion. WE NEED TO RECLAIM OUR TURF! (Never trust people who write in all caps.) We always seem to learn a lot from each other and this is for me, a great pleasure in staying semi-active on the list-serve.
Now John, not to attempt to pull the rug out from underneath our sainted BvB, but I do think that Bach belongs before anyone. The musical powers of the Leipzig cantor have never been surpassed, let alone equalled. Part of many people’s hangup with JSB, I suspect, is the abundant creation of music for sacred occasions. The poetry for many of these works is excruciating, but pay no attention to the German words. Listen for the soul inspiring life presented as a universal dance and woven into the very fabric of almost all these works. It is everywhere. He is truly the father of our Western musical culture. You will find no IMHO from me here.
And fellow ARSC’s please join in, if you care to share your perspectives. The idea is not to assume the Western canon should be swallowed in toto.
> On Apr 28, 2018, at 2:05 PM, John Haley <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> And this is Birgit Nilsson' s centennial year. I hope you will repeat that
> program at ARSC-N.Y., Dennis. In case I don't make it to "Charm City."
> Alex, I will raise a mild objection about less-than-top-drawer Beethoven.
> For me, of all the "great composers," Beethoven's output is more
> consistently comprised of masterpieces than almost anyone else. It is hard
> to find a piece that isn't one, although Wellington's Victory may qualify.
> Even Mozart wrote acres of well-crafted wallpaper music. Not Beethoven.
> Best, John
> On Apr 28, 2018 12:43 PM, "Gene Baron" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> Two wonderful singers - I certainly hope to get to it. Thanks.
>> On Sat, Apr 28, 2018 at 11:04 AM, Dennis Rooney <[log in to unmask]>
>>> Dear Alex,
>>> Classical music is indeed sparsely represented on this year's conference
>>> program, but I will do a centennial tribute to sopranos Astrid Várnay and
>>> Birgit Nilsson that I hope you will be able to attend.
>>> On Fri, Apr 27, 2018 at 7:09 PM, Alex McGehee <[log in to unmask]>
>>>> A very interesting thread. Would be nice if such material, sources, and
>>>> demonstrations made it to an ARSC conference. I noticed only Bluegrass,
>>>> Disco, Rap, and the discovery that Baltimore is referred to as “Charm
>>>> in a quick scan of the program for our annual event. Despite many years
>>>> spent in the DC area, Baltimore’s nickname was a discovery. Sort of an
>>>> oxymoron from my experiences outside the tourist areas.
>>>> “Wellington’s Victory” is a great reminder of the old Mercury recording
>>>> with Antal Dorati and the LSO. I bought it for the “1812” on the other
>>>> side. The one with the “authentic” cannons and bells. Being something
>>>> Tchaikovsky nut in my youth, the recording allowed me a first
>>>> a thoroughly mediocre work by Beethoven. Of course there are others and
>>>> I not already placed all the “great composers” on such an exalted
>>>> would have realized that LvB had subpar days just like everyone else.
>>>> Haydn’s pieces for Flötenuhr—the word is best translated as mechanical
>>>> organ—are a minor, but interesting group in the larger body of his
>>>> The still on-going, first complete edition of Haydn’s work considers 17
>>>> these pieces to be genuine. Fifteen others, included in the relevant
>>>> volume, are published in an appendix, but cannot be sourced to Haydn.
>>>> editorial work which resulted in these divisions was done by Sonja
>>>> and George Hill in the early 1980s. Gerlach is near irreproachable in
>>>> scholarly work on Haydn.
>>>> The princes Esterházy—particularly Nicholas II—were huge fans of
>>>> mechanical organs, and they most certainly featured their “personal”
>>>> composer’s works. A few of these devices have survived and they have
>>>> revealed some significant information to researchers regarding other
>>>> works, which we would not have known except for these wound up
>>>> Given their cost, they must have been the audiophile status equipment
>>>> their day. Haydn was intimately involved in the transcription of his
>>>> for them. He worked together with a very talented builder— Catholic
>>>> Father Primitivus Niemecz, also on the Esterházy payroll. Haydn’s
>>>> manuscript for the music in one of these organs requires 32 tones over
>>>> three octave range. Unfortunately, because mainsprings wear out and get
>>>> replaced, we cannot rely on the devices for unquestioned authority in
>>>> matters of tempo. Given the pre-metronome times, that would have been
>>>> information to have.
>>>> If your eyes have not completely glazed over by this point, I would
>>>> strongly recommend tracking down Arthur Ord-Hume’s, Joseph Haydn and
>>>> Mechanical Organ. The text is in English and the book features
>>>> terrific photographs of three of the clocks—still in playable
>>>> inside and out diagrams of how they were constructed, and facsimiles
>> of a
>>>> few surviving Haydn manuscripts for the works. I checked Abebooks.com <
>>>> http://abebooks.com/> (like half the bookselling world, now owned by
>>>> Amazon) and found it still available for under $20.
>>>> Incidentally, the first known public hearing of any of Haydn’s
>>>> music took place on June 14, 1926 as part of a Vienna radio broadcast.
>>>> Alex McGehee
>>>>> On Apr 25, 2018, at 7:40 PM, Paul Jackson <[log in to unmask]>
>>>>> The Stanford Piano Roll project may be able to help with this.
>>>>> *Trescott Research - Paul T. Jackson *
>>>>> 2503 Natalie Lane, Steilacoom, WA 98388
>>>>> http://www.trescottresearch.com <http://www.trescottresearch.com/>
>>>>> Support Authors:
>>>>> http://www.plateauareawriters.org <http://www.
>>>>> Support Musicians
>>>>> http://www.gatewayconcertband.org <http://www.
>>>>> On 4/25/2018 2:13 PM, Frank Forman wrote:
>>>>>> Does anyone have a piano roll listing? Schnabel punched 051n2 (Rondo
>>>>>> on Ampico 60613, in 1922, making it the first, since Kempff's disc
>>>> recording, P.66040 mx1721as, 1722� as, came in 1924.
>>> 1006 Langer Way
>>> Delray Beach, FL 33483