[Smt-talk] Ranking Ludwig's symphonies (was: Happy Birthday)

Larry Barnes lbarnes at transy.edu
Wed Dec 18 20:03:45 PST 2013

I'm listening to #4 right now, and love it. It turns my head toward beauty unexpectedly, precisely because it doesn't demand my constant attention. And I don't always need dangerous places. 
It's nice to just come home and rest sometimes between adventures.
Larry Barnes
Transylvania University

Sent from my iPad

> On Dec 18, 2013, at 3:57 PM, Stephen Jablonsky <jablonsky at optimum.net> wrote:
> Art,
> Thanks for your contribution. I read it with a smile on my face from beginning to end.
> I listened to 4 again last night and it is "nice but no cigar." It never goes to the kind of dangerous places that 3 does, so the ride is not as interesting. 3 is in trouble in the first phrase and the climax of the first movement still scares the hell out of me.
> What I do find interesting is how different each of the symphonies is and how they challenge us in different ways. I know very well there is no truth in matters of taste. My primary question (How do we measure greatness in music?) was meant to provoke thought, not to provide answers.
> Here is the five-level metric you need: 24k, 18k, 14k, 10k gold plated, and pyrite.
> Steve 
> Bonus: If you use my metric for the Mahler symphonies what do you come up with? Don't we all have a problem with 6, 7, and especially 8. Like Beethoven 9, Mahler 9 is in a world by itself. And, yes, it is puzzling why a composer as great as Beethoven would write four overtures for the same opera.
> Steve
> Dr. Stephen Jablonsky, Ph.D.
> Music Department Chair
> The City College of New York
> Shepard Hall Room 72
> New York NY 10031
> (212) 650-7663
> music at ccny.cuny.edu
> America's Greatest Chair 
> in the low-priced field
>> On Dec 18, 2013, at 10:33 AM, art samplaski <agsvtp at hotmail.com> wrote:
>> Stephen Jablonsky wondered why LvB's 4th seems to live in "a quiet
>> oblivion" compared to its temporally closest siblings. My opinion: it's
>> simply like one of those traffic jams one hits upon for which there is
>> no visible cause--everyone grinds to a halt, you inch along for a while,
>> then everyone speeds up again. In other words, it's a traffic jam just
>> for the sake of being a traffic jam; and like Jupiter's Great Red Spot,
>> has no reason ever to stop (other than, by 3am there's usually too
>> little traffic to sustain it). Likewise, the 4th doesn't get programmed
>> simply because nobody programs it. I'm pretty sure that anyone
>> programming _any_ Beethoven symphony will get noticeably higher
>> ticket sales than for, say, _Miraculous Mandarin_... and CERtainly
>> higher than anything by Ahnald.:)
>> >Just for the fun of it, can you put Beethoven's symphonies in
>> >order [of] greatness (if that is even possible)?
>> The radio show _Performance Today_ about 10-11 years ago did a week
>> devoted to the things; and their guest conductor playing tour guide (I
>> forget who) said something to the effect of, "There are 8 Beethoven
>> symphonies... and then there's The Ninth."
>> I personally don't believe you can do a meaningful ranking of them
>> individually, but you can perhaps separate them akin to geological
>> strata: 1-2 are journeyman works--competent, nicely crafted, but Not
>> Noticeably Above(tm) the best mature works of Haydn or Mozart. At
>> the other end is The Ninth, off by itself--and I'm not sure that _that_
>> designation is more than retrospective accumulated cultural baggage.
>> (Read Slonimsky's _Lexicon of Musical Invective_ for, ahh, opinions
>> contemporary to its premiere.:) For 3-8, I very strongly doubt that you
>> could get any statistically significant differences, even if you *could*
>> devise some metric for "greatness."
>> >What do you say about 8?
>> For the record, 8 is one of my favorites. More user-friendly than 3, and
>> waaay less cloying than 6--although that last may be due to having
>> watched _Fantasia_ too often years ago. (And I'm pretty sure I'd like
>> 4 more if I could hear it more...:)
>> Art Samplaski
>> Ithaca, NY
>> q.t.: If on the other hand you want to hear a truly -terrible- Beethoven
>> piece, make yourself sit through _Leonora #2_. It's exactly the same
>> as L3--save that, like Lennie's rewriting the 1st mvt. of K550 for one
>> of his Norton Lectures to be utterly 4+4+4+..., it is SO pathetically
>> square re phrase rhythm as to border on torture and/or parody. The
>> two of them would make a textbook case re shaping phrases for a
>> form/analysis class, save that some lawyer might argue it constituted
>> student abuse--and definitely *teacher* abuse to have to go through
>> it year after year!
>> _______________________________________________
>> Smt-talk mailing list
>> Smt-talk at lists.societymusictheory.org
>> http://lists.societymusictheory.org/listinfo.cgi/smt-talk-societymusictheory.org
> _______________________________________________
> Smt-talk mailing list
> Smt-talk at lists.societymusictheory.org
> http://lists.societymusictheory.org/listinfo.cgi/smt-talk-societymusictheory.org
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.societymusictheory.org/pipermail/smt-talk-societymusictheory.org/attachments/20131218/174387ad/attachment-0004.htm>

More information about the Smt-talk mailing list