Who is your favorite 20th century composer and why?

By: | Post date: November 23, 2016 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Music

First, thanks to Victoria Weaver for her assembled works of Glass, which I will be working through.

Now, if I were a horrible human being, I would answer this question with something like this:

MAHLER!!! Because he’s technically 20th century!!! In your FACE, Victoria! WAKEY-WAKEY!!!

Ahem. But I am not a horrible human being. And really, after one post by Victoria saying that Mahler was an ideal soporific, isn’t it about time I got over it?

Well, no, it isn’t, because it amuses me. But, to the question at hand.

It’s hard; I don’t do preferences. My shortlist includes Mahler and Shostakovich first up (nyah nyah), Stravinsky, Reich, and a feeling that I have not heard enough Britten or Berg.

I’ll go with John Adams though. And 20th century John Adams; none of his more recent, post–post-minimalist stuff has grabbed me.

Early Adams: Very light minimalism, but with the best of minimalism’s drive and energy. Middle Adams: post-minimalist, elegaic and subtle.

A selection:

Harmonielehre: Adams doing Mahler.

Grand Pianola Music, movt 2: Where he really is taking the piss.

Nixon in China: where I first fell in love

Short Ride in a Fast Machine: started as anxiety about being driven in his ex-wife’s sports car. Has somehow ended up as the music of the spheres.

Chamber Symphony 3: Road Runner: Post-minimalist, frantic, and lots of Carl Stalling.

Volin Concerto: beautiful, enigmatic

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