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Who is your favorite 20th century composer and why?
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.
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