Well, the week is almost over, and I promised to post my favorite composer
. I have many favorite pieces and composers, which makes it difficult to decide. I have chosen the composer who wrote many pieces I'd put on my list of favorites...he is also the composer that wrote one of my least favorite pieces of all time. Ludwig van Beethoven.
Almost every time I hear or play one of his pieces, I am inspired and I hear something new. He surprises with his harmonies, plays with rhythms, and has turned obsessive repetition into something transcendent.
I love playing and hearing his symphonies (especially the 7th...and the 3rd...and...basically, all of them).
For the piano, his piano sonatas from early through late are beautiful and engaging in all different ways, and there's the Piano Concerto No. 5 "The Emperor"...especially the moment before the third movement where there is a brief slow quotation of the music to come. I do need to become more familiar with the others.
As a string player, his quartets are also especially dear to me--from the early Op. 18 set, to my favorite Op. 95 "Serioso" in F Minor, to the complex interwoven lines of his last works.
But Beethoven has also written one of my least favorite pieces: The Consecration of the House Overture. It's boring and uninspired, and I had to play it way too many times when my alma mater
was dedicating a new concert hall. I'll forgive him this one indiscretion, but don't expect to hear that Beethoven piece on any of my programs! (Especially when I have the choice of his other wonderful overtures--all of the Leonore/Fidelo ones, Corolian, and Egmont).
Other favorite pieces of mine include Bach's Cello Suites, Sibelius' Symphony No. 2, Britten's Peter Grimes
, Berlioz's Harold in Italy
, Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4 and Eugene Onegin
, Shostakovich's String Quartet No. 8, Haydn's Symphony No. 82 ("The Bear"), Ruth Crawford Seeger's String Quartet, Mozart's Don Giovanni
, and for contemporary favorites Peter Lieberson's Neruda Songs
and Osvaldo Golijov's Ayre
. And I need to make myself stop adding things to this list, because we could be here a while...but for overall body of work by one composer, Beethoven is my guy.
I'd still love to hear about your favorite composer, so create an account over on the side of the page, and leave me a note. As for me, I think I need to go home and re-read some of Maynard Solomon's Beethoven biography
before the fireworks.
We'll have a new Friday question next week, but for now, have a happy Fourth of July!