Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Symphonic Completism

Like books, I think most of us have more music than we have time to listen to. So I'm going to leverage the benefits of the blogosphere and ask it the following:

If I were to listen to a complete series of symphonies, whose should I listen to? I've listened to Beethoven's and Brahms' many times, as well as Mahler's and Shostakovich's, but any suggestions as to whom might be worth taking a stab at their entire symphonic oeuvre? Thanks!


That being said, I'm wondering if it might be possible to organize the musical equivalent of a book event, where we pick a composer and/or some works, find some scholars/musicians who might be willing to contribute, and let it unfold over a number of blogs?

If any of these questions prompts you to answer, please do so in the comments!


Osbert Parsley said...

Your question about complete symphonies is a tough one for me, as I'm a symphony junkie, and own recorded symphony cycles by the sorts of 20th-century European composers that most people would cross the street to avoid. However:

Other than the four you've mentioned, the major composer of symphonies for me is Bruckner. The problem is that his work is tremendously uneven - he doesn't reach his stride until the Fourth, and so I'm not sure if I can recommend the entire cycle with a clear conscience. My own inclination would be to go with either Nielsen or Prokofiev, both of whom are heard occasionally in the concert hall but deserve a much closer look than they typically receive.

I'd be game for your book club idea, by the way - any other takers?

Andrew W. said...

Osbert, I don't mind you going nuts with the suggestions- I've listened to nearly all of Bruckner and would agree with you. And it's funny, but Prokofiev was certainly in my mind, but I hadn't even considered Nielsen!

John Blackburn said...

Consider Lutoslawski's symphonies: traditional First, exploring Second, sublime Third, dark Fourth.