After the two little hiatuses for the past two weeks of smaller pieces, we will be starting another long train of thought I’ve been brewing up for a long time. I may even name the little series in parts, but I’m worried my attention to these pieces won’t be definitive enough to do so.
We had a five-week string of piano concertos, some favorites of mine, some slightly more oddball. This was in honor of the one year anniversary of the blog; I couldn’t think of much else special to do, so we did that. Let’s see what we look like at five years.
Anyway, after coming off a quite contrived, almost obligatory sort of commitment of piano pieces, I was ready to get back to symphonic works. My attention to listening to every conceivable recording of the Mahler symphonies got in the way of my doing justice to some of the piano concertos that I should have listened to more, but it’s hard to go wrong with Martha Argerich or Krystian Zimerman.
My recent obsession with Mahler has also gotten me thinking about my neglect of other, arguably more… traditional, or standard, or famous, or common composers. While I don’t have the kind of carnal knowledge, the kind of practical intimate arcane sort of understanding of the inner workings of the pieces that would allow me to conduct them, months of listening to them non stop, reading scores, and doing research has certainly paid off, but it’s had another exciting side effect.
I got to thinking that Mahler can’t possibly be the only composer that makes such a study so rewarding. And in thinking of the history, the story of the symphony, there are many other names that come to mind long before Mahler began to do what he’s doing, and it’s (some of) those we’ll be talking about.
Ideally, I’d have completed a year-or-two-long project I recently thought up before
getting around to doing this two-month long string of German(-speaking) composers’ works (some of the composers are Austrian, some German, but they are all German-speaking. Also there’s not NEARLY as much context for or significance of geographical or political borders in the span of like…. 200 years. Some of them have changed). Also, I have a German domain because I didn’t want to wait for .com or (pay for) .net, and .de is kind of historical and musically significant.
So I’m trying not to reveal at this point exactly who is on this two month list of Germanic Greats, but let me say this:
I KNOW IT’S NOT DEFINITIVE, COMPREHENSIVE, AUTHORITATIVE (see what I did there?) or anything else.
It’s my train of thought. There’s no Mozart. We start at the beginning of the 19th century and get as recent as the mid 20th.
The posts will be in a rough but quite logical order. I have chosen works that were published in ROUGHLY the same order that their composers came on the scene or held historic influence. Does that make sense? So Composer A came before Composer B and Composer A’s Symphony X came before Composer B’s Symphony Y, but Composer C wrote a work earlier than Composer B’s Symphony Y… now what? I will be adhering to one of the two chronological orders depending upon which suits my fancy or the storyline I have in my head. We will reach this chronological end around the end of December, but the final crowning work will jump back twenty-ish years, so it’s not 100% in order. Sorry, not sorry.
Each of the works are not only related in being German-ic-ish, but also in that there’s some motivic, historical, political or other link or connection of some kind, and I hope to exploit these ideas (invariably including my own prejudices and ignorance into the equation) and explore them throughout the next six weeks or so. Stay tuned this Thursday for Part One of our Germanic Symphonies That You Should Know About That I Should Have Known About Earlier But Didn’t Because I Got Distracted By Mahler (GSTYSKATISHKAEBDBIGDBM… That has a nice ring to it… It looks almost like Gaelic).
I feel quite happy about knowing where the blog is going up until the end of the year (at least for Thursday posts). I’m enjoying the repeated listenings of various recordings of the pieces, and as of yet, there are only…. two that I REALLY do not have under my belt at all, one I’ve only listened to once, the other not even once. Let’s get started with these, and I hope you enjoy!