Your Least Favourite Composers
  • Could belong in General Discussion, but following historic posts, I've decided to place this here in amusements.
    http://forum.musicasacra.com/forum/discussion/13949/your-least-favourite-anthems
    http://forum.musicasacra.com/forum/discussion/13974/your-least-favourite-hymn-tunesharmonizations

    Go ahead, here we go again...
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,608
    Does David Haas count?
    Thanked by 1Casavant Organist
  • How about stuff that couldn't exactly be counted as sacrilege, like Lauridsen...
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,646
    Maybe we should lay out the rule of "no living composers."
    Thanked by 1Casavant Organist
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Phillip Glass, John Cage, Luigi Dallapiccolo, Nicolai Montani, Anton Webern...
  • My least favourite composers Ferde Grofe and Aaron Copland, and their kin - and people like Mr Haugen.
    Thanked by 1Jeffrey Quick
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,515
    Melo, I still don't like Bach, but you kind of knew I would say that, didn't you. :-) Your list above works for me, as well.
  • Whitcare, anyone?
  • ClergetKubiszClergetKubisz
    Posts: 1,895
    Schoenberg and the Second Viennese School, Bruckner (just couldn't really ever get into anything he wrote), and Virgil Thomson, although I can't really say that the composer of a work really mattered that much to me, I always judge each work on its own merit, no matter who wrote it. For example, most of what Schoenberg wrote is unpalatable to my ear, however, I do like Verklarte Nacht. I don't really get into Brahms that much, but I like his clarinet Sonata in Fm, the 1st Symphony, and the Requiem.
  • Bruckner is awesome tho... It is sort of an acquired taste, though. It is quite the music.
  • JacobFlaherty
    Posts: 267
    Vivaldi is not my favorite. I wish it weren't so, but every time I hear the 'Et in Terra Pax' movement from his 'Gloria', I sort of bunker down, knowing that it's going to be a long five minutes of gloomy suspensions on the word 'peace'.

    I also have a hard time getting into Bruckner's vocal music. His instrumental stuff is a bit different. I just find the modulations strange and not all that pleasing.
  • JL
    Posts: 170
    I still don't like Bach...


    Which one?

    It's good to see that I'm not alone in my dislike of Copland. Every time I am subjected to Appalachian Spring, a soul is released from Purgatory.

    I suppose it's trendy to dislike Wagner, but I really dislike Wagner for being too loud and pompous and going on too long. It's for that very reason that I'm not especially fond of Beethoven either.

    For sheer damage done to music at large, that prize goes to fellow New Englander Lowell Mason. The irony is that he did great things for music education, while composing music not worth teaching.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,515

    Which one?


    J.S. Bach.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,079
    (I am restricting myself to composers whose works are typically found in church music.)

    There's a chunk of mid-20th century Anglican-ish hymnody I am not fond of; I take RVW's unfortunate setting of Hail Thee Festival Day as a precursor. Something curdled after World War I in this regard. And then dreck like Festival Canticle came afterwards. These are hymns that organists seem to have orgasms over, but that are more like tiresome vocalises for singers* - and, as a general rule, I am most unfond of music where it's obvious that it's about the instruments and where the human voice is more of an accompaniment (the ultimate fruit of which can be seen in a fair chunk of contempo liturgicalish music). If it doesn't sound good a cappella, be wary.

    * Also see: Handel's choral tenor parts (an interesting example, because Handel was otherwise discriminating when to treat the human voice more like a mere instrument) and also, sad to say, parts of JS Bach's choruses (where lapsing into the voice like a mere instrument is a more common occurrence, though with marvelous effects at times).
    Thanked by 1Andrew Malton
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    My least favourite composer(s) ... Aaron Copland


    I am immediately starting on my paean to MJO: Fanfare for the Uncommon Man.
  • wingletwinglet
    Posts: 40
    Does David Haas count?


    Are writers of ad jingles composers?
    A friend of mine, as a child, misheard his "All the Ends" and wondered why all the ants of the earth would be singing the power of God.

    Casavant--Definitely Whitacre is on the list. He's not intolerable like the atonal or sacro-pop fellows mentioned, but he seems to think that minor seconds, cluster chords, and soaring high notes automatically render a piece ethereally gorgeous, and it's his being overrated that bothers me. I don't find his work to be just so-so on an intellectual level.

    Then there's Schumann...when he's happy it comes across as too sentimental, and when he's angry it sounds like a tantrum. Same goes for Mendelssohn, piano and vocal pieces.

    I used to dread Palestrina, thinking his chord progression choices were very dull. But then I started listening to the other parts while singing!

    Similarly with Mozart (does anyone like Alberti bass?), whom I used to loathe until I switched from listening to piano to orchestral/chamber works.
  • I just thought of another one - two, actually - Richard Strauss and Johann Strauss... please let me never hear Til Eulenspeigle again - or another rendering of Viennese waltzes. I'ts hard to believe that there was a time in my life (very, very long ago) at which I liked these pretty little dancers' ditties. Now, Louis XIVth and Lully et al. had far better notions of court music and dance.

    Wagner himself I have always liked - only because of his operas. The magic with which he negotiates being in half a dozen or more keys within almost any two or three bars is fascinating. Of his operas some XIXth century musician once said when asked if he liked Wagner - 'well, he does have his moments.... but Oh, the spaces in between!

    Berlioz never held any charm for me. Though I am experiencing a sudden appreciation for the very XIXth century music which for most of my life I held in poor regard.

    I would definitely have to propose Karlheinz Stockhausen as a 'least favourite'. His Helikopter Streichquartett must be heard to be believed, certainly a must in any music appreciation class.

    Anything featuring the Ondes Martenot is, for me, an amusing very funny least favourite.
    Thanked by 1Reval
  • music123
    Posts: 98
    Offenbach, anyone?
  • Jeffrey Quick
    Posts: 1,632
    Chopin and Liszt. I'm not a big fan of solo piano, and there's something greasy and excessive about their music. It's not bad, just not to my taste. Not big on Wagner either
    Thanked by 1winglet
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,870
    almost all "serious' composers after the Baroque era. It all went down hill. The art of counterpoint, in general, fell by the wayside.

    I do like the theory of Poulenc, Barber, Stravinsky, Faurre, Debussy, Langlais and a few others.
    Thanked by 1winglet
  • I don't actually dislike, but would never voluntarily listen to most anything of the Russians - especially Rimsky-Korsakoff, Glinka, etc.

    As for Francis' remark just above here, the French Revolution played a role in the rather drastic direction music took after the classical era. It was the policy of the revolutionary state, and later of the Academie Francais that music should be melody driven and have an appeal to the masses.

    I agree, too, with Francis about the general lack of contrapuntal mastery in the romantic era - though Beethoven and Brahms both were not lacking in this area.
    Thanked by 1winglet
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,383
    I've had very little to say in the previous "least favourite" threads, although at least they dealt with individual works (anthems, hymn tunes/harmonizations). The problem with coming up with least favourite composers is compounded many times by the mere fact that a composer typically has a rather large body of work to assess. And, quite frankly, I wonder just how many actually have sifted through the complete works of those they name as least least favourites. Already, I've read comments where people have hedged on a least favoured composer's status.

    Do I have ANY least favoured composer? I don't really know. There are not that many composers whose works I know thoroughly ... there are several, but not many. So, because I may not like a particular composer's very few works that I do know, I would not feel comfortable with calling such a composer a least favourite. Furthermore, if indeed there is a composer (and there are such) who has at least one work that I value highly among (perhaps many) other works by that composer that I do not care for, I would not wish to call such a composer a least favourite.

    So, for example, if you like any (or even several) of the Bruckner motets but dislike his symphonies (some of which I value highly because of Bruckner's contrapuntal and harmonic genius), then it seems rather unfair to name Bruckner as a least favourite.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,870
    i agree charles... i wouldn't call anyone a least fav... i was just speaking in generalities and trends
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,870
    however, my least favorite era of song writers (i do not even put them in the category of composers), is the VII and forward conglomerate of ditty kiddies.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,192
    I still don't enjoy Mozart.
  • Ralph BednarzRalph Bednarz
    Posts: 477
    Noel Rawsthorne.
  • NihilNominisNihilNominis
    Posts: 558
    Someone beat me to Copland.

    I suppose Montani must be the Lowell Mason of Catholic church music.

    Also strongly dislike Berlioz.
  • VilyanorVilyanor
    Posts: 383
    I still don't enjoy Mozart.


    I love Mozart's Requiem, but not as a Mass setting… It's too decadent and "operatic", for lack of a better term.
  • VilyanorVilyanor
    Posts: 383
    I'm not sure if I have a composer, but I struggle a lot with many composer's pieces for piano, but that's probably more because I have a complicated relationship with the piano, and have come to realize I rarely like it as an instrument.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,192
    Mozart sounds choppy to me.

    And repetitive.

    I like long sweeping lines in my music.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,870
    Mozart... I, IV, V, I... in a flourish of arpeggios... yea, my sentiments too.
    Thanked by 1Kathy
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,608
    Ah, Mozart... My own relationship with Mozart is love-hate (nom de plume not withstanding).

    I think he would have been much more to my liking had he lived longer and really sunk his teeth into the church job he had in Vienna in his last years, (Was it St. Stephen's? I can't remember.) as I've come to discover that the music of Mozart's that I really like is from about 1783 (the year of the Mass in c, KV 427) onward, and since he died in 1791 that doesn't leave much time; but during that time I think counterpoint became more prominent; however, I also like his early Missae for Salzburg -- some nice Stille Antico stuff there.

    I think that the two instruments Mozart seemed to enjoy composing for the most were the Voice and the Clarinet/Basset Horn, I think often it's the most original and inspired. Maybe that is why I like his operas, church music, and clarinet works; or, it could just be that I like his vocal and clarinet music, so I ascribe to it originality and inspiration. However, some (or much) of his piano music or orchestral music I detest.
  • KyleM18
    Posts: 150
    Well, for one, I have to thank all of you for giving me music to listen to and reasons why it is bad. Much better than what most music teachers do. My least favorite composers are whoever wrote the bombastic hymn settings for Notre Dame de Paris post-Vatican II, although I suppose it just might be the organ. I also am not a fan of Bach, although some of his hymn tunes are ok. Mozart is love-hate as well for me, mostly cause I've only heard a few good performances and some very bad ones.

    ... Oh, and of course the Praise-and-Worship junk. I don't get the appeal, and I quite frankly have heard nothing of musical value.
  • It would indeed be fascinating to know how Mozart would have developed had he lived a full life. I've always felt that his untimely departure from this life was a great loss to posterity. Already, it seems to me, there are hints of Beethoven in his last symphonies. On the other hand, Haydn, who died in 1809, seems not to have been overly touched by the dawn of romanticism.

    Pachelbel rather leaves me wishing for more music. He is pleasant, but there is little or no substance. I say this even though I'm doing his f-minor ciacona on a recital in several weeks. I really wish I hadn't programmed it because it really doesn't fit in with everything else on this all renaissance and baroque program which ends with Bach's great c-minor prelude and fugue. (I assume that everyone knows that, though he was Lutheran, he was for a time an organist at St Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna - there was much more tolerance amongst educated people in those days than we sometimes think.)
  • I am sad to read this list. So many composers I love mentioned here...
  • Kevin814
    Posts: 39
    Has no one mentioned Györgi Ligeti yet?
  • ...so many composers I love...

    Good!
    Tell us why you love them!

    Mozart is mentioned here.
    I love Mozart and always have.
    The first music that ever filled me with adolescent awe was the Sanctus to his Requiem.
    It seems to me that those who can't get beyond the adolescently cynical I-IV-V-I could only wish that they could do with that progression what Mozart did.
    And, of course, his music really goes far beyond such a rather dumb caricature.
    (Which only proves that we all have 'blind spots' in our minds.)
    Thanked by 2Vilyanor Choirparts
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,870
    It seems to me that those who can't get beyond the adolescently cynical I-IV-V-I could only wish that they could do with that progression what Mozart did.
    And, of course, his music really goes far beyond such a rather dumb caricature.
    (Which only proves that we all have 'blind spots' in our minds.)


    .
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,515
    I wouldn't call myself a big Mozart fan. Some of his "court" music was frilly, stilted, prissy, and likely so because that was the style in favor with European nobility. Toward the end of his life, however, he seemed to mature and some of his late music took on a darker tone. I do like his later compositions.

    One of my childhood memories was seeing Lohengrin floating across the stage in his swan boat. There was also a 300-pound soprano and all the lush and lavish sets. Perhaps because of that early experience, I still like Wagner. It is better to actually see and hear him in context at an opera house, than to just listen to him.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,192
    Admittedly I haven't listened to all of Mozart, but almost everything I have says, "Here's a short motif. Now I shall repeat it any number of times with slight alterations."

    Ain't nobody got time for that.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,870
    i have no desire to repeat or elaborate on what Mozart did... however, if I could compose one Latin chant that would contribute to the body of sacred music, I would be ecstatic.
    Thanked by 1Vilyanor
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,383
    Did someone say Ligeti? Have you heard Matt Curtis's rendition of Ligeti's Lux Aerterna?

    https://www.facebook.com/matt.curtis.923/videos/846073277070/
    Thanked by 1MarkThompson
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,383
    When someone mentioned to someone else words to the effect, "Did you know that Vivaldi composed a thousand concertos?", the reply by the someone else was, "No, he didn't compose a thousand concertos. Vivaldi composed one concerto, a thousand times."
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,353
    I have a personal vendetta against Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck.

    Does that count?
  • I didn't think a thread for least favorite composers was the place for a discussion of favorites, but perhaps I will attempt defenses of this composers I've seen listed here. Starting later...
  • So much philistinism in a single thread!
  • Jeffrey Quick
    Posts: 1,632
    Montani must be the Lowell Mason of Catholic church music.

    Very perceptive.
    One thing I like about this thread is that people aren't beating on church composers, who, by and large, are a "target-rich environment". Nor are they going after unknowns. I dislike the music of Asger Hamerik, but putting him on the bad composer list is a bit like giving up Peking Duck for Lent. (A whole 'nother thread could be "Composers I enjoy in spite of their manifest flaws.")

    But Mozart-bashing? Seriously, guys...
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,192
    This isn't a "bad composers" thread.

    It's a least-favorite composers thread.

    There's a difference
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,515
    Vivaldi composed one concerto, a thousand times."


    There's some truth to that and much of that music seems too repetitive. I think the worst compositions I have heard in that department would be the Randall Thompson "Alleluia" and of course, Ravel's "Bolero." There are some Bach works that seem to repeat a phrase 50 times too many, then change keys and repeat it 50 times more.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,515
    But Mozart-bashing? Seriously, guys...


    I wouldn't call Mozart a church music composer in any form. That Coronation Mass, much beloved by local traddies, is a concert piece that belongs on a stage. Likewise, that dreaded Mozart, Alleluia (Exsultate, jubilate K.165). I have nightmares of screeching sopranos warbling and wobbling around while singing that piece.
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  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,870
    omgosh.... K165... the divas that have requested this piece over and over of me... vanity... all is vanity... including the composer's musical gymnastics. It certainly does not belong in any liturgy.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW