The Symphony: From Mannheim to Mahler

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With impeccable timing at the start of a new academic year, Faber Music have just released The Symphony: From Mannheim to Mahler, an accessible new guide written by Christopher Tarrant and Natalie Wild, which hopes (and in my view deserves) to become a standard text for A’ level and undergraduate students.

While not a piano book, this publication certainly merits the attention of any advancing pianist or teacher with an interest in the core classical tradition; as the dominant instrumental form from the mid-eighteenth century onwards, the symphony’s parallel development and symbiotic relationship with the sonata undoubtedly make an understanding of the former helpful for a full appreciation of the latter.

With that in mind, let’s take a look…

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Morning Sickness & Mahler

Fluency, understanding, expression and confidence.
Written by Andrew Eales

Why are there some composers that we just don’t really like?

That’s a question that has reappeared in my thinking at regular intervals since I read a blog post on Norman Lebrecht’s site Slipped Disc way back in 2014 entitled 10 Works of Composers you never want to hear again. 

All this time later, the comments section of that post is still receiving periodic additions as more music lovers choose to name and shame the music that particularly irritates them.

A Facebook group for classical music lovers has recently had popular threads asking such questions as:

  • Which is your least favorite, most cringe evoking piece of classical music?
  • Name your three least favorite composers.
  • Which instrument most offends your ears?????

And in all three cases, these have attracted several hundred replies. Some of course protest that it is unthinkable that a proper music lover could lower themselves to answering such questions, as if somehow those who do are traitors to the cause, or maybe just a little bit uncouth. But it’s interesting to note that some world-class performers have been among those quick to share their dislikes!

What we need to remember, though, is that our answers to such questions are entirely subjective. Thankfully most people get this, and make little effort to justify their dislikes in objective terms. It is possible to objectively recognise a composer is great while not subjectively enjoying their music. It is when people forget this that they end up having pointless arguments with strangers online!

Continue reading Morning Sickness & Mahler