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Classical Beat
Posted at 06:09 AM ET, 08/16/2012

Readers’ rediscoveries

Last week, I wrote about neglected composers of the past being resurrected on CD. In the wake of that article, I heard from readers -- by e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter -- nominating their own favorite forgotten composers. This was one of the most entertaining and informative sequence of responses I’ve ever gotten; I didn’t have room to reprint them all, but I compiled some of them for the print edition of the Post on Sunday, and am offering a slightly more comprehensive list here. Sorry if your contribution’s not on it.

A note: I edited out the names of the living. Arbitrary, yes, but my article focused specifically on composers of the past, and I had to draw the line somewhere. Also, I tried to keep it to one mention per composer, though a number of them got multiple nods: Charles-Valentin Alkan and Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Vagn Holmboe and Franz Schreker, Alexander Zemlinsky and Paul Creston, Ingolf Dahl and Irving Fine.

Some questioned the idea of “neglect,” and some possibly stretched the meaning of the term. Is Massenet really “neglected,” because a lot of his work is not better know? What about Telemann, or Delibes -- veritably mainstream names in comparison to, say, Alberic Magnard. Carl Nielsen “is teetering,” one commenter wrote, though his symphonies are certainly heard in the concert hall. “How well known is Gorecki outside the Third [Symphony]?” asked someone else (answer: Not well). And “neglect” varies with geography; some mentioned Artur Honegger, but it was countered that “he gets a pretty fair amount of play here in Europe.”

“The hoot about this is that this is the classical version of hipsterism,” Justin Capps wrote.

Above: Richard Garmise nominated Marie Jaell as a neglected composer worth hearing. “There's just a bit of her on YouTube,” he wrote. “But boy is it weird. Just listen to the early piano four hands work: it starts out deadly simply, like the Diabelli theme, and slowly goes further and further off track harmonically.”

And the nominees are:

Robert M. Beecroft: “I’ve specialized in collecting little-known music since I first discovered Michael Ponti’s recordings of the Moszkowski and Hummel piano concertos on Vox/Turnabout in the 1960s. If you ever return to the subject, I hope you’ll give a nod to Ern? (Ernst von) Dohnányi, who has graduated in my estimation from second-echelon post-Brahmsian to the last great Central European composer.”

Kenneth Greenwood: “Falling between Beethoven and Schumann is Johann Wenzel Kalliwoda, who was greatly admired by Schuman. How many out there have heard his 5th and 7th Symphonies? How about the 4th Symphony of Joseph Ryelandt?”

John Bowen: “For the past several years, I have directed courses on women composers for senior learners at the University of Maryland, American University, and Historic Greenbelt.  The course participants and I have become aware of how infrequently music created by women is heard on WETA, and, to the extent that it is heard at all, how certain compositions by a very few women are played over and over.”

Judah Adashi: “It’s all a matter of one’s definition of neglected/overlooked/forgotten, but I’d throw Irving Fine into the conversation.”

Daniel Felsenfeld: “I have a soft spot for [Josef Matthias] Hauer and [Vagn] Holmboe. And Theodore Chanler. [Nikos] Skalkottas too. And [Gian Francesco] Malipiero.”

Chris Johnson: “I know exactly one piece by a composer named François Martin and would love to hear more.”

Rick Robertson: “Felix Blumenfeld, Serge Bortkiewicz, and probably other Russian keyboard composers from the late 19th - early 20th century.”

Patrick D. McCoy: “Undine Smith Moore.”

Henrique Lian (@hlianfuturity): “Hans Rott and Rued Langgaard.”

Christopher Caines: “Ernst Toch—one of the greatest symphonists and composers of string quartets ever in the German tradition, a true neglected GREAT.”

Christian Hertzog: “Who do I think should be programmed more? [Galina] Ustvolskaya. Jón Leifs is relatively unknown in America, yet I find him one of the most remarkable Scandanavian composers of the 20th century. Allan Pettersson’s symphonies are wonderful.”

Oliver Hazan: “Max Bruch. Not forgotten, not overlooked, but not known either. His 2nd Symphony is wonderful.”

Everette Minchew: “I’d like to hear Paul Creston performed more. The symphonies of Humphrey Searle are great and never heard.”

Ardal Powell: “[Michele] Mascitti.”

David Pocock: “Yrjö Kilpinen by a mile.”

Kypros Markou: “Irene Britton Smith. I played her Violin-Piano Sonata last year. Beautiful piece; really good composer. Also Bernard Stevens (British). At least some of his music is being recorded.”

Frederic Chiu: “Abel Decaux, the French Schoenberg who wrote 4 atonal, impressionist works, then stopped. And Alexis de Castillon, who wrote beautiful chamber music, especially after studying with Franck, but died young.”

Ronald George Baltimore: “Betty Lou Jackson King.”

Scott Levine: “There are works by the Australian Peggy Glanville-Hicks (1912-1990) and by the American Reginald De Koven (1859-1920) that I’d love to hear.”

Rebecca Schmid: “Erwin Schulhoff, Carl Goldmark.”

Christopher Purdy: “[Claude] Goudimel, [Italo] Montemezzi, [Riccardo] Zandonai.”

Jed Distler: “Anton Reicha, Jan Ladislav Dussek and Gabriel von Wayditch!”

Thomas Neal Huizenga: “[Vagn] Holmboe, [Edmund] Rubbra, [Christian] Sinding, [Josef Bohuslav] Foerster.”

Tim Page: “J.C. Bach (heard “Temistocle” 30 years ago and never forgot it). Telemann (the best is very, very good but it’s hard to sift out). Walter Piston, Carl Ruggles (don’t think I’ve heard a single piece in person), Rebecca Clarke…. Pfitzner (beyond “Palestrina,” which I persist in thinking one of the great 20th century operas). Would second Gorecki (“Lerchenmusik” is truly insane and wonderful). Charles Tomlinson Griffes, who might have grown into a great composer... I’ve heard very little Alexandre Tansman, but all that I’ve heard has been touching and beautiful.”

Brad Cresswell: “André Mathieu - an astonishing talent that self-destructed. Some wonderfully inventive music though.”

Aaron Z. Snyder: “Richard Wetz: he may have been a bit old-fashioned for his time, but his 2nd Symphony is a masterpiece and his 3rd almost one.”

Mark Shapiro: “...One of the many challenges associated with programming neglected repertoire is snagging critical attention. When you were with the New York Times, you once reviewed a performance by Cantori New York (I conducted) in which we gave the world premiere of ‘Ondine’ by Clement Robert, for chorus, string quintet, and piano -- about a century after it was written. Though clearly talented, Robert gave up composing (reportedly at his wife’s insistence) to work in the family business: Garages Robert… Here’s one to stump even the most dedicated trivia hound: Dynam-Victor Fumet…. [And] Peter Mennin’s Symphony #4 (The Cycle). Exhilarating. I also have fond memories of works by Ulysses Kay.”

Bruce Howarth: “My sample starter-list... Earl Kim, [Alberto] Ginastera, [Olav] Fartein Valen, Arne Nordheim...”

Martin Perry: “How quickly we forget even great 20th-century composers! Just finished recording some Gordon Binkerd (overlooked, especially his piano works) and, coming up next, Hugo Weisgall (certainly not completely neglected, but misunderstood?).”

Elliott Schwartz: “For starters--Ingolf Dahl, [Vincent] Persichetti, [Lukas] Foss, [Eduard] Tubin, [Bruno] Maderna, [Robert] Simpson, [Michael] Tippett, and my old teacher Paul Creston. And all the Americans whose symphonic works are neglected by American orchestras ([Peter] Mennin, [Howard] Hanson, [Roger] Goeb, [Roy] Harris, [Henry] Cowell, Stephen Albert, and dozens more).”

Steven Blier: “Carlos López-Buchardo.”

Neely Bruce: “Anthony Philip Heinrich, ‘the Beethoven of America.’ The most profoundly original unknown composer ever. (Hardly unknown during his lifetime, I might add.) ... I’m trying to get an orchestra to play a specific piece of his: ‘The Columbiad, or, Migration of American Wild Passenger Pigeons’ in 2014, the anniversary of the death of the last of the PPs. Any suggestions?”

By  |  06:09 AM ET, 08/16/2012

 
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