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.

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 Erno (Ernst von) Dohnanyi, 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 Fifth and Seventh symphonies? How about the Fourth 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.”


Josef Matthias Hauer, founder of twelve tone music. 1957. (Imagno/GETTY IMAGES)

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

Richard Garmise: “I have been doing a little preparation for the big second Saint-Saens weekend up at Bard, and the name that has kept coming up . . . is Marie Jaell. There’s just a bit of her on YouTube . . . . 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.”

Chris Johnson: “Joseph Eybler, Jean-Joseph de Mondonville.”

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 Francois 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. Jon 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 Second 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: “Yrjo 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. At least some of his music is being recorded.”

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

What is “neglected?” Massenet was mentioned, as were Telemann and Delibes — all veritably mainstream names in comparison with, say, Alberic Magnard (another nominee). 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.”

And some composers seem to be growing famous for being neglected. Alkan and Korngold, Zemlinsky and Schreker got several nods apiece.

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

Anne Midgette came to the Washington Post in 2008, when she consolidated her various cultural interests under the single title of chief classical music critic. She blogs at The Classical Beat.
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