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Composer Cagematch!: Mahler vs. Wagner


Rachmaninoff was winning when I left, guys. Winning. Over Tchaikovsky! Is there anything that could possibly be more wrong? (Don’t answer that — I don’t want to know what you’ve seen browsing XTube, thank you.) Thank God a little bit of Disney magic followed me home, and when I closed the poll dear Piotr Ilyich had taken it by one.

Okay, enough of Cagematch!es past. Time for Cagematch!es present. I spent this whole morning trying to figure out what to do next. I still haven’t hit Italy, but I have no idea who to pair with Respighi. Should I go with the Gershwin-Berstein fight I’ve been pondering for awhile? Go straight for the girlfight and then move to round two? I was starting to get worried when I hit it. YES.

Germany, I hope you’ve had enough rest, because in this corner, programming his symphonies and leading with lieder,* it’s


Are you ready? Well, you better GET ready, because in this corner, getting the nod from James Herriot, stubbornly defended by my dad, inspiring great ire and vehement admiration all at once, it’s


That’s pronounced Ri-kard Vahgner, muthatruckers, and don’t you forget it!

Oh, man, I hope this is as much fun as Brahms-Schumann. Mahler works, right? I mean, he gets pretty grandiose in his symphonies, and he loved Wagner! (I almost made it Mendelssohn, but then I realized that 1. Mendelssohn is so not Wagnerian and 2. some people have no sense of ironic humor. Updated to add: Haha, oops. I just remembered that Mahler was also Jewish. So take your irony pill after all.)

C’mon, be fair. Remember, we’re not voting based on whether we agree on the composer’s personal morals and philosophies; we’re voting based on music. I LIKE Overture to Rienzi. Of course, I also like the “Titan” symphony. I like all of Mahler’s symphonies, really, but then I appreciate the familiarity of Wagner’s operas — you hear a theme and immediately you know where you are.

I expect some fightin’ words in the comments — DO NOT DISAPPOINT ME.

* I know you wanted him to fight Schubert, Bek, but I hope this is some consolation.


About Jenn

Despite being the former digital marketing intern at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Jenn German does not like Mozart. Beethoven could've totally beaten him up. Also she has an arts management graduate degree from American University, but this changes nothing.


14 thoughts on “Composer Cagematch!: Mahler vs. Wagner

  1. It’s a bit of an unfair contest, like Mahler vs. Beethoven or Liszt vs. Bach. A lot of these guys did equally great things at different times, so, how do you give them a throwdown without realizing nobody really loses in them. 🙂

    Posted by Chris McGovern | June 14, 2011, 2:22 pm
  2. I meant to say ‘?’ ! 🙂

    Posted by Chris McGovern | June 14, 2011, 2:23 pm
    • Psh, “nobody loses” is a phrase uttered by losers! 😉 I totally know what you’re saying. But I haven’t had a single CC! yet where a composer got no votes or even pathetically few, so one can always take solace in that fact.

      Posted by Jenn | June 14, 2011, 2:40 pm
  3. BTW, just for the heck of it, if you haven’t had this combination yet, Beethoven vs Schubert! 🙂

    Posted by Chris McGovern | June 14, 2011, 10:01 pm
  4. Thankgodgustaviswinning.

    I’m a slave to Mahler. Both of these dudes write solid harp parts, but, at least to me, Mahler wins when it comes to the placement of the harp texture in the fabric of the other instruments. With Mahler, we’re like a gem on a hand-sewn purse. Many times, it’s single notes, nothing elaborate. And you’ll hear them. Opening of Mahler 9. Adagietto Mahler 5. The end of Mahler 4. I could go on. Yeah!

    Posted by Cara Fleck | June 24, 2011, 11:23 am
  5. Jenn, I know you think all I do is whine about bad matchmaking…

    This is like putting a middleweight in a super heavyweight match, where Gustav is wearing 4 oz, and Rick-ard is wearing eights.

    Wagner wrote operas, so that automatically gives him a weight and reach advantage.

    RW wrote the Ring cycle – so Mahler loses points on his ground game, but gains on his standup (6th Symphony and a BIG freaking hammer, anyone?)

    Cara Fleck – great point regarding the harps – Wagner buried his and Gustav let his shimmer elegantly.

    From round one, this match will go to the cards. Gustav got my vote, because I think Wagner should go mano-a-mano against another opera composer.

    I would have liked to see a Mahler/Beethoven matchup.

    Jenn, I don’t think Beethoven/Wolfie is a solid, because early Beethoven *is* a lot of Mozart recycled. The 1st & 2nd are flat-out tributes. Even the 4th has a lot of Mozart in it.

    and I love both of those guys, so thats no insult to Ludwig.


    Posted by Classical Music Broadcast | June 25, 2011, 7:29 pm
  6. I really like what you guys are usually up too.
    This sort of clever work and exposure! Keep up the superb works guys I’ve you guys to blogroll.

    Posted by http://www.articlerich.com | July 24, 2013, 7:30 am


  1. Pingback: Composer Cagematch!: Interlude « If it ain't Baroque… - June 29, 2011

  2. Pingback: Composer Cagematch!: Monteverdi vs. Just Verdi « If it ain't Baroque… - July 13, 2011

  3. Pingback: Composer Cagematch! Round 2: Mahler vs. Brahms « If it ain't Baroque… - January 17, 2012

  4. Pingback: Composer Cagematch!: THE WINNER « If it ain't Baroque… - June 26, 2012

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