Man, I was so happy, cruising through the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s 13-14 season. My beloved Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg is doing the Shostakovich violin concerto: AWESOME. Itzhak mothereffin’ Perlman is back with his ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT rendition of Beethoven’s Romance No. 1; as far as I’m concerned his is the only version that matters. Hell, they’re playing the score to Casablanca while screening the film! I love Casablanca! Here are your winnings, sir!
There’s more! Mahler’s “Titan” symphony! Holst’s The Planets! Gershwin! Bernstein! My favorite Tchaikovsky’s first piano concerto! And look, Mendelssohn’s violin conc – STOP RIGHT THERE.
I’ve said it before but apparently no one was listening, so this time I’m going to try it with more shouty capitals: STOP PLAYING THE MENDELSSOHN VIOLIN CONCERTO. EVERY SINGLE SEASON, SOMEBODY PLAYS THE MENDELSSOHN VIOLIN CONCERTO. THERE IS NOTHING SO VERY GREAT ABOUT THE MENDELSSOHN VIOLIN CONCERTO THAT WE NEED TO HEAR IT INTERPRETED BY EVERY CONCERT VIOLINIST ON EARTH. IT IS NOT THAT DEEP, PEOPLE. IT’S NOT EVEN PARTICULARLY IMPRESSIVE. IT’S, LIKE, EVERY SINGLE STUDENT VIOLINIST’S FIRST REAL CONCERTO. I PLAYED IT. NO ONE CARES. KNOCK IT OFF. LEARN ANOTHER FREAKING PIECE OF MUSIC.
And let us not say another word about it. (Please don’t make me say another word about it.)
Hey, you know how it was supposed to snow today? Well, it IS! Right now! As I type! You could knock me over with one of those long tickly things that birds use for insulation and flight. Nevertheless, music marches on undaunted! At least so far. Check individual symphony websites for inclement weather schedule changes and what have you. Okay, onward!
If you’d like your concert included in next week’s roundup, leave a comment or drop me a line.
Oh, guys. It’s been such a fun journey. Thirty-two composers (edited to add: +2 play-ins) stepped into the ring, and over the year we have slowly whittled it down to two. Before we crown our winner, let’s take a look back over composers past, shall we?
* denotes the winner of the match
ROUND FIVE (PLAY-IN ROUND)
And so we arrive here, at the end. I think we all know whose t-shirt I was wearing, but it wasn’t a question of my sartorial decisions; it all came down to the best man taking the Composer Cagematch! crown. Are you ready? And the winner is…
RHETORICAL QUESTION. But as a loyal reader, you totally want to know all about my picks from the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s upcoming season, right? Especially since I, personally, found that you have to wade through an unexciting beginning. Don’t be put off – there’s a gold streak running all the way from January to June!
So those are my picks. Check out the concert calendar – anything striking your fancy?
I am shocked! Shocked, I tell you!
And by “shocked” I of course mean “not remotely surprised.” How about you? Are you beyond flabbergasted that, in this late-round fight, Tchaikovsky took down Copland? Although in fairness, I do want to point out that I never expected Copland to advance past his first-round competition against Dvorak, so a round of applause for a solid competitor, who still loses so that’s the last we’ll be thinking about him.
Now let’s finish up round three with a match that should be similarly fraught with suspense. But first I just wanted to point out that when criminals in this world appear and break the laws that they should fear and frighten all who see or hear the cry goes up both far and near for
(As a side note, he choreographed Saint-Saens a whole new danse; he’s also in a corner.)
And in this corner, he proved Mahler to be no titan! It’s
P.S. When Polly’s in trouble I am not slow. It’s hip, hip, hip and away I go!
Well. Part of this complete breakfast, indeed.
In yet another decision I simply cannot in good conscience cosign,
Raisin Brahms knocked Mahler right out. Guys, you’re killing me.
But at least Mahler put up a decent fight and no one complained about poor matching. I warned you last week, so believe me when I tell you this — I fear for the last two second round fights. I’m staking out potential hiding places as I speak. Tell me, if an angry mob is as intelligent as the stupidest member’s IQ divided by the number of participants, should behind the couch be sufficient? Keep in mind it’s not pushed against the wall.
So, anyway… in this corner, he wiped the Monte right off his name! It’s
And in this corner, he showed Haydn who’s really Papa! It’s
GEORG! FRIEDRICH! HAAAAAAAAAAAAANDEEEEEEEEEEEEEEL
Okay, look. Verdi excelled in opera. Handel was sorta the father of English opera. Okay? Will you accept this logic? Will you at least admit it makes more sense than pitting either against Gershwin?
Does anyone have a video clip of that scene from “How I Met Your Mother” where Ted brings in a string quartet of completely blue instruments? I wanted to post that yesterday, but I couldn’t find it and then I said “Hell, it’s a holiday” and wandered off to watch more episodes of “How I Met Your Mother.” I have resisted its siren call for all its years on network television, but it popped up on Netflix and now I’m hooked. Curse you, instant queue! (I love you, instant queue.)
If you can believe it, it is time to discuss a matter even more dire. Kids, let’s talk about how hard it’s getting to pair composers for a cagematch in round 2. To whit: it is getting REALLY HARD.
This is one of the last pairings that make some semblance of sense to me. Enjoy it, because it won’t last.
What of last match, you say? Well, despite strong backing from @CMcGo, Saint-Saens came up just short of catching Grieg. Which is unexpected, to say the least. Was it the French thing? McGo says it was the French thing.
And now, in this corner, not even Kenneth Woods could save Schumann from his wrath! It’s
And in this corner, he sent Wagner packing for Valhalla! It’s
* Ben Meyers? Anyone? Anyone? We already established that Brahms = Jesse Spencer.
Thanks to everyone who weighed in on the Composer Cagematch! Seems to me that we can all carry on as before — but do keep in mind that I welcome comments and constructive criticism always, so feel free to let me know what you think, even if I haven’t asked. Maybe especially then.
Additional thanks to Mahler for not wiping the floor too hard with Wagner. You pile on too much Wagner, the floor gets slippery. Guess my dad never voted.
This round of Composer Cagematch! was suggested by the super cool and very hip Chris McGovern. And thank God he did, because I couldn’t settle on an Italian match up for the life of me. I very nearly tossed in every Italian opera composer I could find in together and let them sort it out, but luckily a cooler head prevailed. Plus, all complaints may now be directed to him!
And so in this corner — don’t look back at him or you’ll turn into a pillar of salt!* It’s
And in this corner — do they call it The Scottish Opera? It’s
One practically started opera. One continued opera as hard as he could. Falstaff. Macbeth. Aida. Or — The Coronation of Poppea. L’Orfeo. The Return of Ulysses. Good luck.
* Because of Orpheus, see, and… shut up.
Hi! I know we’re due for a match this week, but I’ve pushed it to next week; let’s talk shop, shall we?
Let’s talk Composer Cagematch! Philosophy. What is a Composer Cagematch!, exactly? Is it a fight between equals in popularity? In style? In country and time period? Is it a fight between equals at all?
I ask — and hope to elicit some healthy discussion and maybe even dig up a shred of clarity — because of this excellent comment from Classical Music Broadcast on the most recent match:
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.
Points well taken (except of course that Beethoven is clearly > Mozart, natch). Perhaps I have not always been the finest matchmaker. My own mother was horrified by my Dvorak-Copland fight — and even more dismayed when Copland took it by a point. But isn’t that interesting? That Copland bested Dvorak? They aren’t from the same time period or even the same country. So why did I match them? Because Dvorak tried to tell Americans how to compose, and Copland was an American who composed. To me it was a good hook. How did the voters choose between them, then?
Well, what sort of contest are we running here? Is it a question of popularity? Is Copland more popular than Dvorak? Is Mahler more popular than Wagner? Have you all been choosing based on artistic merit? One person commented that he had voted for Prokofiev over Stravinsky ultimately because the former appeared more often on his iPod. The reason I think Beethoven/Mozart is a valid match has less to do with music and more to do with musicology — as a general rule, the top 3 composers on virtually every ranking list ever come down to Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart — but the order changes. I want to know less “Who’s the better composer?” and more “Who do you love?” I don’t believe the one necessarily implies the other.
So that’s how I’ve been approaching it. Now I want to open the forum up to you, the voters. Tell me about your voting philosophies. What works for you about the Cagematch!es? What doesn’t? Who should fight next? And can someone please start Claymationing these for me?
Oh, this is interesting. Got an email from the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra:
Make a gift of $75 or more to get access for two people to the Donor Appreciation Concert on June 18th. Donors of $250 or more receive four complimentary seats.
Join us at this year’s Donor Appreciation Concert as the BSO shares the stage with members of the BSO Academy Orchestra. As one of our valued Members, you will have the exclusive opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look at one of the BSO’s groundbreaking initiatives. Be one of the few who will have the chance to experience Maestra Marin Alsop leading the Academy’s culminating concert featuring symphonic favorites by Bernstein, Ravel, Mahler, Rimsky-Korsakov and Hindemith. For more information on the concert, click here.
Become a Beethoven level Member ($150) and enhance your concert-going experience with two complimentary drink vouchers.
Ticket sales cover only 40% of our annual operating costs. Your gift will help us balance our budget and reach our remaining Annual Fund goal of $150,000 by August 31st!
To discover more ways your support will enhance lives in local communities, please visit our “Case for Music.”
I checked out the concert, and they’re offering some Ravel, some Hindemith, a Mahler symphony, AND: Berstein’s Overture to Candide AND: Rimsky-Korsakov’s Capriccio espagnol! And if you give them $150 they’ll also give you alcohol? What a deal! Man, I wish I had that kind of money to drop. Does anyone wanna go splitsies with me?