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In Reply to: RE: Brahms was even less enthusiastic posted by rbolaw on April 01, 2012 at 12:31:25
(when we had a streaming video performance of Brahms's First Symphony going on our system). . . I'd rather be listening to the Organ Symphony! (She was not amused.)
Actually, I do like Brahms a lot - I just don't like the aura of musical sainthood that many listeners try to create for him. OTOH, I think that Saint-SaŽns is too easily dismissed as a musical light-weight, so I take the opportunity to promote/defend his music any time I can.
Guess I'm guilty, because I feel the same way they do. I used to have fun blasting the Telarc Organ Symphony, tho.
that Saint-Saens' operas, the chief basis for his fame in his day, are mostly forgotten today, with the possible exception of Samson and Delilah. And he considered The Carnival of the Animals, probably his best-known piece today, such an embarrassment he would not allow it to be performed in public, except for Le Cygne.
I have no idea why Brahms has such an exalted reputation while Saint-Saens is, as you say, dismissed. Apparently they were both reasonably modest and dignified, and justifiably respected, musical eminences in their day.
"I have no idea why Brahms has such an exalted reputation while Saint-Saens is, as you say, dismissed."
Maybe because Brahms was about a hundred times better composer than Saint-Saens. That said, personally, I probably listen to more Saint-Saens than I do Brahms these days having overdosed on his symphonies and most of the piano music before I turned 20. I do often listen to the Brahms lieder as performed by Fischer-Dieskau and the three not-so-well-known very early piano sonatas. Of course, among others of his works, the Horn Trio is a towering masterpiece of which I never tire of.
Well, the lieder, the solo piano music and the horn trio are all good reasons to regard Brahms as a great composer, in many ways far ahead of Saint-Saens, Gounod, or any of the other French composers he detested.
But as you implicitly concede when you say that you listen to Saint-Saens more often than Brahms, it isn't simply about who is "better" (the New York Times to the contrary), the wide variety in art is a large part of its appeal. Any collection of music entitled "The Best of ...." makes me wince. If someone's music is truly worth hearing, it's worth getting beyond a publisher's or editor's arbitrary choice of "the best".
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