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fitzcaraldo215
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John Marks on Beethoven

John Marks (I did not know he was a poet in his own mind, too) has every right to like or not like whichever composers he chooses, as do we all. But, this pompous-assed article reveals nothing but the incredible arrogance and self-important smugness of Marks the man and music critic, when he is not writing poetry, that is. His logic is tortured beyond belief in a vain attempt to rationalise and glorify his own simple preferences, as if they had some actual significance.

I also really like the bold quote: "Any opinion poll, no matter how "scientifically conducted", is ultimately founded on total subjectivity." How profound. Duh, what else is new?

JA, you really should be ashamed of yourself for printing this meaningless garbage.

FWIW, Beethoven's not at the top of my list, either. But, who cares but me?

John Atkinson
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Re: John Marks & Beethoven

fitzcaraldo215 wrote:
JA, you really should be ashamed of yourself for printing this meaningless garbage.

Needless to say, I disagree, nor am I ashamed of the essay, but I have asked John Marks to respond to your posting.

Quote:
FWIW, Beethoven's not at the top of my list, either. But, who cares but me?

Wasn't that John's point? :-)

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

 

John Marks
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A reply

I know what my point was.

I also know that you have not grasped it.

But I don't know what your point is.

However, it's always nice to meet another LVB semi-agnostic.

You might be interested to learn that I received an email from someone who felt that that essay justified the price of his entire subscription.

Perhaps my next AWSI (assuming JA wishes to print another by me) should be about why certain people can't disagree about musical topics without getting extremely angry and questioning the basic humanity of people they disagree with.

Or perhaps you can write about that, and submit it.

John Marks

Josh Hill
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For what it's worth, I

For what it's worth, I thought it was one of the most engaging pieces I've read in a long time. It got my dander up, but isn't that a sign of engagement? And it sent me back to the Kakadu Variations, and introduced me to "From Me What Flow What You Call Time," which I found precisely as you described it. Though I'm not sure it serves much of a purpose to use as a point of comparison one of Beethoven's weakest works (I gather it's an early piece to which he added a late period fugue, which I think is beyond brilliant).

John Marks
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Thanks, but "weakest" is...
Thanks, but "weakest" are LVB's duos for mandolin and harpsichord. Pleasant wallpaper that nobody would know, except for HE WHO wrote it. Not everything he wrote was a work of genius. Just like Brahms, LVB had to pay the bills, but at least Brahms used a pseudonym, "G.W. Marks" if you can believe it. JM
John Atkinson
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Beethoven's Weakest Work?
John Marks wrote:
Thanks, but "weakest" are LVB's duos for mandolin and harpsichord.
Don't forget the Wellington's Victory Overture, which I heard programmed one unfortunate evening at the Kennedy Center.

On the other hand, I love the violin sonatas, most of which you dismissed. :-)

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

John Marks
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I think that there's a noticeable falling off in quality...
Sorry, John. I think that Kreutzer is one of the greatest violin compositions, and that Spring is not too far below it (but Spring itself is below the Brahms violin sonatas), and after that, there is very good music but just not on the same level as K and S. Take No. 2 or No. 10. Not shabby at all, but there were lots of composers turning out stuff that was just as engaging. For example, Beethoven's contemporary Giuliani... . But based on Giuliani's works for violin, nobody is calling him a universal genius. Anyway, I can't wait for the December issue to street!!! JM
fkrausz
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Falling-off in quality

I think that, especially for composers who wrote for a living, the question should not be "are there weaker compositions in the oeuvre," but "how much really great stuff did they write?"  I don't think you'll hear many of the Mozart piano sonatas performed in concert, either, in my opinion for good reason -- but the few that you do hear are likely worth the price of admission.

Josh Hill
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My feeling as well
fkrausz wrote:

I think that, especially for composers who wrote for a living, the question should not be "are there weaker compositions in the oeuvre," but "how much really great stuff did they write?"  I don't think you'll hear many of the Mozart piano sonatas performed in concert, either, in my opinion for good reason -- but the few that you do hear are likely worth the price of admission.

I tend to agree (though I think you're underestimating the Mozart sonatas, which IMO Artur Schnabel aptly characterized as "too easy for children and too difficult for adults.") There's weak Bach as well. As you point out, composers who had to pay the rent didn't always have time to perfect their works, and they developed as artists as well.

Josh Hill
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Must be completely forgettable
John Marks wrote:

Thanks, but "weakest" are LVB's duos for mandolin and harpsichord. Pleasant wallpaper that nobody would know, except for HE WHO wrote it. Not everything he wrote was a work of genius. Just like Brahms, LVB had to pay the bills, but at least Brahms used a pseudonym, "G.W. Marks" if you can believe it. JM

They must be weak indeed, because I don't remember them at all, and I went through the complete Beethoven not long ago just in case there was anything I'd missed over the years. Not terribly much, as it turned out, other than some of the Scottish folksongs, but one was very special indeed -- the incidental music to Egmont. I was familiar only with the overture, and since I'd either never heard the rest of it hit me with the same extraordinary emotional force with which his music first hit me when I was younger. A reminder of how extraordinary he was, even if many of his works don't stand up as well upon repeated listenings as those of Bach and Mozart.

Josh Hill
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Wellington's Victory
John Atkinson wrote:

Don't forget the Wellington's Victory Overture, which I heard programmed one unfortunate evening at the Kennedy Center.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Dreadful, but I love Beethoven's response to a critic who panned it: "What I shit is better than anything you could ever think up!"

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