Official ALLTO workshop description:
Lesser Known Classical Composers
There are only a handful of classical music composers whose names are known by all. The idea behind this workshop is to have participants explore the music of some lesser known composers. There are literally hundreds of men and women whose names and great music are unfamiliar to most of us. But there are online examples of the work of many of these lesser knowns. Pick an era, scan the list of composers from that era, browse the Internet for musical examples of their work.
Share your discovery with fellow workshop participants. It’s time to explore some lesser know composers’ music, and a workshop seems a good way to begin that exploration. Help will be provided to extract the music and present it to the workshop.
Reference material about some lesser known composers will be developed and posted as it is being developed on the facilitator’s website: http://fabian.ca/lessor
Bob Fabian (firstname.lastname@example.org) started life torn between the French Horn and Science. Computer Science and consulting won out as a career, but music has remain a love. He has shared that love by moderating a baker’s dozen of classical music courses at Ryerson’s LIFE Institute. This will be his first Academy music workshop.
[end official description]
As I imagine it, this workshop will see participants exploring and experiencing music that may be new to them. There are no rules for which music participants may share in the workshop. There are, however, some practical limitations. Each of us will have somewhat less than a one hour to introduce our lesser known composer. Illustrating with a three hour opera would not be practical.
Examples of the music from literally thousands of composers is freely available on YouTube (and other online sharing services). Finding appealing but lesser known composers is relatively easy. Consult one of the many lists of classical composers, e.g. Classical Music Composers Timeline or List of classical music composers by era. With just a bit of exploring you could “discover” the sons of J. S. Bach or the composers viewed as competitors of W. A. Mozart or late romantic composers who followed in the footsteps of Brahms and Mahler. You might even discover interesting composers who came before Bach, ... or are still alive.
In virtually all cases you can find examples of lesser known composers’ music on YouTube. Preparation for a workshop presentation should be (relatively) simple. Pick a lesser known classical composer who speaks to you. Put together a brief biographical sketch (Wikipedia often provides all of the basic information that’s needed), find persuasive examples of their music. I’ll provide help with developing ad-free musical examples appropriate for use in the workshop. Your session: Introduce the lesser known composer – Listen to examples of his/her music – Discuss how workshop participants view the composer’s work.
The plan is for the first session to be a get-to-know-you for workshop participants. What background do participants bring to the workshop? What’s the spread of musical interests? What kinds of lesser known classical composers might be well received by participants? I will seed the discussion with examples of lesser know classical composers that I find interesting.
Confession: I am not catholic in my classical music tastes. J. S. Bach has long been my favourite composer. He is all about working with patterns, and I find that his use of musical patterns engages and satifies. My enthusiasm for patterns leads me to favour string quartets – all real composers express many of their deepest musical thoughts in their string quartets. This focus on patterns leads me away from vocal music. Too much depends on the quality of the singers.
My first-cut short list of lesser known composers to consider:
• Hildegard of Bingen [1098-1179] Interesting composer and woman.
• William Byrd [1543-1629] English composer revered by Glenn Gould
• Dieterich Buxtehude [1637-1707] JS Bach walked 200 miles to study with him.
• Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach [1714-1788] Led the way to Classical era in music.
• Johann Christian Bach [1735-1782] The most cosmopolitan of Bach’s sons.
• Chevalier de Saint-Georges [1745-1799] The black Mozart.
• Joseph Martin Kraus [1756-1792] The Swedish Mozart
• Anton Reicha [1770-1832] Beethoven's assistant and a prolific composer.
• César Cui [1835-1918] One of the mighty five Russian composers.
• Robert Fuchs [1847-1927] Followed the romantic path into the 20th century.
• Alexander von Zemlinsky [1871-1942] Didn’t follow in Schoenberg’s footsteps.
• Max Reger [1873-1916] A blend of Bach patterns and modernism.
• Ernő Dohnányi [1877-1960] Hungarian/American composer.
• Ernest Bloch [1880-1959] Followed a romantic path into North America.
• Ernst Heinrich Krenek [1900-1991] Glenn Gould knew and respected him.
• William Schuman [1910-1992] American composer and educator.
• Mieczysław Weinberg [1919-1996] Polish composer fled to Russia in WW II.
• Robert Simpson [1921-1997] English composer important in BBC music.
My hope is that all participants will be introduced to composers that warrant their consideration. In almost all cases there will be musical examples on YouTube and Spotify, with at least basic biographical material on Wikipedia. One way to start is to ask your favorite search engine (Google?) about composers:
- Who are/were famous female classical composers?
- Which composers' music is similar to that of Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, ...
- Which of Bach's children became composers?
- Who were important late romantic composers?
- Who were lesser known Russian, Ukrainian, Hungarian, ... composers?
- etc. etc. ...
A little sleuthing will turn up composers whose music you enjoy, but whose names are unfamiliar. You might not agree with all of the composers turned up by fellow participants, but that's okay. We could all benefit from being introduced to new and potentially interesting classical music.
In almost all cases you will discover Youtube examples of interesting music by composers with whom you were unfamiliar. In rare cases you'll need to search less popular sites, e.g. Classical Music Archive lists over 10,000 composers, most with downloadable musical examples. (Note: sign-up required, but it's free.)
I will help to prepare material that can be presented to the workshop. Take 5 or 10 minutes to provide basic biographical information. Select musical examples, another 20 to 30 minutes. Conclude with an open discussion of the value of your composer's music.
My list of top-of-mind lesser known composers: CPE Bach (much admired by Mozart), CF Bach (the most cosmopolitan of Bach's sons), JM Kraus (called the Mozart of Sweden), Hildegard of Bingen (a distinguished composer who worked around 1200), R. Fuchs (a late romantic who persisted into the 20th century), M Weinberg (a friend of Shostakovich who wrote similar music), ...