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Not a composer I'm wild about normally. Aside from the popular piano concerto, I do like his Symphony No. 3, which features 15 (!) trumpets and is probably his most adventurous bit of writing. It got him into trouble with the Soviet authorities in the famous censure which included Prokofiev and Shostakovich. You might think him a composer insensitive to bombast, but I'd recommend a charming, lyrical trio for clarinet, violin, and piano.

He doesn't seem to have written that much. An American serialist. Every work is incredibly strong and well-made. In this, he reminds me of Carl Ruggles. However, try the Toccata. Mester and the Louisville Orchestra recorded it.

Another person who doesn't deserve his critical drubbings. He has suffered mainly because he wasn't Bartók and he was musically pretty conservative. Of course, conservative doesn't necessarily mean rotten. The big orchestral works everyone knows I won't talk about. Here, however, you might try the sort-of Hindemithian Concerto for Orchestra, written late in Kodály's career. The chamber music is uneven. I'm no fan of the string quartets. However, the Duo for violin and cello is pretty interesting, and the Sonata for solo cello IMNSHO the greatest since Bach and AS GOOD. Go figure. For me, the strongest part of Kodály's output is the choral music. There's a lot of it. Again, the pieces everyone knows for chorus and orchestra I'll skip here. However, I want to mention the delightful, folk-based Matra Pictures, Songs from Karad, and the powerful Jesus and the Traders, all for unaccompanied voices.

Some have called him the "next big discovery from France." A man, even in France, whose compositions have been until recently obscure, he nevertheless wrote a huge amount. I've made some headway. The Seven Stars Symphony is not about Betelgeuse, but about movie stars (he was mad for films). Each movement depicts a different star: Emil Jannings, Marlene Dietrich, Chaplin, Clara Bow (you now know when this was written), and Lillian Harvey (who? this was his favorite. In fact, he became rather obsessive about her). What's the music like? Try to imagine Satie with a lot more technique and a complete mastery over large designs. The 5 Chorales de Moyen-Âge and the Partita have been recorded by Mester and the Louisville Orchestra. These show the influence of Stravinsky. Finally, Les Bandar-Log, depicting the monkeys of Kipling's Jungle Book, is both an outrageous parody of various 20th-century styles and a very beautiful, tightly-written work. The piano music is a bit uneven, unless you like Szymanowski-type orientalism (I don't). It ranges from the plodding to the throwaway. I stress that this is just what I've heard. Again, I have a lot yet to go through.

People generally know the violin concerto. I'd like to recommend the short and exciting cello concerto, the lush String Quartet No. 2 in E-flat, and the powerful Symphony in F#, which won the support of Bruno Walter. Also, I admit it, I really like the movie music. Try the two Gerhardt CDs on BMG (them again!).

A composer's composer. He started out in the Hindemith-Weill wing of Twenties German-Austrian music and ended up in the Schoenberg camp. The musical personality is very cool. Don't look for anything so vulgar as a climax. However, the music is wonderfully well made and full of interest. There are no hits. Try the opera Jonny spielt auf, the Santa Fe Timetable (he sets a railroad timetable for unaccompanied chorus), and the harp sonata. The harp is not a chromatic instrument by nature, and thus you would think unsuited to a serial composer. But this one works, and results in one of the most original pieces for the instrument ever written. I imagine it must be a bear to play, and the harpists may have to rest their feet afterwards. The harp sonority softens the dissonance, as well as makes the dissonances clearer. How that happens, I don't know.

An American composer who died young. I've heard a few pieces. Most of them are okay. The one that gets my adrenalin pumping is the Good Soldier Schweik Suite. It sort of combines Weill and Prokofiev. It's a cousin to the Kleine Dreigroschenopermusik, but rhythmically livelier.

A major minor composer who writes very attractive music. His music is like what Scandanavian music sounds like in your expectations and imagination. For beauty on a small scale, try the concertinos (he wrote 12, one for almost every instrument of the standard orchestra), the Liten Serenad, and the Pastoralsvit. The three symphonies are worth your time, as long as you're not expecting Beethoven to show up. My favorite work, full of gorgeous melody, cleanly worked out, is The Disguised God (Forkklådd Gud) for soprano, baritone, chorus, speaker, and orchestra.

Wrote over 2,000 works. There has never been a complete Lassus edition. He worked in every style of the Renaissance: Flemish church music, Italian madrigal, French chanson. The masses don't do much for me. The real interest lies in the motets (one of the great motet writers) and in the secular pieces. People point out his attention to finding musical equivalents for the imagery in the text. Since you're not likely to catch this during a first run-through, I would also like to point out that the music also makes a direct, visceral connection. For the daredevils among you, try the early Prophetiae Sibyllarum, in which he experiments with strange, Gesualdo-like harmonies for the only time.

Another forgotten American composer. And he's based in New York, too. Puts a unique spin on neo-classicism. Dramatic, rhythmically-charged music. Get anything you can.

The British tend to focus on the artists killed in World War I -- Owen, Butterworth, Brooke. World War II as well claimed its share of promising talent. Walter Leigh died in North Africa. His idiom is neo-classic, a bit more oriented toward the European continent than was usual for a British composer of the time. Everything I've heard of his is wonderfully witty. Works include a Concertino for Harpsichord,. the overture Agincourt, incidental music to Aristophanes's Frogs and A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Music for Strings.

The British music scene reminds me of a castle on a hill against the sky. You're so taken by the castle, you don't really see its surroundings. The Brits have tended to have one feudal figure dominating all the others of his time: Elgar, Vaughan Williams, Walton, Britten, and Tippett. All these artists have very fine contemporaries, far less well-known. Leighton, like many other British composers who came to notice after World War II, faced the problem of what to do next. Vaughan Williams, Walton, and Britten were successfully cultivating their own gardens. Tippett was traveling his idiosyncratic and essentially unrepeatable path. Some younger composers -- like Alwyn and Arnold -- found themselves comfortable near the Walton beds. Others became more internationally-minded. Leighton himself became intrigued by the music of Messiaen, although he never really copied. Leighton's music is meditative and intellectually patrician. If it has a fault, it keeps too much its emotional distance, at least in the earlier music. However, as he ages, the music becomes more and more passionate, until the Symphony No. 3 "Laudes musicae", which blazes with warmth. I also recommend the church music and the suite Veris gratia for cello and orchestra.

Liszt wrote so much that it's relatively easy to find something few have heard. Try the Malediction, an early, wild piece for piano and strings -- sort of a precursor of the Totentanz. I prefer the precursor.

I'm currently up in the air about him. I find him enormously uneven, as opposed to someone like William Alwyn, stylistically much the same but a lot sharper. Some of his symphonic movements make a huge impact; others seem like his horse has pulled up lame and he's flailing away, simply trying to get to the end. Also, his Tchaikovsky borrowings annoy me.

20th-century post-WWII Pole. His big "hit" is the Concerto for Orchestra, probably his most accessible large-scale piece. I'd also recommend the very charming Variations on a Theme by Paganini (yes, THAT theme) for 2 pianos, the violin concerto, and Funeral Games. I like Dohnanyi and the Cleveland for the Concerto for Orchestra and Funeral Games. His early music owes a a lot to Bartók. His later music is absolutely his own. One of the great post-war composers.

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