The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: On Thanksgiving, which classical music composers do you most give thanks for?

November 26, 2009
8 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

It’s Thanksgiving.

I know that even loyal readers have better things to do today than read my blog — eat turkey, visit with family and friends, watch football, nap

But I was looking for a theme that is appropriate to the day.

Many radio stations play American classical music as a way to honor the day.

But I was looking at it in a bigger, more inclusive and less parochial way.

So, I ask, what classical music composers do you most give thanks for?

It’s probably pretty predictable, but for me there are three: J.S. Bach, Chopin and Schubert, in that order.

I guess Bach tops them all because without him the others might not exist — if I understand music history well.

Besides, Bach (painting at right) is not only the Big Bang beginning of Western classical music. In Bach you can find everything: Baroque moments, Classical moments, Romantic moments, even Modernist moments.

For his part, Chopin (photo below left) had an uncanny sense of how to fuse the Classical and the Romantic, how to meld form with feeling. Plus, he is so consistent. He doesn’t fail very often. His magic almost always works.

Did anyone ever have more innate musical talent than Schubert (below right), who was so prolific before he died at 31. His harmonies and melodies break your heart and then put it back together. Take your pick–songs or piano works (big sonatas or smaller miniatures), string quartets or piano trios, symphonies or masses. You can’t do better.

I know, I know.

I should be more thankful for Haydn and his astonishing inventions.

For Handel and his ear-easy humanism.

For Beethoven and his willfulness and astonishing technical command of music.

For Mozart and his otherworldly combination of pathos and grace.

What can I say?

Maybe next year.

Maybe next Thanksgiving.

In the meantime, tell me: When it comes to classical music, which composers do you give most thanks for when and why?

The Ear wants to hear.

And also to thank you for all your support. I had dared to hope for 7,500 hits by Jan. 1., 2010.

Now — as of yesterday — we’re already there.

So thanks, and keeping spreading the word.

Every hit counts.

And every reader matters.

I’ll be giving thanks to all of you, and for all of you, tomorrow.


Posted in Classical music

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