KaiTheHomoSapien wrote: ↑
25 Apr 2020 07:09
Salmoneus wrote: ↑
24 Apr 2020 14:21
I'm guessing he meant the other Strauss?
But of the four notables Strausses (Johann, Johann II, Jozef, and Richard), only Richard Strauss wrote any symphonies - which he wrote as a teenager, were panned, and were never widely performed. [the Alpine Symphony and Symphonia Domestica aren't symphonies, despite the names, but are just references to, as it were, a state of harmony]
[Johann III, Edouard, Edouard II and Oscar Straus (Strauss by birth) also composed no symphonies...]
Yeah, that sounds like a quote from someone who doesn't know anything about classical music (or was just looking for a good rhyme!)
The former sounds likely... until you remember that this was the 1930s, when everybody knew something about classical music (pop music not yet existing!). In particular, Cole Porter knew an awful lot
about classical music - he studied music at Yale, and then Harvard, and then at the Schola Cantorum in Paris (which specialised in Gregorian chant, rennaissance polyphony, and baroque counterpoint). He wrote a ballet. At the Schola Cantorum, he studied under d'Indy, who knew and greatly admired Strauss (and, incidentally, had met Liszt, and Brahms, and Bizet*, and Massanet, and Franck, and Alkan**, and Fauré, and... well, everybody really; he was in the audience at the first performance of the Ring). Porter's wife even tried to sign up Stravinsky to teach him, though he declined.
So yeah, it's not a mistake made by accident, I'm pretty sure. I guess he was just struggling for a rhyme... although given that it rhymes with "mickey mouse", not exactly essential to the song, and plenty of other composers rhyme with something, it's still a bit perplexing.
Indeed, given that Porter would have known perfectly well that "the melody to a symphony" is a silly idea anyway, I have to think he was making fun of his own audience a little there. In the 1930s, Strauss would have been famous, but not widely listened to.
Indeed, given that other rhymes in the song include "you're Inferno's Dante / you're the nose on the great Durante" and "you're the baby grand of a lady and a gent.... you're pepsodent", it's likely that Porter's just being intentionally silly, and the silliness of a Strauss symphony is part of that, whether or not he expected his audience to be in on the joke.
*he went along to the premiere of Carmen
because he'd won a free ticket - a number of them were given to local organ students (studying under Franck!). He bumped into Bizet having a nervous breakdown in the neighbouring allyway in the interval. The next day, Bizet came along to the organ school to ask if someone could secretly play the harmonium quietly off-stage during one of the big songs, because the lead tenor couldn't sing it properly and needed the help; d'Indy volunteered, and ended up 'performing' every night for the whole of the rest of the first run of Carmen
**he happened to wander into a room where Alkan was playing the piano. They played the piano at each other for a bit, Alkan seized him by the shoulders, pushing him toward a window, shouted "You must become an artist!!!... Farewell, for we shall never meet again!!!!!" at him, and ran off. This makes a lot more sense when you've seen just how gigantic Alkan's beard was.
Hmm. Now I'm intrigued that it took me a second to realise that "gallery" and "salary" were supposed to rhyme for Porter. They just about do, for me, in isolation, when said "clearly", but they certainly don't when the former is in the phrase "National Gallery". "Gallery", often, and almost always when following a name, has only two syllables, whereas "salary" always has three... this appears to be an unmotivated lexical sound shift...
Like a concerto by Schubert :)
Huh - good point, I hadn't thought of that. Apparently there is a Schubert concerto now - some American orchestras have decided that they can sell more tickets by adverstising an early 'konzertstuck' as a violin concerto. And of course, although Schubert wrote a lot of opera, he was mysteriously rubbish at it...
But yes, it's strange in a way how composers specialise. I remember being told when I was young that Mozart was, in this respect, the only universal genius, in that he attempted and mastered every genre that then existed. His three great operas are among the most performed operas. His last three (well, two, at least) symphonies are among the best-known symphonies; his violin concertos and his late piano concertos are among the most performed concertos. [and of course, in the realm of bassoon, horn, oboe, clarinet and flute/harp concertos, and the sinfonia concertante, he remains virtually unchallenged!] His string quartets are among the most played quartets, and his string quintets are probably the most played quintets; his piano sonatas have been a little overshadowed, by the sheer volume of competition if by nothing else, but several of them (the two minor-key works, 8 and 14, and 16 (the sonata facile)) remain near the top of the repertoire. His mature violin sonatas are apparently very good. His Great Mass and Requiem are both unfinished, but even so, and alongside his minor masses, make him one of the greatest mass writers ever; similarly his small-scale choral music (like Ave Verum Corpus). He didn't exactly write leider in the Romantic sense, but his concert arias (like Exultate Jubilate) are among the best-known concert songs. The romantic "suite" hadn't been invented yet, but his serenades and divertimenti fill more or less the same niche, and again, are right at the top of it (the Haffner, Gran Partita, and Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, and the Musical Joke...). And what major composer can claim to have challenged Mozart in the realm of the mechanical clock, or the glass armonica? He even provided a good store of miniature piano pieces (eg the fantasies).
The only major genre he didn't master was the tone poem, because it didn't exist yet. And I guess he didn't write an oratorio (although he updated the Messiah). He also didn't write a lot for the cello, which wasn't yet popular.
But other than Mozart, did any composer even seriously attempt everything, let alone master it? I guess maybe Beethoven comes closest?