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What the blogs say vs. what actual Classical Musicians actually say.


jojoju2000
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https://www.talkclassical.com/classical-music-discussion/

 

This website has such a negative opinion about Williams and Film Music in general. I have tried to present evidence that paints Williams in a different light. But to no avail. 

 

But outside of the bubble, We got Anne Sophie Mutter, Itzhak Perlman, Yo Yo Ma, Gustavo Dudamel, all praising Williams as a good composer, a great composer. What respected classical musicians actually say vs. the internet. 

 

The Theme from Schindler's List for example; it is so famous on it's own right; that it has become totally completely associated with John Williams, and Perlman who now claims it as his theme song apparently. You can't say that about any other film composer. 

 

What is up with this bubble ? Because it's obvious that actual classical musicians and orchestras have welcomed Williams into their house. 

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5 hours ago, QuartalHarmony said:

There’s a lot of snobbery masquerading as informed opinion in many places where artistic preference is key. Imagine how a Hans Zimmer fan would feel reading some threads here, for example. Classical music seems to be more prone to this than a lot of other things, for all sorts of historical and sociological reasons we can debate another day.

 

I think what the OP has found (I haven’t checked, since life’s too short) is a group of people who enjoy some of the more obscure and challenging forms of classical music, in which world being popular is the greatest crime. JW is popular and successful, therefore he is Classical Music Enemy No. 1 for these people. His recent work with top-notch (and historically snobby) orchestras like the VPO will simply have compounded his crimes in their eyes. ASM will be considered a traitor to the cause.

 

In my experience, it’s a certain type of fan that is prone to this sort of thinking, whereas actual musicians are far more open-minded because they don’t predicate their whole existence on a certain set of artistic assumptions. Just look at the face of the VPO violinist as they play the Star Wars B-theme - he’s clearly having a whale of a time and snobbery be damned. Quite right too.

 

Mark

But that's the problem with the whole thing; these internet blogs; they make it seem as if; people who enjoy Star Wars music are not " advanced " enough to enjoy Pierre Boulez or Stockhausen. 

 

 

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2 hours ago, jojoju2000 said:

But that's the problem with the whole thing; these internet blogs; they make it seem as if; people who enjoy Star Wars music are not " advanced " enough to enjoy Pierre Boulez or Stockhausen. 

 

 

 

Meh, life's too short to stress over people who judge others' tastes and interests. Pick any given genre, composer, ensemble, or whatever, and there will be thousands of people out there (at least) who will turn up their noses. Doesn't change the enjoyment we get out of the music. Best we can do is decide not to act like that when it comes to art that's outside our own tastes.

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The TalkClassical crowd speaks like Star Wars and ET are all JW ever wrote and judge him simply on those scores.

They come off as just refusing to take him seriously because he is popular.  

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22 minutes ago, SteveMc said:

The TalkClassical crowd speaks like Star Wars and ET are all JW ever wrote and judge him simply on those scores.

They come off as just refusing to take him seriously because he is popular.  

Isn't that more because he's still alive? I thought these cultured elite people always needed 150+ years to realise something is great.

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37 minutes ago, SteveMc said:

The TalkClassical crowd speaks like Star Wars and ET are all JW ever wrote and judge him simply on those scores.

They come off as just refusing to take him seriously because he is popular.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D501lnlL3kk

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0_N1tFjLAk

 

If this doesn't make him a " Classical Music Composer " in their eyes, then shame on them.

13 minutes ago, bollemanneke said:

Isn't that more because he's still alive? I thought these cultured elite people always needed 150+ years to realise something is great.

Leonard Bernstein was recognized as a great.  Aaron. Copland was as well. While they were still alive.

16 minutes ago, Holko said:

They're his best scores though.

So Williams's only sin was hooking up with Spielberg and Lucas because they're not true Auteurs.

He should have teamed up with Scorsese. 

 

Talk Classical's logic is that.

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45 minutes ago, Holko said:

They're his best scores though.

ET perhaps is in the running for that, but I'm rather skeptical about Star Wars being his best.

 

CE3K is my choice for his "best" score.

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I understand your truthful interest in asking this question, but I believe it's apples & oranges territory and cannot be fruitful, beyond expressing personnal tastes.

The answers your sincere post got in that forum are ignorant garbage, but I truly wonder what's the interest in comparing Williams to Bach, Beethoven or Shostakovich? Such different worlds!

 

Some classical musicians often enjoy opening up to music outside the classical repertoire, and I'm sure Yo-Yo Ma or ASM are sincere in their praise of JW. But I doubt even they would compare Williams in that regard.

JW is a creative genius in his own right, but his film works were never meant as "classical" (for lack of a better term). While his language shares so many things with the classical world (it's history/techniques/grammar), its form and purpose are completely different. So to me the comparison is pointless.

 

To elitist snobs who won't even consider listening to something other than 'classical' and look down on more popular art forms because they're incapable of appreciating them in their own terms, I say it's their loss.

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3 hours ago, Madmartigan JC said:

I understand your truthful interest in asking this question, but I believe it's apples & oranges territory and cannot be fruitful, beyond expressing personnal tastes.

The answers your sincere post got in that forum are ignorant garbage, but I truly wonder what's the interest in comparing Williams to Bach, Beethoven or Shostakovich? Such different worlds!

 

Some classical musicians often enjoy opening up to music outside the classical repertoire, and I'm sure Yo-Yo Ma or ASM are sincere in their praise of JW. But I doubt even they would compare Williams in that regard.

JW is a creative genius in his own right, but his film works were never meant as "classical" (for lack of a better term). While his language shares so many things with the classical world (it's history/techniques/grammar), its form and purpose are completely different. So to me the comparison is pointless.

 

To elitist snobs who won't even consider listening to something other than 'classical' and look down on more popular art forms because they're incapable of appreciating them in their own terms, I say it's their loss.

 

Wonderful answer. I love how you phrased that his works share a similar language but has a different form and purpose because this is something that many people don't take into account, from both sides.

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7 hours ago, Madmartigan JC said:

I truly wonder what's the interest in comparing Williams to Bach, Beethoven or Shostakovich?

When people ask Google about the greatest composers (in general), what they really find overlaps 1:1 with "greatest classical composers". You will not find a mention of Williams, Goldsmith, Morricone, or Herrmann there. This reinforces the views that the four aforementioned, not to mention anyone else in the history of film, just do not cut it compared to the concert composers of their time.

 

Example effect: a young director of the Phoenix Symphony programmed a healthy dose of the music of Waxman, Herrmann, and Korngold, and while the public enjoyed it, the board members and major sponsors didn't. The director was replaced with one more hostile towards film scores.

 

Had the individuals involved been taught by their music teachers and their music critics to respect the masters, the way they respect Shostakovich or Messiaen or Messenet or Albioni, there would be no such problems.

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20 hours ago, Datameister said:

 

Meh, life's too short to stress over people who judge others' tastes and interests. Pick any given genre, composer, ensemble, or whatever, and there will be thousands of people out there (at least) who will turn up their noses. Doesn't change the enjoyment we get out of the music. Best we can do is decide not to act like that when it comes to art that's outside our own tastes.

This. But it's just something comes with age. It's just not important. 

 

Karol

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When considering these dogmatic views of film music I thinks it's relevant to consider film itself as a medium has suffered this. Not only is it relatively recent (barely over 100 years old), but film as an art form didn't have a proper critical theory that could analize it as an artistic unit Auteur Theory came up in the early 50's.

 

Therefore it is still rarely regarded as highly as the traditional arts (literature, painting, sculpture, music, theater, etc.). Not that I agree with this, at all. But I have repeadtly noticed that films critically considered more 'artistic' often have some form of validation through a one of the traditional arts beign directly referenced. Be it a nod to a classic painting/work of literature, the use of classical music, etc. As if the cinematographic art wasn't enough to substantiate the film's own artistic merit. 

 

If views on the artistic merits of Cinema are so biased, what chance does music composed specifically for this medium have of beign considered 'artistic' by these people? Add on top of that, that music often requires little more that simple craftmanship to fit the basic standards required to accompany the film; and (at least in the case of Hollywood) is produced within an industry with technical restrictions and very palpable economic goals.

 

On top of it all, Williams is directly referenced with some of the most popular and highest grossing franchises in Hollywood history.

Morricone, coming from the more 'artistic' european cinema, has often been more kindly regarded in that respect. And the discussions on the recent release of JW's Images, also reflect how his most un-Hollywoodesque work has often received praise from the same critics who defaced his more accesible scores.

 

I don't endorse or agree with any of this, but it's the current reality. It doesn't really bother me, since I can enjoy all works for what they are, regardless of classification.

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1 hour ago, Madmartigan JC said:

When considering these dogmatic views of film music I thinks it's relevant to consider film itself as a medium has suffered this. Not only is it relatively recent (barely over 100 years old), but film as an art form didn't have a proper critical theory that could analize it as an artistic unit Auteur Theory came up in the early 50's.

 

Therefore it is still rarely regarded as highly as the traditional arts (literature, painting, sculpture, music, theater, etc.). Not that I agree with this, at all. But I have repeadtly noticed that films critically considered more 'artistic' often have some form of validation through a one of the traditional arts beign directly referenced. Be it a nod to a classic painting/work of literature, the use of classical music, etc. As if the cinematographic art wasn't enough to substantiate the film's own artistic merit. 

 

If views on the artistic merits of Cinema are so biased, what chance does music composed specifically for this medium have of beign considered 'artistic' by these people? Add on top of that, that music often requires little more that simple craftmanship to fit the basic standards required to accompany the film; and (at least in the case of Hollywood) is produced within an industry with technical restrictions and very palpable economic goals.

 

On top of it all, Williams is directly referenced with some of the most popular and highest grossing franchises in Hollywood history.

Morricone, coming from the more 'artistic' european cinema, has often been more kindly regarded in that respect. And the discussions on the recent release of JW's Images, also reflect how his most un-Hollywoodesque work has often received praise from the same critics who defaced his more accesible scores.

 

I don't endorse or agree with any of this, but it's the current reality. It doesn't really bother me, since I can enjoy all works for what they are, regardless of classification.

That's funny and ironic because George Lucas was ostracized by the Hollywood elite for not being " Mainstream " enough.

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One thing that seems quite likely with fans who dismiss JW etc. is that they probably don't actually know his music beyond the well known concert arrangements and famous themes, but have no appreciation of the rest of each score. The ability to write such complex, musically satisfying, thematically engaging music which both satisfies/reflects/emphasises/whatever the emotional thrust of the scene while also matching the picture is quite an achievement in itself. It would be churlish to watch a sequence such as the Asteroid Field from Empire and not conclude that it's a terrific orchestral scherzo in its own right, but manages to follow the drama of the sequence with breathtaking deftness but without sacrificing musicality. But I bet most of the classical snobs just think of the Star Wars main theme and just conclude it's all brassy fanfares and Korngold derived themes, plus pick out all the odds and ends that owe a debt to Stravinsky, Holst, Shostakovich etc.

 

I'm currently reading The Rest is Noise by Alex Ross (NYT music critic) and it's a very interesting canter through 20th century classical music, but you do get the impression that anything that isn't breaking new ground isn't all that worthy of consideration. Everything has to have an exciting new musical language else it's just derivative, but then that's how you end up with serialism, atonality and other experimental music etc. in an attempt to find ever new areas of compositional, which, let's face it, few people actually enjoy. But then there are plenty of accomplished classical composers who didn't really write anything especially groundbreaking that classical fans lap up.

 

On that note, I'm going to listen to Carmina Burana, that should piss somebody off.

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5 hours ago, Tom Guernsey said:

One thing that seems quite likely with fans who dismiss JW etc. is that they probably don't actually know his music beyond the well known concert arrangements and famous themes, but have no appreciation of the rest of each score.

And if they do know more, it's probably just his terribly messy misrepresentative OSTs.

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5 hours ago, Tom Guernsey said:

One thing that seems quite likely with fans who dismiss JW etc. is that they probably don't actually know his music beyond the well known concert arrangements and famous themes, but have no appreciation of the rest of each score. The ability to write such complex, musically satisfying, thematically engaging music which both satisfies/reflects/emphasises/whatever the emotional thrust of the scene while also matching the picture is quite an achievement in itself. It would be churlish to watch a sequence such as the Asteroid Field from Empire and not conclude that it's a terrific orchestral scherzo in its own right, but manages to follow the drama of the sequence with breathtaking deftness but without sacrificing musicality. But I bet most of the classical snobs just think of the Star Wars main theme and just conclude it's all brassy fanfares and Korngold derived themes, plus pick out all the odds and ends that owe a debt to Stravinsky, Holst, Shostakovich etc.

 

I'm currently reading The Rest is Noise by Alex Ross (NYT music critic) and it's a very interesting canter through 20th century classical music, but you do get the impression that anything that isn't breaking new ground isn't all that worthy of consideration. Everything has to have an exciting new musical language else it's just derivative, but then that's how you end up with serialism, atonality and other experimental music etc. in an attempt to find ever new areas of compositional, which, let's face it, few people actually enjoy. But then there are plenty of accomplished classical composers who didn't really write anything especially groundbreaking that classical fans lap up.

 

On that note, I'm going to listen to Carmina Burana, that should piss somebody off.

 

Agreed! I think you're right on.

 

Also, I really enjoyed that book. Ross is one of the very few music writers on classical music savvy about popular genres and willing to judge each music on its own terms. I think it's not a coincidence his interview with John Williams from last year was one of the most interesting ones, going beyond the tired usual questions.

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16 hours ago, Madmartigan JC said:

 

Agreed! I think you're right on.

 

Also, I really enjoyed that book. Ross is one of the very few music writers on classical music savvy about popular genres and willing to judge each music on its own terms. I think it's not a coincidence his interview with John Williams from last year was one of the most interesting ones, going beyond the tired usual questions.

Thank you! And yes, it's a good book. Second time of reading it, but not for a while. I rather think that Ross may have warmed to film music a bit more in recent years as I seem to remember him being one of the "film music is crap" brigade. However, I'm willing to put that aside as his insights into classical music are worth reading. Which is more than can be said for some of the snobbier online commentators!

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