Monday, June 29, 2020

My top 30 composers [13]: Number 2 - Gustav Mahler

Earlier this year, I posted a list of 100 favourite composers based on the  top 30 favourite composers of 56 Talk Classical bulletin board members (link). I did not post my own top 30 yet. Time to make amends. I'm posting the list in segments of five, in order to say something about the composers, with the top10 getting an entry by themselves. To prepare this list, I looked at how many compositions a composer has that I rate in my personal top 100, how many just one tier below that, and how many are still really worthwhile below that. I was handing out negative points in my head for (famous) compositions I don't like at all. For the final ranking, I asked myself: composer A or composer B - you can keep the works of only one of them. It is all not very scientific, and the ranking will undoubtedly change a bit from year to year, but it makes for a good snapshot of my taste.

At the second place, we encounter Austro-Bohemian Romantic composer Gustav Mahler (1860-1911). As one of the leading conductors of his time, his oeuvre as a composer is not huge (mainly 9-11 symphonies, depending on definition, and a handful of song cycles, but the quality is staggering. Three of his works are in my top 10 classical compositions (Das Lied von der Erde, Symphony 4, Kindertotenlieder), and five more in my top 100 (Symphonies 2, 6, 9, and the song cycles Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen and Rückert-Lieder). Most of the other works I would deem "essential" in addition to these masterpieces.

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