What fun it’s been reading all of the articles leading up to Anthony Tommasini‘s Top Ten List of Classical Composers!
And he did, in fact, publish a top ten yesterday. And here they are:
Yes, I and how many others were waiting for the official list. Who would be included? Who by the nature of such an exercise would have to be excluded?
To me, what was more significant than naming names was the two-week process he employed and his responses to reader reactions and feedback on the process. So, for instance, I was delighted to read that in Tommasini’s view, not enough readers mentioned Benjamin Britten on the lists they submitted, so he’s recommitted himself to writing more or doing more “advocacy” about Britten as a result. And his laments he could not include Puccini or Handel.
I love that he took some risk–including Debussy and Stravinsky–leaving some of the most venerable off his list (Haydn, Chopin). Choosing Brahms when many he respects would not.
Certainly, other opera lovers have to be excited that he included Verdi and Wagner, citing the volume and force of present day passion for their works as the reason for their appearances. We all know Mozart wrote many other pieces besides operas and that Beethoven only wrote one opera to speak of. So, to have two sheerly operatic composers on the list was well–thrilling. Of course, the other argument stands to reason, how could he not have purely operatic composers on the list.
More than the announcement of the list, per se, I loved the discussion, the debate, the back-and-forth. Who’s in? Who’s bound to be out? I’m not going to go berserk because Mozart is ranked third. It’s one man’s list after all albeit one very knowledgeable man. There was bound to be bias and personal filters at work–and there was. Just read his little Stravinsky vignette, if you don’t believe me.
Overall, what a thoroughly engaging, thought-provoking process!
But how about you? Did you follow the list-making over the last two weeks? What do you think of THE LIST?