Mixed Meters has gone to the trouble to tabulate the most discussed composers etc. in Alex Ross' The Rest Is Noise. Here's the list:
- Arnold Schoenberg
- Igor Stravinsky
- Dimitri Shostakovich
- Aaron Copland
- Benjamin Britten
- Olivier Messiaen/Richard Strauss
- Gustav Mahler/Sergei Prokofiev
- Bela Bartok/Jean Sibelius
- Kurt Weill
- John Cage/Richard Wagner
- Alban Berg/Claude Debussy/George Gershwin
- Anton Webern/Paul Hindemith/Pierre Boulez
- Charles Ives
- Bertolt Brecht/Karlheinz Stockhausen/Leonard Bernstein/Virgil Thompson
- Adolf Hitler/Gyorgy Ligeti/Josef Stalin/Morton Feldman/Philip Glass/Steve Reich
- Duke Ellington/Leos Janacek/Ludwig van Beethoven/Thomas Mann
I'm not surprised the three S's are at the top but I might have thought John Adams would have cracked this list. And I should do the equivalent for American musical works mentioned in the book.
I also find it rather incongruous to see the names Josef Stalin and Morton Feldman next to each other. I've read numerous biographies of Hitler and especially FDR but could never finish any of Stalin because I was so disturbed by reading about such personal ruthlessness. And is there any music more peaceful than Feldman's?
There's also an interesting comment about future assessment of contemporary composers:
So, at the end of The Rest Is Noise Ross understandably resorts to musical name dropping, giving us long lists of current well-known composers. I hope he rewrites this ending in about 20 years when there's general agreement over who actually ascends to the pantheon of musical importance. Those are the artists who will force future composers to deal with their own musical issues.
Again, I'm also interested in what current works remain notable twenty years from now.