Greatest living Composer?
Old Git Roundabout 15 Nov 22 20:29
Reply |

Arvo Part? James Macmillan? 

Williams and the film composers mentioned are mere craftsmen, producing pastiche to order. Clever and skilful,  but limited.’

Shostakovich wrote probably the best film music ever, but in addition produced a large body of truly original music across many genres. 

Zimmer barely writes any of the scores his name is attached to; he has a warehouse in Santa Monica with scores of composers scoring away. His name is a good buy for the end roller though. 
trent Reznor only of course counts if atticus Ross is working with him (a bit like zimmer’s best we’re with Lisa Armstrong).


I like Macmillan

(& I do often listen to clips of films without the music track and it’s very dull, but you appreciate the Foley artists more- the floor creaks / footsteps etc that are all out in artificially. And then covered in music. The layers and layers and layers of talent in film are quite magnificent- really skilled craftsmen whose work you hardly notice but which makes the whole)

Yes of course great film music is worthwhile- but that doesn’t put John Williams or Hans Zimmer into the league of Shostakovich. 

Try watching any film without music. 

There's many a film ruined by its soundtrack.  Especially fifties and sixties westerns in which the music basically acts as a spoiler.  Although that does point out how well Leone used soundtracks.

Compare Crossfire, which was unusual in the forties for barely having one at all, and it stands out a mile for it. 

John Williams is a genius in film composing - head and shoulders above anyone else (with Morricone second). But film music is a very specific field: intended to stir emotions at a few key points in the film, and be somewhat unobtrusive in the rest of the film. It's almost a different discipline to writing a symphony from scratch.

Lol at Einaudi though. 

If you are going to nominate John Williams (I wouldn't) then Lloyd Webber should probably get a look in too...

Einaudi’s music is worth a mention.

If we are discussing popular composers generally, I agree. But greatest living composer? If that means contemporary-classical, minimalist, broken chord stuff, then maybe. 

I was going to say Weir when I read this yesterday. 

I have been taken to task for promoting ecclesiastical choral music by some here (a narrow genre, it was said, as for some "church" music is the poor relation of orchestral arrangement music - what balls and tell that to Handel). 

The question why Weir is posed.  Judith Weir is Master of the King's Music, so we should note that the late Queen Elizabeth saw fit to appoint her above others as the Master and that in itself is a judgement we ought to bear in mind when evaluating her credentials.  But if you dont accept that (which is unreasoned) then perhaps the fact that she has unrivalled breadth: opera, musical theatre, large choral pieces, small orchestra, ensemble, large symphony, solo woodwind, brass, string, piano, solo choral, four voice ensemble, organ works. She has an extraordinary span of styles and subjects (from music to cherish brutalist architecture to modernist takes on historically important folk and church carols, more conservative and contemplative works). She also weaves in different heritage sounds - English folk sounds combined with the Orthodox bass/treble chant, monastic plainsong and so on.

Her harmonies and use of harmonics are fascinating.  She also works to very limited lyric - usually one or two lines of poetry or prose disassembled and rebuilt like a fugue itself or based on a simple musical idiom developed into more complex works.

Take, for example, her "Illuminare Jerusalem" which I think is her most astounding work and a great example of her truly original style which still seems evocative of a choral tradition - echoing stuff we find more comforting and accessible while having no direct comparator or obvious style source.  

Judith Weir: Illuminare, Jerusalem (Church of the Advent Choir) - YouTube 

If you asked someone to give you a short musical depiction of the terror of Herod's rage and a city's fear, ending in the assurance of God's benificence, this could not be beaten. 



It helps people's wives go to sleep. Start them off on Einaudi then change up to Max Richter and Phil Glass. 

Airs from another planet - huge direction change. Where does this come from? Enormously complex Judith Weir: Airs from Another Planet (1986) - YouTube


contrast with Drop Down Ye Heavens From Above Judith Weir: Airs from Another Planet (1986) - YouTube

remarkable how she can, just in a score (with an able choirmaster/conductor) spotlight a single voice and hold it up above the ensemble of voices, then lower it and pick up another. 


Mutters, have you listened to Hildur Guonadottir and/or Kristine Tjogersen?

Both quite unusual in very different ways.

I think history will be kind to Karl Jenkins - I think he's still going...

Weir is surpassed by her fellow Scot Jimmy Mac on Herod - the LPO recording of his Christmas Oratorio has just been released. 

Saw Einaudi in Milan recently.  It was comfortably one of the worst live performances I've ever seen - to the extent that I haven't played any of his music since (and I loved it before).

Back to Gangsta's Paradise for now (according to current shuffle)