What’s on Gilligan’s iPod?

October 20, 2010 at 3:54 pm | Posted in Composers | 2 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Just sit right back, and you’ll hear a tale…

You are stuck on a desert island, and you can only bring the MP3s/CDs of your top 5 favorite composers. (Apparently, you are also provided with an MP3 or CD player and an infinite supply of batteries in which to listen!)

5.  Richard Wagner: Alright, so a lot of people have problems with Wagner, but let’s leave all that aside. Musically, he writes some of the most exciting and bold music. It’s usually very brass heavy (Ride of the Valkyries anyone?) with some great melodic lines, amazing development of the melodic idea, and was one of the first to use the leitmotif. Favorite pieces include the aforementioned Ride of the Valkyries, Prelude from Act III of the opera Lohengrin, and The Ring.

4. Gustav Holst: His band music is written so incredibly well. It’s crafted in such a way that only a master could craft it. His compositions almost always feature something good for every instrument, be it melodically, or accompaniment wise. Stuff written for each instrument is in really good ranges, and seems to fall really easy on the instruments. Like his good friend, Ralph Vaughan Williams, these guys were big into the use of English (as in British) folk songs to create great compositions. And despite the fact that many people totally overlook or pass over his music, Holst is essential to the repertoire of the band world. Favorite pieces are First Suite, Second Suite, and of course The Planets!

3. Eric Whitacre: Wow, can this guy write some music or what?! One of the cooler things about Eric is that he is one of very few composers who can write for choir or band. His use of suspensions and resolutions, passing tones, and other harmonic devices give his music such a gorgeous quality. October is probably one of my favorite pieces of music. The harmonies are so lush! His choir stuff is really cool too.

2. Leonard Bernstein: I was too young to have seen anything Lenny did live, but this man was a true musician and really connected with audiences to make classical music part of their lives. His series of young people’s concerts are unlike anything that has ever been done. He was an amazing piano player and conductor too. His music is also quite varied, but has a heavy jazz influence. Favorite pieces include Slava, Overture to Candide, as well as his symphonic suites to On the Waterfront/On the Town and of course, West Side Story.

1. John Williams: Of all the composers, I could literally listen to John Williams all day. The fact is I think many people don’t give him credit because he is a movie composer. But if you took away the titles of his pieces and called them something else, they would still stand compositionally on their own. His ability to craft memorable melodies, he takes every instrument and uses it to its full potential with range, volume, use such amazing harmonic texture, and use development and counterpoint are just some of the things that makes John Williams “The Man”. He can both compose a piece that is lyrical and gorgeous, and something that is exciting. Don’t believe me? Don’t listen to the big stuff everyone knows: no Star Wars main theme or Imperial March, no Indiana Jones or Superman main themes. Go to the middle of the Empire Strikes soundtrack and listen as he takes an idea and really makes it come to life. One of the best tracks to show this: The Battle of Hoth. This is some incredibly exciting and well written music! His rich musical vocabulary makes him unlike most any composer!

So, what are your thoughts? Which 5 composers classical, concert band, or jazz would you choose?



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  1. My 5:


  2. Everyone loves what you guys are up too. This kind of clever work and exposure!
    Keep up the amazing works guys I’ve added you guys to my blogroll.

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