composers that should have got more credit

August 22, 2008 at 01:44 AM · I have come to this conclusion

Greatest composer as far I know: J.S. Bach

Most overrated composer:Mozart

Most underrated:Buxtehude but also Pachelbel. Edgard Varese among contemporary composers propably

Unknown composer: Willert, Josquin Desprez (the inventor of the fugue), William Lawes (one of the most inovative composers of the baroque era)

Anyone agree?

Needless to say that I love counterpoint

Replies (35)

August 22, 2008 at 02:08 AM · I'm not too up on lesser known composers, but I agree about Pachelbel.

All I've ever heard of his is the Canon in D.

August 22, 2008 at 03:46 AM · PDQ Bach - wrote some very clever pieces; not to mention his plagerism.

with apologies to Peter Shickeley.

August 22, 2008 at 11:22 AM · Astor Piazolla is another composer that I think should be mentioned when it comes to underrated composers

Fuga Y Misterio and Fugata for instance are amazing works I think

August 22, 2008 at 01:02 PM ·

August 22, 2008 at 02:45 PM · "Underrated: Johann Nepomuk Hummel, Max Bruch (ever heard his symphonies? his choir works? his 6 or so concertante pieces for violin?), and I'm actually going to put Dvorak here as well (his 13 OTHER string quartets? his first 6 symphonies? his 3 OTHER piano trios - which in my opinion are most of the time better than the "Dumky", especially the third one? his 11 operas? his beautiful piano concerto - a favorite of Richter's? his heart-wrenching vocal masterpiece Stabat Mater, which is probably my favorite choral work ever?)

Forgotten: John Field"

Agree, another example is Ravel he is mostly known for his Bolero but he composed so many pieces that are milestones

Gaspard De La Noit: more interesting then anything Chopin or Rachmaninov did for solopiano if you ask me

The Piano concerto: For sure better then Chopin´s concertos and Rach 3 I think

Daphne and Chloe: Wonderfull piece, best orchestrations in a piece composed at the time as far as I know

August 22, 2008 at 02:59 PM · Unjustly forgotten?

Eduard and Richard Franck

Karol Lipinski

Ottar Taktakishvilli

Alexander Alaviev

Eugene d'Albert













and a hundred more

August 22, 2008 at 03:13 PM · As my theory/history teacher put it, "There are a number of composers like Hummel who would be considered great and would be well-known except they had the bad fortune to live at the same time as Beethoven."

August 22, 2008 at 05:16 PM · Josquin invented the fugue?






Movie Music


Andrew Lloyd Weber

August 22, 2008 at 05:34 PM · Stravinsky! Are you talking about Igor? Overrated! And put alongside Andrew Lloyd Weber! You have to be kidding. I hereby put Stravinsky in the category of composers that should have got more credit.

August 22, 2008 at 08:50 PM · Someone here once said forgotten composers and pieces are forgotten because they're no good.

There were millions of people making music. I think the chance of the few we know of somehow managing to be the best ones out of those millions is about zero. I think it would be more likely that the ones we know are a more or less random sample.

August 23, 2008 at 08:06 AM · "Josquin invented the fugue?"

I have tried to find the inventor of the fugue for a while and as far as I know the first composer that did a true fugue was Josquin (canons occured earlier but not imitating counterpoint that can be considered fugue)

Sweelinck and even more Buxtehude and Pachelbel are a lot more important then Josquin I assume since they inspired Bach to write the best fugues composed ever as far as I know

August 23, 2008 at 08:15 AM · God invented fugues.

August 23, 2008 at 09:46 AM · As for Mozart being overrated (as suggested in the first post in the thread), I humbly speculate that Andreas has not yet been to very many liver performances of Mozart operas?

Mozart did opera well. I have concluded he is the only composer with a clear claim to beat JS Bach to the top spot (if there is a top spot).

August 23, 2008 at 05:49 PM · "I humbly speculate that Andreas has not yet been to very many liver performances of Mozart operas?"

I dislike opera in general, not my cup of tea

Mozart missed out on the counterpoint possibilities that the themes from Ronda Ala Turca has

Volodos explored the possibilities in his brilliant transcription of the piece

The late Beethoven, Bach etc would never have missed out on the counterpoint possibilities of these themes but Mozart did

He could write great and original counterpoint though

Mozarts best composition is Fugue in C minor K. 426 in my opinion

August 23, 2008 at 05:58 PM ·

August 23, 2008 at 08:33 PM · Here's a vote for Bernard ("Psycho") Herrmann.


August 24, 2008 at 04:40 AM · Interesting discussion. here are my votes:

Underrated: York Bowen, Bortkeiwcz, Rachmaninov (well known but not considered serious), CPE Bach

Way overrated: Mahler

Overrated: Wagner, Schoenberg

Somewhat overrated: Stravinski -- since the general press seems to consider him the 20th century's greatest composer.


August 24, 2008 at 04:54 AM · Schoenberg´s music is not for everyone but his importance for the music of the 20th century is propably second to none, I wouldn´t call him overrated

Same with Stravinski, The Fire Bird and Rite of Spring felt like a true breath of fresh air at the time and so did many of his other works

Rachmaninov is overrated I think,there is nothing new with his music and a lot of what he did was pretty boring I think

August 24, 2008 at 08:05 AM · Underrated: JS Bach, Piazzolla, Khachaturian, Ives, Saint-Saens, Handel, Grieg, Hindemith, Webern

Overrated: All the violinist/composers (Paganini, Sarasate, et al) except for Wieniawski, Prokofiev (unless you're a pianist)

Way overrated: Vivaldi, Lalo (why anybody would play the symphonie espagnol is entirely beyond me), Glazunov (same goes for his concerto), John Williams.

August 24, 2008 at 11:51 AM · I've just been discovering the Spohr string quartets and there are many gems amongst them. If there's a first violinist who would like to take on something seriously challenging, Spohr wrote six Quator Brillants - the purpose was to demonstrate his virtuosity when he was visiting small towns without an orchestra. He would simply hire three other players and take on the first part himself (rather like a concerto with a chamber backing). The one in E flat (Op. 83) is the most challenging of the six and runs the whole gamet of violin technique.

It's worth checking out if anyone would like to discover a neglected work of a highly virtuosic nature.

Actually a great place to find very reasonably priced sheet music for 'out of print' neglected composers is the Merton music catalogue - personally I've found it a real treasure trove of lesser known works.

August 25, 2008 at 01:23 AM · Wagner overrated?? Oh, you poor, poor soul!!

August 24, 2008 at 11:11 PM · Andreas:

I consider serialism a boondoggle, so I consider Schoenberg overrated. It's people like me that James Levine wrings his hands over.


Wagner is probably considered the greatest composer of the 19th century after Beethoven. I can't buy that.

I would say that Wagner and Schoenberg are also considered the most influential composers after Beethoven. That's too bad in my book. Obviously, others think differently.


August 24, 2008 at 11:36 PM · Underrated:





August 25, 2008 at 02:59 AM · Christian August Jacobi

To the Mozart bashers, it seems to me that with him a whole lot depends on the performance. A few times over the years I've caught some familiar bit of Mozart being played, and thought ah ha, if it's played that way, nobody can touch him. Also, fun game you can play with Mozart is in something you aren't familiar with, as you listen predict where it's going to go. It's usually very hard to do. Usually the notes are a continuous stream of surprises.

August 25, 2008 at 12:23 PM · "To the Mozart bashers, it seems to me that with him a whole lot depends on the performance. A few times over the years I've caught some familiar bit of Mozart being played, and thought ah ha, if it's played that way, nobody can touch him."

it´s a bit like that with some works, A good example is Symphony Phantastique by Berlioz

I was convinced after hearing a recording a while ago that it was the most interesting symphony composed in the 19:th century as far as I know. I never thought that before

Offertorium by Gubaidulina could sound much better as well as I mentioned previously.

August 25, 2008 at 02:10 PM · I recently got an ipod for my birthday, and I've already put a few days of stuff on it, some of which I haven't listened to in years. And - lo and behold (or maybe just "lo") - I'm rediscovering the greatness of many of those old warhorses we end up passing off as trite because we've heard and played them a million times and they're on every other concert program.

So, underrated....

The musical and spiritual depth and the sheer beauty of....of...the last 3 symphonies of Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff's 2nd Piano Concerto, the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto (almost any version - sheer genius), and the bon-bons by Sarasate, Paganini,, just to name a few.

I read somewhere once that someone asked Zino Francescatti how he keeps a performance "fresh" of something he's played a zillion times, like the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto. He said he always tries to find something new in it. And if it's a great composer, there will always be something new in it.

Virgil Thompson, the famous music critic (and pretty good composer), once said this about Brahms:

"Almost nobody's rendition of it [Brahms's symphonic music] is thoroughly satisfactory....there is no reason to suppose that so experienced and so consecrated a musician as Brahms was basically incoherent in thought. It is far more likely that his exact poetic temper, being profoundly personal, escapes us."

- food for thought

August 25, 2008 at 02:37 PM · Under-rated: Dvorak! Almost everyone I know dismisses Dvorak as "cheesy", which he certainly is not. Also, Smetana needs to be better known outside of the Czech lands.

August 25, 2008 at 03:05 PM · A previous post mentioned Spohr. I think works of his that I've heard--violin duos, particularly op. 67, and the 8th Concerto--are worth hearing more often. Maybe there are other works by Spohr that also deserve more attention.

Also, I like Paganini, Sarasate and the Symphonie Espagnole. I don't think they're overrated--no one puts them on the same level as Beethoven or Brahms concertos--but they're enjoyable and worth hearing from time to time, especially if you love the violin.

Monteverdi is another composer who, if not underrated, certainly is not heard as often as his towering stature warrants.

And I think the idea that Mozart, Wagner, Mahler and Stravinsky are "overrated" is just ludicrous.

The composer I think most overrated is Telemann. To my mind there's a lot of music from the 18th century that musicologists should never have wasted their time resurrecting. Some of it can be quite pretty if you don't listen too hard.

I doubt there are very many unsung musical geniuses whose works have been unjustly forgotten. I think that for the most part the wheat has been winnowed from the chaff over time. Musicians, I think, have been particularly responsible for this. They generally know what's good and what's not worth performing. Bach and Beethoven, for example, owe much of their stature to musicians who insisted on performing their music even when audiences weren't necessarily eager to hear it.

August 25, 2008 at 03:37 PM · I personally can't stand Mahler, but that doesn't make him overrated...

August 25, 2008 at 03:37 PM · Spohr is good and not well-enough known. However, he is one of the composers, that as I put it in my earlier post, had the bad luck to be a contemporary of Beethoven's.

Mara - I agree that Dvorak and Smetana are underrated, although I think they tend to be a mixed bag which I believe accounts for some of the problems they have in this context.

August 25, 2008 at 04:01 PM · To be "overrated" the reputation of a composer has to be good or better.

Of course, "overrated" does not mean "not good."

To me, the idea that Wagner is the greatest composer after Beethoven is preposterous. If you agree with me and think his music is "not as bad as it sounds," then you think Wagner is "overrated." The idea that Mahler should be mentioned in the same breath as Beethoven is similarly preposterous (I actually do regard Mahler as "not good" though). I can't see Stravinski as the best composer of the 20th century. But I would not say he is "not good." If you think there are some number of 20th century composers better than Stravinksi, you would view him as "overrated."

There is a good group of people who think that Mozart is "overrated." I don't agree but do understand the point of view, which is not that Mozart is "not good."

On the other end, Rachmaninov and Tchaikovksy are often performed but not really taken very seriously. If you don't agree with that assessment, you'd see them as "underrated."

Someone above said Ravel is "underrated." This might seem odd, in that Ravel is quite well known and gneerally well regarded. But, if you think he is a better composer than Debussey or one of the three or four best composers of the 20th century, then he would be "underrated."


August 25, 2008 at 04:30 PM · "I doubt there are very many unsung musical geniuses whose works have been unjustly forgotten. "

I'd start by estimating how many composers there have been. Then I would take the number of genius composers alive at this moment, and use that number to estimate how many have been forgotten :)

August 26, 2008 at 12:38 PM · I suppose up until about 60 years ago, the music of Vivaldi was less often played and now his work must be among the most popular of all.

Whereas Vivaldis music is often of an optimistic and sunny vein, Spohrs work can be earnest and of a more serious nature - as well as many pieces being of quite a long duration. His string quartet Op. 82 no. 1 in G is highly melodic, accessable and of a bright nature though.

I think it is worth exploring more of his violin concertos, works for violin /harp duo and string quartets.

Another composer who might be worth a re-appraisal is Alessandro Rolla (1757 - 1841), especially for violists as he writes so well for the instrument. A colleague and I recently recorded some violin / viola duos by Spohr and Rolla and were impressed by both composers. We're now keen to play more of their works.

August 28, 2008 at 12:40 AM · Have you tried the A.B.Bruni duos? Not sure if violin/viola duos will ever get into the standard concert repertoire though, although there was those performances of the Mozart duos back in the 70's by Zukermann and Perlman.

B.Britten seems to be making a resurgence these days but for me the problem is that a lot of repertoire doesn't get performed in symphonic concerts now for various reasons. We hardly perform Bach anymore, and nothing from earlier periods. Ditto for music written after 1950. Music with a choir and four soloists is expensive to put on and there are many wonderful concertos and concertantes for more than one instrument that don't get performed because you have to hire more than one soloist.

August 28, 2008 at 10:28 AM · Thanks for that tip Martin, we've got Brunis 3 Duo Concertants for Violin / Viola but haven't yet played through his collections of duets op. 4 or op. 25 - are these the ones you mean?

I think with Rolla he had the aim of reducing the main theme of a large scale work to just two instruments without loss of impact, so his stuff is purposefully written to sound very full.... but quite involved to play. His 24 Caprices for solo violin are very rewarding but become increasingly complex and large scale as they go on. The first 12 are quite short and manageable but they get longer and longer which probably puts people off performing them.

I think you're absolutely right about budget being a factor with hiring more than one soloist.

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