Thursday, June 23, 2011

120 Influences, Part 11: Composers

Here's another list I couldn't keep to just ten:

  1. Johann Sebastian Bach: The father and the master of all composers. Everyone musical owes something to him. I shall listen to his solo pieces for piano, violin, and cello forever.

  2. Ludwig van Beethoven: Yes, Symphony 9, but my favorites are his string quartets, especially his last four, no. 13 in B-flat (opus 130), no. 14 in C-sharp (opus 131), no 15 in A (opus 132), and no 16 in F (opus 135).

  3. Frederic Chopin: His works for piano are the standard. His complete works for solo piano by Arthur Rubinstein and Vladimir Ashkenazy are readily available.

  4. Bob Dylan: The prolific troubadour of the past half-century. Of his 50-plus albums, his first six remain all-time standouts: Bob Dylan (1962), The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan (1963), The Times They Are a-Changin' (1964), Another Side of Bob Dylan (1964), Bringing It All Back Home (1965), and Highway 61 Revisited (1965).

  5. Duke Ellington: The greatest American composer of the twentieth century and perhaps of anywhere ever. Listen to any of his suites: Black, Brown and Beige, Liberian Suite, Such Sweet Thunder, Afro-Bossa, Far East Suite, Latin American Suite, New Orleans Suite, Afro-Eurasian Eclipse, and Toga Brava Suite. And these are just for starters.

  6. George Gershwin: The romantic, inventive prodigy who crossed jazz, musical, and classical genres to unforgettable success and popular appeal. His songs are great, but so are Rhapsody in Blue and Porgy and Bess.

  7. Antonio Carlos Jobim: He exported bossa nova to the world, and countless musicians have performed his masterpieces, including Agua de Beber, Aguas de Marco, Chega de Saudade, Corcovado, Desafinado, Dindi, Garota de Ipanema, Insensatez, Samba de Uma Nota So, So Danco Samba, Triste, and Vou te Contar.

  8. John Lennon and Paul McCartney: I don't want to argue who wrote what; it's all about the voluminous, memorable music they produced in such a short timeframe.

  9. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: So many of the world's most creative people have been inspired by his music. Check out his piano sonatas and concertos as well as his later symphonies (no. 31 in D "Paris"; no 35 in D, "Haffner"; no, 36 in C, "Linz"; no. 38 in D, "Prague"; and no. 41 in C, "Jupiter").

  10. Cole Porter: The chief of Tin Pan Alley, the consummate composer of some 800 songs, the best known of which are All of You, Anything Goes, Begin the Beguine, Cheek to Cheek, Do I Love You?, Every Time We Say Goodbye, I Get a Kick Out of You, I Love Paris, In the Still of the Night, I've Got You Under My Skin, It's All Right with Me, Just One of Those Things, Let's Do It (Let's Fall in Love), Let's Fly Away, Let's Misbehave, Love for Sale, Miss Otis Regrets, Night and Day, Too Darn Hot, What Is This Thing Called Love?, You Do Something to Me, You'd Be So Easy to Love, You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To, and You're the Top.

  11. Richard Rodgers: He wrote the most melodic music, whether working with Lorenz Hart (Bewitched, Blue Moon, I Didn't Know What Time It Was, Isn't It Romantic, Johnny One Note, The Lady Is a Tramp, Lover, The Most Beautiful Girl in the World, My Funny Valentine, There's a Small Hotel, You Took Advantage of Me, This Can't Be Love, and Where or When) or Oscar Hammerstein (Bali Hai, Climb Every Mountain, Do-Re-Mi, Getting to Know You, Hello Young Lovers, I'm in Love with a Wonderful Guy, If I Loved You, It Might As Well Be Spring, My Favorite Things, O What a Beautiful Morning, Shall We Dance?, Some Enchanted Evening, The Sound of Music, You'll Never Walk Alone, and Younger Than Springtime).

  12. Paul Simon: He kept stretching the boundaries of folk-rock with hundreds of songs over five decades. Most memorable are America, The Boxer, Bridge over Troubled Water, Cecilia, El Condor Pasa, Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover, The 59th Street Bridge Song, Graceland, Homeward Bound, I Am a Rock, Kodachrome, Loves Me Like a Rock, Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard, Mother and Child Reunion, Mrs. Robinson, Old Friends, and The Sound of Silence.