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 Posted:   Sep 13, 2012 - 4:32 AM   
 By:   Tall Guy   (Member)

Rather than hijack Henry's admirable thread any further -

(http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/board/posts.cfm?threadID=91522&forumID=1&archive=0 )

- I thought I'd be a little more specific and start a new thread with a less contentious title.

For me, John Williams is comfortably in with a shout for this. Over a very long period of time he's garnered so many honours, worked with so many fantastic musicians, and collaborated with some of the most lauded film directors that by any objective measure he has to be in competition with the composers I mentioned in the other thread.

Do try to look at this not in terms of favourites, but on as objective a basis as possible.

So who, in your view, is America's greatest ever composer? And I'm sorry that this thread is in the "general discussion" side of the board, but I guess that several of the contenders will have at the very least a passing connection with the cinematic arts.

TG

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 13, 2012 - 4:50 AM   
 By:   Vermithrax Pejorative   (Member)

I would say he's up there with Aaron Copland as one of the most important voices in American music.

 
 Posted:   Sep 13, 2012 - 5:01 AM   
 By:   Stephen Woolston   (Member)

I think John Williams is the most likely candidate out of the film composer set.

If it's not him, I think it's most likely to be someone who is not generally classed as a film composer, even if (like Aaron Copland) they have done notable film work.

Cheers

 
 Posted:   Sep 13, 2012 - 5:02 AM   
 By:   Dirk Wickenden   (Member)

Not knowing that much about American composers, I couldn't name the USA's greatest ever but to Copland and yes, Williams, I'd add George Gershwin.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 13, 2012 - 5:07 AM   
 By:   (Member)   (Member)

Bernard Herrmann for the Golden Age.
Jerry Fielding for the Silver Age.

 
 Posted:   Sep 13, 2012 - 5:32 AM   
 By:   mark ford   (Member)

This is pretty difficult and also prone to subjectivity. You could be talking about film composers, concert composers, musical theater composers, a combination of any of those, etc. I couldn't go with a film composer no matter how much I would like to as their work is mostly derivative of the classical (and popular) composers that came before them so the originality isn't really there and I think that is a major factor in determining long term greatness, at least in a classic sense as opposed to a more popular one.

Many consider George Gershwin to be the all around man who represented American music better than anyone. Then there is Copland, Bernstein, etc. In the purely concert/classical sense I would have to go with Charles Ives, an innovator doing atonal music decades before even the second Viennese school, experimenting with polytonalities, incorporating American folk tunes into concert work and a number of other things that many think later composers were responsible for. He was just fairly unknown in his time. Herrmann was probably more responsible than anyone for bringing his work into the public consciousness.

On a broader level, there is Duke Ellington who not only composed many ground breaking jazz works (which is America's only truly indigenous musical art form) and theatrical tunes, but also concert/classical works for orchestra, chorus and small ensemble. He was the most prolific American composer of the 20th century as well as being one of the most innovative and has been chosen by many in recent music polls as America's greatest composer.

My personal pick is Duke Ellington because of my love of jazz, especially his, but Ives should probably get the nod.

 
 Posted:   Sep 13, 2012 - 5:45 AM   
 By:   Loren   (Member)

Charles Ives of course.

 
 Posted:   Sep 13, 2012 - 5:56 AM   
 By:   mgh   (Member)

As always this is very subjective.
I think the composer that hits it in both the classical and film scoring arenas would be Aaron Copland. He wrote masterpieces in both.
Classical only: Gershwin or Ives
Film only: Goldsmith

 
 Posted:   Sep 13, 2012 - 6:27 AM   
 By:   Scott M (Oldsmith)   (Member)

I would say he's up there with Aaron Copland as one of the most important voices in American music.

I just wated the 1939 Of Mice and Men. Lon Chaney Jr and Copland's score borught me to tears.

 
 Posted:   Sep 13, 2012 - 7:17 AM   
 By:   Dana Wilcox   (Member)

I think John Williams must be considered the greatest American living, film music composer, and among the finest overall American composers of our time (taking into consideration the iconic music he's written beyond the film music genre as well). There are certainly other contenders for "greatest ever" even among the narrow scope of film music composers, depending upon one's criteria for making that determination and looking back past the present day.

In the general category of "American composer" I think a credible case could be built for Copland, Gershwin and Bernstein. I know that Bernard Herrmann was gonzo for Charles Ives but some thought this to be one of Benny's (many) idiosyncracies. Suffice it to say that Ives is not universally admired, not that that necessarily disqualifies him. I think I'd probably be looking at Copland, Gershwin or Bernstein, not just because they were incredibly gifted composers born in the USA, but because their works each spoke with a uniquely American voice.

 
 Posted:   Sep 13, 2012 - 7:44 AM   
 By:   goldsmith-rulez   (Member)

Hellooo? The thread isn't called "America's greatest film composer" !!!

If it were, the natural answer would be: Bernard Herrmann. Followed by Jerry Goldsmith and Alex North.

Since it is just GREATEST COMPOSER, the more obvious answers are:

Charles Edward Ives
Aaron Copland
Henry Brant
Henry Cowell
William Schuman
Virgil Thomson
John Cage

 
 Posted:   Sep 13, 2012 - 7:51 AM   
 By:   Scott M (Oldsmith)   (Member)

[edit] Never mind, I misunderstood and have withdrawn my comment.[/edit]

 
 Posted:   Sep 13, 2012 - 7:57 AM   
 By:   goldsmith-rulez   (Member)

What do you mean, "misunderstood". The question is fairly straightforward:

So who, in your view, is America's greatest ever composer?

 
 Posted:   Sep 13, 2012 - 8:04 AM   
 By:   Scott M (Oldsmith)   (Member)

It means I didn't read it right and withdrew my comment. It wasn't in response to your post.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 13, 2012 - 8:33 AM   
 By:   manderley   (Member)

What do you mean, "misunderstood". The question is fairly straightforward:

So who, in your view, is America's greatest ever composer?




The question also doesn't mention music.

.....com·pos·er [noun]

1. a person or thing that composes.
2. a person who writes music.
3. an author.....




In light of its daily use here still, 200+ years later,
I'd suggest Thomas Jefferson.....and his Constitution.

.....although Dear Abby, Norman Mailer, Fannie Hurst, and Louis L'Amour
might also be in the running..... smile smile

 
 Posted:   Sep 13, 2012 - 8:35 AM   
 By:   lexedo   (Member)

What?! No mention of Gottschalk? jk

The stars must have aligned on this glorious day... I agree w Goldsmith_Rulez!!! Hopefully he will allow one additional entry to his list for Barber. And I'd appreciate very much his inclusion of Gershwin. :-D

I believe it a bit of stretch to consider J Williams. I love JW, but it took him a bit to find his stride. I do really enjoy TreeSong, which is one of his concert pieces.

And I love Duke too, but it's difficult for me to include him in that respect - he just wasn't as musically knowledgeable as the others listed; Duke lacked the academic grounding in music that the others possessed.

 
 Posted:   Sep 13, 2012 - 9:44 AM   
 By:   mgh   (Member)

What do you mean, "misunderstood". The question is fairly straightforward:

So who, in your view, is America's greatest ever composer?




The question also doesn't mention music.

.....com·pos·er [noun]

1. a person or thing that composes.
2. a person who writes music.
3. an author.....




In light of its daily use here still, 200+ years later,
I'd suggest Thomas Jefferson.....and his Constitution.

.....although Dear Abby, Norman Mailer, Fannie Hurst, and Louis L'Amour
might also be in the running..... smile smile


Oh, in that case my vote goes to Dear Abby.wink

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 13, 2012 - 11:30 AM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

If we stick to the symphonic idiom, it's hard to avoid the Big Three -- Leonard Bernstein, George Gerswhin and Aaron Copland.

Then you have some modernistic challengers, like Ives, Glass, Reich, Partch, Cage. Armenian-American Alan Hovhaness is one of my own personal favourites, as is Barber, but they wouldn't quite get there from a more 'objective' standpoint. Nor would Sousa, really, despite his iconic marches.

So the real challengers would IMO be the two guys primarily known for their film work -- John Williams and Bernard Herrmann. While the latter may the more groundbreaking, style-wise, the former holds a more forceful position in so many areas of music and popular culture; he's really an institution in himself.

I may be a bit biased on this one (since Williams is my alltime favourite composer), but when all is said and done, I think he will join the pantheon of the Big Three -- if he hasn't already.

So....the way I (fore)see it, John Williams is the greatest ever American composer.

(of course, broadening it beyond symphonic compositions, you'd have to consider guys like Duke Ellington, Irving Berlin, Stephen Sondheim, Bob Dylan, Brian Wilson, Michael Jackson etc.).

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 13, 2012 - 12:28 PM   
 By:   henry   (Member)

John Williams!

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 13, 2012 - 12:31 PM   
 By:   filmo   (Member)

i like john knowles paine.

 
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