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Topic: Romantic-era recommendations? Where to start?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Jersey City, NJ (sort of...)

    Romantic-era recommendations? Where to start?

    My background is mostly in jazz, but since I got my first real digital music setup a few months ago, along with GPO, I want to start a more in depth study of traditional orchestration. I did study jazz arranging in school, and took one semester of orchestration (consisting of writing for the strings only-- in hindsight, I wish I took the second semester!). I have basically ZERO knowledge of how to write for orchestral woodwinds and brass.

    I picked up the Rimsky-Korsakov orchestration book, and right in the beginning he mentions that studying the scores of composers from the classical era and before is misleading for students.

    My orchestral CD collection is somewhat lacking, consisting mostly of Mozart & Beethoven symphonies-- which I love to death. I don't have much of anything post-Beethoven except for a couple of Stravinsky things (Firebird, Rite of Spring).

    So my question: what is a good starting place for orchestral study of Romantic era? Tchaikovsky, Wagner, Mahler? What pieces? Any suggested recordings? Please, specific CDs that are widely available at record stores or online (Amazon, etc.)-- I go into a record store, go to the Wagner section and I have no idea what to buy-- so I leave with nothing. Recommendations?

  2. #2

    Re: Romantic-era recommendations? Where to start?

    Personally, I REALLY like Tchyvosky, so...umm...yeah.

    I can't spell the name but he sure writes GREAT music!!!!


  3. #3

    Smile Re: Romantic-era recommendations? Where to start?

    read some recomendation i agree with in this thread, L.Juliet post.
    orch sample

    Enigma variations of Sir.Elgar are an unusual, but i think valid recommendation too.

  4. #4

    Re: Romantic-era recommendations? Where to start?

    Ugh, skip the whole lot of it. Mostly self-indulgent sopping-wet nonsense.

    Skip straight to Debussy and work forward from there, you'll be just fine. Studying romantic scores for orchestration tips today is as misleading as studying classical scores in Rimsky-Korsakov's day.


  5. #5

    Re: Romantic-era recommendations? Where to start?

    It would be great if you took some Mahler, eh? Symphony No. 2 would be fantastic... and No. 6 (especially this one. I think it involved more of his personal life...) ... and No. 9... and No. 5... and Das Lied von der Erde... (yes, I love Mahler)

    As of Tchaikovksy, Symphony No. 5, to me, would be an excellent choice. Tackle on the Swan Lake Ballet Suite (one of my favorite works from him), or the Nutcracker Suite... Or Sleeping Beauty Suite... The Seasons, Dumka, a good number of his morcaux (some of which Stravinsky used in The Fairy's Kiss), Hamlet, The Snow Maiden, Serenade for Strings, Souvenir d'un Lieu Cher (basically his works that aren't so popular... that should be at least) are good choices.

    You can pick =P
    ♪♪♪♪ CâTå ♪♪♪♪

  6. #6

    Re: Romantic-era recommendations? Where to start?

    Tchaikovsky and Ravel were brilliant orchestrators, I don't think you could go wrong by studying any of their orchestral work.
    Sean Patrick Hannifin
    My MP3s | My Melody Generator | my album
    "serious music" ... as if the rest of us are just kidding

  7. #7
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Los Angeles

    Re: Romantic-era recommendations? Where to start?

    Definitely get the Kent Kennan book as recommended. It will help you with the Brass and Woodwind writing.
    Dave Connor www.daveconnor.net

  8. #8

    Re: Romantic-era recommendations? Where to start?

    Mahler and Ravel are, as far as I'm concerned, the greatest masters of orchestration ever. You can't go wrong with any of their works.

    But let's not overlook composers like Brahms and Dvorak. Their orchestration technique may not be as "colorful" as the others I mentioned, but they both understood how to write idiomatically for all the instruments, and how to combine them in effective ways. I'd recommend starting with composers like them before tackling the more "advanced" orchestrators.
    Dan Powers

    "It's easier to be a composer than it is to compose."
    --Ray Luke (1928-2010)

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Jersey City, NJ (sort of...)

    Re: Romantic-era recommendations? Where to start?

    Wow... 8 replies in less than a day! Thanks so much everybody!

    Yeah, I do have a feeling that the R-K book is a little over my head-- the way it's written, along with what he thinks sounds "good" vs. "not good" kinda rubs me the wrong way. One of the great things about MIDI orchestration, esp GPO, is that I can try things out and hear what they sound like right away.

    I really don't know what my "goals" are at this point. Up until now, my goal has been to be the best jazz bass player I can be... I suppose my favorite orchestrator over the years has been Gil Evans. I do know that my knowledge of late Romantic music is lacking... thanks for all the suggestions. What do you guys think of Aaron Copeland? I heard some of his stuff recently and I was suprised how much I liked it.

    I guess what I really want to do is combine orchestral instruments with jazz instruments (ala Gil Evans). Sigh, when oh when is JABB coming out?

  10. #10

    Re: Romantic-era recommendations? Where to start?

    Check out the thread entitled "Extended Jazz Forms." I mentioned a handful of pieces and composers that are worth checking out.

    Gil Evans used a lot of orchestral woodwinds in his music--just studying his scores should give you some good tips. As far as "classical" woodwinds, the french tended to use them best, which is why I mentioned Debussy. Ravel is a good one too. Both were also interested in jazz, and occasionally used saxophones.

    If you like Gil Evans, then I imagine you're already familiar with Maria Schneider. If not, go out and buy her album entitled "Evanescence." Incidentally, the full big band score for this entire album is available for purchase. Also check out the big band music of Bob Brookmeyer.

    I'm a big fan of Steven Mackey's. You should check out his albums "Tuck and Roll" and "Heavy Light." Neither of them have what I would call jazz element in them, but he's a good example of contemporary concert music that has kind of a hip sensibility without being watered down.

    I'm also very much into combining jazz language/instrumentation with contemporary "art music." Let me know what you come up with...


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