No English Speaking Classical Composers?

Hi,

I can't really find any good Classical composers who spoke English. Handel composed English pieces but he was not a native speaker. The only Classically inclined English sung music I can find are old Negro Spirituals. Can anyone think of anyone else?

Joshua

How about Henry Purcell or Edward Elgar?

Like you said, the first one that came to mind was Handel-- didn't he spend nearly 50 years in Britain?

The second one that came to mind was Sir Arthur Sullivan. Didn't know if he was too late-period for you or not, but his collaborations with W.S. Gilbert started in the 1870's (?).

You can't forget Henry Purcell, of course. Very Baroque, awesome stuff.

Is Thomas Campion too early-period? I like some of his music on occasion.

Copland
Britten
Delius
Byrd
Dowland

Samuel Barber

What about George Gershwin, his Porgy and Bess is considered in Europe to be Grand Opera, and many of his songs, that once were considered to be popular songs are being sung today by classical singers as art songs, and what about Leonard Bernstein or Carlyle Floyd?

I hope I don’t come across as a snotty academic here.

The Classical period lasted from about 1750 to about 1870.

None of the composers mentioned so far fits this.

I’m in charge of a music competition, and we would consider Britten, Copland, Delius, and Gershwin as composers of contemporary music. Byrd and Dowland fall into a period much earlier than the Classical.

Is it possible that what we’re talking about here isn’t “Classical” music, but rather, music that isn’t rock, country, jazz, etc.? Again, I don’t want to sound like a snob, but that just isn’t correct. It’s like saying that all non-Catholic Christian religions are Baptist, which isn’t true at all.

[quote="Cat, post:7, topic:254347"]
I hope I don't come across as a snotty academic here.

The Classical period lasted from about 1750 to about 1870.

None of the composers mentioned so far fits this.

[/quote]

Yes, that is what I was taught in school as well. And it gave me pause. As you said, from an academic point of view, none of the composers mentioned are from the Classical period.

[quote="Cat, post:7, topic:254347"]
Is it possible that what we're talking about here isn't "Classical" music, but rather, music that isn't rock, country, jazz, etc.?

[/quote]

Sort of along the lines of "any composition which isn't a form of popular music of Western civilization = classical"? Well, maybe that isn't so far from the average conception of classical music in our culture, which is a bit hazy on such things. I think that if you listen to most radio stations which are described as playing classical music, you will hear all of the composers mentioned in this thread so far.

That end date is a little late imo – of course there is always debate on this. Beethoven is dead in 1827, yet he is the quintessential Romantic composer, though his early work is considered Classical. Your timeline places him squarely in the Classical era.

Yet you offer none who do. I think Joshua wants music, not a lecture. :shrug:

Sure contemporary music, but even that is incredibly vague. Delius is more properly called an Impressionist. Copland was a solid example of nationalism. Byrd and Dowland were Renaissance. Etc.

You’ll find them all in the Classical Music section of the music store or even at your public library. Only an academic would be flustered or nonplussed.

Perhaps Joshua’s question needs a bit more focus. The inclusion of Negro Spirituals makes me wonder too – though a composer like Dvorak (nationalism, specifically Czech/Bohemian nationalism ;)) may have used some spirituals in his work from his travels in the USA.

To me, it sounds like he asking about English language oratorios (per his mention of Handel) and perhaps art song.

Help us help you out, Joshua! :smiley:

In our competition, Beethoven selections are considered “classical.” We base it on the time that the composers lived, not on the style of their pieces. I believe that this is the generally-accepted convention when classifying music.

There are composers who are currently composing music that sounds “classical,” but it is not generally considered correct to call this music “Classical.” It is considered “Contemporary” because the composers live in the 21st Century.

I think that if someone wants to make a case for classifying music according to the style of music rather than the time period of the composer, they would have to make that very clear, or it could be confusing to most musicians and teachers who are used to the convention of using time periods.

In our competition, I believe that our rules make it clear that we are using time periods, not styles. Every once in a while, we’ll receive an application from a teacher who tries to make a case for Gershwin or Joplin writing classical music, but the “experts” that I consult always shoot this down.

Yet you offer none who do. I think Joshua wants music, not a lecture. :shrug:

I have already expressed contrition about sounding like a snob. I apologize again for sounding like an “academic” and appearing “flustered” over terms.

But the fact is, if the OP wishes for a certain kind of music, it would be good if he follows the generally-accepted convention of musical periods by date. He is more likely to get responses from musically-knowledgeable people.

Just because a music store divides itself up into sections doesn’t mean that those sections are the Final Word when it comes to music literature and history. To musicians, “Classical” music means something different than it does to retailers.

BTW, I don’t consider myself an expert in musical periods. I rely on experts to help me determine whether the competitors’ pieces are in the correct period for our music competition. I call our local symphony conductor, or contact my university.

So I would suggest that the OP contact a university music department and speak with a professor who is an expert on music literature and history. They will be happy to help.

Or Joshua (the OP) could just ask us? We know a little about music, and he’s got our attention.

Help him out, Cat! Don’t send him to the Ivory Tower for more lectures and nitpicking! :smiley:

Speaking as a classically trained musician in both piano and voice and knowing “academics” in this field of music, along with composers and such, there is a difference between “Classical” and “classical”. When someone uses the term with a capital “C”, many musicians associate this with an era of classical music (as do many people… musicians and academics included) or Western Art Music (which is probably a little more appropriate to use to avoid this comfusion, but most people outside of the music world would not be aware of this). I have a feeling that the OP was referring to the lower case “c”, but because he used the capital “C”, that probably caused the confusion and reaction. :wink:

The Classical period spanned from about 1750 to the early/early-mid 1800s. Beethoven’s later music is considered the beginning of the Romantic period of classical music, which overlapped the Classical period. Almost all musicians consider Beethoven’s music as from the Classical and Romantic periods, depending on when he wrote his music AND the compositional style of the particular compositions. His earlier music was definitely in more of the Classical vein, whereas his later music most assuredly evolved into the Romantic vein. (And there are academics who would argue that you would not have had the Romantic period without Beethoven’s music spearheading it, although others would also disagree :stuck_out_tongue: ) The Romantic period went into the very early 1900s, then you came into the 20th century style of classical music, to the contemporary and now the 21st century. Of course, there are all semantics, as different academics and experts will debate, ESPECIALLY with classical music (or should I say Western Art Music) from the 20th century and forward. There are also little subgenres within those basic periods. Some of have cited the Impressionistic style within the later Romantic period of music, which you hear a lot in music by French composers (makes sense since Impressionism in the visual arts took hold with the French).

We should also know that music composed during the Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque periods are commonly referred to as classical music by most classically-trained musicians because we all know what we mean, so there really isn’t anything wrong with the OP and others referring to composers of various centuries and periods as “classical composers”, but I guess to prevent confusion when writing, just use the lower case “c” then there will be no need of “intellectualizing” the discussion, albeit it was fun to participate in and to read the other posts. :stuck_out_tongue:

Just to add a few more English-speaking composers:

Thomas Tallis
John Field (has some gorgeous piano compositions)
Amy Beach
Gustav Holst
Edward MacDowell
Liza Lehmann (she was a singer and composer)

[quote="Sarabande, post:12, topic:254347"]
Speaking as a classically trained musician in both piano and voice and knowing "academics" in this field of music, along with composers and such, there is a difference between "Classical" and "classical". When someone uses the term with a capital "C", many musicians associate this with an era of classical music (as do many people... musicians and academics included) or Western Art Music (which is probably a little more appropriate to use to avoid this comfusion, but most people outside of the music world would not be aware of this). I have a feeling that the OP was referring to the lower case "c", but because he used the capital "C", that probably caused the confusion and reaction. ;)

[/quote]

Yeah, I bet that's about right! I'm also a professional musician (teaching, gigging, etc), but I'm more on the pop side of things. Jazz, blues, rock, country, etc. :)

Good suggestions in your list, btw! :thumbsup:

[quote="Cat, post:7, topic:254347"]
I hope I don't come across as a snotty academic here.

[/quote]

But you do. :sad_yes:

All of you left out one English composer of the “Classical” period: Arne. Although he may be considered a minor figure, he is still, a composer of the “Classical” period.

Sorry.

Carryover from chairing a music competition. I have to be strict with the competitors or the competition would disintegrate into Yanni music.

John Williams

(I kid)

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