Poll: Your Favorite Minimalist Composer

Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - 05:00 PM

philip glass portrait by chuck close (kevindooley/flickr)

A few months after the classical-music world celebrated the 75th birthday of composer Steve Reich (Oct. 3, 2011), another major New York Minimalist composer took the spotlight on Tuesday. Philip Glass's 75th is being marked by premieres, album releases and tribute concerts.

Of course, most composers commonly called Minimalists have rejected the label at one point or another, suggesting that it pigeonholes music that is far more complex and embracing. They certainly don't see themselves as part of a school, despite some shared roots that began with a backlash against post-War modernism (there's also an international component to Minimalism, which extends to names like Arvo Pärt and Michael Nyman -- a whole other kettle of fish).

Nevertheless, there are some aesthetic similarities worth considering. So we want to know what you think: which of the following composers is your favorite?  Take our poll and leave a comment below.

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Comments [12]

Frank Feldman

Agreed! Perhaps "trance-inducing sounds," or something else more accurate-but that would offend all the fans. Although, in fairness, other cultures don't have the same intellectual expectations of their musics.

Feb. 09 2012 02:20 PM
Michael Meltzer

I don't like "minimalist" because I think it implies that at least the bare essentials are all there, and I don't think they are. "Almost-music" or "Quasi-music", to be fancier, would be more truthful. Maybe, "Q-music."
At best, listening to Adams and Reich is like listening to the old Lexington Avenue subway with its ancient open-ended cars. You could heard every wheel hitting every break between rails. If you used your imagination it sounded sometimes like Louis Bellson playing drums.
When I buy a ticket to a concert, I expect more than listening to the IRT.

Feb. 05 2012 03:12 AM
Frank Feldman

Why is it a stupid word, MM? What's a better word for repetitive, harmonically impoverished, rhythmically simple music?

Feb. 04 2012 05:50 PM
Frank Feldman

At least Part understands what a beautiful sound is. But, even he writes endless introductions to pieces that never actually begin.

Feb. 04 2012 12:37 AM
Lyn Massey from Manhattan

David Lang. Also Julia Wolf and Michael Gordon. Their compositions are the most brilliant, funny and moving being performed today. Nothing 'formulaic' and they continue to surprise us.

Feb. 02 2012 05:55 PM
Popkutt from Atlantic Highlands, NJ

Arvo Pärt

Feb. 02 2012 02:43 PM
Curtis Fischer from Oklahoma

I voted for Phillip Glass from the list, but prefer British composer John Taverner; although minimalist composition seems to be labeled "an American trait".

Feb. 02 2012 11:31 AM
Tawnie

Wish Ann Southam were on the list.

Feb. 01 2012 08:11 PM
Ken from Grand Junction CO

Glass' music seems to have staying power. It also has a quality of freshness: it can be listened to several times and still be enjoyed and be surprising. Much of the so called 'minimalist' music is formulaic--you know what's coming and it just seems to keep on coming and coming and---

Feb. 01 2012 04:56 PM
robinm from Greenwich Village

Steve Reich desert music

Feb. 01 2012 12:50 PM
Lou Gerbino from Silver City,Iowa

John Adams does for minimalism what Alban Berg does for serialism:he gives it a human quality that leaps beyond form.

Feb. 01 2012 08:03 AM
Michael Meltzer

Being a "minimalist" (stupid word) doesn't stop Terry Riley from writing a beautiful melody once in a while.
I would think a true minimalist would get everything they had to say into three minutes or less. That's not what usually happens.

Jan. 31 2012 10:59 PM

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