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Premature deaths

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Showing 1-25 of 29 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 3 Jun 2014 09:37:53 BDT
Mondoro says:
Setting aside the obvious candidates Schubert and Beethoven which composers died prematurely before they reached their full potential?

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Jun 2014 10:17:17 BDT
Bruce says:
Mahler was the name that first sprang to mind - his 10th promises so much and he was still obviously so full of ideas when his life was cut short.

Posted on 3 Jun 2014 10:18:44 BDT
Last edited by the author on 3 Jun 2014 10:26:23 BDT
Schubert's obv.a good shout but, though I'm not an expert in such things, I wouldn't have thought Beethoven did too badly for that era in reaching the age of 57. To answer the question directly, Mozart's the other name which springs to mind for me.

There's also a very interesting subsidiary question here about whether Mozart, Schubert and any other composers of genuine distinction who died young really did fail to reach their full potential. Had they lived longer they'd have gone on developing, but whether they'd actually have "improved" in any meaningful sense is moot.

Posted on 3 Jun 2014 10:44:08 BDT
Mozart and Schubert both died relatively young but both had already achieved great things; whether it was their full potential we will never know. Whether it was premature is also a moot point; dying in your 30s wasn't, at the time, anything unusual, especially in Vienna which seems to have been a particularly unhealthy place to live.

The potentially great unknowns must be those who died very young but left tantalizing glimpses of their potential, eg. Arriaga (only 19 when he died) and Vorisek - both from tuberculosis - they can be heard on this disc - Arriaga/Vorisek: Symphony . There is also all those composers who died in the two World Wars, notably George Butterworth.

Posted on 3 Jun 2014 14:05:13 BDT
Last edited by the author on 3 Jun 2014 14:26:13 BDT
mancheeros says:
Scriabin, Webern, Nikos Skalkottas, Robert Graettinger, Jean Barraqué, Cornelius Cardew...

Edit - and Henry Purcell...not forgetting William Lawes...

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Jun 2014 17:50:39 BDT
Cardew's death was the subject of some left-wing chatter, mancheeros. He was struck down by a car and the suggestion was that this was the work of the secret service on account of his radical music. 'The Great Learning' was an important piece to me when I was younger.

Posted on 3 Jun 2014 18:20:36 BDT
Roasted Swan says:
One of the great "what might have beens......" - Lili Boulanger - even her existing work singles her out as one of the finest composers of her generation.

Posted on 3 Jun 2014 19:18:55 BDT
Anonymouse says:
I'm sure most people would choose "premature" for their deaths, however many years old they were when they died.

Carter, Parmegiani, Romitelli. I don't think the numbers really matter.

Posted on 3 Jun 2014 19:32:13 BDT
MacDoom says:
Richard Strauss. He was just embarking on a rather nice set of songs... then they were the Last.

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Jun 2014 22:29:35 BDT
Mondoro says:
Bruce, An obvious keyboard slip (or mind wandering) -I *did* mean to put Mozart instead of LvB

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Jun 2014 00:59:07 BDT
mancheeros says:
Yes, >>>, the nature of Cornelius Cardew's death - a hit and run 'accident' not far from his home in London - is perhaps more talked about than his music is listened to. What with the various conspiracy theories and Cardew's devotion to Maoist politics and weirdly experimental music, there is probably enough substance for an intriguing opera - The Killing of Cornelius Cardew (?) - but no kinky sex that I know of to attract the likes of Ades and Turnage.

'The Death of Webern' was an opera project talked about by film director Peter Greenaway, but nothing seems to have come of it.

Posted on 4 Jun 2014 07:48:05 BDT
Roasted Swan says:
Given the State's indifference to the Arts in general and 'serious' music in particular I find the idea of it sanctioning murder faintly bizarre. Rutland Boughton and Alan Bush both promoted Communist ideals without suffering a similar fate!

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Jun 2014 07:53:34 BDT
'The Death of Webern' was an opera project talked about by film director Peter Greenaway, but nothing seems to have come of it...'

Geezer steps outside for a cigar so as not to disturb the sleeping grandchildren, and is shot dead by Private First Class Raymond Norwood, a US army cook. Poor Webern. Poor Norwood too. Norwood died in the mid 1950s, an alcoholic destroyed by the guilt he felt for the death he caused. A pity Greenaway's project did not come to fruition, mancheeros.

Posted on 4 Jun 2014 14:56:54 BDT
mancheeros says:
I wonder if Private Norwood ever listened to Webern's music. If so, I wonder what he thought of it...

Obscure Trivia: 'The Only Geezer An American Soldier Shot Was Anton Webern' is the title of an improvisation by Spontaneous Music Ensemble on the album Low Profile (Emanem).

Posted on 9 Jun 2014 23:11:37 BDT
Last edited by the author on 9 Jun 2014 23:16:01 BDT
G. P. Martin says:
Hans Rott

Posted on 9 Jun 2014 23:40:55 BDT
Lez Lee says:
Pergolesi - died of TB aged 26

Posted on 9 Jun 2014 23:41:58 BDT
enthusiast says:
Sibelius the composer was lost to us long before he died. Who knows if he wrote anything of any value in all those years?

Posted on 11 Jun 2014 08:36:39 BDT
Mondoro says:

Posted on 11 Jun 2014 09:29:43 BDT
Roasted Swan says:
Ernest Chausson & his cycling accident

Posted on 23 Jun 2014 17:27:37 BDT
Last edited by the author on 23 Jun 2014 20:25:03 BDT
Bella says:
Guillaume Lekeu - 24
Gideon Klein - 26

Posted on 6 Jul 2014 09:30:43 BDT
Max Reger - only 43 but dying in 1916. I always wonder how he would have reacted creatively to the gradual musical upheaval that began during that decade - would he have remained a dyed-in-the-wool Classicist/Romantic and risked being left behind (like Korngold), or would he have responded positively, if cautiously, to some of the changes going on around him and experiment a little bit (like Zemlinsky)?

In reply to an earlier post on 14 Jul 2014 05:14:30 BDT
Yi-Peng says:
Mozart, Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky and Smetana? I can't help thinking that Mendelssohn could have done more had he lived longer. And Tchaikovsky and Smetana, too. Maybe even Borodin.

Posted on 5 Oct 2014 23:03:13 BDT
Last edited by the author on 6 Oct 2014 19:15:28 BDT
Edgar Self says:
Juan Arriaga, Rudi Stephans, Chopin, Gershwin. Two others who came to mind, Guillaume Lekeu and Hans Rott, were named by Bella and G.P. Martin. Alberic Magnard is another dead by gunfire. I'm trying to remember young British composers who died in the Great War.

In reply to an earlier post on 6 Oct 2014 10:17:19 BDT
Last edited by the author on 6 Oct 2014 11:38:15 BDT
Welcome back Piso! George Butterworth is probably the best known of the British composers who died in the Great War though Cecil Coles has also received some attention lately. Some survived but were mentally and physically scarred by the experience, notably Ivor Gurney.

In reply to an earlier post on 6 Oct 2014 11:42:08 BDT
Bella says:
Nice to see a post, Piso! Austrian composer Erich Wolff wasn't a war casualty, he seems to have succumbed to an ear infection just before, in 1913, leaving works that contemporaries rated with the likes of Mahler and Zemlinsky, but that were then forgotten; I gather there are now attempts to revive interest. I came across him on a CD of Wunderhornlieder set by around twenty 19th and 20thC composers. Samuel Coleridge-Taylor doesn't seem to have got a mention yet; I remember seeing the name among piano pieces my mother used to play, then a few years ago a TV documentary filled me in on what sounded like a promising career, cut short by pneumonia.
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Participants:  16
Total posts:  29
Initial post:  3 Jun 2014
Latest post:  14 Oct 2014

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