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Topic: Is Nikolai Medtner a late Romantic or early 20th century composer?  (Read 2888 times)

Offline ca88313

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Why are Medtner's piano concertos categorised as "Early 20th century" and not "Romantic" in terms of "Piece Style" by the International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP)?

Here are individual links to the IMSLP's web pages for Medtner's three piano concertos:




Information about each piece can be found in the "General information" section at the bottom of the web pages mentioned above. According to the "General information" section, the "Piece Style" of each piano concerto is "Early 20th century".

On the contrary, some of Medtner's compositions have been categorised by the IMSLP as "Romantic" in terms of "Piece Style". Here are some links to illustrate this point:



Offline arnerich

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He's definitely late Romantic in my book.

I consider Rachmaninoff late romantic but some of his piano works, like the etudes tableaux, can be... modern is not the right word, but just as demanding for the listener (and performer) as any of the compositions from his modern contemporaries in my opinion.

Offline visitor

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he's early 20th century, but not a 'modern' [at the time] composer.
Niko is by far one of my favorite composers and I'm assigned several of his works currently by my teacher and I see where he can lean back and look over his shoulder back towards romanticism, however he showcase his ingenuity with a command of very complex harmony, which looks forward at shifting aesthetics and practices and traditions that really push tonality to the fringes.

Liszt was a 'romantic' composer, but if you listen to his very late works, he had glimpses of what would be impressionist tenancies and he stretched the limits of traditional tonality at times, but we would not call him impressionist.

Scriabin was an early 20th century composer but his early style is much more romanticized until we get past about op 50ish or so....

Hummel was a classical composer but he bridged and did things that leaned more towards what early romanticism would flesh out to a greater degree.

Elinor Remmick Warren was a modern composer but more of a neoromantic and closer aligned to John La Montaine, Aaron Copeland, Nicolas Flagello, than say any number of forgotten 'new aestheticists'

Niko was genius and probably the greatest 20th century composer that mainstream classical enthusiasts either don't know about or [unjustly] ignore.

When I discuss him I generally say he was an early 20th century neoromatnic.

(similar to how mid 20th century we had a LOT of mid 20th century neoclassical composers), ie Jean Francaix, etc.

Offline ca88313

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A book called "The Composer-Pianists: Hamelin and The Eight" written by Robert Rimm states that Medtner and Rachmaninoff were very traditionalist and conservative during the first half of the 20th century and describes them as Romantic compatriots. Medtner used traditional harmony, despised modernism and he even expressed his views in a book called "The Muse and the Fashion: being a defence of the foundations of the art of music".

In my opinion, Arnold Schoenberg (inventor of the twelve-tone technique) and other composers that composed atonal music should be classified as early 20th century composers. Medtner did not attempt to replace tonal music with atonal music whereas composers such as Schoenberg did. Therefore, Schoenberg is a fantastic example of a modernist composing early 20th century music. However, Medtner was far too traditionalist for his music to be characterised as early 20th century music. In my opinion, he is a late Romantic composer during a period of modernism which is very similar to Rachmaninoff's position during the first half of the 20th century. The following Wikipedia web page lists Medtner as a Romantic composer amongst other Russian Romantic composers:


However, I still don't understand why the IMSLP regards some of Medtner's compositions as Romantic music and some as early 20th century music in terms of "Piece Style". This is a difficult question to answer but this topic could increase everyone's understanding of the development of music during the early 20th century and how Romanticism was phased out during this period.

Offline chrisbutch

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Why does he have to be one or the other? He was, surely, both.

Offline themeandvariation

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i had a listen to his wonderful quintet - written and revised over many years; some say it reflects his whole life's work.  (I've listened to some other works some time ago, as well).  It seems to me w/ re: to the question - It appears that he saves his harmonic stretching for development/passage work sections.. If this harmonic stretching occurs during a main theme, it leans more decorative than integrated.  Also, his rhythms are pretty conservative.. To me, a definite romantic, with some spice of the modern - and very judiciously at that.  
I do think that there is much here to be appreciated, regardless of what a generalized definition/classification can  say.

Offline opus10no2

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No great composer is entirely traditionalist - Medtner along with Rachmaninoff were hugely innovative and individual.

Not jarringly so like Stravinsky - but can you seriously name a composer that came *before* them that sounded just like them? They were relatively conservative but very individual composers with their own voices.

Medtner was an early 20th century composer, wrote in a 'romantic' style, used in a broad sense.

So he's both.
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