Know your Bachs from your Bocherrini? Know your vibratto from your virtuouso?
We debate the greatest musician of the Napoleonic era, as Tansy Robson, Josh Provan, Jacqueline Reiter and Rachael Stark join me to champion some masters of the musical arts.
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A quite passionate new podcasts, and I had to admit, I did not know Bocherrini at all. I would have picked Mozart as well, as Jacqueline Reiter did, but honestly, can he be counted for the Napoleonic Era? I have my doubts, and that would leave Beethoven as clear winner, at least in my opinion, well in case you have a downer just listen to Freude schöner Götterfunke - Ode an die Freude.
Boccherini isn't typical of the Napoleonic era either. So, certainly not him. There are many others unknown to people today but very well known during the Napoleonic era - and very much admired even by those who are considered "the greatest" in our time. Anyway, something like the "greatest musician" doesn't exist. First, because tastes differ, second, because tastes change and, consequently, what is considered "greatest" in our days (a canon fixed mainly in the course of the later 19th and 20th centuries) does not at all reflect what was popular and considered "great(est)" at the period. As a matter of fact, some of the composers considered really great at the time have been forgotten for a very long time and were only recently "rediscovered". As for the "heroes" of our time - Mozart, for example, was one among many at the time. And Beethoven (not unlike today) was by no means liked by everybody (BTW, "Ode an die Freude", a poem by Schiller composed in 1785, i.e. long before the Revolution, was set to music by Beethoven in 1824 only, i.e. long after the Revolution, and even the Napoleonic wars! ... as an aside: Some venomous tongues answer to "Alle Menschen werden Brüder" with "Alle Brüder werden Menschen" :-)) ... ). Personally, I recommend not to pursue this poll as it cannot be adequately answered. Still, in my opinion, and let me emphasize that I cannot judge for others, François-Joseph Gossec and Johann Simon Mayr (better known as Giovanni Simone Mayr, as he actually worked in Italy most of the time) were among the greatest and also considered to be among the greatest at the time. But there were others of whom most people today have never heard. What shall we bet? So, pointless to go on discussing, really ... ;-)