Marmite Composers


Hello, I would like to talk about a concept known as Marmite Composers in Europe. Since there is no exact equivalent of the word “Marmite” in Turkish, I had to use this word as it is.

You know, there are some things or some people, places, we love, like, recommend, and the person we recommend does not like. He does not share the same feelings with us, on the contrary, he may not like or hate us.

“Marmite” in Cambridge's dictionary; It means something or someone that someone likes or likes, that someone else dislikes. The concept arising from this definition among the public is used in a stronger sense for composers, such as those who love and hate.

When we think about the classical music world, the fact that there are countless precious composers causes this concept to be heard more often in Europe than in our country. While reading this article about Marmite Composers, I guess there are names that are already crossing your mind.

First of all, you can guess that Wilhelm Richard Wagner, who was born in Leipzig, Germany on May 22, 1813, is known as the Marmite Composer. The length of Wagner's works attracts both the listeners and the performers.
There are many haters as well as many who love because they are tired. Of course, that's not the only reason.

The recognition of Wagner, who is also a musician, philosopher, and politician, as an anti-Semitic personality is another reason for those who dislike him. With a quote to express the admiration and great love for Wagner's music
I must continue.

Wagner is a German composer, an important aesthetic theorist in the field of music and performing arts. In his system of thought, traces of German mythology tradition, absolute idealism and Schopenhauer's pessimist philosophy can be seen. Wagner's musical dramas emerge with the ideal of recreating the artistic synthesis in the golden age of the Greek tragic art and propose a new concept of combined arts based on the unity of all arts. Wagner describes this theory as "Gessamkunstwerk".

It is emphasized that as a result of the synthesis of music with poetry, the highest tragic art will be recreated and that the arts will be liberated again thanks to this synthesis. Wagner does not treat music as just music. In it, music is considered as a field of "being in and for itself". Wagner music is determined by a philosophical paradigm. This paradigm develops in Schopenhauer-Buddhism in some periods and in an absolute idealist point in others. The "mythical and metaphorical" layers of meaning and "endless melody" that exist in all his operas have directed his works to today as the "music of the future" and brought the name Wagner to the point of being mentioned as a philosopher as well as composer.


In the above excerpt, we see today evidence of Wagner's music being seen as the “Music of the Future”.
With the Leit-motif technique, which is Wagner's signature, he was writing privileged notes that would remind and distinguish the events or characters in the work. When a character comes to the stage or when there is an event, he has his own music and the audience remembers, knows and understands the hero or event with this music. This leit motif technique is also used in many major movie productions such as Star Wars and Game Of Thrones.

Wagner used the leit-motif technique by Rienzi (1837-1840), Flying Dutchman (1840-1841), Tannhauser (1842-1843), Lohengrin (1845), Nibulungen Ring (1848-1874), Tristan und Isolde (1857-1859), Nurbergli He used it in his musical dramas Master Singers (1845-1861) and Parsifal (1865).

In his 1851 essay Opera and Drama, Wagner writes:When these motifs (e.g. Siegfried) are later reworked in vocal or instrumental parts, they must be linked to previously spoken words and evoke the same images.” continues: “With this leit-motif technique that spreads throughout the drama, everything is connected.”[Wagner:1996:300].

Thus, the limited melodies of traditional music are replaced by extended "endless melodies". This technique allows musical thoughts
provides a new opportunity for development. Thus, the possibility of musical expression expanded and the dialectical moment in musical thought was put into action. With this development, Wagner music moves away from the paradigms of Schopenhauer's music philosophy with its "Eternal Tune" approach and reaches a point similar to Hegel's "evil infinite" thought. (Ulger, Emir)

Many classical music lovers loved the power, diversity and philosophy of Wagner's music. The features that make him a Marmite Composer do not end with writing, but Wagner, who is known as a philosopher composer, was of course an unforgettable and very special composer.

Let's talk about Johannes Brahms, another Marmite Composer, who was born on May 7, 1833 in Hamburg, Germany. While some people love Brahms' music, others may hate it. Although everyone respects the extraordinary music and life of the great composer, he does not like it.

Johannes Brahms, one of the most important composers of the 19th century, left his mark on the romantic period with his works. With his strong creativity, he combined classical and romantic musical expressions in his works. During his lifetime, he wrote many symphonies, chamber music, orchestral, choral music, lied, and piano works, reflecting his rhetoric and imagination. Although the influences of many composers such as L. van Beethoven can be seen in some of his works, he has revealed a unique understanding with his mastery in the art of counterpoint and his poetic genius. Adopting the slogan of free but entertaining to define his musical language, the composer became one of the most important composers of the nineteenth century with the success of the works he composed. (Çalışkan, Vahdet)

It is known that master instrumentalists who play Brahms's poetic works that are ahead of their time but not broken with tradition, have difficulties. There are those who find Brahms' music dark and those who dislike it, as well as those who find it too romantic and poetic. Pyotr Tchaikovsky wrote in his letter to Nadezhda Von Meck in 1877:I was studying Brahms' 1st Symphony. My view is bleak and cold. Full of claims to be deep, without real depth".

Igor Stravinsky says the following about Brahms in an interview:I feel great things for Brahms. You can feel the supreme wisdom in his least inspiring work.”. Celebrity conductor Sir John Eliot Gardiner performed Brahms' Op.52 The Liebeslieder Waltzes
He says it's one of Bramsh's many favorite works. He adds that it is the most enthusiastic, poetic and hilarious series you can imagine, free from academic rules and restrictions.

What are you thinking?

Another Marmite composer is Robert Schumann.

Schumann's works reflected the 19th century atmosphere very well. In the 19th century, also known as the Romantic period, composers, writers, poets and painters were working with a strong bond, and this was very much in line with the principles adopted by Robert Schumann. His own manic-depressive mood and his relationship with Clara
When combined with his love, his works reflected feelings such as escape, tension, uncertainty, love, pain, mystery and secrecy.

“For Schumann, romantic music was a grueling mix. Only good technique, correct lines of sound, developed themes and proportion were not enough for him. Music could only be a high art insofar as it served with a poetic thought. Music that could not convey an air or reflect moods was not an art.”

Schumann experimented with a complex musical writing in his works. Schumann, in his own words, made the following explanation for the criticism of the incomprehensibility of his works: “Everything that happens in the world interests me; politics, literature, people. I think about all these according to myself and my ideas are born as works. It is sometimes difficult for him to understand.

Şahinalp Gunaltay, Aygul

Schumann was a composer who made music with passion throughout his life as a composer who knew and responded that his own music was difficult to understand. This elusive side of him also contributed to his being known as a marmite composer. The list of known as Marmite composers is quite long. It is impossible for me to mention each of them here, but lastly, Chopin, whom The Times music critic, British journalist James William Davison did not like, should also be mentioned. Liszt, Verdi, and Berlioz are also on the list, of course, but if you're curious and want to research them, I'll leave it to you, dear Parter readers.

Although Chopin's extraordinary passages, etudes, and impromptues hypnotize some, they are considered by others as annoying. Chopin has a lot of love but also a lot of dislike. Let me continue with another quote on the reasons of Chopin lovers.

Chopin, who keeps Polish folk music alive in his works, has achieved mastery, brightness and purity with his legato playing style, cantabile and lyrical melodic style, ornaments that integrate with the melody, understated rubato, fluent and colorful harmonies, chromatism, pedal use and superior piano writing. Thanks to this pure, sincere and emotional musical style, Chopin's works have made an unforgettable history and gained a great reputation.

Chopin, with his good knowledge of Polish folk music and traditions, has succeeded in making his national music the music of the whole world. As a person who created his works without taking anyone's example and brought innovations to music on his own, Chopin managed to stay true to his own stylistic principles even when he played the works of other composers. He achieved this success only as a result of indulging himself in the feelings that came from within, and the impressions he gained in the face of life. Different moods such as longing for the homeland, the pain of being invaded by the enemy, the joy and disappointment caused by their love, have emerged as a whole by creating thousands of color varieties in their works, fusing with the unity of melody. Chopin was able to see sparkles, sparkles among the darkest colors. Like his humble personality, he also avoided exaggeration in his art. He does not develop and use the themes in the work, he is content only with exhibiting and repeating. His works are very natural, pure and deep. But each of his works has an orchestral richness.

Mountains, Isil

There are always those who like or dislike everyone or everything, but composers such as Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Mahler bring the art of music closer to us with its supreme glory, even after centuries, let alone being Marmite Composers.



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