Over on NewMusicBox, Carl Stone has proposed four nice categories for music lists:

  • pieces that you love and respect
  • pieces that you respect but don’t love
  • pieces that you love but don’t respect
  • pieces that you neither love nor respect

I’m teaching a course on 20th-century string quartets this year, so my lists are very narrowly focused – 1900-1975 string quartets:

  • Love and respect: Ravel, Webern Six Bagatelles, Bartok first and fourth, Shostakovich eighth, Carter second, Scelsi fourth
  • Respect but don’t love: Schoenberg second, Berg Lyric Suite, Bartok third, Crumb Black Angels, Dutilleux Ainsi le nuit
  • Love but don’t respect: I don’t really understand this category. What is love without respect?*
  • Neither love nor respect: Schoenberg first, Bartok second, Barber op. 11, Carter third

Of course, the categories I put these pieces in have shifted over the years, and I expect them to shift further. And then there are the vast majority of quartets I don’t know where to place.

*Well, I suppose that all of my quartets could fall into this category – simply because I love them unconditionally while feeling their faults keenly. On the other had, only one of my quartets is from the 20th century, so they don’t count.

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