Norman LeBrecht has posed a question: What 10 currently living composers will still be performed in 50 years? Rather than accepting his five "certainties," I'm starting fresh and will name ten composers in my iPod mix that I believe will stand the test of time.
1. Paul McCartney. His compositions with the Beatles and a few solo works will continue to thrive in 50 years.
2. Eric Whitacre. I actually prefer Morton Lauridsen's choir music, but I think Eric is more prolific, and thus casts a wider net. Speaking of which, his YouTube choir experiments are fascinating.
3. Osvaldo Golijov. His mix of world, popular, and classical musics are very organic, not forced or too topical that will confine them to a single time period (the problem with Michael Daugherty's work). I absolutely heart his "Last Round" and "Lullaby and Doina".
4. I was going to write down Sondheim here, but it is a harder call than Norman thinks. Most Broadway musicals reflect the popular idioms, and any revivals are done for nostalgia rather than because the music feels fresh. I can see revivals of Sondheim musicals, but I have a feeling that newer forms will dominate Broadway. Instead, I offer John Williams. Yes, he steals from other composers at times, but his music is both effective within the films, and survives on its own as well. Plus notice his being tagged for the inauguration piece this year.
5. John Adams. No question about it. He is represented in a variety of genres (piano, chamber, orchestral, opera), and has continued to evolve in his compositional style while maintaining a recognizable voice.
6. Phillip Glass. Ditto here, though his compositional style has not evolved as much as Adams'. But he has also done film music, and his Einstein on the Beach marks such a pivotal role in opera that it will continue. Steve Reich I am less certain about, and I'm sure that the only thing of Terry Riley's that will be performed in 50 years is "In C".
7. David Lang. The combination of the Bang On a Can juggernaut and winning the Pulitzer will keep David's music in the public conscious for 50 years. Particularly because there are strong feelings about his work in both directions, and hate can keep a work alive much more than indifference.
8. Thomas Adès, probably. It is wild and energetic stuff, musicians love to play it and audiences love to hear it.
9. Avo Pärt, because he best hits that balance of stasis and interest, moreso than Tavener or Gorecki.
10. Bob Dylan. Yes, I will never hear the end of it from my sister-in-law, but while Dylan himself is not an inspiring performer anymore, his music has clearly inspired countless musicians in a variety of genres. The poetry is haunting and complex, and usually coupled so tightly with the music that they cannot be easily separated.
What are your top 10 survivors? Suggest them here, and at Slipped Disc.