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Classical Music Battle #2

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/14/2015 Category: Music
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 942 times Debate No: 70064
Debate Rounds (3)
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As in the last edition, each side may choose a piece that is regarded as classical music (it can be from early periods like baroque all the way up to more recent ones like modernism) and argue for it. Each side tries to prove that their piece is better than the other's.
Round 1 is for acceptance only. In round 2, each side will present their piece and outline their great qualities. It is not allowed to attack the opponent's piece in that round. In round 3, attacks and comparisons may finally begin. Also, no one may tell the audience to vote for them in the arguments.
The piece that both sides must present has to have an average duration that is below 10 minutes. And the limit of characters in each argument is 4000.


I accept. Thanks for the interesting challenge!
Debate Round No. 1


My piece is "Mephisto Waltz 3" by Fran Liszt. And here is a link to the performance:
This piece was composed by Liszt when he was old (the time where he became the most explorative in his compositions), and it is the most complex of the Mephisto Waltzes. And even though this piece is rarely played in the concert platforms, it is extremely modern. Naming all the harmonic oddities in it is a difficult task.
This piece was intended to bear no dedication, but after the French pianist Marie Ja"ll played through the work and repeated some passages, Liszt dedicated the Waltz to her just as he made some changes in the music.

Mephisto Waltz 3 is one of the most unique and advanced Liszt pieces and therefore, something of extreme importance in Liszt literature. That is the reason I've chosen this music.


My piece is Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber (

Barber's Adagio is an extremely emotional piece that was composed by a relatively youthful Barber - he was about 26 - and was originally written for a string quartet, but was arranged for a full string orchestra by himself and was completed in the same year as the quartet.

It is an example of a piece written in arch form, meaning that the sections are structured with repetition in reverse order (e.g., ABCBA). It makes use of many techniques often seen in modern classical music, such as tight harmonies and constantly changing time signatures. Barber makes use of fascinating chord structures while maintaining a tear-jerking sound and without over-orchestrating the piece.

Alexander Morin said the piece was "full of pathos and cathartic passion" and that it "rarely leaves a dry eye." For this reason and for the expert musicality, I have chosen this piece.
Debate Round No. 2


Quercus forfeited this round.


My opponent has forfeited the final round...that's too bad, I was looking forward to this debate.
Nonetheless, I will post my final argument.

In Barber's piece, we have a musicality that is uninterrupted by pretentiousness. As Olin Downes, a music critic, once said of the piece, "...[W]e have here honest music, by an honest musician, not striving for pretentious effect, not behaving as a writer would who, having a clear, short, popular word handy for his purpose, got the dictionary and fished out a long one." [1] This lack of pretension allows us to examine the tension he builds in the music and the true emotionality and overall beauty of the piece. Liszt's "Mephisto Waltz 3," though it is a well written piece, has a flair for the over dramatic that doesn't do much more than add to its pretension.

If you weren't crying for the first few minutes of the piece, then the climax, which comes at around six or six and a half minutes, may just bring you to tears. It reaches a dynamic and emotional climax and then goes to silence - then quietly goes back to its original theme, and gets quieter into nothingness. It's a heart-wrenching moment. There are very few composers who are able to write so beautifully and so emotionally as Barber was. Again, as good as Liszt's piece is, it doesn't match the Adagio's beauty or emotion.

So, for the reasons listed, Barber's piece is the superior one.

[1] Music in the USA : A Documentary Companion, p. 471.
Debate Round No. 3
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