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Indispensable Three

A Minute with Miles
Mary Noble Ours
/
SC Public Radio

It’s always fun to propose lists of the “ten best” of something – or the ten worst of something, for that matter. But when it comes to thinking about composers of classical music, there’s a word I like better than “best,” and that word is indispensable. And the number I have in mind isn’t ten, but rather three. 

Which three composers are indispensable to any account of those who have made the greatest contributions to the living repertoire of classical music? And not as a matter of personal taste, but as a matter of judgment. You’re not allowed to choose Ishkabibble von Finkelbottom, for example, just because he’s your favorite composer. Or to put it another way – the Yellowstone super-volcano is about to explode, and the escape pod leaving earth forever only has data-storage room for the music of three composers. Who gets to go? For me, the answer is easy: Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven. How about for you?

A Minute with Miles is a production of South Carolina Public Radio, made possible by the J.M. Smith Corporation.

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Miles Hoffman is the founder and violist of the American Chamber Players, with whom he regularly tours the United States, and the Virginia I. Norman Distinguished Visiting Professor of Chamber Music at the Schwob School of Music, in Columbus, Georgia. He has appeared as viola soloist with orchestras across the country, and his solo performances on YouTube have received well over 700,000 views.