Debussy (or perhaps Ravel) may be the one composer who most successfully commanded the widest range of tonal devices, before the modernists like Stravinsky and Schoenberg pushed tonality to its breaking point/broke it. Debussy was not the only innovator, as we saw innovation and creativity from Bach to Mozart, Debussy to Chopin, however I'd argue Debussy was the true bridge into modernity.
Debussy harmonic analysis: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dbjWgfNoO2U
Debussy's music is at this equilibrium point where the harmonic language is complex and atonal enough to evoke a spectrum of iridescent colours and haunting, ambiguous moods inaccessible to traditional common-practice harmony, but just constrained enough to avoid the descent into hostility and noise.
FWIW, my favorite Beethoven pieces are the ones that sound the least classical in harmonic language -- especially the Waldstein Sonata and Sonatas 30-32.
They say Schoenberg pushed tonality to its limits, but to me there's so much ground to be explored harmonically and rhythmically way past Debussy and others, and way past tonality in general. How's abstract not musical? Think of extending Bach's complex counterpoint with AI; think of moving away from discreteness; think of adding technical extensions to every instrument of the orchestra in order to create new possibilities of sound; think of going past the 12 notes. Looking at it this way, Debussy is also very restricted in terms of depth and in terms of notes on and between the lines.
1) Bach - Passacaglia & Fugue In C Minor - BWV 582 by Karl Richter
2) Vivaldi - Stabat Mater
3) Bach - Piano Concerto in D Min. BWV 1052 by Polina Osetinskaya
Funny side note: Do you know Gould's So You Want to Write a Fugue? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pHW1I8T0caI
Amen to that! I frequently rediscover interpretations upon hearing them anew, which makes me go back and listen to other versions of the same piece again. It's what I love about classical music.
I do indeed known Gould's very clever fugue.
It seems you assumed I'm the person he was replying to - I said nothing close to or even in the ballpark of 'eras are better than one another'. Every sentence of your comment was unacceptably condescending. Don't tell people on here to "relax". Or that their comments aren't interesting - just don't reply if that's the case. Thanks.
> It seems you assumed I'm the person he was replying to
What are you talking about? He couldn't have been replying to you, because your comments were not in the ancestry of his.
> I said nothing close to or even in the ballpark of 'eras are better than one another'
You derived from my comment meaning opposite from what was plainly written?! Read more carefully.
> Every sentence of your comment was unacceptably condescending
Every sentence of yours to him was unacceptably rude.
> Don't tell people on here to "relax". Or that their comments aren't interesting - just don't reply if that's the case. Thanks.
Don't tell people on here that they sound like they think they're the only reasonable one. Just don't reply if that's the case. Thanks.
I also feel like there's a similar sweet spot for Jazz in the early 1960s.
However, I suspect this conviction has more to do with personal taste than with absolute realities.
I don't find Shostakovich abstract or unmusical. Possibly an additional exception?
..Speaking of which, I didn't learn until recently that James Brown stole the 'booo-dap' riff from So What for (maybe his greatest song), Cold Sweat. Apparently he wanted a song with horns going 'booo-dap' just like So What..it's even in the same key, almost the same voicing.