Turkey, Cranberries And Composers At The Table

Which composers would you invite to your Thanksgiving table?

Which composers would you invite to your Thanksgiving table? iStockphoto.com hide caption

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Thanksgiving is less than a week away, and while it might be a little too early to start cooking, it's probably time to finalize your guest list. Music commentator Miles Hoffman knows exactly whom he'd like to invite to the table. He says he's chosen only dead composers.

"That narrows the field, and that way nobody can turn me down, so I can invite whoever I want," Hoffman says. You can see Hoffman's top composer picks below, and hear their music. Oddly enough, some of the big guns are missing from his table.

"Mozart, especially, would be fun," Hoffman says. "But the problem is, we already know a lot about Mozart from his letters, what he thought about music and musicians, and his sense of humor — which was, I guess 'off color' would be the mildest way to put it. So there's not a lot of mystery to clear up with Mozart. And Beethoven? There was a little too much tendency for him to be rude and crabby."

Hoffman says they wouldn't be appropriate for thanksgiving dinner: "I'd invite them for lunch instead. Turkey sandwiches on the weekend after."

But what if you had to choose just a single guest? Hoffman recommends someone who might just want to entertain the dinner party.

"I'm thinking a guy like Leonard Bernstein would be a lot of fun," he says. "He'd probably take over the whole evening. Plus, he would sit down at the piano and play endlessly. And if you've got Bernstein, maybe you should have Gershwin, too. And the two of them would compete to see who's going to sit and play more of their own music."

Which composers would you invite to sit around your Thanksgiving table? Give us your guest list in the comments section.

Turkey, Cranberries And Composers At The Table

  • Johann Sebastian Bach

    Bach would be No 1. There's only one authenticated portrait of Bach, and that's one where he's in a powdered wig and looks very dour. Yet he fathered 20 children; he got into a sword fight — a very temperamental guy. And we know from letters that he drank a lot of beer, so I think that probably he was pretty jolly, actually. So I'd just like to find out what he was really like.

  • Felix Mendelssohn

    Ideally, I would put Mendelssohn next to Bach. It would give Bach a chance to thank Mendelssohn, who was born almost 60 years after Bach died, because Mendelssohn was a big Bach fan and was almost single-handedly responsible for the revival of interest in Bach's music, especially Bach's great choral works. And I'm sure Bach would be interested to hear some of Mendelssohn's music too. Mendelssohn was, without question, the greatest child-prodigy composer ever. He was also generally brilliant, extremely well-read, and by all accounts just an incredibly nice guy. Plus, he spoke English.

  • Hector Berlioz

    Berlioz was a great composer, a fascinating man in every possibly way. He was clever and witty; he was a wonderful writer. And he was filled with passion and personality. And, to top it off, he and Mendelssohn were very good friends, so I think this is good dinner planning to have them together.

  • Ernest Bloch

    Bloch was a wonderful Swiss-Jewish composer who came to this country early in the 1900s, and, after difficult times and a fair amount of uncertainty, decided to become an American citizen. He was the founding director of the Cleveland Institute of Music and the first director of the San Francisco Conservatory, and he lived the last 18 years of his life overlooking Agate Beach, Ore. He used to go down to the beach and polish agates. I'd really like to meet him.

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