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Individual composer's style: Is it inherited, pushed into, or deliberately developed?

Any great master is immediately recognized by his individual style, which is sometimes enlightening, brings new thoughts, mental associations, beautiful melodies, writing methods etc. Every such master was influenced by previous masters, as well as by the philosophy, religion and events of his time.

How the individual style appears? Some think that a master can deliberately threw out what is common and trivial, and the individual style will remain. Others believe that the individual style can be deliberately developed by inventing new writing rules, deep study and training. Others think that everything depends on genetics or on some unique events in the composer's life. 

Personally I do not believe that such deliberate goal as developing one's own style is attainable through pre-planned steps. The truth is probably somewhere in between.

Other thoughts? 

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I'm not sure I agree that *every* great master is recognized by their individual style, many classical composers of yore sound similar to me. I think an individual style appears for only those who strive for it.

You are right Gav and Ray: *every* and *great* are contradictory concepts, and there were too few of great individuals. But the question remains. Consider only those composers who are great masters in your individual opinion.

Development of a bright individuality is far from a pseudo-intellectual question. It is the deepest phenomenon related to The Art of Composition. Some known music history facts can be viewed from a special angle here.

For example, Liszt deliberately applied Paganini's style of working with violin into his brightest style of working with piano. But was this a deliberate plan to develop his (Liszt) own individuality? I think not. He did not think of himself. His style simply was developed in this work. 

We will never know, just like the concept of nature or nurture.

Not all great composers were innovators, but some were just masters of their craft.

You could probably make a list of those who were great innovators versus masters of their craft. Their would of course be a great deal of overlap.

Undoubtedly Adrian. Rachmaninoff was notoriously blamed for the lack of innovative structuralist schemes so popular in his time. This only means that, for a great master, it is not necessary to invent a new mathematics which others can analyze and apply. 

Alex, re; the last line of your blog-  I agree whole heartedly. We are all products of our environments

 and what we've absorbed over the yrs. How we process and use all of that info, makes us who we are as

individuals. Personnally, I love the creative process.- taking raw material and making something unique

out of it. No matter what the medium. History is full of genuinely creative people  (and full of those who may

of come along and copied them, seeing even more potential in the work- and there are those who thru drugs and other

enhancements , have envisioned things the rest of us probably never would.

  Wasn't it Shakespeare who said,"Some  are born to compose, some inherit compostion, and some have composing

thrust upon them...lol

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