KERA Arts Story Search

Looking for events? Click here for the Go See DFW events calendar.

Competing Composers in March Music Madness

by Jerome Weeks 16 Mar 2012 5:26 PM

Yep, classical composers in elimination rounds. Why should college basketball fans have all the fun (and rage and competitive zeal)?


The world goes nuts this time of year, it seems.

You know what we’re talking about. College basketball. And if you don’t have a dog in that fight, it’s a lot of excitement — happening over there. Everyone else is having fun. But what if what you were interested in had some of that same competitive zeal, that same ramped-up energy over making-lists-and-arguing-about-possibilities.

Welcome to March Music Madness. Yep, sixty-four classical composers and their works in elimination rounds. It was started last  year on the Dallas Symphony Orchestra Guild’s Facebook page. It’s a contest that’s meant to entertain and educate music lovers (and let’s be honest, probably infuriate a few — hey, I wouldn’t countenance Mahler’s Second beating Beethoven’s Ninth. Never).

So it’s back this year. And here’s the press release explaining how it works.

64 works. 64 composers. Four brackets. One winner. You decide

The Dallas Symphony Orchestra Guild is excited to announce its second annual MARCH MUSIC MADNESS “tournament,” conducted at the Guild’s Facebook page.  Guild President Nicole LeBlanc says that while she is an avid New Orleans Saints fan and enjoys sports, she is not a college hoops aficionado. LeBlanc confesses that March Music Madness was inspired not only by the eponymous NCAA tournament, but also by the hilarious “fashion don’t” shenanigans of Fug Madness.

The March Music Madness tournament began with 68 teams, or works, and was reduced to 64 after the play-in games were completed. In those qualifying matches, four major composers were pitted against themselves to win spots in the four brackets; for example, Prokofiev’s Fifth Symphony just barely eliminated his Romeo and Juliet, and Bach’s St. Matthew Passion knocked off his unaccompanied cello suites.

The remaining 64 pieces—by 64 different composers—are now divided into four brackets:

  • The Bernstein Bracket, for large ensemble or orchestral pieces
  • The Barenboim Bracket, for large ensemble or orchestral works with instrumental soloist
  • The Argerich Bracket, for solo instrumental or chamber selections
  • The Price Bracket, for vocal compositions of all kinds.

The contest is meant to both entertain and educate music lovers. Because many of the many works that may be unfamiliar to even the most dedicated music fans, participants are encouraged to investigate those less familiar pieces on YouTube or elsewhere on the internet so that they can make more informed votes. “Cinderella teams” like Rautavaara’s Angel of Dusk (for double bass and orchestra) and Revueltas’ Sensemaya are battling in their divisional brackets along with top dogs such as Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto and Debussy’s La Mer. There are always surprise results; last year Mahler’s Second Symphony (“Resurrection”) booted Beethoven’s Ninth in the round of 32 and Vivaldi’s Four Seasons didn’t advance past the opening round.

The full brackets are now published and open for voting at the Guild’s Facebook page.

The competition will continue through April  2nd , when a new Grand Champeen will be crowned. Last year’s Grand Champeen, Mozart’s opera The Marriage of Figaro, is not eligible to play this in this year’s March Music Madness, so a new winner is guaranteed. Will it be one of the heavy hitters again this year, or will an upstart have its shining moment at the top?

Participants need only “like” the Guild’s Facebook page to be able to vote in each bracket of March Music Madness. A photo of each bracket’s eponym appears at the top of each round’s match-ups in the respective brackets (i.e. a photo of Leonard Bernstein accompanies each new round of matchups in the orchestral bracket). Votes should be posted as comments below each bracket’s new post in each successive round.

Press Contact:
Nicole M. LeBlanc
DSO Guild President
[email protected]