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Sir Simon Rattle picked Haydn for his humanity and good humor. Composer Jennifer Higdon was anxious to get compositional tips from Beethoven. And conductor Nicholas McGegan was afraid that the voracious Handel might steal something off his plate.
Below are some of our readers' choices. Still haven't chimed in about which composer you'd pick? Let us know in the comments section.
Kate Simpson wrote: Well, I would need a larger table. I would love to invite not only Bach and Mozart, but also George Gershwin, Art Tatum and George Harrison. It would be wonderful to listen to Bach and Harrison discuss how God affected their compositions, and listening to Mozart, Gershwin and Tatum discuss how their technique in playing also affected how and what they composed and improvised. What they thought of the present day composers and music. Menu? Vegetarian.
Larry Woller wrote: I pick Franz Schubert, with roast pork and dumplings, vanilla ice cream with vanilla cream topping and some Cabernet Sauvignon. I would ask him what he used as inspiration to be able to compose at such a young age. It's unfortunate that he died very young.
Tim Page wrote: I'd like to ask Sibelius a number of questions, especially about the Symphony No. 8. But I suspect that Rossini would have been a much more convivial host -- generous, warm-hearted, hedonistic, ultra-civilized and with a gigantic home in the middle of Paris where everybody came to call. Another great composer, too.
rbc (rbcmedia1) wrote: Beethoven comes quickly to mind, I suppose because of what seems to be his affinity for the common folk as, I think, is found in his work such as his 9th Symphony. A tortured soul yet his work has great joie de vive. I wonder what he would think of rap music or how mass media seems to have supplanted dreaming, and attitude has taken the place of heart. Some, I’ve heard, have even blamed his music for encouraging this or at least anticipating this kind of decline. However, given Beethoven's reputation, the conversation might never get beyond "yes" and "no" grunts from the maestro. But maybe after enough wine he would hold forth, and with no false modesty. I imagine he might say something like, “The common folk, as you say, find mischief in my music because they are lunatics. They will find what they want to find in order to impress each other and disregard the glory of the muses. Anticipation is another form of warning. But what is the use if the common man, as you say, is stupid. That is how you end up making someone like that fraud Napoleon into an emperor. Well, it’s been lovely talking to you. Good-bye." Or maybe not. As for [explaining] Twitter, iPads and Glee -- not while the maestro is eating.
Zara Lawler wrote: I pick Tchaikovsky. He seems like he needed more friends. And wow, what a candidate for the "it gets better project." I'd just love to hear how his world affected his music, and what he might write now.
Ron Huggins wrote: Lenny Bernstein. I think he would enjoy the food and drinks as much as anyone, and would be the consummate conversationalist.