I have nothing to reply to Robert Peters on his last post, but it does
open up a very interesting question, to wit:
>I have a different approach. Every thing we communicate shows us, our
>character, our beliefs, our wishes, our hopes. Why shouldnt it be
>different with music?
It may even be true, as my brother-in-law would say. The problem is,
how does one go about deciding what the moral of the music is? So far,
what I've seen from those who believe this, not just Robert, and its
variants (like homosexuality is in the music of homosexual composers)
is that it seems to be a "one-way" function. In other words, because
we have formed an opinion of the character of the composer or because
we know certain facts about a composer's life, the music "must" show
this, despite the (I believe) fundamentally abstract nature of music.
That is, it's not as though we necessarily have words that give us a
clue as to meaning.
My question has always been, "If you knew nothing of the composer's life,
would you be able to discern his character from the music alone?" I've
never seen anybody do this. I may dislike the music of the bel canto
school (and, boy, do I dislike it), but I have no idea of the character
of the composers who wrote it. Furthermore, the music interests me so
little, I'm probably not going to go to the trouble of researching their
lives. Stravinsky, by the way, was not the nicest or most politically
liberal of men. I love his music.
Similarly, I find Strauss's music at its best both gorgeous and humane.
He wrote lousy pieces. Schubert and Bach wrote lousy pieces. But,
again, it makes no sense to me to judge a composer by his worst.