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CLASSICAL  January 2005

CLASSICAL January 2005

Subject:

Re: Musical Quotations 9

From:

Bert Bailey <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 25 Jan 2005 12:33:19 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (54 lines)

Robert Peters replies to others' puzzlement about how Liszt's music can
be "vain or self-centered":

>I simply dont like Liszts music.

No-one disputed this.  I'm sure they'd support the right to dislike _any_
composer's music.

>To me it is utterly vain and self-centered.

This, indeed, is the point, although it just repeats the "offending"
passage, the one that raised the call for some account.  That is: this
begs the question, and doesn't address it.  That question was: just how
does an assemblage of notes on a page and/or of organized sounds occupying
a stretch of time manage to show that its maker is vain and self-centred?

>For you it is different which is fine with me.

Another red herring: no one said otherwise.

>Taste is free, isnt it?

One is, indeed, free to have one's tastes, and shouldn't be condemned
for them.  But nobody did that.  What's being asked is for some account
for what seems to be a category confusion.

>Nikolaus Harnancourt once said that he doesnt conduct Mahler because
>"his music is only occupied with himself".  In other words: vain and
>self-centered.  Now would you command Mr Harnancourt that he has to
>justify this "vile slander"?

But wouldn't it be nice to know what he meant?  Sounds pretty strange
to me -- even granting that Harnoncourt probably knows a lot more about
music than me.  If he said it was overladen with harmonic density, or
thematically thin, or that there were "too many notes," you might well
disagree, but at least you'd *understand* the point.

Say Furtwangler held that Celso Garrido-Lecca's Cello Concerto struck
him as polka-dotted, having the smell of lemons, and had a certain
Thursday feel to it.  Would you defend his right to his tastes?  For my
part, I'd call these category confusions, and would want him to account
for why they're not.  Just because it's Rostropovich (well, whoever)
doesn't mean they make any sense.  It doesn't remove any the musical
authority of such people to expect them to submit to logic, to make
sense.

Saying music shows its composer's conceit or vanity -- or cruelty, to
pick another psychological trait that is seemingly absurd when predicated
about music -- just seems to go beyond the horizon of what music is
regarded as able to convey.  Saying it's *your tastes* that makes it so
for you doesn't clarify anything.  What will clarify is if you can account
for why it is within those horizons.

Bert Bailey

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