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CLASSICAL  January 2005

CLASSICAL January 2005

Subject:

Re: Musical Quotations 9

From:

Steve Schwartz <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 25 Jan 2005 14:58:26 -0600

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (38 lines)

Robert Peters iterates:

>Beethoven would have written different music if he had had a loving wife
>and no hearing problems or had lived just fifty years later.

Really, what makes you think so, other than your conviction that biography
and character show up in music?

>Schubert would have written different music if he had had a happy
>marriage and had lived in a more democratic society.  And Liszts music
>would have been different without his vanity (and I know that theres
>also the Liszt who touchingly cared for other composers and poor people).
>Classical music like any art isnt created in a vacuum, it is made by
>living, breathing people under biographical and historical influences.

Yes, but . . . I'm reminded of a (garbled) quote from some well-known
novelist, whose name escapes me right now: "Artists create from complex
*artistic* reasons, as well as complex personal ones." I just don't see
how you can draw the personal connection without simply begging the
question.  In other words, lots of composers have been vain (Brahms,
Beethoven, Mahler, Wagner, Schoenberg, and Webern come quickly to mind),
but only one composer was Liszt.  I find the difference more significant
than the similarity.

>And I find it totally thrilling and thought-provoking to learn about
>these influences and thus understand and enjoy music more.

I. B. Singer once remarked notoriously that he wouldn't have crossed
the street to meet Tolstoy, one of his literary heroes.  He later relented
by saying that he might have crossed the street, but he wouldn't have
taken a bus.  Different strokes, I guess.  I suppose I'm somewhere in
the middle.  I find almost any discussion of music and personality close
to meaningless, but the music in terms of the culture at large fascinates
me.  Beethoven's idealistic Republicanism not only is a product of the
intellectual fallout of the French and American revolutions, but also
contributes to and shapes the temper of the times.

Steve Schwartz

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