Mimi Ezust wrote:
>Robert Peters responded to Bernard Chasan:
>>I am able to do it but I dont want to, Bernard. For me it is much more
>>rewarding to deal with classical music in connection with biography and
>Of course it is your privilege to appreciate music any way you want.
>However, so far in THIS discussion, your 'rewarding' approach seem to
>keep you apart from the enjoyment and appreciation of a few great
>composers. It seems to restrict rather than enhance your pleasure.
That is your opinion. You see Strauss and Liszt as great composers. I
see them as important composers but not as great composers. Of course my
pleasure in THEM is restricted by my stance. But since there are so many
other real great composers I enjoy a lot of pleasure without being wild
about Strauss and Liszt.
>When you are dealing with biography and history you deal with biased
>materials. There is no such thing as totally 'factual' history and
Oh, I know that. That is why I read more than one biography about a
composer. And then, after having read some stuff, I make up my own mind
about this person, knowing that everything is relative (Einstein
>When you listen to music unencumbered by other people's opinions of the
>composer and the times, you are free to listen for yourself and relate
>directly to the music itself! That is the kind of rewarding experience
>that surpasses any pleasure I can imagine from second-hand opinion and
This indeed is a pleasure (and - writing without any irony - I dont
grudge you this pleasure) but to me it is an even greater pleasure to
know about the background of the music I hear. This is my stance towards
literature and the fine arts, too. I dont say that it is the only way
to consume music but then music is made by breathing people who were
deeply influenced by personal and historical experieneces and conditions
- and it is fun to know about this.
>>I am deeply convinced that a composers character (which can be quite
>>manifold) and his historical background shows in his music.
>You are depending upon the writings of people who may have had their
>own axes to grind. How can you be sure that you have an accurate picture
>of any person's personality? Books about dead people are like the
>legendary seven blind men describing an elephant. Even a great biography
>can only make educated guesses about the personality of a long-dead
>subject. But the music is alive for centuries.
See above. I dont read only one newspaper to get informed.
>>Beethoven would have written different music if he had had a loving wife
>>and no hearing problems or had lived just fifty years later.
>I agree. It is most probable. But then, you would relate differently
>to his very different music. I don't understand this point you are
>trying so valiantly to make.
It is a simple point: Beethoven was not an self-sufficient God-like
person. His composing depends on a lot of conditions and it is
interesting to know about these conditions. Music to me is not only
pleasure but also testimony of history.
>It's may be amusing to read biographies and histories, but when it comes
>to understanding music, why try to layer it with outside noise, when
>music can always explain itself so beautifully as MUSIC? Nothing beats
>repeated listening in the process of understanding a piece of music.
But then you only understand the notes, the sounds, the structure of the
piece - but you dont understand the background which I find so
interesting. I am deeply convinced that knowing about the political
conditions under which Beethoven wrote his Ninth Symphony is essential
to a real understanding of it. (But I am not a missionary.)