Phil harmonized with me,
>>I for one, tremendously enjoy the complete experience of a picture
>>and sound of a classical orchestra performance, using the latest
>>high-definition/sound systems available now, or even Lord forbid a
>>regular TV set with its less than optimum sound.
Don's Satz followed,
>I know that "visuals" are increasingly prevalent and desired, but
>I personally do not derive any benefit from them when music is being
None? Never? You don't ever want to watch who is playing what? I don't
believe you.:-) Please contradict yourself and tell us what performances
you do like to see!
>Like most folks, I have an active imagination that can take me on some
>terrific journeys while listening to inspired music. When visuals are in
>the picture, that imagination shuts down completely.
Well, I love watching performances but I certainly can relate. Since
we were actually discussing the ways of enticing younger listener-watchers,
it might be permissible to recall the following event, was it twenty
years ago? MTV had just made its entry into our culture. In my mind
it was like a smelly distant relative showing up to stay in my home,
chain-smoking and always in my kitchen. At a recurring party of some
of my best friends, where good rock- jazz music was usually played (it
is possible to alternately listen and talk without sacrilege), someone
put MTV on the television. The party was thereby over, as far as I was
concerned, as the group, zombie-like, gathered round. (Perhaps a
television draws people like campfires did with our distant ancestors.
The effect is similar.)
I hate my MTV, to this day.
Months later a friend, whom I considered to have decent musical taste,
was extolling the virtues of some tune. I had heard it on the radio and
wasn't at all impressed. I said, "Everything on the their first album
was so much better." The reply was, "Well, you need to see the video!"
I knew then that music was in trouble. "Video killed the radio star."
>As a simple example, the erotic imagery that my mind conjures up
>when listening to Scheherazade is amazing to me. With a visual
>accompanies the music, it is replaced by what's on the screen. No
>offense, but I'll take my imagination every time.
I cannot disagree nine times out of ten, though I was actually discussing
the ability of performance to inspire and occasionally draw interest in
the cases where the hearing mind is too slow. Again, the context was
the younger, potential listener, but I'm also that way at times.
This also brings me to Bernard's reply,
>>I think seeing the faces of performers can be inspiring to young
>>listeners, who might be moved by the passion they see. It would help
>>many of them connect to classical music for the first time, I suspect.
Bernard then said,
>I could not disagree more. Most performers in orchestras do not look
>especially passionate. The correlation between passionate and expressing
>passion in art is, I suspect, negligible. In my experience artists as a
>group pretty much look like anybody else. It is pretentious and
>counterproductive to offer up evidence that classical music is self
>referential- see how sensitive the players are!!
I suppose I should have groped for a word better than "passion". Perhaps
"intensity" or another would make the point I wanted. Good grief, I'm
not talking about performers coming out of their seats or weeping. But
emotion does come through (although many orchestra players might be,
what a violinist I know calls "typists"). As just one trivial example,
there is this performance by the Philharmoniker (on a DVD) in which it
just tickles me to watch the oboist as he plays (what was already) my
favorite parts of a certain piece. He's not aping the music, it's just
that he is "into it". Even though the vast majority of my musical
experience is listening, watching the PEOPLE play is, for me, thrilling
at times. Perhaps watching musical performers could be similarly
stimulating for younger, potential fans, especially those already ...
videossified. That was really my main point (or faint hope).
>Dance relates music to real movement, real stories. It just might
>be an entry point for some young people.
We keep hedging, naturally, with "might" or "could" or "perhaps". Yes,
perhaps sometimes it could. But even so, I somehow doubt that dance
will grab as many as straight-up musical performances. Likewise for
opera, I'm afraid. But maybe all of these. (We each base these wishful
thoughts on our own biases, naturally.)
I probably contradict myself - I hope cognitive dissonance is okay here.
If so, finally, Bernard's motion, Don's visions of Scheherazade, my own
thoughts and those of a writer on another list (prokofiev.org) come
together, sort of, in the following. At Royal Festival Hall, in June
of 2004, Gergiev was to lead the Rotterdam Phil in the entire ballet
music from Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet. A prkfv-listmember wrote to
suggest that to attend such a thing would be nonsensical: "As good as
the music is, I see no point in sitting through all of it without the
Quatsch! It's funny that for me, the dancers and the ballet itself -
the very reason for which the music was (ostensibly) written - are a
total distraction. I prefer the music itself (but would have killed to
see the performance) and find any attempt by a ballet a relatively feeble
exercise at accompaniment. (I'm probably missing a necessary dance
gene.) I do, however, have three different performances of the R&J ballet
on DVD and I enjoy them occasionally (even though the sound stinks).
But I don't have, nor do I want, the visions of dancers in my head as I
hear the music.
Fortunately, we each want something different, and seem able to get it,
from our musical experiences. The younger generation might need something
different, of course, but I think it is possible to reach them with
classical music, too. It took me long enough, even though a few seeds
were planted pretty early. Back to the original point then? Is there
any viable substitute for musical education at an early age?