Steve, then Robert:
>>Actually, there's a difference between attitudes toward music and
>>musicians, and music and musicians themselves.
>Oh, but these attitudes easily intertwine and I cant see that it is
>possible to really keep the one from the other. It is psychologically
For you. And for me. Maybe not for others.
>If you know something about Mozart the man
(Or the child?! What do you hear about Mozart in his earliest compositions??)
>it will influence your attitude towards his music. You can not avoid this.
I can't. And vice versa. And back and forth:
Shortly after I got hooked on Prokofiev (by various types of compositions
in the space of a few days; it was at first VC #1, then R&J then PC #3),
I wanted to know something about this composer, whose music seemed to
ranged through so many styles and emotions (my own emotional interpretations,
of course). So I read the short bios about him in a few sources.
Well, he seemed like a total jerk, a bratty sort of man who tossed insults
and harsh criticisms. And there were opinions about him as a politically
cowardly sort. (See comparisons between Prokofiev and Shostakovich under
Stalin, for example.) He did not come off as a sympathetic character.
But already loving the music, I was not going to let that have any
negative influence. I was probably willing to be as big an apologist
for him as necessary.
Then I started devouring biographies and autobiographies. As I read
further, I discovered he was actually, in most ways, a very lovable
character. No saint, no giant of a human being, but a very human soul.
The more I read, the more I appreciated the music, but my point is in
the opposite direction --- the music greatly influenced my opinion of
And forth and back, naturally - the more I read about him and certain
times in his life, the more I opened up to some of the music that did
not interest me at first, such as string quartets, operas, etc. (The
operas are still taking their sweet time, but that's another thread.)
Robert, then Steve (I think):
>> Are not cadenzas complete vanity?
>No, they're not. They're entertainment, a rhetorical strategy in the
>course of a movement, and perhaps several other things besides.
Sure, like a soliloquy. A monologue. Why must a cadenza be assumed so
different in its intention than any other solo section, such as a movement
of a sonata?
What I still don't get is why, even if we stipluate that vanity or any
other trait can be heard in a bit of music, that this says something
definitive about the person in some overall way. Surely we give composers
credit for being as complicated as the rest of us. Maybe a "vain sounding"
snippet (as an example; I am not talking about Liszt or R. Strauss or
anyone in particular) expresses the vanity observed in others, or a fear
of vanity, or a desire for vanity, or ... whatever. Does a painter
only paint what he or she IS or do they attempt to capture something
that may be interesting, perhaps because it is NOT what resides in the
Why must the music be or art be heard or seen as necessarily being a
reflection of the person, as opposed to, maybe, the life and times of
the artist? (I think somebody else on the list already made this point
Anyway, I think Robert hasn't contradicted this or denied that he hears
the vanity in Liszt that he already thought was there.