"In a dazzling speech that captivated the Royal Philharmonic
Society awards on Tuesday, award-winning writer and broadcaster
Armando Iannucci argued that we should stop being scared of
expressing what great works mean to us"
Here's a link to an extract from his speech.
What a breath of fresh air! It's wonderful to hear someone who feels
so passionately about the experience of music itself. He reminds me,
anyway, that music is an intensely personal and creative challenge, for
listeners as well as performers. A well known conductor, who thinks
along these lines (and I suspect many creative musicians do, too), once
told me that it's important to know a composer's work "from within". By
that he meant understanding the composer's idiom, getting an intuitive
appreciation of how a composer creates. There are various ways of doing
that, but the main thing is to listen - and listen with your soul. Says
"It doesn't matter if the sum total of your involvement in
music is just as a listener, for music transcends any limits
on ability, nationality, religion, or language. It is the most
magical act of communication. That word, communication, is what
I want to discuss: how we - what I'll call, the artistic community
- communicate with our audience, and how much we let them
communicate with us.......music has been, for me, the single
most inspiring, most moving, most magical thread running though
my whole cultural experience. It's the art form in whose presence
I feel most comfortable, most myself."
Music clearly "speaks" to him on a very deep level. Communication
isn't a one way process. If something doesn't resonate for an
individual personally, it's not going to spark off that intense level
of experience. Sometimes we hear only when we are ready to receive.
Back to Iannucci again:
"Listening to classical music is a journey, not a state, an
activity, not a meditation. Music is not a background noise.
It's something you bring into the foreground of your experience,
by engaging with it, by doing some work."
He cites coming later in life to fully appreciating Schumann and Bach.
That I think is the "work" he's referring to, the process of growing
and developing as a human being. He goes on to say:
"That's why I think it's necessary to have an emotional debate
about music as well as an intellectual one. Music is a dialogue
between the heart and the head. Too often, though, a review will
concentrate on how well a piece is played, but not on why that
piece deserves to be played in the first place. We need to wake
up to the fact that people are now asking basic questions. Why
are we musical? Why did people write symphonies? Why do we have
the string quartet? They seem child-like, these questions, but
they're there to provide us with the opportunity to enthuse and
explain and demonstrate the answers we first stumbled upon in
our musical journey and which encouraged us to make that journey
in the first place."
It's inspiring for me anyway to read someone who believes so strongly
in finding out what music is really about. It's so much easier and safer
to follow the conventions of talking "around" music, and not engaging
in "inner" communication. Iannucci thought his 9 year old kid would
not appreciate Ligeti. On the contrary. The kid was listening in an
intuitive, instinctive and creative way - a way in which as adults we
so often get kicked out of. Music isn't bean counting and "auditting".
As the conductor told me, it's using your soul to understand.
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