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CLASSICAL  March 2007

CLASSICAL March 2007

Subject:

The Man Who Knew Too Much

From:

Janos Gereben <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Moderated Classical Music List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 6 Mar 2007 13:11:47 -0800

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (44 lines)

[I couldn't resist the temptation for the subject line, but in fact I
understand - and somewhat agree with - the article. To maintain "fresh
ears" requires effort.]

 From Terry Teachout's Saturday Wall Street Journal  "Sightings" column:

   Is it possible for a critic to know too much?  Not a chance.
   The unhappy truth is that it's far more common for us not to
   know nearly enough about the art forms we review.  (If you doubt
   it, ask any artist.) But I've also discovered that the accumulation
   of knowledge can inhibit our ability to appreciate an artistic
   experience.  I know middle-aged opera buffs who never seem to
   enjoy the performances they attend.  Whenever they go to "La
   Traviata," they always end up spending the whole intermission
   grousing about how the soprano wasn't as good as some half-forgotten
   diva they heard in Milan 37 years ago.  They've lost the knack
   of enjoying the performances they're seeing-not to mention the
   piercing beauty of the music they're hearing..

   The more you learn about an art form, the harder it becomes to
   enjoy it in a straightforward, uncomplicated way.  The literary
   critic R.P. Blackmur had this phenomenon in mind when he observed
   that "knowledge itself is a fall from the paradise of undifferentiated
   sensation." Go to "Swan Lake" for the first time and you'll be
   blown away by the flood of gorgeous new sights and sounds that
   spills over you.  Go 20 times and you're more likely to notice
   that the orchestra played out of tune and the ballerina did 31
   fouettes instead of 32.

   That's not snobbishness.  It's connoisseurship, and it's a good
   thing-unless it gets between you and the immediate experience
   of art.  Gratuitous pickiness is a soul-killing trap against
   which the critic must always be on guard..

Janos Gereben/SF
www.sfcv.org
[log in to unmask]

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