Steve Schwartz responds to me:
>Oliver Solanet gleefully pushes hot buttons.
>> Other than a burdensome touring schedule, why did Rachmaninov barely
>> write a thing after leaving Russia? Because his muse, his homeland,
>> was no longer present.
>A little too metaphysical for me. A burdensome touring schedule isn't
Agreed. However, I would hardly discount the psychological repercussions
of what amounts to being forced to flee one's beloved homeland, knowing
that no return is possible. Rachmaninov's nostalgia is well documented.
He also surrounded himself with Russian expats - his domestics on Riverside
Drive were Russian; his Beverly Hills friends were Russian; his SENAR
friends were Russian... When you miss a place that much, you tend to
surround yourself with that/those whom
remind you of that for which you yearn.
>People don't seem to realize that a composer -- or at least most
>composers -- need both blocks of time and money to live on, two
>usually incompatible requirements. Rachmaninoff had a family to
>support, and he took that responsibility very seriously indeed.
>Furthermore, he never could have been called prolific, even when he
>was in Russia.
Quality over quantity, I say.
>> Why did Stravinsky write "Les Noces",
>> or Prokofiev "Alexandre Nevsky", or Shostakovich "Babi Yar" or "The
>> Year 1905"?
>He wanted to, but he too no longer had the direct inspiration of
>Russia. He wrote Les Noces in either France or Switzerland, I forget
>which. Moreover, he wrote "Russian" works practically throughout his
My point exactly! The Russians have always struck me as more nationalistic
than other composers. Treating traditionally Russian themes more
>Great art requires a great audience. I'm not sure we have that in
>sufficient numbers to support the musicians who would play it for us.
I couldn't agree with you more! I recall a performance of Der
Rosenkavalier I attended at the Met. Now we all know that the choice
of libretto is perhaps one of Strauss' weakest. But is this any excuse
to starting shuffling out of the hall in the middle of the 3rd act?
That's when all of the best music is!! And for what opera tickets cost,
I felt like yelling out "Sit yourself back down!" I used to go to the
Opera Paris Bastille often when I was still living in Paris and NEVER
did I see such behaviour. Is this a greater problem than I'm aware of?
>> As for Beethoven, my opinion is categoric and immutable. I think the
>> man was a b**tard, and his music inevitably comes out sounding
>> that way.
>Same thing for Wagner and Mahler?
Wagner was most definitely a b**tard, but what he did for tonality is
irrefutably important. Without Wagner we wouldn't have Schoenberg...
As for Mahler, he bores me to tears. All of these monolithic and
languorous symphonies! It's like a perverse meeting of Bellini and
Messiaen (think La Sonnambula in a warped time/space continuum)!
Oh yeah, the buttons are being pushed... he he he.
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