I must politely challenge Karl Miller's comment,
>Oddly, it seems that Korngold is probably more "relevant" today, with
>the bulk of Webern's work being viewed as a curiosity.
"Being viewed" by whom? Webern is an acquired taste, I suppose, but I'm
not ready to judge him or the serialist tradition generally as a mere
cul dec sac or a curiosity. The most notable feature of 20th-century
music is its multiplicity of stylistic traditions, which composers have
had to choose among or blend in distinctive ways. The serialists and
other radical strains have left a permanent mark on the possiblities
of all "acceptable" music written nowadays. Its the rhetoric of the
proponents that usually proclaim that this or that strain is the only
path, or the dominant one, whatever.
Yes, composers like Korngold did get sidelines in the heyday of postwar
academic serialism, and I have enjoyed exploring music by him, or Schreker,
or Braunfels, or Marx, et al. But I still listen to the unreplaceable
Webern, as well as the lesser known serialists like Dallapiccola or
Wolpe. BTW, has anyone hear Krenek's Lamentations of Jeremiah, sung by
the Netherlands Chamber Choir? Intensely moving, in a jaw-dropping
performance, and hardly irrelevant.
I have lately become more aware than ever of the damage done to music
by Nazi Germany and the Second World War -- not just the disruptions
and tragedies in the lives of individual composers (Webern, Schoenberg,
Schulhoff, Krenek, Toch, Hartmann, Goldschmidt, etc etc), but the breaking
off of the German tradition so central to all the music we love. This
did infinitely more damage than the manifesto rhetoric of the postwar
Boulezes and Babbitts, rhetoric that in fact nurtured something valuable
that needed nurturing at the time.
Department of English
University of Western Ontario
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