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CLASSICAL  March 2008

CLASSICAL March 2008

Subject:

Re: My "Blind Taste Test" at an NSO Concert

From:

Karl Miller <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Sat, 15 Mar 2008 18:40:37 -0700

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text/plain

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David Lamb <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>You rang?  Here I am -- still waiting!  Who is going to do anything
>meaningful about the loss of fine tonal music during those dark, 12-tone
>years?

I guess I don't see those years of 12-tone music to be dark years.  What
I find problematic is the notion that a particular mode of expression
is ignored as the result of notions of what is "trendy." For me, a piece
of music should be judged based on what it says, versus the vocabulary
used to express those ideas.

>It is essential that these bypassed scores be brought to light and
performed in order to fill out our understanding of 20th century music.
>Established conductors are not going to do this for a variety of reasons.
>>It will require grant money from foundations -- foundations that see
>beyond the allure of commissioning new work -- foundations that can see
>the value in seeking the treasure that lies unheard in drawers, boxes,
>and attics of composers who never had a chance to be heard.  We need a
>few prestigious patrons to take on this rewarding task.  Any volunteers?

I would agree that those who write the histories of music have a distorted
perspective on the history of music of the 20th Century.  My concern is
that one find a balance. As to getting conductors to perform anything
out of the ordinary...good luck.  Even if a conductor had some interest
in exploring the literature, they have less and less control these days
over what is programmed.  We have symphony boards with repertoire
committees.  We have executive directors choosing soloists and repertoire.
Then we have the expanding role of the artistic administrators.  And
then we have that dreaded Knight report which took a very myopic look
at the economics of art music.  For me, its publication was one of the
most tragic events in the history of art music.  It was a major step in
the relegation of art to bean counting.

As I have mentioned before, it is informative to check the program
listings provided by the Symphony Orchestra League.  You will find the
expected standards plus, what I like to refer to as the composer du jour.
There are several who are "hot" these days...Theofinidis, Puts, Adams,
Higdon, Golijov, Lindberg, Tan, et al.  Yet, there are many fine composers
who are, or were never or rarely performed.  It doesn't matter if the
music is tonal or non-tonal, they just aren't heard anymore, even if
they were ever performed.

Indeed, perhaps there could be a foundation to underwrite such performances,
or even better, record those works.  As I may have mentioned before, one
of my fantasies was a repertoire orchestra.  It could be located anywhere.
They would provide a 90 minute program every other week.  The musicians
would all be young people looking for their first orchestra jobs.  The
programs would be broadcast nationally and the performances would be
available for download or on CD.  The programs would include previously
unrecorded works.

Of course, to accomplish such a goal would require a substantial amount
of rehearsal time and a resident conductor fully devoted to the process
of making music.  It would require musicians of uncommon reading skills.
Repertoire choices could be submitted by the public, researchers, etc.
I would prefer that no living composer be performed by the orchestra.
So, for about $4M a year, you could, in about ten years time, pretty
much get a representative sampling of what's on those dusty shelves.

Of course, that is assuming you had a group of informed individuals
making repertoire decisions.  However, when you get a panel of "experts"
together, they won't know repertoire...how could they, unless they have
done some digging...well its all on those dusty shelves.

Sad to say, I am not optimistic.

So where is Warren Buffett when you need him...

Karl

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