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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 18:40:38 -0700

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (82 lines)

Stephen Adams <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>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?

The general concert going audience.

>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.

Nor am I.  When you consider the surveys done by classical radio stations
and orchestras...the audience wants the standard repertoire.  One can
ask the question, why?  Perhaps it is because these works have a universal
appeal, perhaps it is because the audience hasn't been exposed to anything
else, so they don't even know what to ask for, or it could also be that
they are of the thinking that role of art music is to relax them.  A
Beethoven Symphony can be, for some, like a familiar cumfy old arm chair,
perhaps stirring, but still within a context of familiarity.

>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.

Indeed, I too believe that the proclamations of many of our respected
composers were not helpful.  Again I am reminded of the writings of
Wuorinen who proclaimed, some 30 years ago, that any composer of merit
was making use of serialism.  How stupid can you get?  What is even more
ridiculous is that many people took him seriously.

Such nonsense is a part of music history.  I am reminded of the comment
that Schoenberg supposedly said ...something like the 12 tone technique
will insure the supremacy of German music for the next 100 years.  While
he wrote some great music, he must have been a flawed personality.

>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 am a great fan of the music of many non-tonal works written by Schoenberg,
Wolpe, Dallapiccola, Searle, Nono, Petrassi, Sessions, Rochberg, to
lesser known composers like Robert Hall Lewis, Sydeman, John J. Becker
(for me, the disregard shown to his music is a National disgrace), BA
Zimmermann (a favorite), JN David (a genius), Fortner, Blackwood, Finney,
Riegger, Artur Schnabel, Klusak, Rich. R. Bennett, Miyoshi, et al.  I
would agree, not irrelevant, but I would wager that they are considered
irrelevant to the vast majority of concert goers and even to those who
listen to recordings of classical music.  Their music is rarely performed
or recorded.

>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.

I find it most curious to think of the damage done by the dictates of
Stalin.  Yet, on the other hand, there are those, myself included, that
can take great delight in some of those symphonies and concertos written
during those years.  I tend to believe that the German influence, while
significant, was being mitigated by the rise of trends like impressionism
and the influence of jazz.

However, I would suggest that while nurturing human expression is
important, I believe that doing so in such at the expense of the expression
of others is ultimately counterproductive.

Karl

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