Denis Fodor writes of the need for orchestras to program music that fills
the seats in the hall:
> ... [it] is crucial, to have programs that draw enough people to
>pay the tab. And I think I have observed that there simply aren't
>sufficient concert goers to fill a great hall, and pay a high prices,
>to attend concerts consisting of, say, Hindemith, Schonberg, and
>Britten--and certainly not a season consisting of only that kind of
>music. To be sure, there can be merit to atonality or dissonance, or
>otherwise willful music. It can be, and to an extent is, accomodated
>by the smaller halls. Surely the trick is to match a category of
>concert music to the right-sized performance site.
I think Denis is arguing that there must be a balance in orchestra
programming, and I think most of us would agree. I was struck by
his phrase: "...atonality or dissonance, or otherwise willful music."
What does "willful" mean in this context? According to my definition,
Beethoven was one of the most willful composers of all time. His music
grabs you, not always gently, and demands that you pay attention. I
have always thought that willfulness was an important feature of great
art. The most devastating comment that I ever received about my own
music was delivered by the chief of the STIM music library in Stockholm.
He observed: "Ja, det ar inte p=E5trangende!" (Well, it's not obtrusive!)
I have since come to value obtrusive music more than I would have
otherwise. Last September, the NW Mahler Festival Orchestra filled
Benaroya Hall with a performance of Turangalila. And the Seattle
Symphony sold out performances of Bluebeard's Castle. Go figure!
David Lamb, Bland Old Man in Seattle
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