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CLASSICAL  August 2008

CLASSICAL August 2008

Subject:

Re: Tan Dun, Sound-Effects Man

From:

Karl Miller <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Wed, 20 Aug 2008 18:47:58 -0700

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (63 lines)

Janos Gereben <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> The more Tan Dun is rising in new-music circles, the more I am
> convinced of the validity of my Hans Christian Andersen moment
> six years ago

(http://www.sfcv.org/arts_revs/waterpassion_7_9_02.php).

Thanks for reminding us of your thoughts of some years ago.  I share
your perspective.

In the not too distant past I downloaded the Dun Piano Concerto.  I had
heard a bit of his music and was never impressed.  I thought, well maybe
if he is working in such an accepted form, we might be able to hear more
substance.

I have listened repeatedly looking for a germ of substance.  While I am
no fan of Lang Lang, as I find his playing as vapid as I do the music
of Mr.  Dun, I would assume Lang Lang got all of the notes right.  When
I heard the ovations at the end of the piece, I wondered why such praise?

There are times when I wonder if it is not that audiences are still
so weary of the dissonance of much of the music written in from 1950
to about the early 80s, that they are relieved when the music is
"inoffensive."

I guess this thought has been on my mind as I just finished reading
another fine book by Nicholas Tawa, "A Most Wondrous Babble American Art
Composers, Their Music, and the American Scene, 1950-1985.  For much of
the book Tawa talks about the trendy nature of music criticism and some
of the compositional trends of those years.

He makes, I think, some valid points.  He suggests that there will be
many substantive works which will become relegated to the dumpsters of
the world only because they were challenging to the listeners.  They may
well suffer that fate also because they were written at a time of extreme
experimentation...guilt by association...

He makes some other interesting points.  "We must ask what are the other
necessary but missing factors that will produce greater confidence in
the contemporary composer and greater affection for his music: First,
the composer must feel, and make his audience feel, that he creates in
and for an American society capable of remedying its failings, a society
in which the composer has faith, and a society of imperfect human beings
who, despite their faults, also aspire to nobility." While he raises
several other points, I found these considerations to be the most
interesting.

As I reflected on those thoughts I wondered if these considerations are
what the concert going audience is really looking for, do they want
substance?  I also wonder if it might just be a result of my being older
and thinking, "they just don't make them like they used to." Maybe 30
years from now, someone in their 60s will be saying, "I wish composers
could be writing something of substance, like Tan Dun did." Heaven help
us...

Karl

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