Don't Act Out if You Don't Like the Music

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Ralph
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Don't Act Out if You Don't Like the Music

Post by Ralph » Mon Jun 11, 2007 7:23 am

NO LOVE: Some in the audience seemed to (loudly) dislike the performance of modern music by the Pacific Symphony percussion group NEXUS on May 31. But other listeners would like to hear – and judge – the pieces without interruptions.


Sunday, June 10, 2007
How to act if you hate new music
Classical music column

Timothy Mangan
Classical Music critic
The Orange County Register
tmangan@ocregister.com

What is the proper way to respond to a performance of a piece of music that you don't like? The question is raised by the behavior of certain audience members during the Pacific Symphony's concert May 31, when modern, percussion-based pieces by Masson, Takemitsu and Reich were performed.

Some listeners didn't like them, and they made a ruckus about it.

"The Pacific Symphony concert audience last night was the rudest, most obnoxious classical music audience that I have ever experienced," one reader wrote.

"Yes, the 'natives' were restless in the seats next to me ... and for good reason!" wrote another. "Takemitsu's 'From me flows what you call Time,' with assorted sounds, reminded me of a third grade theater performance where each kid is given an instrument or part irrespective of their ability. Participation for participation's sake."

Another reader told me that as the Takemitsu piece, which featured about 100 different percussion instruments, was ending quietly, "the 'gentleman' behind us in the orchestra terrace blurted out, 'That had all the bells and whistles.' During the applause, he was very pointedly clapping two fingers together to the general amusement of everyone around him."

During the performance of Steve Reich's "Music for Pieces of Wood," for five sets of pitched claves, a convention of bellyachers broke out near me. You really couldn't concentrate on the music. The woman behind me, clearly disgusted, kept making loud comments. Finally, before the piece was over, she blurted out, "Enough already." Ruined it.

After the Reich ended, the man in front of me turned around and announced that he wouldn't be renewing his season tickets. He had had to sit through an hour and a half of "junk," he said, just to hear Ravel's "Boléro" (which ended the concert) and it just wasn't worth it.

And how could you argue with him? The customer is always right (or so they say). If he doesn't like what he's paying for, he should stop paying. I happen to think that one of the most important duties of any classical performing group is to play the music of living composers, and I'm sure that music director Carl St.Clair feels the same. I happen to think that it's one of the best ways to keep the art form alive.

But most listeners, it is safe to say, just want to hear the familiar old works. They're not curious. Listening to a new piece of music requires throwing away one's expectations, listening with an open mind and a willingness to be either thrilled or disappointed. A new piece hasn't been winnowed by history; it might be bad. We, as listeners, are the winnowers. Not that we're infallible.

Do we ever hear Salieri today? No. But he was more popular than Mozart in his day.

"Beethoven's second Symphony is a crass monster, a hideously writhing wounded dragon, that refuses to expire, and though bleeding in the Finale, furiously beats about with its tail erect," wrote a critic in 1804.

The question remains, though – how should we react to a piece we don't like? Some of us, you know, were there enjoying the Takemitsu and the Reich. It's our right, as ticket holders, to hear these pieces without your interruption. The answer is simple, really.

When the piece that you are horrified by is over, either a) refuse to applaud, or b) have the courage of your convictions, take a deep breath, cup your hands, and boo.

Contact the writer: 714-796-6811 or tmangan@ocregister.com
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Post by greymouse » Mon Jun 11, 2007 12:39 pm

I wish I could say I've never seen audience members behave like this before; it does ruin it for the people who actually pay to hear things they want to hear.

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Post by diegobueno » Mon Jun 11, 2007 2:39 pm

So audiences are too polite to boo, but they can disrupt a performance with grousing? I say give people permission to boo, just as long as they keep quiet durng the music.

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Post by Haydnseek » Mon Jun 11, 2007 2:41 pm

It's a slippery slope when the audience become unruly. Remember those shocking images from last year's Mostly Mozart Festival:

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Re: Don't Act Out if You Don't Like the Music

Post by Corlyss_D » Mon Jun 11, 2007 2:52 pm

Ralph wrote:NO LOVE: Some in the audience seemed to (loudly) dislike the performance of modern music *** But other listeners would like to hear – and judge – the pieces without interruptions.
I'm ambivalent about this. On the one hand, I'd like to express my contempt for the composer and the idiot programmer who scheduled the piece immediately I realize I'm being made sport of by the composer, the composition, and the programmer. But I understand also that this is not a baseball or football game where you can boo the individual athletes, umpires, or plays. As a result, I always save my boos for the conclusion of the piece. Naturally I don't betake myself to concerts where "composers" who I know I dislike will appear. But if I don't know I don't like them until the concert, I'll save my wrath for the conclusion of the composition. I'm not that hard to please: I've booed only twice in my concert-going history.
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Brendan

Re: Don't Act Out if You Don't Like the Music

Post by Brendan » Mon Jun 11, 2007 7:05 pm

Ralph wrote:But most listeners, it is safe to say, just want to hear the familiar old works. They're not curious. Listening to a new piece of music requires throwing away one's expectations, listening with an open mind and a willingness to be either thrilled or disappointed. A new piece hasn't been winnowed by history; it might be bad. We, as listeners, are the winnowers. Not that we're infallible.
I always find the idea that the newness and strangeness of a piece is necessarily a mark of worthiness to be aired quite odd. Perhaps if living composers made new music in the tradition of Bach, Beethoven, Strauss etc that the audience considers 'classical', a sonata or symphony or trio, instead of producing 'Music for five pieces of wood' then perhaps audiences would be more receptive.

I do not think that audiences just want familiar old works, but they may be looking for music of a particular tradition and style in which 'From me flows what you call Time' is out of place and possibly silly. Inflicting such music upon an unreceptive audience used to and appreciative of baroque, classical and romantic pieces and then berating them for not appreciating it's newness further alienates audiences, IMHO.

At one premier of some new piece I've forgotten, about half the audience just got up and walked out, waiting until after Intermission to return for Shostakovich's 4th.

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Post by diegobueno » Mon Jun 11, 2007 8:37 pm

Not too long ago they would have walked out on Shostakovich's 4th.

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Post by jbuck919 » Mon Jun 11, 2007 9:05 pm

I hate to say this (you know how much I always hate to make my points), but there is a converse/inverse/contrapositive of this situation as well, and that is people reverently accepting any piece of trash that is produced acousitically from the stage with "classical" forces because it is inoffensive and all classical music is created equal, don't you know.

Don't worry, folks, I'm not talking about orchestral warhorses or the Boccherini family of fine music this time. Before I went to Germany, I attended a performance of the Luzerne Chamber Music Festival players (all top pro Philadelphians and their associates). I can't even remember the name of the piece or its composer, but it was some sleeping pill romanza for violin and piano that the audience treated with the same reverence as though it were a newly discovered work by Beethoven. All I could think was "This is the kind of piece that perpetuates a stereotype that keeps people from being interested in classical music." I had the temerity to say so to my neighbor, who turned out to be one of the patrons of the series. He was polite, but had not the slightest idea what I was talking about.

That festival is coming up again, BTW. We shall hear what we shall hear (they still haven't published the programs, only the schedule).

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
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Post by Joe Barron » Mon Jun 11, 2007 9:45 pm

jbuck919 wrote:I hate to say this (you know how much I always hate to make my points), but there is a converse/inverse/contrapositive of this situation as well, and that is people reverently accepting any piece of trash that is produced acousitically from the stage with "classical" forces because it is inoffensive and all classical music is created equal, don't you know.
Well, perhaps we should start booing when we hear a piece that is offensively inoffensive. :wink: But let's wait until the end. I would never talk and complain during a performance. I've been on the receiving end of that behavior, and I can't see inflicting it on someone else. The fact is, everybody hates something, and someone else might be enjoying what you hate --- whether it's tonal or atonal or what. We could all stand to be considerate of others' feelings.

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Re: Don't Act Out if You Don't Like the Music

Post by Joe Barron » Mon Jun 11, 2007 9:51 pm

Brendan wrote: I always find the idea that the newness and strangeness of a piece is necessarily a mark of worthiness to be aired quite odd. Perhaps if living composers made new music in the tradition of Bach, Beethoven, Strauss etc that the audience considers 'classical', a sonata or symphony or trio, instead of producing 'Music for five pieces of wood' then perhaps audiences would be more receptive.
Perhaps, but there is no point in writing music like this. Imitating Beethoven is a fool's errand, since no one could do what Beethoven did as well as Beethoven did it. And, now that I'm started, I have trouble thinking of Bach, Beethoven and Strauss as a single "tradition," since they lived so far apart and sound nothing alike, and their approaches to tonality are so utterly different. I would think such a broad tradition woulod easily accommodate Schoenberg and Boulez, as well as music for five wooden blocks.

And no one is saying strangeness is a mark of worthiness. We simply believe it should not automatically lead to rejection. Actually, we're not even saying that. We're just saying you should have enough imagination to know someone else in the audience might be having a good time, and ruining it to vent your own rage is just rude.

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Post by jbuck919 » Mon Jun 11, 2007 10:01 pm

Joe Barron wrote:
jbuck919 wrote:I hate to say this (you know how much I always hate to make my points), but there is a converse/inverse/contrapositive of this situation as well, and that is people reverently accepting any piece of trash that is produced acousitically from the stage with "classical" forces because it is inoffensive and all classical music is created equal, don't you know.
Well, perhaps we should start booing when we hear a piece that is offensively inoffensive. :wink: But let's wait until the end. I would never talk and complain during a performance. I've been on the receiving end of that behavior, and I can't see inflicting it on someone else. The fact is, everybody hates something, and someone else might be enjoying what you hate --- whether it's tonal or atonal or what. We could all stand to be considerate of others' feelings.
I am not advocating a noticeably negative reception to any performance. Courtesy is of the essence in live hearing of classical music. I was expressing frustration at the fact that the majority of the audience never ask the "why bother" question, and it is usually because they can't tell the difference. It wouldn't have killed those semi-world-class performers for someone cognizant to take them aside (before the piece was programmed) and tell them that they shouldn't waste the ticket payers' time and money with such low-level stuff.[/i]

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Post by Corlyss_D » Mon Jun 11, 2007 10:22 pm

jbuck919 wrote:people reverently accepting any piece of trash that is produced acousitically from the stage with "classical" forces because it is inoffensive and all classical music is created equal, don't you know.
Don't they though! I can just hear the composer and the music critic yuckin' it up at the reception after the premier - "Boy! Didn't we put one over on those bourgeois poseurs! I don't really know how I managed to disgorge such a collection of crap, but did you see how they ate it up and applauded?" If people booed more at the rot, it might encourage composers to compose music people can actually enjoy. It's thought, to the academic and sometimes the critical world, to be a sin to try to write music that the public can actually respond to. - Columbia University report on the state of classical music, 1998.

If you want to tell the listening pros from the poseurs, watch the audience reaction the next time you attend a performance of Mozart's Musical Joke.
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Post by Corlyss_D » Mon Jun 11, 2007 10:23 pm

Joe Barron wrote:Well, perhaps we should start booing when we hear a piece that is offensively inoffensive. :wink:

I agree. Booing training wheels, so to speak.
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Gregg
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Re: Don't Act Out if You Don't Like the Music

Post by Gregg » Mon Jun 11, 2007 11:18 pm

Ralph wrote:
".... a crass monster, a hideously writhing wounded dragon, that refuses to expire, and though bleeding in the Finale, furiously beats about with its tail erect,"
Are your sure that wasn't written about Boléro? It seems accurate.

Actually, I'd be indignant too. If I made the effort to sit through the modern pieces to be hit with a that bit of pandering, oh, I suppose since it seems to repeat so Boléro is "Reich-ian." Give me a modern masterpiece for my pains and effort, please. I sat through Tan Dun's Last Emperor at the MET, the least they could have done was given me a Salome as an encore to make up for it.

I am also a firm believe that modern experimental music brings in more people than it discourages. In New York, at least, adventurous programming is paying off.


Gregg

Brendan

Re: Don't Act Out if You Don't Like the Music

Post by Brendan » Mon Jun 11, 2007 11:39 pm

Joe Barron wrote:
Brendan wrote: I always find the idea that the newness and strangeness of a piece is necessarily a mark of worthiness to be aired quite odd. Perhaps if living composers made new music in the tradition of Bach, Beethoven, Strauss etc that the audience considers 'classical', a sonata or symphony or trio, instead of producing 'Music for five pieces of wood' then perhaps audiences would be more receptive.
Perhaps, but there is no point in writing music like this. Imitating Beethoven is a fool's errand, since no one could do what Beethoven did as well as Beethoven did it. And, now that I'm started, I have trouble thinking of Bach, Beethoven and Strauss as a single "tradition," since they lived so far apart and sound nothing alike, and their approaches to tonality are so utterly different. I would think such a broad tradition woulod easily accommodate Schoenberg and Boulez, as well as music for five wooden blocks.

And no one is saying strangeness is a mark of worthiness. We simply believe it should not automatically lead to rejection. Actually, we're not even saying that. We're just saying you should have enough imagination to know someone else in the audience might be having a good time, and ruining it to vent your own rage is just rude.
You really cannot see Bach, Beethoven and Strauss as part of a tradition of instrumentation, tonality, harmony, counter-point, melody etc etc that bashing wooden blocks is not (and that was rejected on theoretical grounds, not audience response)? You really cannot hear the difference???

Well, enough said. I don't disturb anyone else, but don't attend such concerts if I can help it.

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Re: Don't Act Out if You Don't Like the Music

Post by Corlyss_D » Tue Jun 12, 2007 12:29 am

Gregg wrote:I am also a firm believe that modern experimental music brings in more people than it discourages. In New York, at least, adventurous programming is paying off.
As long as the symphony boards have to make some money, that means they have to cater to the tonal neanderthals like me. I refuse pay to be annoyed and nobody is going to make me feel guilty for my reactions on the basis that ciritics didn't like Beethoven's 4th sym. Hell, I don't like Beethoven's 4th either, so a belated "good on 'em!"
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Post by GK » Tue Jun 12, 2007 6:11 am

Why did they do those three pieces on the same program? They should have known better.

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Re: Don't Act Out if You Don't Like the Music

Post by Gregg » Tue Jun 12, 2007 7:46 am

Corlyss_D wrote:
As long as the symphony boards have to make some money, that means they have to cater to the tonal neanderthals like me. I refuse pay to be annoyed and nobody is going to make me feel guilty for my reactions on the basis that critics didn't like Beethoven's 4th sym. Hell, I don't like Beethoven's 4th either, so a belated "good on 'em!"
I am not sure what you mean, I think most critics like Beethoven's forth, they may not feel that it's up to three an five, but then they don't consider it bad music? Perhaps they don't care to consider the way Beethoven often worked and demand a string of masterpieces? I like four and I like eight.

In fact the opening of four is one of the most important and copied bits of Beethoven around. It's only my opinion, but it's something Brahms and Mahler felt they could lift with out impunity.


Anyway. I don't know that I would like to sit through that particular concert - and Bolero would have added a strong negative element - but I don't have a problem with having one modernist concert in a season.

A better question is why did those people go? Hating Modernism is a sport, I guess. We have to update Ives "Take it like a man" maxim, "grin and bear it." Or don't go. I don't like counter-tenors, but I don't go to concerts with counter-tenors (and there are way toooooo many of them) and complain that they don't have real tenors. I G&B it, or G&T it at intermission.

Frankly I think movie music has made a lot of modernist touches completely cliché. I can not stand to listen to wood blocks any more. What's the point of that sound? Bartók has some answering to do......


Gregg

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Post by diegobueno » Tue Jun 12, 2007 8:54 am

The thing is, Reich's Music for pieces of wood is actually a very infectuous rhythmic pattern inspired by African drumming. If they had presented the piece as an ethnic number and the musicians had come out in African costumes, the audience would have eaten it up.

But since it was instead presented as modern music these individuals decided it must be no good. They're doing the symphony a favor by cancelling their subscritions.

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Re: Don't Act Out if You Don't Like the Music

Post by karlhenning » Tue Jun 12, 2007 9:24 am

Brendan wrote:You really cannot see Bach, Beethoven and Strauss as part of a tradition of instrumentation, tonality, harmony, counter-point, melody etc etc that bashing wooden blocks is not (and that was rejected on theoretical grounds, not audience response)? You really cannot hear the difference?
Any idiot can hear the difference. But not everyone buys into the idea that a piece for unpitched percussion ensemble is automatically consigned to the category [ non-music ].

It sure is not going to sound like Bach, Beethoven or Strauss.

But, again, again, a thousand times again, there is a difference between acknowledging the great music that Bach, Beethoven and Strauss have written, and insisting that for music to be great, it has to fit into the Bach-Beethoven-Strauss mold.

You really cannot comprehend that difference?

Cheers,
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Re: Don't Act Out if You Don't Like the Music

Post by johnQpublic » Tue Jun 12, 2007 11:44 am

karlhenning wrote:But not everyone buys into the idea that a piece for unpitched percussion ensemble is automatically consigned to the category [ non-music ].
Bless his heart, Howard Hanson actually stated in my presence, that he felt that any work for exclusively non-pitched percussion was "non-music". It is the only disappointing thing I ever heard him say or saw him write.

On another note: Geez, I knew CMG was a conservative crowd but the music of Reich is usually a fun experience and much Taketimsu (after 1970) is really very beautiful and Impressionistic. They're not the devil incarnate.
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Re: Don't Act Out if You Don't Like the Music

Post by Joe Barron » Tue Jun 12, 2007 12:45 pm

johnQpublic wrote:Geez, I knew CMG was a conservative crowd but the music of Reich is usually a fun experience and much Taketimsu (after 1970) is really very beautiful and Impressionistic. They're not the devil incarnate.
And I know that for a fact, because I'm the devil incarnate. :twisted:

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Post by BWV 1080 » Tue Jun 12, 2007 1:16 pm

These morons would never behave like this if they did not think everyone else would go along with them. They should be confronted and publically humiliated in my opinion.

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Post by Joe Barron » Tue Jun 12, 2007 3:15 pm

BWV 1080 wrote:These morons would never behave like this if they did not think everyone else would go along with them. They should be confronted and publically humiliated in my opinion.
It won't work. These people are so indignant they're impervious to humiliation, or reason, for that matter. In the one incident I remember, a woman at the NYPO objected to a mmodern work on the program loudly and repeatedly, while it was going on. When others confronted her about it afterwords, all she said was something like, "I don't see how anybody could call that music" --- as though her own resentment justified her behavior She was unable or unwilling to consider that some of us in the audience could indeed think of it as music, and great music at that. I certainly did, and so did my date. I had traveled from Philadelphia to New York for no other reason than to hear that piece, and in light of all the time and effort and money I spent to get there, I was entitled to a fair hearing.

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Post by BWV 1080 » Tue Jun 12, 2007 3:26 pm

Joe Barron wrote:
BWV 1080 wrote:These morons would never behave like this if they did not think everyone else would go along with them. They should be confronted and publically humiliated in my opinion.
It won't work. These people are so indignant they're impervious to humiliation, or reason, for that matter. In the one incident I remember, a woman at the NYPO objected to a mmodern work on the program loudly and repeatedly, while it was going on. When others confronted her about it afterwords, all she said was something like, "I don't see how anybody could call that music" --- as though her own resentment justified her behavior She was unable or unwilling to consider that some of us in the audience could indeed think of it as music, and great music at that. I certainly did, and so did my date. I had traveled from Philadelphia to New York for no other reason than to hear that piece, and in light of all the time and effort and money I spent to get there, I was entitled to a fair hearing.
if humilation or reason do not work, they could always just get their ass kicked :)

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Post by Joe Barron » Tue Jun 12, 2007 3:48 pm

BWV 1080 wrote: if humilation or reason do not work, they could always just get their ass kicked :)
Now you're talking! :lol:

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Post by greymouse » Tue Jun 12, 2007 4:40 pm

Joe Barron wrote:
BWV 1080 wrote:These morons would never behave like this if they did not think everyone else would go along with them. They should be confronted and publically humiliated in my opinion.
It won't work. These people are so indignant they're impervious to humiliation, or reason, for that matter. In the one incident I remember, a woman at the NYPO objected to a modern work on the program loudly and repeatedly, while it was going on. When others confronted her about it afterwords, all she said was something like, "I don't see how anybody could call that music" --- as though her own resentment justified her behavior She was unable or unwilling to consider that some of us in the audience could indeed think of it as music, and great music at that. I certainly did, and so did my date. I had traveled from Philadelphia to New York for no other reason than to hear that piece, and in light of all the time and effort and money I spent to get there, I was entitled to a fair hearing.
Well said. That's what it comes down to. Music is important to people, especially people who shell out money to hear it. It's a simple matter of class and maturity. It smarts when you hear a performance of something you specifically wanted to hear and see people around you mocking the music and acting like grade schoolers. The lady you're describing is typical - she thinks the music is the issue rather than her rude behavior.

Brendan

Re: Don't Act Out if You Don't Like the Music

Post by Brendan » Tue Jun 12, 2007 4:58 pm

karlhenning wrote:
Brendan wrote:You really cannot see Bach, Beethoven and Strauss as part of a tradition of instrumentation, tonality, harmony, counter-point, melody etc etc that bashing wooden blocks is not (and that was rejected on theoretical grounds, not audience response)? You really cannot hear the difference?
Any idiot can hear the difference. But not everyone buys into the idea that a piece for unpitched percussion ensemble is automatically consigned to the category [ non-music ].

It sure is not going to sound like Bach, Beethoven or Strauss.

But, again, again, a thousand times again, there is a difference between acknowledging the great music that Bach, Beethoven and Strauss have written, and insisting that for music to be great, it has to fit into the Bach-Beethoven-Strauss mold.

You really cannot comprehend that difference?

Cheers,
~Karl
Of course I can comprehend the difference and it is utterly irrelevant to anything I was saying. An audience appreciative of music in the Bach-Beethoven-Strauss mold may not automatically going appreciate music designed to overturn or stand in contrasy to that tradition. Not a difficult point to grasp, I would have thought. I never said all music has to be in that mold.

If folk wish to listen to it, fine. Pay the money and enjoy to the full. But don't squeeze such a piece on a program with a Mozart piano concerto then slip it in after Intermission before a performance of Schubert's 9th that folk paid for, and expect no complaints.

I used to buy season tickets to our lopcal symphony orchestra. Then they started programing premier works and hiring the latest 'names' and so I stopped attending and buying season tickets, choosing which concerts I'd go to. The orchestra nearly went under, as others felt the same. The last concert I attended was a Haydn sym, Mozart's Clarinet concerto, Romance for violin and orchestra by Beethoven and Schubert's 5th.

A full house and everyone was raving on the night. If someone could make new music that such people liked to hear I'm sure we would be over the moon. I end up listening to the symphonies of Atterberg and Ropartz and so forth to find 'new' pieces for my ear - all of which I prefer to AC.

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Post by Gregg » Tue Jun 12, 2007 5:37 pm

Joe Barron wrote:
It won't work. These people are so indignant they're impervious to humiliation, or reason, for that matter.
There is something that I identified when I was an art student
in college, forgive me if I'm going over well trod ground here,
and it does not pertain to the those in any of the arts who have
formed an educated opinion, it relates more to the "art fan"
on the street.

I've always felt that this animosity to the "new" is based on
the idea that some people think modern art was some how
created to fool people. That's the basis for their indignation,
they refuse to be a patsy for someone's joke, and they are
happy to tell you they are no fool!

For instance, it is very difficult for some to believe that Berg
felt an emotional connection to his works, but he certainly did.
For me it took me a long time to get that Donald Judd saw his
works in a traditional romantic way. Apparently, his boxes
really moved him in a way that most people would be
embarrassed to confess. There might be a basic intellectual
insecurity that the new - particularly the "cold" form of
modernism - triggers.

There is a lot of modern music that I don't like, for many reasons,
mainly because they have been fighting the same fight for at least
fifty years.....

There is plenty of contemporary art that I don't like, for
many reasons, we still have not gotten over Andy Warhol, and it's
been almost fifty years....


But I would not care to get upset about it, I bet there's a famous
Voltaire saying that would be appropriate here....



Gregg

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Post by Corlyss_D » Wed Jun 13, 2007 2:14 am

Gregg wrote:I've always felt that this animosity to the "new" is based on the idea that some people think modern art was some how
created to fool people.
Very rich reasons to think so. Andy Warhol is a great example. So is Roy Lichtenstein. So is John Cage. And Glass. Their whole careers are just one big joke on the bourgeoisie.
For instance, it is very difficult for some to believe that Berg
felt an emotional connection to his works, but he certainly did.
I can't imagine why, just because the characters are bathetic in his better opera and totally incomprehensible in his other opera. I've read Perl's books and I like the idea of Berg's music much better than I like the music itself. As in "it seemed like a good idea at the time . . . "
There might be a basic intellectual insecurity that the new - particularly the "cold" form of modernism - triggers.
I think modernism positively sterile. I think that of many of the "moderns." They strike me as totally adrift in a world that disconcerts them, as though nobody before them ever felt at odds with his intellectual environment. So they look inside themselves and find nothing there, no way to connect with people, and they try to convince us that the nothing is "art." And I don't feel a bit of insecurity in my reaction.
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Post by karlhenning » Wed Jun 13, 2007 7:16 am

Corlyss_D wrote:I think modernism positively sterile. I think that of many of the "moderns." They strike me as totally adrift in a world that disconcerts them, as though nobody before them ever felt at odds with his intellectual environment. So they look inside themselves and find nothing there, no way to connect with people, and they try to convince us that the nothing is "art." And I don't feel a bit of insecurity in my reaction.
No matter that your brush is impossibly broad?

Cheers,
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Re: Don't Act Out if You Don't Like the Music

Post by diegobueno » Wed Jun 13, 2007 8:00 am

Brendan wrote: A full house and everyone was raving on the night. If someone could make new music that such people liked to hear I'm sure we would be over the moon.
"Such people" have already made up their minds that they're not going to accept anything new.

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Post by lmpower » Wed Jun 13, 2007 9:55 am

After a Monday Evening Concert performance of songs by Luigi Nono, Peter Yates came out and said the next act hadn't shown up so the Nono songs would be repeated. Anyone not wanting to hear them was invited to go into the lobby. Half the audience went out in protest. I probably should have stayed and given them a second hearing, but it felt good to walk out in protest. I don't think anyone should boo. I still can't get over the woman who hissed Sarastro's aria with the Los Angeles opera. We shouldn't spoil someone else's enjoyment just because we have a disagreement with something in the performance.

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Post by Joe Barron » Wed Jun 13, 2007 10:09 am

Corlyss_D wrote:I think modernism positively sterile. I think that of many of the "moderns." They strike me as totally adrift in a world that disconcerts them, as though nobody before them ever felt at odds with his intellectual environment. So they look inside themselves and find nothing there, no way to connect with people, and they try to convince us that the nothing is "art." And I don't feel a bit of insecurity in my reaction.
OT, but I can't think of anyone more comfortable in or more in tune with his intellectual environment than Elliott Carter. One has only to look at the poets whose work he chooses to set to music. There's nothing alienated or alienating about either the man or the music.

And I don't feel a bit of insecurity in my reaction. :wink:

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Post by Corlyss_D » Wed Jun 13, 2007 5:25 pm

lmpower wrote:After a Monday Evening Concert performance of songs by Luigi Nono, Peter Yates came out and said the next act hadn't shown up so the Nono songs would be repeated. Anyone not wanting to hear them was invited to go into the lobby. Half the audience went out in protest. I probably should have stayed and given them a second hearing, but it felt good to walk out in protest.
Image Good job, Im.
I don't think anyone should boo. I still can't get over the woman who hissed Sarastro's aria with the Los Angeles opera. We shouldn't spoil someone else's enjoyment just because we have a disagreement with something in the performance.
But Im, it's so . . . so . . . satisfying. I agree that booing during the show is declasse. But after they come out for their bows, let 'em have it. Image
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Brendan

Re: Don't Act Out if You Don't Like the Music

Post by Brendan » Wed Jun 13, 2007 6:50 pm

diegobueno wrote:
Brendan wrote: A full house and everyone was raving on the night. If someone could make new music that such people liked to hear I'm sure we would be over the moon.
"Such people" have already made up their minds that they're not going to accept anything new.
I most certainly have not. If I want to listen to musical industrial noise, I prefer German punk from the 70s and 80s: SPK, Einsturzende Neubauten etc and have tried Messiaen, Luto, Ligeti and the rest repeatedly. I prefer the punk rock to the 'artsy' stuff.

But I will never in my life get to experience a brand new symphony or opera worthy of inclusion in the canon of the tradition I am talking about. Not ever.

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Re: Don't Act Out if You Don't Like the Music

Post by jbuck919 » Wed Jun 13, 2007 8:30 pm

Brendan wrote:
diegobueno wrote:
Brendan wrote: A full house and everyone was raving on the night. If someone could make new music that such people liked to hear I'm sure we would be over the moon.
"Such people" have already made up their minds that they're not going to accept anything new.
I most certainly have not. If I want to listen to musical industrial noise, I prefer German punk from the 70s and 80s: SPK, Einsturzende Neubauten etc and have tried Messiaen, Luto, Ligeti and the rest repeatedly. I prefer the punk rock to the 'artsy' stuff.

But I will never in my life get to experience a brand new symphony or opera worthy of inclusion in the canon of the tradition I am talking about. Not ever.
I doubt that anyone here is talking about anything as traditionalist as Messiaen or Ligeti (I have never heard of Luto). They've been around long enough to be weighed in the balance for what they really are, which in my opinion is not "noise" but also not a very great deal in the way of impressive art. However, I will agree with you up to this point: There is an assumption that great art is waiting in the wings somewhere, only we just have not heard it yet, or we have heard it but have not appreciated it in the sense, say, that late Beethoven was not appreciated. This is false. Modern composers are filling in the cracks (I have to think Schoenberg already knew that). If there is a problem, it is that they are not doing a very good job of that.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

Brendan

Post by Brendan » Wed Jun 13, 2007 8:45 pm

I mentioned Lutoslawski and Ligeti (" . . . and the rest") as they are recognized names. Much of the more radical stuff I do not recall at all. None of which has anything to do with what I was talking about.

If, instead of asking why classical audiences don’t like "new music", one rephrases it to ask why folk who like melody, tonality and harmony with strings, woodwind and brass don’t like discordant atonality for five blocks of wood, the question itself becomes absurd. Why would anyone expect them to? ‘Music’ that no one wants to hum, sing along with, dance, make love or pray to misses out on so much that music gives to humanity. Meeting the eyes of a loved one over candlelight to the Romance from Eine Kleine Nachtmusik is a profoundly different experience from the same scenario set to Shaker Loops.

What is such music for, if it is not usable for dancing, romancing, praying, singing or humming? If it is not for life and living, why put oneself through it to be intellectually fashionable? Some kind of elitist thing about irony and overturning established bourgeois taste, I guess. To me, great music is not merely for aesthetes, but for life from the lowest to the highest.

I cannot force myself to like that stuff, however often I try. If others do, fine.

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Post by Gregg » Wed Jun 13, 2007 9:20 pm

jbuck919,

What do you mean "filling in the cracks?"

I am intrigued.


Gregg

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Post by Gregg » Wed Jun 13, 2007 9:28 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:
Very rich reasons to think so. Andy Warhol is a great example. So is Roy Lichtenstein. So is John Cage. And Glass. Their whole careers are just one big joke on the bourgeoisie.
Why?


Gregg

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Post by jbuck919 » Thu Jun 14, 2007 1:42 am

Gregg wrote:jbuck919,

What do you mean "filling in the cracks?"

I am intrigued.


Gregg
I am sorry, said the guru, but this must remain a mystery. :wink:

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Post by Gregg » Thu Jun 14, 2007 3:01 pm

jbuck919 wrote:
I am sorry, said the guru, but this must remain a mystery. :wink:
My spiritual growth stifled again....
Well I'll just make something up and say you said it, great religions have been built on less.

GD

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Post by jbuck919 » Thu Jun 14, 2007 3:30 pm

Gregg wrote:
jbuck919 wrote:
I am sorry, said the guru, but this must remain a mystery. :wink:
My spiritual growth stifled again....
Well I'll just make something up and say you said it, great religions have been built on less.

GD
Someday I am going to write a computer program which will graphically do what I am about to describe:

Consider the universe of a given art, in this case Western music after 1600, not as unbounded, but in fact bounded by any enclosed rectilinear shape of your choosing, say, a rectangle. Individual artists within this region are circles. They occupy a space that is then not available to any other circle. Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven are really big circles; they already take up a lot of the available area. Brahms, a latecomer, happens to have found a way to fit a pretty big circle in still. Eveybody after him tries to figure out a way to fit in the space left by the existing circles. The longer this goes on, the smaller the circles become, until no one sees the point of trying to squeeze in at all on the one hand, or is satisfied with being a very exiguous circle on the other.

All we can do is be glad that composers are not squares, for squares will tile the plane completely.

Now that I'm about to be pursued like Orestes, I hope you understand why I did not initially wish to explain myself.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Re: Don't Act Out if You Don't Like the Music

Post by karlhenning » Thu Jun 14, 2007 3:47 pm

Brendan wrote:
diegobueno wrote:"Such people" have already made up their minds that they're not going to accept anything new.
But I will never in my life get to experience a brand new symphony or opera worthy of inclusion in the canon of the tradition I am talking about. Not ever.
A pity that you so aptly illustrate diego's remark.

Cheers,
~Karl
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Post by Gregg » Thu Jun 14, 2007 4:16 pm

jbuck919 wrote: Individual artists within this region are circles
Thank you for the explanation. I had thought it might have been a dam metaphor (i.e. modern composers filling in the cracks in the barrier created by great composers to prevent...?) and I was curious to know what you thought was being held back. An Irwin Allen metaphor, for film buffs of a certain age.

Your actual explanation is more elegant. Maybe like the Bubble Universe theory, if we are in the midst of a musical "big crunch", then a new universe - or container of circles will pop out somewhere else?

That's it for my metaphysics for today. I thank you for the enlightenment.


Gregg

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Post by Jack Kelso » Fri Jun 15, 2007 2:15 am

Shostakovitch stated that 12-tone composers (and their ilk) have lost contact with their public because they can't/don't write memorable music that the concert-going public can sing or whistle when they leave the concert hall.

He felt that there was not one work in the 12-tone "style" that has found a permanent place in the concert hall repertoire.

Some of the contemporary composers Shostakovitch liked were Bartok, Britten, Copland, Hindemith and Stravinsky.

I think he was largely right----but I do very much enjoy some 12-tone works (e.g., Schoenberg's "A Survivor from Warsaw", Wellesz's 9th Symphony and others).

Yet for me---an orchestral or chamber work so jammed-packed with dissonances that no discernable form, rhythm, harmony or melody can be determined without the score and/or multiple listenings---a work from which no feeling or light can escape---is a black-hole of musical art.

By the way, this "Bach-Beethoven-Strauss"-connection eludes me; they were three great (if rather unrelated) composers (if it's Richard who is meant!).

So the normal historical lineage would be: Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Bruckner, Brahms.

R. Strauss came from the Berlioz-Liszt-Wagner-Raff lineage.

Jack
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Post by jbuck919 » Fri Jun 15, 2007 3:09 am

Raff? Who the devil is Raff? I never cease to learn new things here.

These lineage things are very dubious. Every important composer after Brahms and Wagner is in the shadow of both, and Schoenberg at least had enough sense to acknowledge as much. The French-Russian crowd pretended it could do an end run around them, and in part did, but for all their artistic success, Shostakovich being another composer who found space for a substantial circle, they did not manage the goal of saving music for the next thousand years, to paraphrase Schoenberg from another context. If I were to continue my rough analogy from geometry, Western music survived its previous crises by jumping to different planes, first from monody to polyphony, then from polyphony to tonality. That's three dimensions, as it were. Nobody promised that there has to be a fourth.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Post by Corlyss_D » Fri Jun 15, 2007 3:24 am

jbuck919 wrote:Raff? Who the devil is Raff? I never cease to learn new things here.
Raff. Joachim Raff. Frank (FEBNY) has mentioned him here occasionally. I think Ralph too.
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Post by Jack Kelso » Fri Jun 15, 2007 3:28 am

jbuck919 wrote:Raff? Who the devil is Raff? I never cease to learn new things here.

These lineage things are very dubious. Every important composer after Brahms and Wagner is in the shadow of both, and Schoenberg at least had enough sense to acknowledge as much. The French-Russian crowd pretended it could do an end run around them, and in part did, but for all their artistic success, Shostakovich being another composer who found space for a substantial circle, they did not manage the goal of saving music for the next thousand years, to paraphrase Schoenberg from another context. If I were to continue my rough analogy from geometry, Western music survived its previous crises by jumping to different planes, first from monody to polyphony, then from polyphony to tonality. That's three dimensions, as it were. Nobody promised that there has to be a fourth.
Joseph Joachim Raff (1824-1884) attempted to bridge the gap between the neo-classical (Beethoven, Schumann, Brahms) and the "Music of the Future" program music composers (Berlioz, Liszt, Wagner) by writing highly descriptive music within classical forms.

His finely orchestrated 11 symphonies are very attractive and melodic works---and had a powerful influence on Richard Strauss' tone poems.

Raff's influence also can be heard in Saint-Saens, Tschaikowsky, Dvorak, Mahler and other late 19th century masters.

The influence of Schumann and Wagner went in various directions, occasionally affecting the same composers (e.g., Raff, Sinding, Mahler). But both of these giants after Beethoven put their influencial stamps on composers as diversified as Brahms, Debussy and Pfitzner.

Have a listen to Raff's chamber music, John. A lot of it comes quite close to Schumann in invention and technique, and reminds one occasionally of Brahms.

Tschüß!
Jack
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Post by karlhenning » Fri Jun 15, 2007 6:49 am

Jack, I'm starting to worry about you! First, everything Schumann wrote is now supposedly a masterpiece; and now, other composers are significant, to the degree that one perceives an influence from Schumann.

You need two weeks on an all-Stravinsky diet, my friend! :-)

(Just kidding, I trust you know. Raff may not be my thing at all, and you probably have twice the enthusiasm for Schumann which I may ever have, but I have still greatly enjoyed getting to know more of the latter's catalogue.)

Cheers,
~Karl
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