The Awfulness of Classical Music Explained

Your 'hot spot' for all classical music subjects. Non-classical music subjects are to be posted in the Corner Pub.

Moderators: Lance, Corlyss_D

Post Reply
IcedNote
Posts: 2963
Joined: Tue Apr 04, 2006 5:24 pm
Location: NYC

The Awfulness of Classical Music Explained

Post by IcedNote » Tue May 29, 2012 2:51 pm

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/richard-d ... 25896.html
By Richard Dare, CEO and Managing Director, Brooklyn Philharmonic; Entrepreneur

Visiting a popular concert hall for the first time some years ago, I was lucky to have a fairly genial host whom I'll call Luddy. He guided me patiently through the obtuse and unfriendly ticketing procedure at the "Will Call" window where I felt rather like I was visiting a sort of bland theatrical version of the Department of Motor Vehicles. When I commented that it hardly seemed the promoters wanted to make buying tickets desirable, my guide explained the situation away by means of a sort of denial mechanism, never seeming to lose interest in pointing out the gargantuan monument to culture the concert hall itself represented.

Although I loved the music I heard that evening, I was struck at the time by how matter-of-factly my guide dismissed my observation that concerts might not be easy to figure out for a first-timer. And he took it for granted that I would find the impressive edifice and music itself a satisfactory recompense for my troubles. And he might have been right, I suppose, had I at least been allowed to authentically enjoy the performance going on inside that hall as I might spontaneously appreciate any other cultural pursuit like a movie or a dance or a hip-hop concert -- if I could clap when clapping felt needed, laugh when it was funny, shout when I couldn't contain the joy building up inside myself. What would that have been like?

But this was classical music. And there are a great many "clap here, not there" cloak-and-dagger protocols to abide by. I found myself a bit preoccupied -- as I believe are many classical concert goers -- by the imposing restrictions of ritual behavior on offer: all the shushing and silence and stony faced non-expression of the audience around me, presumably enraptured, certainly deferential, possibly catatonic; a thousand dead looking eyes, flickering silently in the darkness, as if a star field were about to be swallowed by a black hole.

I don't think classical music was intended to be listened to in this way. And I don't think it honors the art form for us to maintain such a cadaverous body of rules.

The Way We Were


Joseph Horowitz in his wonderful new book, Moral Fire, describes audiences "screaming" and "standing on chairs" during classical concerts in the 1890s. The New York Times records an audience that "wept and shouted, strung banners across the orchestra pit over the heads of the audience and flapped unrestrainedly" when listening to their favorite opera singer at the Met in the 1920s. And Greg Sandow provides a brilliant analysis of classical music's average audience age over time, showing the form to have remained most popular amongst energetic thirty-somethings rather than subdued grey-hairs all the way until the late 1960s era of Mad Men.

Indeed, even the venerable Beethoven, I am quite certain, would be dismayed to find his music performed the way it is today. Not to applaud between his movements? Unthinkable! Not to call out during the performance and react to the music he'd written? Preposterous!

To begin with, like many living composers, Beethoven was not universally understood or even particularly well liked -- nor did he care to be. Of his Third Symphony, the Eroica, critics who attended the 1805 premier wrote, "If Beethoven continues on this path, both he and the public will come off badly. Music could quickly come to such a point that everyone will leave the concert hall with only unpleasant feelings of exhaustion."

To his contemporaries, the sheer primal suspense in the Third was deliberately jacked up to such an unbearable degree that by measure 394 the first horn famously goes berserk, acting out the listener's agony of expectation by breaking in on the violins prematurely. So unprecedented and unruly was this bold psychological stroke that it was at first mistaken, even by the composer's close friends, for a sort of prank. His pupil Ferdinand Ries, thinking a blunder had been made, cried out, "Can't the damned horn player count?!" for which he came pretty close to receiving a sharp box on the ear.

Beethoven, it turns out, was not a follower of tradition. And no one was expected to keep quiet during his performances either. The music was much too wild, too complex, too dramatic and demanding. If it was gauche, the audience complained or praised at will just as they do today in non-classical concert experiences.

Nowadays, however, Beethoven it seems in spite of all his revolutionary fervor has along with the whole kit-and-caboodle of classical music become something of a rather dull commodity -- so perfect in every way that his music displays not really greatness or excitement anymore, but (I am sad to report) only "packaged greatness." Smugness, dullness, an over abundance of ritualism ... everything, in fact, that Beethoven hated.

What Can We Do Now?

One step therefore we might take to make classical music less boring again is simply for audiences to quit being so blasted reverential.

The most common practices in classical musical venues today represent a contrite response to a totalitarian belief system no one in America buys into anymore. To participate obediently is to act as a slave. It is counter to our culture. And it is not, I am certain, what composers would have wanted: A musical North Korea. Who but a bondservant would desire such a ghastly fate? Quickly now: Rise to your feet and applaud. The Dear Leader is coming on stage to conduct. He will guide us, ever so worshipfully through the necrocracy of composers we are obliged to forever adore.

The living composers I know though are real people. They bleed just like the rest of us -- or more accurately stated, because they are artists willing to put their thoughts into action for our review and criticism, they bleed publicly for us. They drink beers and feel tired and ride subways and dream about a better life. They are human and they want us to share a deeper, richer human experience together with them. They want, in effect, the same things Beethoven wanted.

Here are the two most shattering facts about classical music today: First, Americans are writing, playing, recording and listening to more orchestra music today than they ever have before in history -- mostly in the form of film music and video game soundtracks. So we know they like the general sound.

They just don't like listening to it with us, at concert halls. And that is the second fact.

Perhaps it's because of trying to keep classical music audiences living in the dark, in perpetual fear that they might not understand the secret and elite codes of long-term insiders, brainwashing core subscribers into an irrational hatred of anyone who dares to disrupt their peace-and-quiet even if accidentally, regimenting the experience with a coerced and inculcated rigidity that would be abhorrent to any composer worth his or her salt: This is how we have made classical music so awful.

Perhaps it's time to tell our own darling leaders to bug off and in place of their formalities simply allow ourselves to react to classical music with our hearts just as we do when we meet other forms of art. Classical music belongs to the audience -- to its listeners, not the critics, to the citizens, not the snobs.

Why not reclaim your music today?
-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

jbuck919
Military Band Specialist
Posts: 26867
Joined: Wed Jan 28, 2004 10:15 pm
Location: Stony Creek, New York

Re: The Awfulness of Classical Music Explained

Post by jbuck919 » Tue May 29, 2012 3:07 pm

If it was gauche, the audience complained or praised at will just as they do today in non-classical concert experiences.
Yes, I've been to many Grateful Dead concerts, and I distinctly remember myself and others complaining and praising at will at those gauche moments. :roll:

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

IcedNote
Posts: 2963
Joined: Tue Apr 04, 2006 5:24 pm
Location: NYC

Re: The Awfulness of Classical Music Explained

Post by IcedNote » Tue May 29, 2012 3:22 pm

jbuck919 wrote:Yes, I've been to many Grateful Dead concerts, and I distinctly remember myself and others complaining and praising at will at those gauche moments. :roll:
You were/are a DeadHead!? :D :D :D

You and Henry should exchange stories. ;)

-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

jbuck919
Military Band Specialist
Posts: 26867
Joined: Wed Jan 28, 2004 10:15 pm
Location: Stony Creek, New York

Re: The Awfulness of Classical Music Explained

Post by jbuck919 » Tue May 29, 2012 3:50 pm

IcedNote wrote:
jbuck919 wrote:Yes, I've been to many Grateful Dead concerts, and I distinctly remember myself and others complaining and praising at will at those gauche moments. :roll:
You were/are a DeadHead!? :D :D :D

You and Henry should exchange stories. ;)
No, I've never been to a single one, or any rock concert, but I had to adopt a persona to make my point. :) There is a lot going on with this topic, but IMO one will get nowhere comparing the concert experience of 1800 with any concert experience of our time. It was not a modern classical experience, and the popular concert experience has no real analogue from that earlier time. And there I'll stop for now.

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

IcedNote
Posts: 2963
Joined: Tue Apr 04, 2006 5:24 pm
Location: NYC

Re: The Awfulness of Classical Music Explained

Post by IcedNote » Tue May 29, 2012 4:06 pm

jbuck919 wrote:No, I've never been to a single one, or any rock concert...
:shock:
jbuck919 wrote:...but I had to adopt a persona to make my point. :)
:x

-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

bigshot
Posts: 405
Joined: Mon Nov 21, 2011 10:23 pm

Re: The Awfulness of Classical Music Explained

Post by bigshot » Tue May 29, 2012 4:21 pm

They heckle batters to get them to strike out at ball games. Why not do that with conductors of out of town orchestras too?

josé echenique
Posts: 2521
Joined: Sun Jan 03, 2010 10:01 am

Re: The Awfulness of Classical Music Explained

Post by josé echenique » Tue May 29, 2012 8:34 pm

<One step therefore we might take to make classical music less boring again is simply for audiences to quit being so blasted reverential.>

So, we should take our cue from the audiences in American Idol?
Whenever a singer reaches a high note they applaud like crazy, we also applaud like crazy after a high C but NOT in the middle of an aria, I think that´s an improvement.
I don´t mind seeing people in flip flops or jeans in concerts, but I wouldn´t like at all to hear noise or whatever in the middle of a Bruckner symphony. I think we´d better leave it like it is.

John F
Posts: 21076
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Re: The Awfulness of Classical Music Explained

Post by John F » Wed May 30, 2012 4:09 am

Last year Richard Dare became CEO of the Brooklyn Philharmonic, which is little known outside New York City but was once a significant player in our music scene. From 1971 to 2004 its artistic directors were Lukas Foss, Dennis Russell Davies, and Robert Spano, and as this lineup suggests, new American classical music was then a significant part of its repertoire and its mission. In those days it repeatedly earned ASCAP awards for innovative programming.

After 2005, when its association with the Brooklyn Academy of Music ended, the orchestra has clung to life but is hardly even a shadow of its former self. As Wikipedia sums it up, "for the most part it 'evaporated . . to a trickle of community-oriented chamber-music events' around Brooklyn. With the hiring of a new director, the Philharmonic 'intends to establish enduring bases throughout the borough.' The Philharmonic now performs at the Brooklyn Public Library in the 189 seat Stevan Dweck Center for Contemporary Culture as well as in the Brooklyn Museum in the 460 seat Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Auditorium. In 2010, it was 'squeezed financially out of BAM' altogether. As of 2011, it has plans to focus on Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brighton Beach and downtown Brooklyn."

What does this mean? In the opening concert of the 2011-12 season, under the new chief conductor Alan Pierson, "members of the orchestra will collaborate with the prominent hip-hop artist Mos Def." The 30-minute concert was given "on a stage set up in the middle of Fulton Street in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, part of the Restoration Rocks Music Festival. The A and C trains rumbled underground; sirens and car horns sounded... There were stretches ... in which the crowd was virtually silenced." Presumably it was not silent for rather longer stretches.

The orchestra's current leadership clearly believes in moving the Philharmonic artistically to where its audience of the moment is, rather than trying to move that audience to where classical music is. This may enable what's left of the orchestra to survive and continue employing some players, but of course it has little to do with classical music.

Which evidently doesn't trouble Richard Dare, a California "investment strategist" with no previous experience with the operations of an orchestra and little connection with New York (his wife's a grad student at Columbia). He and Pierson have just begun doing what they're doing, and the future of their orchestra remains deeply in doubt, not just whether the orchestra will continue to exist but whether its activities are relevant to classical music in any meaningful way. Under the circumstances, Dare really has no business issuing manifestos about classical music and its audience like the one in the Huffington Post. Who does he think he's talking to? For that matter, who does he think he is? But there it is nonetheless.
John Francis

Ricordanza
Posts: 2009
Joined: Sun Jun 26, 2005 4:58 am
Location: Southern New Jersey, USA

Re: The Awfulness of Classical Music Explained

Post by Ricordanza » Wed May 30, 2012 5:52 am

John F wrote:The orchestra's current leadership clearly believes in moving the Philharmonic artistically to where its audience of the moment is, rather than trying to move that audience to where classical music is. This may enable what's left of the orchestra to survive and continue employing some players, but of course it has little to do with classical music.
Thanks for the background info, John. That explains much of what Dare says. I can think of at least a couple of additional problems with what Dare proposes. First, while I may react audibly and visibly to something I hear in the middle of a performance, my neighbor may react to something else at a time when I want to hear just the music, not my neighbor. My neighbor, however, was probably annoyed at my reaction. The result is mutual frustration, and both my neighbor and I are less likely to attend the next concert. Secondly, audible and visible audience reaction may be specifically counter to the performer's intent. I recall a Philadelphia Orchestra concert a couple of years ago where, prior to performing Tchaikovsky 6, Yannick N-S (then a guest conductor) urged the audience to refrain from applause between the thrid and fourth movements. More recently, as I reported regarding Andras Schiff's May 8 recital, he deliberately played the entire first half without pausing for applause between any of the 45 short pieces he played.

diegobueno
Winds Specialist
Posts: 2552
Joined: Thu Apr 07, 2005 2:26 pm
Contact:

Re: The Awfulness of Classical Music Explained

Post by diegobueno » Wed May 30, 2012 7:40 am

Perhaps it's time to tell people like Richard Dare to bug off and quit trying to turn classical music events into something they're not.
Black lives matter.

John F
Posts: 21076
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Re: The Awfulness of Classical Music Explained

Post by John F » Sat Jun 09, 2012 2:48 am

June is a dead spot in New York City's classical music calendar, except for some New York Philharmonic concerts, so Daniel Wakin of the New York Times has belatedly given Dare's piece another life, no doubt prompted by Dare's follow-up column for the Huffington Post, "The Danger of Writing About Music." That's in the next post.


June 8, 2012
A Loud Call for Cheering at Classical Concert Halls
By DANIEL J. WAKIN

It is a grim vision of the classical music concert: a sea of hollow-eyed faces in the dark, shushing the slightest peep during boring evenings stifled by ritual. The antidote? Audience members should be able to laugh, to clap in midperformance and to whoop with joy, if so moved. That would make classical music less boring and less awful, less a “musical North Korea.”

Such is the vision laid out in a recent article in The Huffington Post, “The Awfulness of Classical Music Explained.” The writer is not an angry young pop star, not a pierced-and-tattooed rebel, not even a frustrated contemporary composer. He is the chief executive and managing director of the 155-year-old Brooklyn Philharmonic.

The executive, Richard Dare, an international investment strategist who took charge of the orchestra a year ago for his first foray into the nonprofit world, sounded his iconoclastic clarion before the orchestra’s concert Saturday evening at Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Plaza in Brooklyn.

It was the latest salvo in a longstanding discussion among classical music presenters, performers, composers and audience members about standard concertgoing etiquette — don’t clap between movements; stay quiet; sit still; dress nicely — and whether it turns off potential listeners. The discussion is part of a larger one about the perception that classical music audiences are declining, aging and not being replenished, and whether loosening up the experience would help solve those problems.

Mr. Dare’s article generated a vigorous response, including nearly 400 comments. Responders said they would resent the intrusion of noisy reactions and suggested that if Mr. Dare wanted to act that way, he could do it at home to recordings. Some compared making noise during concerts to splattering paint on a masterpiece canvas. Some denounced him personally. Others praised his tilt at what they called stifling ritualism and alienating elitism in the concert hall.

Mr. Dare said in an interview that many critics had missed his point: a case he made in a follow-up piece in The Huffington Post, dated Thursday. “I don’t want bedlam to break out,” he said by telephone. “I’m not at all suggesting I want people to yell and scream and clap” while music is played. “I’m keenly interested in not dismantling the experience we have now. I’m interested in making it relevant to more people.”

He said he was trying to put the reader in the mind of an intimidated outsider new to the concert experience and provoke discussion about how to make it more connected. “I’m a pretty introverted guy,” Mr. Dare said. “I would probably be the last guy to stand up and clap or scream at something.”

Alan Pierson, the Philharmonic’s artistic director and the man who would have to experience audience reaction while standing on the podium, spoke carefully in a telephone interview. “It very much depends on the context,” he said of the appropriateness of midperformance reaction. He was mainly interested in “making an experience of orchestral music something that is as deeply and completely engaging as possible,”“If it leads to moments when people respond in performance, that would be great.” But he added: “It would be very weird if I went up in front of an audience and said I want everybody to express themselves. That feels very forced to me. That’s still against our experience of classical music.”

The Brooklyn Philharmonic, after severe financial troubles, has sought to reinvent itself as a new kind of musical organization, one that takes music to the people. It collaborates with hip-hop artists in Bedford-Stuyvesant, plays old Soviet cartoon music for Russian audiences in Brighton Beach and reinterprets Beethoven’s symphonies. The programs are imaginative and eclectic, and because standard concert halls are too expensive, it finds new and unusual places to play.

Mr. Dare said things were not always so staid, pointing to 19th-century accounts of audience members reacting vociferously during performances. Mr. Dare’s initial article described his own disappointment at not being able to react spontaneously in a concert hall, to “clap when clapping felt needed, laugh when it was funny, shout when I couldn’t contain the joy building up inside myself.” He called on audiences to “allow ourselves to react to classical music with our hearts just as we do when we meet other forms of art.”

Despite their chief executive’s views, noisy audience reactions do not sit well with some Brooklyn Philharmonic players. “I think he really missed the mark,” said Gail Kruvand, a double bassist in the orchestra. (She applauded Mr. Dare for taking on leadership of the troubled Philharmonic and for his business success.)

A good concert “takes you to another place,” Ms. Kruvand said, a spiritual realm outside of “mundane life.” “It’s magical,” she added. “To have people in the audience yelling out, after a solo, it breaks that spell. I don’t think that’s what concert music is about.” Of Mr. Dare, she said, “I wonder how many concerts he’s gone to where he’s experienced that magic, with 2,000 other people spellbound.”

Robert Spano, the music director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra who once held that position at the Brooklyn Philharmonic, defends the need for audiences to keep silent and listen attentively in the concert hall. “Everybody’s experience depends on a willingness to do that,” Mr. Spano said in an interview. “That’s the precious thing about classical music. If we do anything to violate that, we’re not nurturing the art form in the way that we cherish it. For people for whom it’s difficult to sit still and be quiet, I don’t think classical music is for them.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/09/arts/ ... ances.html
Last edited by John F on Sat Jun 09, 2012 3:00 am, edited 1 time in total.
John Francis

John F
Posts: 21076
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Re: The Awfulness of Classical Music Explained

Post by John F » Sat Jun 09, 2012 2:58 am

Richard Dare again, raising the ante. His disdain for those who already love classical music and support its performance stands out even more strongly, understandably, since they aren't supporting his own orchestra very well.

The Danger of Writing About Music
Richard Dare
Posted: 06/07/2012 5:04 pm

There's a tiny boil of anger heating up just just beneath the surface in the classical music world, a boil just begging to be lanced. Witness, as exhibit A, the partly hysterical responses to my most recent post about classical music.

I had postulated a very simple thing, after which I asked a single unadorned question:

My postulate was merely that the concert experience we enjoy today has not always been the same as we find it now. And to illustrate that claim, I cited several primary and secondary sources from a much larger body of literature that provides supporting evidence. This hardly seemed controversial.

At that point, I asked my fellow readers what still seems to me to be a useful question: "Are there any things we can do to improve the concert experience to make it more connective to a greater body of people in our time and our place?"

What followed was a veritable tsunami of bottled up... well something.

The usual suspects were present, of course. They began, naturally, with our old friend, the ad hominem ("Dare doesn't know what he's talking about," "must be a horrible fellow," "a real trouble maker") which of course were entirely unresponsive to the question that had been posed.

Then from there, a hapless gaggle of writers took the predictable straw man approach ("he wants us to clap between every movement," "it'll be chaos," "talking everywhere," "cell phones going off, texting," "we'll be buried in a tidal wave of candy wrappers," "soon fist fights will be breaking out.") None of this, of course, had anything to do with what I actually wrote.

A great many of the comments, to be fair, were enflamed more by other commenters, egging one another on like villagers with torches and pitchforks, ready to drive the dangerous Frankenstein monster from their midst, than they were by anything material in my essay. That is all fine and good. It is part and parcel of the delicious new democracy the Internet is allowing us to create together.

As the chatter wore on though, increasingly thoughtful people began to enter the discussion, some making cases extolling the value of silence, contemplation and attention paying. By and large, by the way, I agreed with those folks, except of course for the uglier strain of that theme that took the form of "I'm not here for the audience, I'm here for me." Well, good luck in the future with that plan.

In case it settles down the more jumpy music lovers in our midst, by the way, I will disclose that I personally enjoy sitting in meditative silence during the many concerts I attend, and I probably always will. I'm introverted when it comes to listening to music. But that's mostly because I have been trained to behave in that manner. I have nothing against my own traditions, nor have I arrived on the scene to spoil anyone else's quietude, you may rest assured. But I believe we must consider our situation from outside our mere personal needs if we are to give music the hearing it actually deserves.

The harsh truths revealed by the sheer weight of the numbers pressing down upon the orchestra world in Western countries, in fact, force us to engage a larger frame of reference:

The world's population is growing by leaps and bounds, and yet at the same time live classical concert attendance (particularly in America) is shrinking considerably. If we continue then moving rigidly in the direction we are now being led by our own possibly angry (if outwardly rather dignified) intentions, we shall all have our precious silence in abundance quite soon. Too much silence. Nothing but silence. No music. No performances. Just emptiness.

The Way to a Better Future

That dismal fate, however, need not be the final coda we perform together unless we are collectively stupid enough to let the current trends continue on their merry way, inch by inch, little by little. Indeed, the NEA estimates there are today still a whopping 234 million intelligent, beautiful, worthy people living in our country who almost never attend classical concerts. And those are the good folks I was thinking about when I wrote my prior article, and about whom I continue to think now.

That is one of the things leaders do: try to imagine what the experience of those they serve might be like, reimagine things, try to find new ways to connect the best of the old with the best of the new.

If classical music is so valuable (and I believe it is) then we ought to be eager to share its joys with those not "in the club" yet, so to speak. In spite of those who quibbled with the title of my last piece, I still believe not sharing something as wonderful as what we have in music is indeed "awfulness" -- and even worse would be not even wanting to share it with others because they might be a bother to us.

Ultimately, shouldn't everyone to have the opportunity to experience what we love so much about the classical music world? Don't we want them all to sing, to dance, to listen, to laugh, to cry, and to become freer by the power of music, if they are willing?

New Rules, Same Outcome

I was interested by a book I read last year that had nothing at all to do with music, Racism without Racists, by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva. The essential thesis was that although overt racism has fallen out of fashion in America, de facto discrimination nevertheless continues unabated in new more subtle forms between in and out groups within our society. Having made this bold claim, the author then struggles for several hundred pages to find ways to overcome the lag.

For our purposes, the book's argument is, I believe, germane to other areas as well. To a large extent, the author's thesis may be similarly applied to various aspects of gender inequality, diversity in sexual orientations, class distinctions, and some of the more isolating behaviors of political factionism -- anywhere, in fact, in which an "other" may be defined and then easily set aside or gotten rid of. These issues impact our nation every day. And we should be careful not to allow this insidious pattern to embed itself into our musical life too. Music should rather bind us together, it should connect us.

The Danger of Music

Closer to home, I am reminded of Richard Taruskin's most recent book, The Danger of Music and Other Anti-Uptopian Essays which is my favorite from among his many challenging tomes, all of which I have eagerly devoured. To read the preface alone, is to be forever changed: "Utopianism always entails a body count" he gravely begins.

I remember reading this line the first time, and aside from being wholly gobsmacked by Taruskin's formidable intellect, I was initially a bit confused by his caution against utopianism. Utopia is a "good" idea, isn't it? I thought it's what we wanted to achieve?

But "what utopians envision is not a better world. It is a perfect world," he explains. "And that is what makes them dangerous, because if perfection is the aim, and compromise taboo, there will always be a shortfall to correct -- a human shortfall." Now his meaning began to become clear to me. "And if you or I really believe we have the means of perfecting the world, you may feel justified in doing away with me, or I with you."

Then, lest we miss the connection to music he is suggesting, Taruskin concludes, "Incremental progress is the best defense against the blandishments of utopian thinking. Those who believe in human progress without believing in perfectibility will seek the best for their fellow human beings without being tempted to enslave them. The narcissistic contempt for what is attainable resembles the contempt so many music critics entertain toward musicians who try to write good music (not "great music") and give good performances (not "great performances") and who define the good in terms that relate to their actual, real-world audiences. There is the nexus between political utopianism and the kind that infests the world of classical music, and there is my reason for so passionately opposing the latter, even in the absence of a body count. For there are casualties even so, and the main one has been the toll utopianism has taken on the value of classical music to and in contemporary culture."

Make of Dr. Taruskin's invocation what you will. I, for one, agree with him completely.

And moreover I believe the declining classical music attendance numbers and broken budgets and ever weakening support for our art form nationwide are partly the result of not heeding his warning against the danger of trying only to protect the ideal, the already known and complete, rather than also creating the new together in joyful experimentation which is at the heart of nearly all music.

And that is why I have and continue to encourage us to think ever more deeply here about ways we can improve the situation.

If the concert experience we have now is the best that can be had, then so be it. But if we can devise even more ways to connect our beloved music ever more meaningfully with new audiences, why not give it a try?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/richard-d ... 75445.html
John Francis

lennygoran
Posts: 16271
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2007 9:28 pm
Location: new york city

Re: The Awfulness of Classical Music Explained

Post by lennygoran » Sat Jun 09, 2012 7:42 am

jbuck919 wrote: rock concert,
Never went to a rock concert but I grew up on rock and roll music--the Dell Vikings and Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers--Why Do Fools Fall In Love. And I really enjoyed Broadway's Jersey Boys all about The Four Seasons! Regards, Len :)

jbuck919
Military Band Specialist
Posts: 26867
Joined: Wed Jan 28, 2004 10:15 pm
Location: Stony Creek, New York

Re: The Awfulness of Classical Music Explained

Post by jbuck919 » Sat Jun 09, 2012 9:20 pm

lennygoran wrote:
jbuck919 wrote: rock concert,
Never went to a rock concert but I grew up on rock and roll music--the Dell Vikings and Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers--Why Do Fools Fall In Love. And I really enjoyed Broadway's Jersey Boys all about The Four Seasons! Regards, Len :)
You have just a few years on me, but the few years' difference is the difference between fun rock and hard rock, not that I could have imagined ever standing a live concert of such stuff either way.

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

lennygoran
Posts: 16271
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2007 9:28 pm
Location: new york city

Re: The Awfulness of Classical Music Explained

Post by lennygoran » Sun Jun 10, 2012 5:34 am

jbuck919 wrote:
lennygoran wrote:
jbuck919 wrote: rock concert,
Never went to a rock concert but I grew up on rock and roll music--the Dell Vikings and Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers--Why Do Fools Fall In Love. And I really enjoyed Broadway's Jersey Boys all about The Four Seasons! Regards, Len :)
You have just a few years on me, but the few years' difference is the difference between fun rock and hard rock, not that I could have imagined ever standing a live concert of such stuff either way.
Hard rock is not my cup of tea! Len

Chalkperson
Disposable Income Specialist
Posts: 17669
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2007 1:19 pm
Location: New York City
Contact:

Re: The Awfulness of Classical Music Explained

Post by Chalkperson » Sun Jun 10, 2012 12:32 pm

lennygoran wrote:Hard rock is not my cup of tea! Len
Lenny likes Hard Opera!

Meyerbeer sure is Hard Opera to like... :mrgreen:
Sent via Twitter by @chalkperson

lennygoran
Posts: 16271
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2007 9:28 pm
Location: new york city

Re: The Awfulness of Classical Music Explained

Post by lennygoran » Mon Jun 11, 2012 7:46 am

Chalkperson wrote:

Meyerbeer sure is Hard Opera to like... :mrgreen:
LOL! Really Meyerbeer couldn't be easier--now if only they performed his work more often! Regards, Len :)

John F
Posts: 21076
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Re: The Awfulness of Classical Music Explained

Post by John F » Wed Jun 13, 2012 2:54 am

Talk about awfulness! Words fail me.

Bridging Past, Present and Future
Brooklyn Philharmonic Sets Out on Ambitious New Programs
By ZACHARY WOOLFE
Published: June 10, 2012

This season the Brooklyn Philharmonic, revived from the dead, traveled to three of the borough’s communities with tailor-made concert series. In October the orchestra took Russian cartoon music to Brighton Beach and in March, an ambitious program full of premieres to Downtown Brooklyn, a new-music epicenter as of late. And on Saturday evening it closed the inaugural season of its new era under the artistic director Alan Pierson with a stimulating, entertaining outdoor concert at the Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Plaza, an evening that connected the Philharmonic’s origins to its future.

Beethoven was an even more central touchstone to an orchestra in the mid-19th century, when the Philharmonic was founded, than he is today, and the concert was organized around demonstrations of his continued influence and power. Associated with the Philharmonic’s Bedford-Stuyvesant concert series, this season included the Beethoven Remix Project, which asked D.J.’s and musicians from around Brooklyn to propose new versions of the finale of the Third Symphony.

The submissions were whittled down to five finalists: a varied, impressive lot, including a careening, surreal take from Andrew McLean and a menacing number from Boima Tucker, infused with tribal beats. The orchestra ended up selecting “Ill Harmonic,” an exuberant if relatively conservative remix by DJ Eddie Marz (Darryl Small) that lets in short snippets of the Beethoven original amid dark, bass-heavy riffs that capture the finale’s relentless muscularity. Arranged by the rising composer Andrew Norman, who lives in Bedford-Stuyvesant, it commanded attention, as did the orchestra’s resiny rendition of the original, which had tender moments and coiled tension in the lead-up to the closing measures.

This was clear, extroverted playing, so it wasn’t as startling as it might have been when the program shifted to Leslie Uggams’s big-boned renditions of four songs that were hits for the great Lena Horne, a Bedford-Stuyvesant native. Ms. Uggams’s “Stormy Weather” wasn’t much interested in melancholy or subtlety, but it did have an infectiously brassy sheen.

Another Bedford-Stuyvesant native, the hip-hop artist Yasiin Bey (formerly known as Mos Def), has been the orchestra’s artist in residence this year. He performed the solo part in a blistering rendition of Frederic Rzewski’s “Coming Together” in October. Here he joined the Philharmonic in arrangements of his own songs, as well as a brilliant, alternately driving and sinuous arrangement of David Herman’s “Something Spiritual.” Then Mr. Bey brought it all back to Beethoven, rapping over the somber Allegretto from the Seventh Symphony before launching into the exuberant hip-hop track “Casa Bey.”

The Philharmonic’s peripatetic season was a result of its lack of a permanent home. (It was once based at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.) But led by Mr. Pierson, along with its chief executive, Richard Dare, and an adventurous board, it has turned that weakness into an advantage, responding to the histories and needs of its audiences in a way that has been truly inspiring.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/11/arts/ ... grams.html
John Francis

Ken
Posts: 2511
Joined: Thu May 04, 2006 6:17 am
Location: Düsseldorf, Nordrhein-Westfalen

Re: The Awfulness of Classical Music Explained

Post by Ken » Wed Jun 13, 2012 4:24 am

Mos Def is a fantastic, very talented musician and lyricist. I'm not tremendously fond of crossovers, but, having also grown up with hip-hop, am not one to immediately shun these types of efforts. Sometimes the results of such experimentation are musically quite interesting. Although these efforts sometimes seem cheesy and often futile, they really can be a way of exposing a completely different target group to classical music.
Du sollst schlechte Compositionen weder spielen, noch, wenn du nicht dazu gezwungen bist, sie anhören.

lennygoran
Posts: 16271
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2007 9:28 pm
Location: new york city

Re: The Awfulness of Classical Music Explained

Post by lennygoran » Wed Jun 13, 2012 7:30 am

John F wrote:Talk about awfulness! Words fail me.
My poor growing up place Brooklyn. :( Well at least they haven't screwed up the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens yet! Regards, Len

Image

IcedNote
Posts: 2963
Joined: Tue Apr 04, 2006 5:24 pm
Location: NYC

Re: The Awfulness of Classical Music Explained

Post by IcedNote » Wed Jun 13, 2012 10:35 am

Ken wrote:Mos Def is a fantastic, very talented musician and lyricist. I'm not tremendously fond of crossovers, but, having also grown up with hip-hop, am not one to immediately shun these types of efforts. Sometimes the results of such experimentation are musically quite interesting. Although these efforts sometimes seem cheesy and often futile, they really can be a way of exposing a completely different target group to classical music.
Agreed...with everything you say. His work with Talib Kweli in Black Star is second to none. And while crossovers are hit-or-miss, they're worth trying.

-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

jbuck919
Military Band Specialist
Posts: 26867
Joined: Wed Jan 28, 2004 10:15 pm
Location: Stony Creek, New York

Re: The Awfulness of Classical Music Explained

Post by jbuck919 » Wed Jun 13, 2012 1:57 pm

This season the Brooklyn Philharmonic, revived from the dead,
As in Night of the Living Dead, or perhaps Dracula.

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

John F
Posts: 21076
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Re: The Awfulness of Classical Music Explained

Post by John F » Wed Jun 13, 2012 2:04 pm

C'est magnifique, peut-etre, mais ce n'est pas la Philharmonique.
John Francis

lennygoran
Posts: 16271
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2007 9:28 pm
Location: new york city

Re: The Awfulness of Classical Music Explained

Post by lennygoran » Thu Jun 14, 2012 5:24 am

John F wrote:C'est magnifique, peut-etre, mais ce n'est pas la Philharmonique.
Thank goodness for google translate! Regards, Len :)

John F
Posts: 21076
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Re: The Awfulness of Classical Music Explained

Post by John F » Thu Jun 14, 2012 6:00 am

You never heard the famous quotation, "C'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas la guerre"? Google that one.
John Francis

lennygoran
Posts: 16271
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2007 9:28 pm
Location: new york city

Re: The Awfulness of Classical Music Explained

Post by lennygoran » Thu Jun 14, 2012 6:37 am

John F wrote:You never heard the famous quotation, "C'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas la guerre"? Google that one.
No I'm not familiar with it. :oops: Also it doesn't make sense to me--is war supposed to be so good? "It's beautiful, but it is not war" Why all this French stuff--can't you talk Brooklynese!

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.p ... rooklynese

Regards, Len :)

John F
Posts: 21076
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Re: The Awfulness of Classical Music Explained

Post by John F » Thu Jun 14, 2012 7:44 am

Did you Google the expression? It makes perfect sense in its original context, and it's a useful saying in other contexts as well.
John Francis

lennygoran
Posts: 16271
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2007 9:28 pm
Location: new york city

Re: The Awfulness of Classical Music Explained

Post by lennygoran » Thu Jun 14, 2012 7:52 am

John F wrote:Did you Google the expression? It makes perfect sense in its original context, and it's a useful saying in other contexts as well.
I just googled the translation--now I've gone back and googled the expression itself--I see the quotation is longer than what you presented if I have that right--now it makes sense to me:

"Bosquet uttered the memorable line, referring to the Charge of the Light Brigade, C’est magnifique, mais ce n’est pas la guerre: c'est de la folie ("It is magnificent, but it is not war: it is madness").

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierre_Bosquet

Regards, Len

John F
Posts: 21076
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Re: The Awfulness of Classical Music Explained

Post by John F » Thu Jun 14, 2012 9:58 am

The marshal may have said that last phrase (he was wrong, incidentally) but it isn't part of the quotation as people have used it ever since. The sense of the quotation is that whatever virtue something may have, it's perverse and wrong. What was magnificent about the charge of the light brigade was the courage and disciplined persistence of the cavalry in the face of defeat and death, but since the purpose of war is to win, the charge was contrary to its mission and what war is all about.

I said the marshal was wrong. Sending the light brigade into combat wasn't the result of madness but of a miscalculation, as the Wikipedia article explains; "someone had blundered," Tennyson says in his poem. The marshal would have done better to stop where the the rest of the world always has, and where I did. And the point of my remark is that Mos Def may be as good as some here say - I wouldn't know - but what he does is contrary to a philharmonic orchestra's mission and what it is all about.

(I thought the marshal's quotable quote was common knowledge, or I wouldn't have played off it. Clearly I was wrong.)
John Francis

lennygoran
Posts: 16271
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2007 9:28 pm
Location: new york city

Re: The Awfulness of Classical Music Explained

Post by lennygoran » Thu Jun 14, 2012 10:15 am

John F wrote:And the point of my remark is that Mos Def may be as good as some here say - I wouldn't know - but what he does is contrary to a philharmonic orchestra's mission and what it is all about. (I thought the marshal's quotable quote was common knowledge, or I wouldn't have played off it. Clearly I was wrong.)
Thanks for the explanation--I won't be at the philharmonic for any of the cross over music--learning new music of more classical people like Shostakovich, Mercadante :) , Gomes :) Donizetti :) Meyerbeer :) Stravinsky Janacek, etc--that's good enough for me. On the quote not having heard it shows again how limited my knowledge is--so much to discover and so little time! :( Regards, Len

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 86 guests