Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Maxwell Davies rages at musical garbage

What it adds up to is the rampant anti-intellectualism that I found Sir Peter Maxwell Davies (left) raging against, when I visited him at the Royal Academy of Music. The Master of the Queen's Music has just been listening to David Cameron's Desert Island Discs choice on BBC Radio 4, and he's not amused. "In any other European country," he says, "a politician who chose that sort of garbage would be laughed out of court. The anti-artistic stance of our leaders gets up my nose. Their main aim is to turn us all into unquestioning passive consumers who put money into the bosses' pockets. That is now the purpose of education."

From an excellent article by Michael Church in The Independent.

David Cameron is the leader of the Conservative Party, and here is the music he chose. Max raged about it - do you think it is garbage?

1. Tangled Up In Blue, Bob Dylan, CBS 26334
2. Ernie, Benny Hill, EMI CDGO 2040
3. Wish You Were Here, Pink Floyd, EMI 536112
4. On Wings of Song, Mendelssohn, Kiri Te Kanawa and Utah Symphony Orchestra
Decca 475 6013
5. Fake Plastic Trees, Radiohead, Parlophone CDRS6411
6. This Charming Man, Smiths, WEA, YZ000ICD2
7. Perfect Circle, R.E.M, I.R.S.DMIRHI
8. All these Things that I've Done, The Killers, Lizard King,Lizard012

Book:The River Cottage Cookbook by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Luxury: A crate of Scottish whisky.

Hopefully not musical garbage is Max's new composition A Little Birthday Music which is being premiered at tonight's BBC Prom with birthday girl Queen Elizabeth in the audience, listen to it via this link.

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A musician with teeth

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well, I guess some people think that the post-industrial "creative class" is supposed to be "one big tent" and should embrace producers and consumers of both classical music and lizard music -- (whatever that is).

From your Conservative Pary link:
"Born in October 1966, David has worked at a high level in both business and Government. He spent almost seven years at Carlton Communications plc, one of the UK's leading media companies, where he was Director of Corporate Affairs and served on the Executive Board.

Before joining Carlton, he worked as a Special Adviser, first to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and then to the Home Secretary, working closely with Ministers on major legislation, budgets and spending rounds.

David is married to Samantha, who is the Creative Director of Smythsons of Bond Street. They have homes in West Oxfordshire and London and have three children."

Berend de Boer said...

As I suppose the taxpayer foots the Proms bill, why not give the taxpayers what they want?

I mean let's not fool ourselves, this is not a case where someone has to produce something that others like. It's socialism, so you get paid no matter what you do, no matter what the results are, and no matter if anyone listens.

Government interference will make anything worse and classical music isn't an exception on that.

Berend de Boer said...

On David Cameron: what schools has he been to? State schools?

Berend de Boer said...

Heh, educated at Eton and Oxford. There goes the reputation of these schools.

On the other hand, it wouldn't surprise me of his selection was carefully tested for its response on the widest possible audience. There aren't many authentic politicians left on the conservative side. Even this neocon would vote for Tony.

Pliable said...

Berend, your last comment is the most perceptive.

The Conservative Party and David Cameron's 'comeback' (not difficult when the opposition is Tony Blair) has been masterminded by an Australian spin doctor Lynton Crosby.

Garbage or not, David Cameron's music choices are definitely dysfunctional. When I saw them I too suspected they were the work of focus groups, not David Cameron.

Berend de Boer said...

Heh, just heard Rush Limbaugh mentioning a song of Bob Dylan. The answer to what you would take to an island (he used it for another example) was given by a song of Bob Dylan in which he sang something like "was blowing in the polls".

Not sure if there is such a song, but if there was it would be quite applicable.

sfmike said...

Though none of the artists are particular favorites of mine, people whose musical taste I totally respect adore Dylan, Radiohead, R.E.M., Pink Floyd and the Smiths.

And I believe Cameron was pulling everyone's leg with the Benny Hill choice (though personally I will never get over the genius of Mr. Hill playing Farrah-Fawcett Majors in her "Charlie's Angels" days with an implacable look of self-satisfaction).

Interesting that the only classical selection would include the Divine Kiri who warbled at The Wedding.

And Cameron may actually be serious. I put together a music compilation for a retirement party for the CEO of a major United States bank once, and was given his three favorite albums: a Willie Nelson disc, a terrible recording of "La Boheme," and a group of mock-Gaelic ditties from some Irish film soundtrack. It was fairly horrendous (and amusing) mixing all three together.

Horace Dunn said...

It's true that Cameron's selection is that of man with very little genuine appreciation of music. I can't believe that it's the work of a focus group. I mean to say: WHO exactly are they focusing on?

I would be inclined to side with Peter Maxwell-Davis in lamenting the anti-intellectual posturing of the political class, but this nonsense about turning us all into consumers and "lining their bosses pockets" is just plain stupid. This is the vacuous rhetoric of the paranoid anti-globalisation crowd. It seems that there's not much difference between Maxwell-Davis's intellectual posturing and the anti-intellectual posturing he derides. What a silly man.

Berend de Boer said...

Yes, good points Horace. On that focus group: see the response of sfmike. Cameron's choice reads like the choice of someone who likes to have the appearance of having musical taste.

"Return to Sender" performed by Elvis can be really appreciated by a love sick teenager, but if that is still your favorite music when you're leader of the Conservative Party, you have to question how much these people have actually grown up.

Choosing music in order to appear to have taste is quite sad. Choosing music which has touched you or said something to you is more revealing. It changes with time. You cannot have grown up and still feel touched by "Return to Sender". Let alone with "Fake Plastic Trees".

Henry Holland said...

You cannot have grown up and still feel touched by "Return to Sender". Let alone with "Fake Plastic Trees"

Excuse me? I love Radiohead, I love that song and its feeling of loneliness and despair, I'm 47, so according to you, I'm not "grown up". What's the British phrase I'm looking for....hmmmm...right, got it:

What a load of total fucking bollocks.

I'm a Yank so I don't know the minute details of the political scene in Britain, but even if Mr. Cameron is pandering like there's no tomorrow, I wouldn't have a problem listening to a mix CD of those songs. The Dylan is one of my favorite of his, the Floyd is topical with the recent death of Syd and is a terrific song to boot and the REM song is a really beautiful ballad. As for the glorious Smiths, they need no apology.

Maxwell-Davies is an idiot on this issue, for me at least. I can't believe that "you must listen to craggy post-modernist orchestral music to be considered cultured or intellectual" attitude isn't roundly mocked these days, and I say as that a lover of Birtwistle, Boulez, Reimann, Ferneyhough and so on. For Maxwell-Davies, composer of that piece of trash Mavis in Vegas to have a pop at anyone's taste is risible and hypocritical in the extreme.