Monday, October 22, 2007

Now playing - the Hallelujah Chorus


'Hang on a minute, and take a deep breath. Now take another. The Rest Is Noise is a great book, with loads of insights and a unique way of joining musical history to cultural history to political history, and I've said so. Ross is an exceptional writer, and his blog is the hub for a great deal of classical activity on the web and in the blogosphere. But "He is the answer to all the lamentations about who will build the new audiences"?

No one can live up to that, not even SuperAlex. It's a bit of a conceptual leap to believe that people with only a passing interest in classical music up till now will become avid concertgoers, or even occasional concertgoers, once they've read The Rest Is Noise.'


Thank you Marc Geelhoed.

Picture credit Northeastern State University. My preferred version of the Messiah is Christopher Hogwood's with the Academy of Ancient Music and Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, but it is now deleted I fear. Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Report broken links, missing images and other errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk

2 comments:

Garth Trinkl said...

Having just last night skimmed the last two dozen pages of Mr Ross's book (after a live concert at the Library of Congress where the average concert-goer age seemed to have risen back up into the high 50's), I too -- with pliable -- second Marc Geelhoed's comment.

Already, I respect Mr Ross's cultural sweep; and I look forward to a complete reading more, perhaps, than I looked forward to (incomplete) readings of John Rockwell's twenty year-old "All American Music: Composition in the Late Twentieth Century" or Kyle Gann's about ten year- old "American Music in the 20th Century".

But again, I don't see how the excited appeals for the classical music world to embrace Bjork, Aphex Twin, Sonic Youth and Brian Eno translate into new audiences for the Bartok Violin Concerto #2 with Midori or John Adams's 'Guide to Strange Places' (to cite two recent performances at the Kennedy Center which drew less than reasonably full houses and less than representative samplings of persons under the age of 50) -- much less audiences for Birtwistle's 'Earth Dances', 'Panic', or 'The Minotaur' (to cite a composer largely overlooked by Mr Ross, at least according to his book's fine print index).

I do see that Mr Ross's mention of Austrian composer Georg Friedrich Haas's "in vain", on the Kairos label, has driven that work into the nether reaches of "back-order" with Amazon's one copy, from a secondary dealer, being offered at three times the fair-market value for the newer work. (Perhaps tens of thousands of copies of Mr Haas's 'spectralist' 65 minute (or 75 minute?) "in vain" are being downloaded from somewhere unknown to me, or are being distributed in pirated copies).

In sum, I believe that I will find that I learned more about the recent classical musical art form from the final, rather speculative pages of Paul Griffith's 'A Concise History of Western Music' (recommended by pliable) than from the ending pages of either Richard Taruskin's monumental 'Oxford History of Western Music' or Alex Ross's 'The Rest is Noise'.

Elaine Fine said...

The best book I have read concerning 20th century music is Peter Conrad's Modern Times, Modern Places, published in 1998 while the century was still going.

The popularity of Ross' book and the excellent promotion that it has had so far (especially in the wake of Lebrecht's utter failure and defeat) might not actually get people to go to concerts, but it might get some smart people in their thirties who have never had any kind of worthwhile musical education to buy a few recordings of 20th century music. A few might even listen to them.