Monday, March 10, 2008
Views shared by many involved in new music?
johnsonsrambler has left a new comment on your post "A tale of two continents":
Pliable is right, the criticism on Radio 3 had very little to do with Ross's coverage of British music - this was merely a (cheap) ploy by the presenter to get a debate going, but it wasn't bait that either reviewer rose to. Their own concerns - expressed most forcefully by Morag Grant - were that:
1. The book exhibits a remarkable bias towards American music above all else (more words on Copland than Debussy and Ravel combined is the comparison made - not much British flag waving there!)
2. The musical discussion is extremely thin, with most of the book taken up with personal anecdotes about each composer and very little about the notes they composed
3. There is almost nothing on the last 20 or 30 years of music, despite the book purporting to be a survey of the whole of the 20thC
4. Ross's understanding or recent trends in European music is extremely scant, leading him to make generalisations about German music in particular that have little to do with the music that is performed 'on the ground' as it were (this is the source of the Rumsfeld comparison)
This last point is also expressed in the Observer review Pliable links to:
"But Europe's self-destruction is halted just in time by America. ... The new country has a levelling influence on the deified artists who arrive on tour: Strauss gives a concert in a New York department store, Mahler rides on the subway. It all sounds uncomfortably similar to Francis Fukuyama's 'end of history', with the dialectical opposition between left and right resolved in the triumph of liberal democracy and the market economy.
Commenting on Stravinsky's negotiations with Walt Disney and Barnum & Bailey's Circus, Ross hails the United States as 'a marketplace in which absolutely anything can be bought and sold'. At times, his grand narrative paraphrases the messianic imperialism preached by George W Bush. As Ross sees it, Messiaen brings God back to earth during a tour of America's national parks, whose geological radiance he transcribes in From the Canyons to the Stars; Bartok, having migrated from Budapest to Manhattan, plans his Concerto for Orchestra as a 'parting gift to his adopted country - a portrait of democracy in action'. It's a shame that rich America disregarded the offering and left Bartok to die in misery."
These are views that are shared by many involved in new music who have read Ross's book, and it is good to hear this alternative approach to the book in contrast to the gushing praise that has characterised its reception so far.
Posted by johnsonsrambler to On An Overgrown Path at 12:25 PM
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