Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Cautionary tale about cutting through classical music

'There was a very interesting study done once by a psychiatrist called Bruno Bettelheim who did a lot of work with autistic children. This was in the 1960s and, at that time, people were very concerned to have everything politically correct and modernised, civilised and egalitarian. So they started to straighten out the fairy-tales that they were telling the children in the hospital unit where they were working. They re-wrote all the fairy stories - they took out all the violent ogres and witches that ate children's heads, together with all the ghastly unfair, cruel and shocking elements. They dressed them up and made them a little more nice and polite.

They ran this programme for quite a number of years, but there were other centres that they were looking after where they did not use this approach. About twenty years later they made a psychological profile of these different groups of children and they found that the ones that had the sanitised fairy-tales were much more helpless in terms of real life; they were much less able to cope.'
That extract from Ajahn Amaro's Rain on the Nile provides a useful perspective on the current fashion for cutting through classical music. Thankfully ghastly unfair, cruel and shocking elements abound in the 1973 Unicorn LP of Jasca Horenstein conducting Hindemith and Richard Strauss with its glorious Max Ernst art seen above. As I said in a comment on my post Walking the walk with Alma Mahler "Jascha Horenstein was a very fine conductor who, undeservedly, has disappeared from view today".

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