Gestures from a museum?

Incoming New York Philharmonic music director Alan Gilbert divides music into 'museum' or 'laboratory' - meaning 'traditional' or 'contemporary'. I wonder where that puts, for example, The Art of Fugue or Gesualdo's Tenebrae Responsories? Coming to that, not all contemporary music is straight from the laboratory.

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 errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk


Pliable said…
Email received:

I fully agree.

An anecdote

I kindly invited a musical friend to listen to Gesualdos 6th Madrigal Book. I told him , ie made him believe, that the Music actually happened to be present day Finnish classical Music from a rather unknown suomi composer. . He sincerely believed what I said (lied).


My guess is that putting Music into various pigeon holes is a typically male undertaking. Thus : we badly need more women interested in Music theory & the like.

Daniel Wolf said…
You're asking the right questions, especially for contemporary music, most of which played by American orchestras falls firmly into the "school of quietude" category (poet Ron Silliman's term, borrowed from E.A.Poe) rather than experimental.
Henry Holland said…
I actually like the division. I loathe the usual "let's sneak in the new stuff but schedule it with the Beethoven 5th" tactic that's so common. Just concede that there's a division in the audience and play to that; people who think music died with Brahms and Puccini are never going to like post-war modernism, so why bother? I certainly don't want to have to sit through nonsense by Haydn or Brahms to get to the piece by Pintscher or Kyburz or whoever that I paid to come hear.
Pliable said…
Another email:

I attend an awful lot of concerts, all genres.

Age linked comment.

What’s my experience over here in Belgium? Let’s limit ourselves to classical Music, all periods.

- Audiences for classical music till the beginning of the 20th century are the mirror image of the population: all ages are present.

- Audiences for classical Music from the 20th & 2&st century: only +/- old people. And a number of conservatory students.

Strange paradox.

Garth Trinkl said…
Pliable, I read a somewhat older article, by chance, yesterday in the Washington Post that made me think about your discussion point here.

Washington’s relatively new classical music critic Anne Midgette was talking about Ivan Fischer, who will lead the National Symphony for the next two years (while remaining at the Budapest Festival Orchestra) at which time Christoph Eschenbach will take over as music director of both the National Symphony and as the first appointed music director of the Kennedy Center as a whole. (The NSO will be experimenting with an inaugural week of contemporary chamber music next May, guest curated by Oliver Knussen. Like most things involving newer classical music in Washington, the week is modeled upon Oliver Knussen’s earlier residency with the San Francisco Orchestra last year -- or the year before.)

Ms Midgette starts by pointing to the success that European conductors Manfred Honeck and Jaap van Zweden are reported to be having in Pittsburg and Dallas, respectively; and then she rather inexplicably notes that David Robertson in St. Louis and Robert Spano in Atlanta “are not doing as well as they were supposed to.” [I don’t believe that the New Yorker’s Alex Ross believes that Mr Robertson hasn’t been doing well in Saint Louis, or in his guest appearances with the NY Phil and elsewhere.]

The point of her article was, I believe, that she felt that Washington, D.C. had lost a huge opportunity in not being able to coax Ivan Fischer to the NSO; and that Eschenbach, like Rostropovich earlier, would bring deficient baton technique and “occasional musical foible(s)” to Washington, D.C. beginning in 2010.

Pliable, Ivan Fischer has led the past three weeks of the National Symphony Orchestra in the following programs: Mahler’s Symphony #3 (following upon Mahler’s Symphony #2, which I believe was the last program Mr Fischer conducted with the NSO last spring and which I attended); a mixed program of Haydn’s Cello Concerto (the same Haydn cello concerto was also performed again this week by Jean-Guihen Queyras at the French Embassy), Rachmaninoff’s Symphony #2, and Leo Weiner's Serenade, of 1906 and the same year as the Rachmaninoff; and an all Wagner program (different music from the Ring selections recently offered by the NSO under guest Loren Maazel) featuring “87 minutes” of selections from Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Götterdämmerung, Tristan und Isolde, and Die Walküre. Ms. Midgette summaried Mr Fischer’s three week residency as “(l)ast week we had the huge, sprawling intensity of the Mahler 3. Next week is an all-Wagner program. And last night there was serious fun. Almost too much fun.”

Nowhere in the principal guest conductor Fischer’s choice of repertoire the past three weeks has there been a hint of contemporary orchestral music (such as the Pintscher or Kyburz mentioned by Henry Holland above, or the Feldman or Lang I assume alluded to by Daniel Wolf above). Instead, the National Symphony seems to be following Sharon Rockefeller (head of Classical WETA public radio), and the now largely neo-conservative Washington Post, in the conservative musical direction whereby little or no new European (or modernist) orchestral music is to be allowed, and certainly little or no American classical music. [The NSO had to offer $20 orchestra seats this Thursday and Friday in an attempt to fill more than half the hall to Mr Fischer’s all-Wagner evening. The NSO’s web-site now allows you to see the huge numbers of seats that are not being sold. I estimate that 40% of the tickets over $25 to tomorrow’s all-Wagner evening remain as yet unsold. Tonight, Halloween, is worse with 50% of the tickets as yet unsold despite the special $20 offer for remaining orchestra level seats (still 40% unsold)]

Here is link to Ms. Midgette’s piece that occasioned this thought:

(I’m glad that Sharon Rockefeller and Anne Midgette are having so much fun in Washington, D.C., the Nation’s Capital – even if it is serious fun.)

Recent popular posts

All aboard the Martinu bandwagon

Will this attract young audiences? - discuss

Whatever happened to the long tail of composers?

Who are the real classical role models?

Mahler that dares to be different

The Berlin Philharmonic's darkest hour

Great music has no independent existence

Master musician who experienced the pain of genius

Closer to Vaughan Williams than Phil Spector

How classical music slipped a disc