Meanwhile on the BBC Radio 3 message board

'In short, Mr. Ross's insights are not particularly compelling and he has a fairly shallow vision of classical music' - discuss.
Remember folks this is a heads up, so please don't shoot the messenger or start talking about whining Brits - the writer of that comment seems to be American. But I had to laugh at a comment on the BBC Radio 3 message board about a fairly shallow vision of classical music. Report broken links, missing images and errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk


A.C. Douglas said…
The post on the BBC3 message board written by "Mandalee (U14316426)" is an outright plagiarism, and was concocted by taking extracts verbatim from various reader reviews of _The Rest is Noise_ and presenting the concatenation as an original piece of writing.

The plagiarist is one, Eric Anderson, who posted the exact same post on the Classical Music & Opera Forums message board in early March of this year under the name, "Overturesen" (see, here), for which action I closed out his account and banned him (by IP) from ever posting on the CM&OF again (see, here).

Pliable said…
ACD, are you sure these reviews weren't written by Orlando Figes? -
A.C. Douglas said…

Yeah, I'm pretty sure Figes had no part in this.

billoo said…
pli, but isn't it incredibly hard to *write* about music? I only started 'the rest..' after reading what I thought was a fascinating piece on Sibelius in the New Yorker. But to me, a layman, the book did seem quite boring!

Would love to know who you do think has insights. I've only ever heard Barenboim's Reith lectures and thought they were great.

p.s thanks for the book recommendations! Will have a look for them-though it's very hard to find stuff here.
Pliable said…
Billoo, a very interesting question. For me books came after the music, not before. My path to classical music came from an acceptance that I had to invest money (I was a student) and time on concerts, broadcasts and LPs of music that I didn't know and some of which went over my head for many years. It also came from listening to recordings with a score. It was only when I became hooked on the music that books became important, and then it was mainly in the form of biographies of the great composers and performers.

Today we are fixated with finding the solution to everything in 420 characters or less. So we have classical charts, composer's greatest hits, and books that the media acclaim for telling us all we need to know about contemporary classical music in 620 pages.

Yes, some of them are of value. But the problem is none of them will ever provide the much sought after 'open sesame'. Moreover there is a real risk that they destroy the essence of the music, its sheer diversity and profundity, in the attempt.

As in many things John Cage had it nailed when he wrote:

'If something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, then eight. Then sixteen. Then thirty-two. Eventually one discovers that it is not boring at all.'

In the spirit of the above I suggest the following highly fallible list, many of which have appeared On An Overgrown Path:

* Glenn Gould: Wondrous Strange - Kevin Bazzana
* Evening in the Palace of Reason - James Gaines
* The Roaring Silence: John Cage, A Life - David Revill
* Benjamin Britten - Humphrey Carpenter
* Tainted By Experience - John Drummond
* Hildegard of Bingen - Fiona Maddocks
* Horizons Touched: The Music of ECM - Steve Lake & Paul Griffiths
* Jonathan Harvey - Arnold Whitall
* Boulez: Composer, Conductor, Enigma - Joan Peyser

But I would happily trade them all for Brilliant Classic's 155 CD Bach Edition

On the subject of sourcing books I now almost exclusively buy good quality used copies from Amazon resellers. I have had few problems even with international delivery, and the bargains that can be found are quite astonishing.
billoo said…
Interesting biographical note, pli. Thanks for sharing that. Of course you're right, the music comes first ("in the beginning was..") but was just wondering if reading about music fine tunes your appreciation, leads to a sound thought?

Agree with you also on the dissection/analysis bit-as well as the desire for an easy fix. Much prefer personal recommendations to these lists.

Glenn Gould: still haven't read the Otto Friedrich book my sister has but thanks for the recommendation anyway.


Drew80 said…
I heartily recommend Robert Craft, contentious though he may be, especially his collections of essays. I think he is the finest writer about music in the English language.

The Andrew Porter volumes of criticism are also superb.

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