2013 - the year brilliance supplanted wisdom

In virtually all cases, a man in his late twenties, no matter how bright and precocious, has not yet manifested his full wisdom, simply because he cannot have had sufficient life experience to mature his spirit. However, it is arguable that someone under thirty years old, or even under twenty, has the intelligence, sensitivity, and full capacity to see the truth, even if they have not had the time to fully experience it. In addition, a younger mind can - probably better than an older mind - function as a 'medium' for truth, or, Mozart-like, as a vehicle for that vast artistic impuls and capacity that we refer to, with great understatement, as 'talent'. It's common knowledge that Einstein's revelatory realizations were accomplished in his mid-twnties, and that the greatest chess masters usually perform their highest feats during this young decade also. That brilliance is the province of the younger brain is usually not disputed.

However, brilliance is not wisdom. The latter is intelligence seasoned by experience, based in large part on the deepened capacity to recognize and avoid blind alleys, wrong turns, and matters pointless to spend energy on. Wisdom could be defined as the capacity to both understand truth, and to efficiently enable the ways in which it becomes practical and actualized (as opposed to idealistic and ineffectual) - or, to use Gurdjieffian terms, the ways in which knowledge and being become joined.
That passage from The Three Dangerous Magi by PT Mistlberger is my epitaph for 2013, a year in which our losses included 76 year-old James DePreist - whose name, incidentally, is conspicuously absent from year end tributes elsewhere, Wolfgang Sawallisch (89), Sir Colin Davis (85), Henri Dutilleux (97) and John Tavener (69). It was also a year in which a 26 year-old was appointed music director of an orchestra, a 33 year-old mezzo-soprano received a New Year's Honour from the Queen, and a 7 year-old composed an opera. In 2014 may the scales tip back in favour of wisdom.

Also on Facebook and Twitter. 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).


Pliable said…
Re. the New Year's Honours. In my own mind I am pretty sure where Peter Maxwell Davies sits on the continuum between brilliance and wisdom. But I am still not sure about Simon Rattle.
billoo said…
Brilliant lines, pli!



(incidentally, it's becoming trickier and trickier proving I'm not a robot!)
Pliable said…
Billoo, thanks for that.

If you are logged into your Blogger account you should not, in theory, be asked to prove you are not a robot. But I suspect the Blogger security protocol was written by brilliant rather than wise techies...
Pliable said…
In 2013 books provided me with copious amounts of both pleasure and wisdom. Just two of the highlights were The Three Dangerous Magi by PT Mistlberger - which provides the quote in this post - and Tales of Wonder by Huston Smith.


Lisa Hirsch said…
I'm curious - this is the second time you've called out Teddy Abrams for his age (26). Have you heard him conduct, play the clarinet, or play the piano?

Experienced middle-age professional musicians I know regard his musical abilities with awe. I have heard him on the clarinet and he is a terrific musician.

I will mention that one program I attended in 2007 that lingers in memory was conducted by the then-21-year-old Lionel Bringuier.

Of all the yardsticks used to judge a musician, ages strikes me as much less useful than ability.
Pliable said…
Lisa, I don't think we disagree on this. I cannot agree more that "Of all the yardsticks used to judge a musician, ages strikes me as much less useful than ability". And that is why I wrote the post; because I believe that too often today musicians are being judged, first and foremost, on their age.

No, I have not heard Teddy Abrams conduct/play. But neither did I "call him out", nor did I judge - positively or negatively - his abilities, which I am sure are considerable.

Neither in fact did I name him in the text of either post. This was because my posts are not aimed at him personally, but rather at the trend to focus on his youth and that of his media celebrated peers.

Evidence of this is the headline of the article I link to. This does not read:

"Louisville Orchestra's New Music Director is conducting, clarinet and piano virtuoso Teddy Abrams"

It reads:

"Louisville Orchestra's New Music Director is 26-Year-Old Conductor Teddy Abrams"
Lisa Hirsch said…
Gosh. Well, you certainly managed to give the impression that you were judging him by his age. And I think you are reading way, way too much into that headline!
Pliable said…
"And I think you are reading way, way too much into that headline!"

So try another headline for size -

'Louisville Orchestra names wunderkind as music director'


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

Great music has no independent existence

The Berlin Philharmonic's darkest hour

Master musician who experienced the pain of genius

A year of stories that had to be told

Hitler's court composer was Harvard alumnus