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Who killed classical music?

Started by Retinend, January 22, 2014, 12:04:34 PM

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Shoulders?-Stomach!

The concept to Steve Reich's music overrules everything else, he is as much a modern artist as a classical composer. We are invited to witness an idea, not to be treated to a thunderous traditional concerto, or owt else.

I vaguely remember him talking about the classical community's reaction to Six Pianos. Ostracised, violently, shunned, and marginalised. He helped usher in the new. I like the old and the new. People should be trying to make great classical pieces that stand alone, to be played in concert, even to make young people enjoy it above any other style. It's a huge challenge but incredibly intensely exciting.

NoSleep

Quote from: Johnny Yesno on January 22, 2014, 05:38:23 PM
I think what NoSleep might be alluding to is reification, which isn't conceptually infantile.

That is certainly part of my thought. In its own time all the musicians who engaged in playing the music were more likely to be composers themselves or at least aware of the structures within the music; so much so that improvisation was even invited into many compositions (an invitation not taken up very often by the musicians of today). Bach and Beethoven were also reknown improvisers in their time (at least the tradition of improvisation on the organ has survived into the present day; perhaps by necessity more than a cultural desire). There are parallels with the living tradition of Classical music in its time to the living tradition of Jazz in the 20th Century, the difference being that we have an archive of the performances of jazz, not just the manuscripts of composers.
How it transformed from a group of like-minded creative musicians to the modern orchestra, ready only to do the bidding of a conductor and what's on the page before them is probably a history worth investigating. This then becomes the centre of any attempt to make classical music, no interaction, feedback or transformation of what's on the page (the domain of the eye, not the ear).

Johnny Yesno

Quote from: NoSleep on January 22, 2014, 06:00:41 PM
How it transformed from a group of like-minded creative musicians to the modern orchestra, ready only to do the bidding of a conductor and what's on the page before them is probably a history worth investigating. This then becomes the centre of any attempt to make classical music, no interaction, feedback or transformation of what's on the page (the domain of the eye, not the ear).

That's industrialisation for you. The orchestra viewed as a machine or a factory.

Retinend

Quote from: NoSleep on January 22, 2014, 05:17:08 PM
And nod off in droves at a concert of one of your choices of modern composer, Steve Reich, as I saw many of his fans do at a gig I was dragged along to. I've never seen so many people fall asleep during a concert.

This is a bonus. Great study aid, too.

NoSleep

Quote from: Petey Pate on January 22, 2014, 05:45:06 PM
When I first listened to Music for 18 Musicians it made me feel light headed and I thought "this is brilliant and mesmerising - I love this!". When I listened to it a second time I thought "God this is boring, annoying and repetitive - rubbish". I'm not sure why my reaction to it was so different, but I concluded that it must be music that you have to be in the mood for.  Thing is, the majority of music that I love I can listen to at anytime and still enjoy.

This was exactly my reaction at the concert. It's intriguing to examine the construction and execution of the ideas the first time through. I recall, for example, one piece where there were two or three xylophones(?) and a single flute, and the music played by the xylophones(?) created overtones by their interaction, which were what the flute played along to.
Revisiting his music seemed a chore, though. I do prefer Terry Riley's version of "hypnotic" by far, which invites further listening and fascination.

NoSleep

Quote from: Retinend on January 22, 2014, 06:09:14 PM
This is a bonus. Great study aid, too.

Wallpaper

"The Future of Classical Music"

Johnny Yesno

Quote from: NoSleep on January 22, 2014, 06:25:21 PM
Wallpaper

"The Future of Classical Music"

Hey! Don't knock wallpaper.

NoSleep

A few dents in the wall will break up the repetitive pattern.

Johnny Yesno

Quote from: NoSleep on January 22, 2014, 06:31:08 PM
A few dents in the wall will break up the repetitive pattern.

The Arts and Crafts movement were ahead of you.

Retinend


Funcrusher

Quote from: Retinend on January 22, 2014, 12:04:34 PM
The name of a radio 4 program presented by Prokofiev's english grandson. Listen to it. Now, what do you think? Are the Schönbergs and Boulezes to blame for the decline of classical music's popularity - the reason it's come to be "chunked" into a genre, "classical", in the first place? Not at all? Not totally?

I think they must accept a great deal of the blame. The grand pronouncements look silly in retrospect and the music hasn't taken[nb]of course some will deny that this fact is meaningful[/nb]. That said, the blame can only be placed so far, since the great shift of the public over to popular music has to have been pre-determined by the new mass political culture, just as the world of art switched over to the mass culture of comic books, animation and populist prints like Wyeth, Rockwell and Hopper. I think you can generalize and say that all art quite ostentatiously reacted against the upcoming mass-culture at the beginning of the 20th Century and that now attempts to reconcile with the dominant art forms (literature, music, art) are varying shades of dismal failure. A symptomatic result of the self-ghettoisation of artists in the modernist years, 100 years down the line. As the documentary says, they now have to fight against being merely museums.

iplayer:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03q6f00
or download:
http://www.4shared.com/music/W8lYkrQrba/Who_Killed_Classical_Music_-_W.html

If there's ever a revival in popularity of orchestral music, it's quite likely to come from rock or electronica fans who get into earlier composers via stuff like Steve Reich or Stockhausen that are referenced by artists they like and have more similarities to them than say Mozart. Look at the popularity of Alex Ross' the Rest Is Noise, by far the most prominent and widely read book relating to orchestral music in donkey's years. The idea that if orchestral music had stuck with tuneful romantic stuff it would have remained popular with the sort of people who buy James Blunt is a fogeyish nonsense in my view.

Once again this year I will make a vague resolution to try and get into classical music (I did actually go to a concert of piano pieces last year, half of which was 20th century avant garde type stuff), but not actually get anywhere. The only classicalish stuff I own is Steve Reich, which I think makes me fairly typical. If orchestral music bods want to revive interest they would do better to target people via 20th century modernism, not trying to draw parallels between Beethoven and Gary Barlow. My 10 cents.

NoSleep

Quote from: Retinend on January 22, 2014, 06:54:26 PM
Who are you quoting?

All my own work. Why do you think I must be referring to an authority for validation?

Retinend

Quote from: Funcrusher on January 22, 2014, 06:55:17 PM
If there's ever a revival in popularity of orchestral music, it's quite likely to come from rock or electronica fans who get into earlier composers via stuff like Steve Reich or Stockhausen that are referenced by artists they like and have more similarities to them than say Mozart. Look at the popularity of Alex Ross' the Rest Is Noise, by far the most prominent and widely read book relating to orchestral music in donkey's years. The idea that if orchestral music had stuck with tuneful romantic stuff it would have remained popular with the sort of people who buy James Blunt is a fogeyish nonsense in my view.

How do I look at its popularity? I'm aware it sold a few copies to hipsters in Rough Trade who want to say they totally understand where John Cage was coming from, but get real. That book was no bestseller. [nb]less than 5000 readers on Goodreads, about as much as an obscure Nick Hornby novel[/nb]

I agree with your first point though. I know that Zappa put many of his fans onto Stravinsky and Varese through continued namedropping.


Retinend

Quote from: NoSleep on January 22, 2014, 07:01:37 PM
All my own work. Why do you think I must be referring to an authority for validation?

Well then unless someone else claimed Reich was the future of classical music, there's nothing to the quote to get worked up about.


NoSleep

The programme linked in the OP seems to be trying to state the "new" (conservative, reactionary) rewrite of the history of modern classical music in the 20th century; as was also evident in the TV series "The Sound & The Fury" from last year. Ooh, those scary frightening composers and their extension of expression in music. And then along came some nice pretty, poppy commercial composers to wash it all away. FFS.

Retinend

Quote from: NoSleep on January 22, 2014, 07:34:18 PM
The programme linked in the OP seems to be trying to state the "new" (conservative, reactionary) rewrite of the history of modern classical music in the 20th century; as was also evident in the TV series "The Sound & The Fury" from last year. Ooh, those scary frightening composers and their extension of expression in music. And then along came some nice pretty, poppy commercial composers to wash it all away. FFS.

You're confused. "Conservative" would be the defense of these "frightening" composers. Since they've been the orthodox authority figures for so long. ...Not that the word has any power when you clear the insinuating overtones from it.

NoSleep

You're the one who is confused; really.

Retinend


#79
I'm not quite saying that. It was a significant ommision from the BBC documentary (which made a lot of inappropriate tyranny comments along the way) and it makes more sense to look at the devopment of post WW2 serialism with the earlier origin and reaction in mind - both the perfectly non-intellectual move towards abstraction, and the history of its oppression.

Edit: Development.

NoSleep

Quote from: Retinend on January 22, 2014, 07:42:44 PM
"Conservative" would be the defense of these "frightening" composers. Since they've been the orthodox authority figures for so long.

The above from the same person who brought us:

Quote from: Retinend on September 05, 2012, 06:19:53 PM
Was Debussy more emotionally stunted than Hindemith or Schoenberg? How about the entirety of musical history until the second decade or so of the 20th Century? Were they all intellectual, emotional children? Why didn't the 18th Century have any atonal movements? Because they were somehow repressed people at odds with their true expressive capabilities?

Hopefully Howj Begg will set you straight again, as he did in that other thread of yours.

Retinend

@Smeraldina Rima It's true that this chapter in history contributed a lot to the emotional jumbling up of aesthetic judgements with party-political allegiances, but this explicit politicization of art is also preddated by the Dadaists and their communist sympathies, and by Constructivist support for the Reds[/url] in the Russian civil war (which was tossed out in favour of Soviet Realism in the 1930s).

As a counter-example, you have the fascist modernist writer of Journey To The End of the Night, Louis Céline. And the Futurists' support of fascism in Italy (which backfired on them when Nazi condemnations of "degenerate art" were imported to its sister state).

Retinend

Quote from: NoSleep on January 22, 2014, 08:36:41 PM
The above from the same person who brought us:

I don't see why I should be ashamed of saying that. It was in the context of a lot of rot being claimed for the expressive powers of austere modernist musicians, alongside the blanket dismissal of alternate traditions, which most people would consider more expressive in the conventional meaning of the word.

Don_Preston

Quote from: NoSleep on January 22, 2014, 07:34:18 PM
as was also evident in the TV series "The Sound & The Fury" from last year. Ooh, those scary frightening composers and their extension of expression in music.

I don't think that was their agenda at all. They wouldn't have devoted three hours of scheduling, as well as all the surrounding concert footage if they were trying to denigrate it.

NoSleep

Quote from: Retinend on January 22, 2014, 08:44:57 PM
I don't see why I should be ashamed of saying that. It was in the context of a lot of rot being claimed for the expressive powers of austere modernist musicians, alongside the blanket dismissal of alternate traditions, which most people would consider more expressive in the conventional meaning of the word.

There was no "rot" spoken, except by yourself; indeed the problem was that you demanded music to fit within the limits you had defined and that all else was a waste of time. My position was that modern composers had extended the range of expression available, which seemed to confuse you as you've indicated once again above.

NoSleep

Quote from: Don_Preston on January 22, 2014, 08:52:38 PM
I don't think that was their agenda at all. They wouldn't have devoted three hours of scheduling, as well as all the surrounding concert footage if they were trying to denigrate it.

There were some irritating commentators saying precisely the type of thing I'm talking about.

Retinend

Quote from: NoSleep on January 22, 2014, 08:56:58 PM
There was no "rot" spoken, except by yourself; indeed the problem was that you demanded music to fit within the limits you had defined and that all else was a waste of time. My position was that modern composers had extended the range of expression available, which seemed to confuse you as you've indicated once again above.

Okay well I can agree that the range of expression available to musicians today would be hugely impoverished without these historical trends. Just as people like Tracy Emin and Yoko Ono expanded the range of possibilities for what a piece of art is. edit: meaning I don't have to like their art to say that.

Retinend, sorry for giving the wrong impression, I can see how it would have come across as insulting.

My problem - which it's my own fault for not putting in before and looking like I was calling you a Nazi - was with the particular relevance of this absent historic thread in relation to the documentary. Not anything about alignments of politics and aesthetics. I find a lot of the abstraction I'm sympathetic to a retreat from political response to art.

The documentary was insulting, particularly the presenter's conclusion of 'socio-political hang ups' and earlier discussion of the Darmstadt tryanny. The contributor's wearily tolerant sympathy with atonal composers' axiomatic connection between passionate crowds and the Nuremberg rally was a nauseating write off I thought. There were several along the same lines. I don't know what happened to Britten, Dallapiccola and Henze under the iron baton of Boulez, but failing to find anything in searches I assume it was not very much like the Entartete Musik policies that went completely unmentioned but often echoed. Very wierd how they could pass over the significance of these reactions to the two wars and elsewhere laugh off Prokofiev's commision to cultivate children's taste bescause it produced something as beautiful as Peter and the Wolf. They came across through all of this as not caring about freedom aesthetically or politically or having interest in why people might make certain kinds of music which they don't respond to. It placed these concerns below that of a dwindling traditional form and its charms. It seems obvious that treatment of the first wave of serialist composers and other expressionist artists is an essential history to comment on before the Darmstadt school and the post World War 2 serialism becoming too strict and stultifying. That formalism was not produced by mere reflective associationism and geographically arranged embarrasment as claimed but in response to the full range of abstract styles and artists responding to WW1 having then been marked as degenerate, censored and oppressed leading up to WW2, then WW2, and several later suicides. To speak about Darmstadt as a place of oppression and leave out the previous history of serialism was terrible (no need to discuss Constructivism or Soviet realism in the half hour). Even the Nazis, Nolde and Webern, had no chance as strange abstract artists. Coming from that escalating angle it would be credible to attempt an assesment of problems in more exclusive intellectual music and subsequent failure to communicate with audiences or the accidental emulation of actual tyranny inside a musical coterie, which to me seems the lesser rather than the greater problem or one that can be properly isolated. Coming from the other angle, which produces only the sudden arseholes with aim of irritating the bourgeoisie, Prokofiev's grandson seemed like a milktoast culture minister with a love for melody, forward motion, and music for the people or for empathy provisionally, if only by virtue of his being naive and having extraordinarily shit guests that don't get along with Boulez. The difference from Hitler's promotion of tradional art was he seemed to want to cast them as the fascists rather than as degenerates.

The insensitivity of using terms of dictatorship throughout was typified by the 'Toscaninni was quite tyrannical' comment. This may be true as he ran and failed to become a fascist MP, but regarding his concert specifications it's obviously not a tyranny or the place to talk about it so lightly. Again even someone trying to work on the fascist end gets it in the neck:

QuoteHe became disillusioned with fascism and repeatedly defied the Italian dictator after the latter's ascent to power in 1922. He refused to display Mussolini's photograph or conduct the Fascist anthem Giovinezza at La Scala. He raged to a friend, "If I were capable of killing a man, I would kill Mussolini."

At a memorial concert for Italian composer Giuseppe Martucci on May 14, 1931 at the Teatro Comunale in Bologna, he was ordered to begin by playing Giovinezza, but he refused, even though the fascist foreign minister Galeazzo Ciano was in the audience. Afterwards he was, in his own words, "attacked, injured and repeatedly hit in the face" by a group of blackshirts. Mussolini, incensed by the conductor's refusal, had his phone tapped, placed him under constant surveillance and confiscated his passport. The passport was returned only after a world outcry over Toscanini's treatment. On the outbreak of WWII, Toscanini left Italy. He returned seven years later to conduct a concert at the restored La Scala Opera House, which was destroyed during the war.

Luckily for him he was never asked to be quiet during a concert.

I realise the historical omission and unfortunate language echoing (also unprovoked poopoohing of abstraction) I've taken issue with was not the whole point of the thread or of the documentary. It's just what raised my hackles. Probably into overreaction.

Funcrusher

Quote from: Retinend on January 22, 2014, 07:08:20 PM
How do I look at its popularity? I'm aware it sold a few copies to hipsters in Rough Trade who want to say they totally understand where John Cage was coming from, but get real. That book was no bestseller. [nb]less than 5000 readers on Goodreads, about as much as an obscure Nick Hornby novel[/nb]


Goodreads an indication of pretty much fuck all. There was an entire year long season of concerts at the South Bank based around TRIN. Name me another book on orchestral music that has had anything like the level of awareness and, I would guess, sales.

NoSleep

But "not popular" must equal "bad", surely?