Friday, March 10, 2006

Modern music? America?

Alex Ross reports that some insipid CBS human-interest poll showed that America wants to hear about a modern composer. Balderdash. At best.

Let me break the one Rule of This Forum, and get personal. If Americans really cared about modern music, then I wouldn't get dirty looks every time I decide to "rock out" to Boulez' Pli selon pli. I wouldn't get glazed stares every time I explain why I prefer the 1960s BBCSO recording on Sony to the more recent Ensemble InterContemporain disc on DGG. What am I talking about? If Americans cared about modern music, my peers would at least know who Pierre Boulez is. It's a stretch if I'm looking for name recognition of even Gustav Mahler.

The "hip-hop violinist" tag is interesting to me. It tells me that Americans are interested in composers insofar as those composers gel with popular music. Serialism? Nope. Atonalism? Not a hope. Second Viennese School? You have to be kidding. However, mention hip-hop and you've a recipe for success. You might as well do a special on the various types of champagne preferred by the rappers. I like Laurent-Perrier, but I get the impression Cristal is more in vogue. I suppose if you're interested in the prestige bottlings, L-P's Grand Siècle will do, and have a little more dignity. I digress.

Modern music isn't what Americans want. They want anything familiar. Modernism, especially in some of its more extreme forms, isn't familiar.


At 2:10 PM, Blogger T. Ambrose Nazianzus said...

Patrick speaks truth, once again.

At 6:12 PM, Blogger Patrick J. Smith said...

I like to think so. However, speaking of modern-ish music, I am beginning to get into Strauss' Metamorphosen and Schoenberg's Pelleas und Melisande; libera me, Domine.

At 12:53 AM, Blogger Tassilo said...

Glad to see somebody else prefers Boulez's 1969 recording of Pli selon pli to the tame and prettified "definitive" recording on DG. For that matter, I prefer the original version of Don to the late revision.

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