Monday, March 15, 2010

How I Wish

Wagner and Alex Ross express my fondest hopes.

11 comments:

Michael Walsh said...

Amen! I'd settle for moving the mixer setting forward a few notches.

John Marcher said...

The comment, written in 1850, by a then 37 year-old Wagner who had yet to compose his best works?

That was also the same year he wrote "Judaism in Music." Enough said, me thinks.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Wagner was an asshole and anti-Semite, but that doesn't negate all of his opinions. Even in the 1840s, the orchestral repertory was starting to ossify. I have some numbers in email and will check with the person who provided them about whether I can post them.

Henry Holland said...

I renounce all fame, and more especially the insane specter of posthumous fame, because I love humankind far too dearly to condemn them, out of self-love, to the kind of poverty of ideas which alone sustains the fame of dead composers

What a liar! "I renounce all fame"?!?! Has there ever been a bigger fame-whore than Wagner? He makes today's reality TV stars look like slackers.

Joe Barron said...

If you really wanted to be true to the spirit of Wagner, you would stop playing him and focus on new work instead.

Dream on, Alex. So the opera hall is a museum. So what? I would rather go to a museum to see great art from the past than a gallery to see bad art from the present. Shakespeare, Beethoven, and yes, even Wagner are still relevent. And the thing about music is it needs to be played. You can't just hang iton a wall and come back to it wheneve it's convenient. Now you know me. I like a lot of contermporary art and music, of course. What I'm saying is what Eliot said: that your competition is everything on the shelf, not just what is being written now. I'm not so much interested in the enw for its own sake.

Lisa Hirsch said...

So little new music gets played in symphony halls and concert houses that most listeners don't know what's good and don't have a chance to hear what's good.

calimac said...

Well, I'd go along with the "stop playing Wagner" part ...

Henry Holland said...

And the thing about music is it needs to be played. You can't just hang it on a wall and come back to it whenever it's convenient

That's the nub of the gist, as Monty Python would say. So we enter Wagner-Ross' paradise, within a generation nothing written except for stuff from the past 20 years would be known. How are composers to learn their craft, for one thing? How would people like me make the connection of Beethoven > Mahler > Berg > composers today?

And why do I suspect that doing what they propose won't really open the range of music being played, because I'm 99.9% certain that Birtwistle, Pintscher, Kyburz, Mantonvani, Dillon and other modernists won't be replacing Haydn, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and Brahms in their utopia, it'll be *shudder* minimalist stuff and movie music knock-offs. I think classical audiences are the most conservative, risk-adverse fans of any art form except country & western and that's certainly not going to change by NOT playing Schubert.

Joe Barron said...

Well, I'd go along with the "stop playing Wagner" part ...

Agreed.

new music certainly gets played --- just not in the usual, subscriber-dependent opera and orchestra halls. That's fine. I gave up a long time ago waiting for the Philadelphia Orchestras to perform Carter, or even the Ives Fourth Symphony. I've simply made other arrangements.

Henry Holland said...

I gave up a long time ago waiting for the Philadelphia Orchestras to perform Carter, or even the Ives Fourth Symphony. I've simply made other arrangements

So true. I've had to travel to Europe to hear a lot of stuff I really want to hear and it simply is too expensive to do that on a regular basis.

So, I've given up on ever hearing Earth Dances or The Voynich Cipher Manuscript in the US, but I'd be happy if the composers active ca. 1900-1920 would get played more, like Schreker, Zemlinsky, Szymanowski, early Bartok etc.

The Unrepentant Pelleastrian said...

I know this entry is a year old but I'd still like to respond.

Henry,

"How would people like me make the connection of Beethoven > Mahler > Berg > composers today?"

You don't need to make any connection when it comes to exploring music. Taking each composer independently on his or her OWN terms is all.


Calimac,

"If you really wanted to be true to the spirit of Wagner, you would stop playing him and focus on new work instead"

{.....}

"Well, I'd go along with the 'stop playing Wagner' part"


******

We should stop performances of Wagner?

By how much ? Completely? 50 percent? 75 percent? Should Bayreuth shutter its doors?

As long as we have concert halls and opera houses we'll have Wagner as one of the main pillars. (The central pillar in my book)

There's no getting around the man's uniquely seductive music. It's just too bloody great. And with the bicentennial of his birth only two years away (2013) the fanatical love / adoration for Wagner will probably spread and convert many more people.