One problem can be swept right out of the way immediately. How to decide what to list and choose between a little setting of the “Our Father” in medieval style (which I wrote for a priest in the Christian Community Church) and a virtuosic display of “contemporary music” (as in Magritte Weather written for the London Sinfonietta). My answer is not to choose between these things. Why should I? I am to make a judgement about what’s acceptable new music? Acceptable to whom?
“If a composer is not moving in the right direction, he will be killed, metaphorically speaking.” — Boulez, Time Magazine.
Oh dear. That sounds a little scary. And Boulez is himself due shortly to be received into the bosom of the Lord (unless he intends to live as long as Stravinsky’s grandfather, dying aged 111) but that won’t be a metaphorical death. Oh no. That’ll be the whole wormy, maggoty thing – the real deal.
Mmm, death……troubling. I’m told that young composers don’t listen to Boulez’s music any more. And music lovers never did. So this is certainly the kind of “metaphorical death” to which the master is referring………
The world doesn’t make a lot of sense to anyone other than the gods. Personally speaking I appreciate Country as well as Pierre Boulez and that inconsistency doesn’t make much sense to me.
But the French do have a better than average grasp of the intricacies of taste. So when they speak about artistic matters we do well to listen. It is not for nothing that they consider themselves the most cultured nation on earth. I remember about ten years ago being driven through Paris by a very sophisticated Parisian lady (and I mean LADY) and being quite taken aback to hear her rasping out “must be American” as she indicated someone eating a sandwich in the street. We can all argue about etiquette but it takes a Parisian to lay down the law convincingly in this regard.
On second thoughts, I have decided whilst writing this blog entry to review what I said at the beginning of it. I’m going to have to think again about this catalogue of mine. Probably I can weed out all the reactionary pieces (and my God, there are a few of those) and just list what I can hand-on-heart claim to be truly forward-looking ones. But it’s going to take me quite some time to decide about that. Maybe I will put the whole thing off for the moment.
Look, I don’t want to make a mistake, and I feel some serious doubts creeping in here.