...we see much of the problem that classical music has these days — it’s out of touch with reality. So many people want it to be refined and elegant, more so than the world we live in. But to do that, they pretend that it was refined and elegant in the past, when clearly it wasn’t. Which means they’ve falsified classical music’s history, and made it lose touch with its own reality.
How can we, given all this, believe that the musical performances were elegant, or refined? They must have been as full-bodied — as lusty — as everything going on around them.
Which means that Jacobs is right to turn the music loose. When we pretend that things were refined and elegant, we falsify the music we’re playing, and lose a chance to connect with the lusty world around us.Greg gives lots of solid examples of the turbulent and lusty way operas were performed in the Baroque--all quite true. But then he takes a giant leap by saying that music "in the past" was not refined and elegant, i.e. all music. But we want classical music to be refined and elegant now which puts us out of touch with reality, both the reality of now and of the past. But hang, on, isn't this a bridge too far? Does no one ever non-falsely compose, perform or listen to music because it is elegant? Now I realize that the word 'refined' is very nearly obscene these days, having as it does the aroma of elitist condescension, but I hadn't realized that 'elegant' was suffering the same fate.
As a composer, I hope to have a wide palette stretching from rough and energetic to intimate and elegant and with, hopefully, a hundred shades in between. According to Greg, it seems that I'm only allowed to write and perform music that is "full-bodied" and "lusty". Well, sure. I'm just starting to write a last movement for a suite and I'm hoping to make it very full-bodied and lusty. What I'm objecting to is the odd idea that this is the only game in town. If I write something, oh no, not refined, perish the thought, but something elegant, does that mean I have falsified classical music? Or myself?
I think that some few people at least, look to music, at least at times, for an intimacy, an expression of beauty and elegance that is sadly missing from much of the world. Let us not condemn them for it. After all, as Mozart's life and music both demonstrate, you can be lusty at times and elegant at other times...