Friday, April 15, 2016

Friday Miscellanea

Let's start with a re-imagined 60s album cover:


And, as all Battlestar Galactica fans know, Bob Dylan is actually a cylon:


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The concept of what I have called "racinating" or re-connecting with the roots of art is not exclusive to me. The blog The Remodern Review takes a similar stance: "The Death of University Arts Programs, Part 1: Eric Fischl."
The current status quo of the art world is dysfunctional and unsustainable. Aspiring artists are indoctrinated into the belief that path for advancement lies through the minefield of dogma higher education has been reduced to.
The reality of the situation is that the assumptions and biases of the elitist academic approach probably did more to create and sustain the crisis of relevance the arts are undergoing than any other factor.
The end of the current system is inevitable. What will take its place will be determined by those who can see past the dreary conformity that inflicts the credentialed creative classes.
You can't actually "credential" creativity.

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 Here is a piece about appreciating classical music that manages to NOT be pretentious or condescending:
the trouble with being interested in classical music is that people look at you funny. You might be sitting with friends talking about pop music, or what you’ve read or seen on television, and everyone’s on the same page. And then you say “Yeah, it reminds me of that Shostakovich quartet, that chord at the end” and there’s a chill in the room, and the mood is killed. I thought if I seduced more people into the world of classical music I wouldn’t be as lonely and wretched.
That is tongue in cheek, by the way.

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This is how you attracted women in 1955: with Rachmaninoff, Piano Concerto No. 2:


I have the sinking feeling that nowadays you would need something more like this:


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Over at Alex Ross' site he points us to a new album by Alarm Will Sound that has me intrigued. They are doing an arrangement of the Beatles' foray into musique concrete, Revolution No. 9? Sign me up!

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This essay is worth reading just for the quotations of particularly risable academic prose: "Glaciers and Sex." Here is a nice bit:
Back in 1946, George Orwell observed that “In certain kinds of writing, particularly in art criticism and literary criticism, it is normal to come across long passages which are almost completely lacking in meaning.” Fast forward a few decades and you have the owlish gibberish of deconstruction, the inanities of postcolonial studies, and kindred exercises in polysyllabic grievance-mongering, not to mention the grimly risible productions from the repellent partisans of “gender studies.”

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The New Yorker has a complex article on "Race, Art, and Essentialism" that is certainly worth a look:
Moody’s point—there’s no other way to read it—is that race endows writers and critics with an extra dose of perceptual acumen. We hear James Brown with our ears, our heart, our imagination, our muscles, but also with the color of our skin, and there are essential qualities in James Brown’s music (Moody never says what they are) that a listener who is not black like Brown simply can’t pick up. 
Think of Moody’s proposition in reverse: Mozart can be fully appreciated only by people of European background. You can take the most sophisticated, gifted, industrious nonwhite critic—sorry, he or she is just going to miss some crucial things (“penetrating insights and varieties of context”) for not having been born into the racial lineage of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, with its cultural prerogatives, its particular refinements. No one would dare say such a thing; it’s unthinkable...
Read the whole thing as it is a considered examination of the argument that "race is destiny" and a well-founded critique of it.

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I have expressed a few times my view that the primary purpose of the study of the humanities is to acquaint each generation with the history of civilization, primarily Western, but not exclusively. Instead, since the 80s, this has been largely replaced by the deconstruction and critiquing of civilization, primarily Western, as being racist, oppressive, misogynist and so on. This week there was an attempt at Stanford University to reinstate the Western Civ. requirement. It failed 6 to 1. Well, yeah, they spent the last thirty years propagandizing how evil Western Civ. is, so no surprise. Here is the story.
The mere suggestion that Stanford require studying Western civilization had generated immense outrage among certain Stanford communities. A low-income advocacy group at the school suspended a member based on the suspicion that he wrote an anonymous piece supporting the proposal. A hostile column in The Stanford Daily warned that accepting the proposal would mean centering Stanford education on “upholding white supremacy, capitalism and colonialism, and all other oppressive systems that flow from Western civilizations.”
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Here at the Friday Miscellanea we look for those lighter items such as composer's hairstyles: "The Top Ten Worst Composer Hair of All Time [sic]" My favorite:

Johann Strauss II
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We need a heart-warming story, do we not? This week the Orchestre Métropolitain of Montréal donated a new violin to Montreal busker Mark Landry who had his stolen. There is a little clip at the link when they presented it to him. He asks, in French, "did they give me a bow too?"

Montreal is a  rather special place when it comes to culture. Where else would you find so many classical music buskers? I have heard everything from the Pachelbel Canon to a Britten cello suite performed on the streets.

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And for our envoi this week let's listen to the Symphony No. 39 in G minor by Joseph Haydn, the earliest minor-key symphony from his "Sturm und Drang" period, composed around 1765:


13 comments:

Marc Puckett said...

While I'm still smiling at Geoffrey Larson's worst hair piece, I wonder: does he or does he not know that Don Antonio Soler's head is tonsured?

Would vote Berlioz's hair into the number one spot, myself. But since I don't understand what anyone can see to criticise about Mussorgsky's style I doubt my vote ought to count for much. :-) (Tchaikovsky, Borodin, Glinka, Prokofiev last night at the concert hall: but no Mussorgsky, alas... was attempting to make a joke there but, heavens, there are a great lot of Russian composers I've never heard of.)

Marc Puckett said...

It is quiet at work so was trying to catch up on the scores of articles posts etc I ought to read (thanks to the feed aggregator), specifically at the New Criterion, and what should I find but the Glaciers and Sex essay. That must have been fun to write! And glaciers/Carey rang a bell, too, ha.

"The long-running reliance on knowledge produced from the perspectives of natural science, the researchers concluded, have marginalized the voices of women and cultures around the world that have lived in the shadow of glaciers, according to UO science writer Jim Barlow [who the newspaper reporter turned to for 'expert analysis' of the Carey nonsense]." [From the Register Guard-- my local newspaper-- back in February: http://goo.gl/ZMb3To.]

As one of the local commenters wrote, "I had to double-check the address to make sure this wasn’t The Onion."

Bryan Townsend said...

That famous portrait of Mussorgsky was painted when he was drying out in a hospital ward. He basically fell out of bed, was sketched, and that's how the portrait came about. I think that's how some Hollywood actors get their "look".

We do seem to live in times that are pretty much beyond parody, don't we!

Christine Lacroix said...

Marc, I know the word 'tonsured' only because I have just finished obsessively reading all 21 of Ellis Peter's twelfth century historic novels featuring Brother Cadfael, a 'tonsured' monk!

Bryan Townsend said...

I read some of those, years ago!

Marc Puckett said...

Christine, Brian, I've watched two or three episodes of the television series, featuring Derek Jacoby as Cadfael, but haven't ever read the novels; they're on my list, though. Poor Mussorgsky! he's lucky he didn't have mobile phones to deal with, otherwise his portraits would be all over Twitter and Facebook and Instagram and the rest. My own experience of tonsure involved the shaving of the entire scalp; well, not 'shaving'-- electric hairclippers were used, ha.

Tried writing to Geoffrey Larson, who turns out to be a young fellow but a musician/music director/radio [KING] celebrity in Seattle [http://www.smcomusic.org/], evidently, asking whether he didn't know about the custom of tonsure or did & was simply being amusing. Was very polite and jocular!

Last night the University's School of Music people &c performed Alessandro Stradella's oratorio San Giovanni Battista (don't recall ever having heard of him or it; surely one of the few composers who has been murdered in consequence of too many illicit romantic relationships) at the end of the week's grad student &c conference on early music &c.-- it was well worth hearing, but tonight's concert by Philippe Herrewegghe/Collegium Vocale Gent, performing Lassus's Lagrime de S. Pietro should be one of the highlights of the year here.

Bryan Townsend said...

Yes, the Herrewegghe concert sounds wonderful. You are very lucky.

Marc Puckett said...

Ran across this, about opera arias-as-therapeutic-tool, the other day, in case you missed it. [http://www.theguardian.com/music/2016/mar/27/home-therapy-opera-singers-anxious-stressed-ease-worries] On the one hand, dreadful nonsense; on the other, amusing in places, the article, I mean. (What isn't immediately said is that it's a 'performance art' event i.e. not meant to be a worldwide non-profit cultural event marketed everywhere.)

The Lassus last night was spectacular. They're in La Jolla tonight; I don't envy a touring schedule like theirs!

Marc Puckett said...

If I act before 10:00pm tonight, I can purchase tickets already for her August show here; 'like a rave fairy' she may be, but I think I'll leave the frenzy to the Maenads and their followers, specially since it seems to be infectious:

Lindsey Stirling is one of the biggest artist development breakthrough stories in recent years. On stage, Stirling moves with the grace of a ballerina but works the crowd into a frenzy, "dropping the beat" like a rave fairy. Lindsey has entered a futurist world of electronic big beats and animation, leaping through the music industry with over 7.8 million YouTube subscribers, over 1 billion views on her YouTube channel, Billboard chart-topping hits and sold out tours worldwide. A classically trained violinist from Gilbert, Ariz., she's created a new music world where the romance of Celtic folk music and modern classical meet the infectious energy of dance and electronica.

Bryan Townsend said...

Who are you and what have you done with Mark Puckett?

8^)

Marc Puckett said...

Ha! It was the "like a rave fairy" that grabbed my attention-- it's evidently a term of art in that particular musical culture. I did resist taking them up on their offer. (But, were my arts budget not limited by odd expenses like rent and the utilities' bill, I might go to the LS show, just for the experience of the spectacle. Maybe.)

Geoffrey Larson (do you know him, Bryan? he seemed familiar with your name, anyway) did very kindly return my email about Antonio Soler's tonsure-- apparently I wasn't the only pedant to bother him about it, which I thought very amusing; he "now know[s] quite a lot about" it.

Bryan Townsend said...

This is one of the benefits of the Internet. I have certainly benefitted from it. On a couple of occasions when I was writing about not very well known composers, experts on that composer have left very useful comments. The composers were Allan Pettersson and Kurt Schwitters. Oh, and in one case the composer herself left a comment: Jennifer Higdon!

Bryan Townsend said...

But I don't think I know Geoffrey Larson.