* * *
The Guardian reveals to us the lineup for the 2018 Proms: Bernstein, Bach and NY disco-punk: 2018 Proms lineup revealed.
There will be plenty of Beethoven, Bernstein and Bach at the 2018 BBC Proms, but also a good helping of pagan-gospel, disco-punk, DIY indie and feminist rap. The festival is set to be more with it and edgy than ever before with a late-night prom celebrating the music of modern New York.In theory I like the idea of "with it and edgy" but so often how it manifests itself is more like "brutally ideological and aesthetically questionable." I won't be making a pilgrimage to Salzburg this summer as I will likely be going to Toronto to oversee the recording of a couple of my recent pieces. Next year I do plan on spending a couple of weeks there. But, I will certainly look over the offerings at the BBC Proms as well. Just in case...
* * *
Norman Lebrecht has an item up recalling a post from a few years ago on pieces you never want to hear again! I missed it first time around. The comments are absolutely hilarious. Let me give you three lists. First, from pianist Katya Apekisheva:
Next, Norman's list:1. Vivaldi. Four seasons2. Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals3. ABBA4. About 85% of music by Liszt5. Berlioz6. Ending of Tchaikovsky piano trio ( around 8 last pages)7. Neapolitan song ‘O Sole Mio’8. Beethoven Fur Elise9. Virtuoso violin music, such as Sarasate and Weniawsky10. Brindisi from Traviata
1 National music
2 Tchaikovsky (except last 3 syms and violin concerto)
3 Anything with Moon in the title – any language – lune, mondo &c.
4 Mahler’s Adagietto except when played within the fifth symphony
5 Vivaldi’s you-know-what
7 Bernstein’s Mass
8 Anything by Puccini after Bohème
9 Elgar’s oratorios
10 Barber’s AdagioFinally, my list:
- Andrew Lloyd Webber
- most Liszt
- most Mahler
- Bernstein's Mass
- Pachelbel Canon
- Spanish Romance
- Sevilla by Albéniz
- Choro No. 1 by Villa-Lobos
* * *
There are ways of fighting back: FABIO LUISI DENOUNCES ‘COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE’ ECHO AWARD. What's this about, you ask?
Follow the link for his letter (in German). Now, has it occurred to any of the recent recipients of the Pulitzer Prize for Music to return their awards? Different situation, I guess.The Zurich Opera music director has joined the rush of musicians who are giving back their ECHO awards after the 2018 prize was given to a pair of rappers making Holocaust jokes. ‘They have mocked the suffering of millions of people,’ he says.
* * *
The New Yorker weighs in on the deep significance of awarding the Pulitzer to Kendrick Lamar:
Lamar’s historic win figures in the grander, affected consecration of blackness within élite spaces—exemplified, I think, by the “thousand flowers of expectation” blooming in Kehinde Wiley’s portrait of Barack Obama. It was Obama, with his caucuses of rappers in the White House, who accelerated the conclusion that hip-hop had earned a prestige as a great American art. In its long and perplexing lurch toward acclaim, did hip-hop sacrifice its edge? Lamar is a fascinating and brilliant non-answer. He is a complicated artist because he sits at the nexus of forces that seem misaligned: he is an alert political gadfly who will happily curate a soundtrack for the commercial juggernaut “Black Panther”; he is a literary virtuoso who understands the charisma needed to make songs you can play in a club. He is hip-hop, which means that he skirts categorization. The Pulitzers got it right.If you have a lot of spare time, perhaps you could unpack that paragraph! My favorite bit is the gratuitous French accent in the word "élite" that has not been necessary in English for, oh, a hundred years or so.
* * *
Here is a lovely piece on the history of the concert hall:
Throughout the Romantic era, several interrelated cultural shifts coincided to make a concert culture that more closely resembles what is expected in concert halls today. Romanticism, particularly in Germany, emphasized the inward experiences of the individual. Music became more closely associated with personal expression, statements from composers to be received by listeners. Also, as William Weber has written, people started making greater distinctions between “high” and “low” art, with the presumption that a person’s taste in music corresponded to their social stature and moral bearing. Furthermore, it became an expectation that people needed to educate themselves about art to fully understand and appreciate it. Music was no longer just the background of social events; it could itself be the focus of attention.These ideas emerged throughout the first half of the 19th century, contributing to a new, meditative form of listening, notes Meredith C. Ward. This aesthetic experience of music required more from its audience—more education, more concentration, more thought. As music became an inward experience rather than the background of a social function, performance spaces reflected the change: audience seats faced the stage rather than each other. Symphonies came to be perceived as unified works with motives that tied the movements together, rather than separable movements that may not even be performed in succession. Influential conductors like Felix Mendelssohn discouraged applause between movements of works to help audiences sense these connections.
* * *
One of the past winners of the Pulitzer in Music was Jennifer Higdon (who has also commented on this blog) and now she has a new award: Philly Grammy-winner Jennifer Higdon now wins $100,000 Nemmers Prize, too.
The Nemmers Prize comes with a performance by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and will bring Higdon to Northwestern to lead coaching sessions with ensembles and to conduct lessons and seminars with composition students in two residencies over the next two years. The award was established in 2003 and has previously gone to composers such as John Adams, Kaija Saariaho, John Luther Adams, Aaron Jay Kernis, and Steve Reich.I think that what this illustrates is that it is prizes like this and the Grawemeyer Awards and other similar ones that are the significant ones, at least for classical, concert or "art" music composers. After all, nowadays they are giving Pulitzers to hip-hop artists. Heh!
* * *
For our envoi today let's listen to a piece by Jennifer Higdon. This is her Percussion Concerto in a 2016 performance by the University of Toronto Symphony Orchestra conducted by Samuel Tam. Michael Murphy, solo percussionist: