Jump to content


New Joseph Horowitz bk. on Classical Musicin America -- its "rise and fall"


  • Please log in to reply
7 replies to this topic

#1 bart

bart

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,320 posts

Posted 12 July 2005 - 11:29 AM

Joseph Horowitz's new book, Classical Music in America: A History of its Rise and Fall (Norton), has implications for the current status of classical ballet in America as well.

One major thesis, classical music has declined as it (a) kept repeating the old classics but could not or would not generate comparable serious contemporary American work, and (b) in the absence of star composers, all the acclaim and attention went to star performers (of older repertoire).

The Economist's reviewer writes: "In recent years, as a result of such stultifying repetition, a refusal to engage with the realities of time and place and the irresistible rise of pop culture, the bottom has finally dropped out of the classical music market. Formerly august, unassailable institutions are fighting for survival."

Sound familiar to ballet goers? Scarcity of high-level contemporary choreography (see Gia Koulas article)? Returning again and again to a relatively small number of old classics? Courting popularity by emphasizing the excitement of the performer rather than the creativity of the choreographer?

You can get one free view of a review of this in the New Stateman at www.newstatesman.com.

#2 dirac

dirac

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 25,106 posts

Posted 12 July 2005 - 02:22 PM

Thanks, bart. I havenít read this book, but I did read Horowitzís Understanding Toscanini, and came away with the feeling that although Horowitz is prone to hyperbole and ignoring evidence that doesnít jibe with the thesis heís pushing, he is also thought provoking and can draw your attention to neglected issues and data.

#3 bart

bart

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,320 posts

Posted 12 July 2005 - 04:00 PM

I always liked the sub-title to the Toscanini book, part of which is "How he Became an American Culture God". Toscanini had all that broadcast time with his NBC audience, and few were the American families (with cultural aspirations) who didn't have one or more Toscanini albums.

(Seems almost impossible to believe today, doesn't it?)

#4 carbro

carbro

    Late Board Registrar

  • Rest in Peace
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 6,361 posts

Posted 12 July 2005 - 07:51 PM

(Seems almost impossible to believe today, doesn't it?)

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Yup, except for your modifier, "almost." :innocent:

I guess today's equivalent is . . .Aaaarrrrggggghh! Blanking on the name. The blind, Italian tenor.

#5 Helene

Helene

    Administrator

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 11,149 posts

Posted 12 July 2005 - 07:58 PM

Andrea Bocelli.

#6 carbro

carbro

    Late Board Registrar

  • Rest in Peace
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 6,361 posts

Posted 12 July 2005 - 08:17 PM

:innocent: Thanks, Helene!

#7 Hans

Hans

    Sapphire Circle

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,104 posts

Posted 13 July 2005 - 04:23 AM

Not to mention Josh Groban :innocent:

#8 bart

bart

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,320 posts

Posted 13 July 2005 - 05:24 AM

European tv is full of such cross-overs. Remember the wierd pairing of Pavarotti and Sting? Nessun dorma has become the international anthem of execrably performed cross-over. Or Sarah Brightman. Or Charlotte Church. The list goes on and on. Europe has much to answer for.

European popular culture often imports classical music into the popular, perhaps because it brings prestige to those pop performers who make the journey. Horowitz seems to imply that mainstream American classical music is in decline because it failed to move in the opposite direction -- a case of classical looking down its nose at other musical forms. His main charge is that American classical music for a long time could not or would not integrate even the strongest elements of popular American culture (jazz, spirituals, a style of spontaneity, rhythmic variety, cultural diversity, etc.) into the classical canon.

I guess that, today, ballet companies ARE increasingly trying to integrate many popular styles of music and to adapt the movement vocabulary to them, which is a plus. the negative is that they often do not do it very well -- that they have not yet developed sufficient choreographic skill to do this at the highest level of art. This leads to lots of non-nutritious, unmemorable dances that fade quickly from the repertoire. (Quick, name 5 ballets from the Diamond Project that audiences really want to see a second time.)

Repeated remountings of Swan Lake, Corsaire, etc., deserve to be preserved and respectfully reinterpreted for their own sake. They are also wonderful for an occasional outing -- because they generate lots of money -- and because they permit the true devotees the chance to compare dancers and performances and to deepen their appreciation. But, like similar recyclings of Aida, Boheme, or Butterfly in opera, they don't necessariliy attract the most creative people to work in ballet, may fail to interest the most adventurous audiences, and generally keep the art moving (if at all) at a snail's pace.

Edited by bart, 13 July 2005 - 08:45 AM.



0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users


Help support Ballet Alert! and Ballet Talk for Dancers year round by using this search box for your amazon.com purchases (adblockers may block display):