Quiggin, on Nov 20 2008, 03:49 AM, said:
That’s part of what Frederic Jameson, the hapless Marxist, meant about Late Modernism. In many respects the Late Modenists’ work was very good, but there was less genius to it and they had to work twice as hard to find their freedom. Happily Balanchine was part of the first wave.
Yes, that is probably what he meant, and I think it's wrong. You can make all these formulae, and say without Denishawn and Isadora, Graham wouldn't have been able to do her revolutionary work, and she 'lived on the capital' of her predecessors. But she produced much greater lasting work than they did. I don't mean in exactly the same way, but the real Marxist way of saying this spurious matter of Webern and then Boulez and Carter (the latter to a lesser degree in terms of serialism) 'living off the capital of the modernisms of the 20s', would be to say that 'they capitalized on the labour of the modernisms of the 20s'. If they 'had to work twice as hard', that's immaterial, as they have to work as hard as is necessary, hard or easy; and it's a matter of personal opinion that's there's 'less genius' to Boulez than to Schoenberg (as in my opinion, for example, which doesn't think there is, but that's just my opinion, just sayin...etc..) In any case, Balanchine is Romantic no matter whether also innovative and 'neo-classical', and this is shown clearly in the fact that he uses much more 17th, 18th and 19th century music than he does 20th for his works. You can call Balanchine 'modern ballet', but it is not 'modernist' in comparison to previous classical ballet in the same way that Webern, Boulez and Stockhausen are to previous music. It is a part of the 19th century as well as the 20th.
I think what Macaulay means about Beckett is that Balanchine’s dancers pull their ideas out of their guts, like Beckett characters. They pull these monologues (and Balanchine pas de deux are often extended dual monologues) from their inner being and inventory them in front of you. His ballets are Shakespearean in their worldliness.
That is interesting, and no doubt true, but that is not the same thing as hyperbole about 'supreme dramatists of the 20th century.' This has to do with wanting to enshrine gods, and not everybody is interested. It's a serious issue. But what you said about Balanchine's works being 'Shakespearean in their worldliness' is equally true of Martha Graham, and she goes into many areas that could be said to be much deeper--but mainly it is just different, and I find the tenacious clinging to one or the other among many people to be understandable, but not the truth. Modern ballet, even in the hands of Balanchine, could not encompass everything that formal serious dance had to reach out to, so it is possible that modern dance developed side by side with ballet, which is different from growing out of Viennese tradition, with Schoenberg starting out with tonal works that then become atonal, and finally 12-tone--you can still see the direct line from Wagner on through with some tributaries in Debussy and Stravinsky before arriving at the seeming arrogance of the high modernists. The voice of this Viennese School is so loud that people forget that there are extremely important 20th century compositions by Britten, Copland, Carter, Tippett and many others that did not have to conform to these schools to produce masterpieces, and did not feel anachronistic.
Stravinsky gives great pleasure, but he’s not Mozart in variety, and he’s not Balanchine in depth.
This is the kind of thing that I meant about why you'd like Macaulay. There's no depth in some Balanchine (and there's not supposed to be), and there is depth in 'le Sacre du Printemps.' I'm with Shakespeare in 'comparison is odorous' even more than with John Donne with 'comparison is odious.' It's necessary, but my personal policy on comparison is to never use it except when there's no choice. I love Prokofiev more than Stravinsky, I'm quite sure, but these theories don't have nearly as much to do with art as they think. Artists are thinking about work and getting by just like everybody else, not just creativity and history (like Susan Sontag, for example, who always talked about making her place in history, and it turned out to be none of the novels, etc. Ned Rorem uses this ponderous talk as well, which is all right in either case. Nothing abnormal about being delusional about one's own work, although it's possible to be pretentious and tacky.) But there are film actors, for another example, who don't worry if their films are not all to the pleasure of the critics, they couldn't care less. They need work and will do pulp in a second, even if the critics start talking about how they've 'lost their talent and potential.' This discussion is making me like Farrell's use of the term 'spectator' more than I had before. Most audience members are spectators--only. But not all are nor have to be, and spectators can be creative during the act, as it were.
And there does tend to be a general bias, albeit unfairly, towards the Chopin Waltzes and Etudes and Nocturnes at the expense the Sonatas.
That's an interesting observation, too, although not the case among musicians. But here, I was not only talking about piano sonatas, but Sonata Form, which has continued to evolve well past Beethoven, and first theme, second them, exposition, development, and recapitulation as in the textbook First Movement of Sonata Form, is not limited to solo instruments, whether called 'sonatas', but also to concertos, symphonies, and all groupings of chamber music. But as for the Chopin, the B Flat and B Minor Sonatas are the same kind of staples that the Scherzi and Ballades are, and the Funeral March is the only thing that used to be played in the funerals of the glorious Brezhnev, Andropov, etc., accompanied by the Goose Step Dance of the special Kremlin KGB Guards. God, those funerals were great...concluding with the dirt-throwing of the politburo wives...of course the Funeral March is an exception to all rules, more than Eine Kleine Nachtmusik except for ringtones, and the general population will not know that if comes from Chopin's 2nd Sonata.
Keep them coming, folks, this is a productive discussion, and it seems to me meet and right if it needs to go into other aspects of culture not covered by specific critics; unless there is some objection to this, which is all right with me too, of course.