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Can a "genius" or a "real artist" be a decent pers


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Poll: Can a "genius" or a "real artist" be a decent pers (36 member(s) have cast votes)

Can a "genius" or a "real artist" be a decent pers

  1. true, extraordinary talent and decency don't mix (11 votes [14.47%])

    Percentage of vote: 14.47%

  2. false, they do (65 votes [85.53%])

    Percentage of vote: 85.53%

Vote

#31 PetipaFan

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Posted 04 August 2005 - 11:23 AM

I was wondering what sort of things that Kathleen Battle actually did, so I found this on the net:

"The Metropolitan Opera soprano Kathleen Battle, it is said, was riding in a Southern California limousine once upon a time and felt cold. So she cell-phoned her agent in New York and ordered him to call the driver and tell him to turn down the air conditioning.

On another occasion, she is reported to have called the management of the Boston Symphony Orchestra to complain that her hotel's room service had put peas in her pasta.

It's said that she once held up the release of a record for six months because she didn't like the way her breasts looked in the jacket photo."

http://www.nydailyne...4p-162763c.html

She MUST be crazy because PEAS are magnificent!

I think Leigh chose the wrong word here in this thread, it should be can a "genius" or "real artist" be a "normal" person.

The most normal genius I know of in arts history was JS Bach. Are there some others?

#32 carbro

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Posted 04 August 2005 - 02:41 PM

Actually, I'm very pea-averse myself, but the aptly named soprano seems to lack a knack for efficient problem solving.

I also think there is a big difference between genius (by definition not a normal person) and a real artist. A genius comes along once or twice in a generation and changes -- forever -- their field of endeavor.

It should be noted that mediocrities often lack manners, too. Although, as dirac pointed out, they are more likely to be discouraged when their tantrums backfire. It's been my experience that people who are secure in their position generally treat others civilly. The insecure are the ones who seem to expect others to bow to their irrational whims. Not a hard and fast rule, but in general.

#33 kfw

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Posted 05 August 2005 - 06:41 AM

It should be noted that mediocrities often lack manners, too.  Although, as dirac pointed out, they are more likely to be discouraged when their tantrums backfire.  It's been my experience that people who are secure in their position generally treat others civilly.  The insecure are the ones who seem to expect others to bow to their irrational whims.  Not a hard and fast rule,  but in general.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

So true, carbro. And we might wonder how many of us nice and civil people -- at least I think I'm civil most of the time! -- would turn Battle-esque under the pressure of stardom.

When I think of a nice-guy, albeit small-A, artist, I think of Bruce Springsteen.

#34 carbro

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Posted 05 August 2005 - 10:27 AM

:devil:

When I think of a nice-guy, albeit small-A, artist, I think of Bruce Springsteen.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Before he hit it big, he played for my high school dances and Friday night Teen Canteens.

#35 dirac

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Posted 08 August 2005 - 11:23 AM

Actually, Springsteen has a few diva-like attributes that are generally underplayed in adoring profiles or go completely unmentioned. (Which is not to say that kfw is wrong and he isn’t a decent guy – but he’s been a very big star for a very long time, and that takes a toll -- no matter how nice you are.)

Battle’s problems, from what one reads, went way beyond the customary Don’t You Know I’m A Star behavior. It’s too bad.

#36 PetipaFan

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Posted 09 August 2005 - 01:10 PM

Frank Zappa was a really decent guy, if we are talking about 'rock' musicians now. I think he was more in the genius category than Bruce Springsteen!

Regarding Kathleen Battle; she was Battle but her voice was unbelievably beautiful...I remember her Zerlina from the 1987 Karajan recording of Don Giovanni and certain phrases she sang in the recitatives have stuck in my mind because the sound her voice made was so extraordinarily touching. Ideally a good musician is not to be too much affected by timbre alone!

#37 bart

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Posted 09 August 2005 - 03:04 PM

Pamina, Naneta, Adina, Despina: all nice girls. (Alright, Despina isn't entirely nice.) The early images of Battle smiling beautifully and singing with apparent joy, intelligence and effortlessness. She was always delightful to listen to and watch on stage or tv screen.

I admit, though, I can't listen or watch now without thinking of the personality problems that surfaced later. And that's sad.

#38 Helene

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Posted 09 August 2005 - 03:48 PM

Battle's voice is very lovely, but her voice type is not the rarest, and the type of roles written specifically for it are the ones that require voice quality, great technique, and taste. However, in my opinion, these roles don't require great artistry to be effective, as do the more varied characters sung by a Wagnerian/Strauss soprano or the more dramatic Mozart or Verdi roles and the majority of soprano roles written in the 20th century. There are few great lieder singers from her voice type, Elly Ameling being one of the exceptions.

I've never thought Battle had much artistic range, which is why it has always surprised me that her ego was tolerated as long as it was.

#39 bart

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Posted 09 August 2005 - 03:57 PM

Agreed on range. But what's done WITHIN one's range is important, too. And knowing one's limitations. Battle knew how to select repetoire that suited her voice. And suited her (stage) personality too.

Interesting point about Ameling's voice type, Helene. I never thought of the connection, but I guess it's no coincidence that Ameling was one the few singers whose lieder/aria recitals I tried never to miss when I lived in NYC.

#40 kfw

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Posted 09 August 2005 - 04:05 PM

Frank Zappa was a really decent guy, if we are talking about 'rock' musicians now.  I think he was more in the genius category than Bruce Springsteen.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I know what you mean, PetipaFan, but while this isn't the place to debate the merits of a couple of pop artists (I probably shouldn't have mentioned "Broooce" in the first place), it's worth noting that one was clever and funny and musically sophisticated, the other goes right for the gut. One spoke to the head, the other speaks to the heart; you may disagree, but I mention this only because it seems to me that artistic genius does both.

To get at least part way back to Leigh's original question, if we agree that artistic genius -- that great art -- by definition touches both body and mind, it's of course all the more remarkable that artistic talent and vision of a high order is so often acccompanied by narcissism. How can people capable of deep feeling, and thus of deep emotional suffering, be so callous as to inflict it on others? A far too simple question, probably.

Anyhow, Czeslaw Milosz, whose poetry I've come to love in the year since his death, at least acknowledged that in his devotion to his art, and in his ambition, he hurt those around him. Contrast that with another pop artists whom I won't name, often called a genius, who could ask bluntly, "when I am in the darkness, why must you intrude?"

#41 dirac

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Posted 09 August 2005 - 04:33 PM

I think it’s legitimate to mention popular artists in a general topic of the sort that is the subject of this thread – as long as the discussion doesn’t wander out of the paddock into fan argument. So mentioning Springsteen wasn’t out of line, IMO. Popular artists can be geniuses. (Parenthetically, Dylan has written many other lyrics that display tenderness and sensitivity. He’s also composed lyrics that express scorn, sarcasm, anger, self loathing, despair, depression, etc. He’s an artist with many sides, although maybe not Mr. Nice Guy personally.)

bart writes:

Agreed on range. But what's done WITHIN one's range is important, too. And knowing one's limitations. Battle knew how to select repetoire that suited her voice. And suited her (stage) personality too


Staying with the matter of topic discipline we don't want to turn this into the Battle thread. (I agree with you, though, bart.) :flowers:

kfw writes:

How can people capable of deep feeling, and thus of deep emotional suffering, be so callous as to inflict it on others?



It’s a very good question. I'd suggest that a genius is, finally, human and subject to all the ordinary human failings. And once you are acknowledged, even if only by a few, as a genius, and therefore special, you become a “star” of sorts and hence inclined to the kinds of self-centered behavior that characterizes all stars, even those who, well, aren’t even that talented. :)

#42 bart

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Posted 09 August 2005 - 05:02 PM

kfw writes:

How can people capable of deep feeling, and thus of deep emotional suffering, be so callous as to inflict it on others?

Kfw's paradox suggests that these people may lack the capacity for empathy. At it's most intense, this is is the failing of the sociopath.

It's one thing to feel deeply one's OWN suffering -- or even to capture and project it on others for the purposes of art.

But it's quite another thing to care about (and participate in) the way other people feel.

#43 dirac

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Posted 09 August 2005 - 05:21 PM

Interesting point, bart. Wagner comes to mind.

#44 Renata

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Posted 10 August 2005 - 08:12 AM

I read this thread with interest. My first real job was for the impresario Sol Hurok (in the dark ages before most of you were born). I was in charge of travel for all of the soloists that he managed. I can say that in some cases the artists were really egotistical and unduly difficult to work with. But some of the artists were wonderful thoughtful people. And, some were inbetween....difficult to work with but realizing this, they would thank me by praising my work to my boss, Sol Hurok. Among the artists who were always thoughtful, Marian Anderson comes to mind....at the time when I worked with her, she was only doing talks or speaking in “A Lincoln Portrait.” After she would do a tour, she would actually take the time to telephone me to explain how all of my arrangements had gone right and how things had worked perfectly. David Oistrakh was another wonderful person....he and his wife were “Mama and Papa Oistrakh” to me and I ate lunch with them at the Essex House buffet numerous times (yes, I did speak Russian). So, I guess the answer to the question this thread asks is “yes, no, and sometimes.”

#45 Farrell Fan

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Posted 10 August 2005 - 08:25 AM

Thanks for the lovely memories, Renata. And what do you care to tell us about your boss, Mr. Hurok? I suppose he qualifies as a kind of genius.


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