Almanac: Edward Rothstein on the human context of classical music

INK BOTTLE“If music is treated as if it had no grounding in the concrete world of persons and politics, if it is treated as purely a formal construction, music risks becoming a novel without characters, using words without meaning. Education becomes focused on execution and analysis. Listening becomes focused on mere pleasure or cultish devotion. This is one reason why so much music has become relatively unimportant today, despite its plenitude: we have filtered out the aspects of music that connect it to creator and culture on any level deeper than ‘music appreciation.’ So we hear Mozart’s music not as an intricate commentary on the relationship between manners and natural passion so important to his time but as, simply, ‘great,’ ‘magical,’ ‘sublime, ‘holy.’”

Edward Rothstein, “Karajan: The Nazi Recordings” (The New Republic, Nov. 7, 1988)

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