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Critical Conversation
Classical Music Critics on the Future of Music

A 10-Day AJ Topic Blog (July 28-August 7, 2004)


Wednesday Wednesday, August 4

    READER: Insulted Concert-goers
    By Marc Geelhoed
    posted @ 12:40 am
    To Wynne Delacoma's mention of concert-goers who are upset when they hear a new piece and don't like it, I say, "That's great!" It means they're involved, that they care, that they wanted to have an experience they could remember. And remember positively, moreover. If it happened to be a piece that I or another critic thought was actually very good or good but not up to the composer's other works, that's OK, too. I'll take a passionate insult over an indifferent shrug any day...  read more

    Nothing to Do with Big Ideas

    By Kyle Gann
    posted @ 5:57 am
    I had a different reaction to Wynne Delacoma’s post about angry audiences than critic Marc Geelhoed did.

    Years ago my son had a classmate in school who was an exchange student from Graz, Austria. I met his parents, who were not musicians, and mentioned that there was an important contemporary music festival there. They replied, “Oh yes, we go every year.” I said, with mild surprise, “Oh, so you like that kind of music.” They replied, “Oh no, the music’s always terrible.”

    They hated the complex postserialist music (this was at least 12 years ago) played at the Graz festival. But they went every year.

    I wish American musical institutions could nurture this kind of attitude in their audiences. Marc’s right that the angry reaction is a sign of passionate involvement, but I think Wynne’s righter that more people ought to have the maturity to be able to dislike something without getting angry and cancelling their subscriptions. And I suspect that part of the reason they don’t was that for too many years we denied the audience the right to dislike the music. We experts took the position that, “Well, you have to listen to a lot of this music, and it’s very complex, and you have to train yourself to listen to it, so just trust us, it’s great music, and it’ll be good for you.” We should have empowered the audience members to like and dislike whatever they wanted, and treated disliking a piece of music as a totally normal experience. You don’t like every painting in an exhibition, and you don’t like every piece on a concert. Personally, I get a lot of interesting insights from hearing music I don’t like. And I think what was different about the parents from Graz was that no one had ever taken from them their confidence that they were perfectly competent to decide what was a good piece and what wasn’t. They’d show up every year, listen to the latest Helmut Lachenmann circumlocutions, say to each other “That was crap,” and no one ever lectured them, “No, you just don’t understand it.” Their unshakeable confidence in their own amateur musical judgment impressed me as much as their willingness to go back, and I felt that one caused the other.

    On an unrelated topic, I’ll add that composer-readers Dennis Bathory-Kitsz and Corey Dargel made excellent points about the lack of distribution for, and investment in, types of new music that audiences could easily love if they could only get a chance to hear them. We’re fools if we discuss the problems of new music without taking into account the massive, if often invisible, corporate filters that keep the money-making status quo inviolate.

    Uptown and downtown have merged
    By Kyle Gann
    posted @ 6:16 am
    Bulletin: Uptown and downtown have merged. - Davidson

    Starting around 1987 with the advent of the Bang on a Can festival, a new generation of Downtown composers got started in New York, more marketing-savvy and ensemble-savvy than their predecessors, who were able to make themselves more palatable to Uptown institutions. Concomitantly, more than a few thoroughly Uptown-trained composers moved into the Downtown scene as a hipper place to launch their careers from. If the making of lists hadn't been discouraged, I could make a long list (starting with Phill Niblock, Beth Anderson, and Joshua Fried) of important Downtown composers that to this day no Uptown organization would touch with a ten-foot baton. I say none of this to complain: I've done very well by the classical establishment. But if you live your whole life Downtown, you realize that the oft-heralded merger between Uptown and Down is partly realized strategy, partly PR facade.

    Downtown untouchables
    By Justin Davidson
    posted @ 6:39 am
    Of course there are plenty of uptown, crosstown and out-of-town composers that the big institutions won't touch. Most of them, in fact.

    READER: Another Composer's Viewpoint
    By Beata Moon
    posted @ 6:42 am

    As a composer and performer (see Kyle Gann's list of postminimalists), I know that when I compose, I am not trying to follow a musical trend or style, nor am I aiming to create a new one. I want to write music that will speak to all listeners; music that is true and sincere. As artists, we each bring our individual histories, whatever that may be, to our work. Because I was classically-trained  read more

    To Kyle
    By Justin Davidson
    posted @ 7:21 am

    I'll have to think about that. I actually think that ivy-league modernists are probably more non grata at 66th St. now than Niblock et. al. What's the likelihood of Lincoln Center commissioning something from Mario Davidovsky (Columbia, Harvard)? But you're not saying that, with the exception of certain major downtowners, Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall have presented all the truly important and seminal composers of our time - are you?

    Beata Moon brings up music education or the lack of it - surely one of the defining aspects of musical life today. But I've always wondered whether ignorance causes indifference or the other way around. Do audiences not care about what they hear because they haven't learned about music, or are they not taught music because people don't care?

    Attempt at an overview
    By Alex Ross
    posted @ 7:30 am
    What does the future hold? There is nothing more difficult to talk about, and the conversation can easily deteriorate into anxious chatter because no hard evidence exists to back up anyone's assertions. Nonetheless, it's interesting to try. Where will music (this music, classical music) stand twenty years from now? There are strongly mixed signs. On the one hand, as Greg Sandow has been noting on his blog, some mainstream administrators are making apocalyptic noises about the financial health of their institutions. None of us would be surprised, I think, if there were a few spectacular failures, especially in the orchestra realm, and most especially on the East Coast. There are seemingly intractable problems in the way orchestras are structured. Many administrators want to try a host of new approaches in marketing, audience outreach, concert presentation, and so on, but the orchestra unions are extraordinarily reluctant to make any changes. This impasse is a train wreck waiting to happen. (You got a glimpse of it recently at the Philadelphia Orchestra; more to follow as other contracts come up for renewal.) Opera, we're told, is in a much healthier state, but the Metropolitan Opera, for one, doesn't seem like a happy camp these days, and it may be looking down the same double-barreled shotgun of administration-union paralysis. Pamela Rosenberg's forthcoming departure from the San Francisco Opera is depressing: someone came in wanting to take a bold new approach, and ran up against ye olde brick wall.


    The end of several major orchestras and opera houses would not be the end of the world. Kyle Gann has said many times that composers would get along on just fine without orchestras, thanks, orchestras having done so little for composers over the years. The loss would be heavier for audiences, who, since the late nineteenth century, have been trained to look for greatness in a symphonic tuxedo. Some kind of catastrophic break with this chronic overemphasis on the Orchestra might not in the end be a bad thing. But it would be supremely painful. A lot of us city critics might find ourselves going down with the ship. Yet I can't help feeling what will perhaps turn out to be a foolish optimism. I see fresh faces filling orchestras; I hear one brilliant new young singer or pianist or violinist after another; I talk to student composers who seem free of the resentments of their elders. (You’re all still talking within the frame of Milton Babbitt’s “Who Cares If You Listen?” essay, one wrote to me.) The infusion of new attitudes must eventually have a consequence in the audience itself, and when the audience changes everything will change.

    There’s more to this train of thought, but I’ll stop for now. I need to run the Condescension & One-Upmanship checker on the remainder of the post.

    To Justin
    By Kyle Gann
    posted @ 7:32 am
    Well, if all you want me to admit is that some of New York's cultural institutions have swung more Downtown than Up-, you've got it. BAM has been virtually a Downtown institution since 1980, and Lincoln Center, initially under the open-minded guidance of Mr. Rockwell, has followed along. Whether the goods are getting divided fairly is not the issue.

    Let me put it this way. I'm not just a Downtown kid looking through the Uptown window and imagining all sorts of alleged goodies inside. I'm chair of the music department at Bard, where I teach with Joan Tower and George Tsontakis. We've got the Da Capo Ensemble in residence. Thanks to such connections, I'm on many panels with Uptown composers. I'm a program annotator for two orchestras, both of which play more than their share of new music. I sit around and talk to plenty of Uptown composers, and we marvel at how different our opinions are, what different repertoires we know, what different qualities we look for in a new score. I mention Robert Ashley (greatest opera composer of the late 20th century, but a Downtowner), and one of the most active entrpreneurs in Uptown responds, "I've never heard his music, what's it like?" They admit to me that if a score isn't meticulously notated, they cast it aside as amateurish (Downtowners take a much looser attitude toward notation). How do I know Uptown and Downtown haven't merged? The Uptown musicians keep telling me so. When they start telling me something different, I'll let you know.

    READER: Back To Big Ideas
    By Garth Trinkl
    posted @ 8:34 am
    So we're back to big ideas... you mean like having American composers team up with distinguished, and popular, poets and writers to write new operas and choral works for American opera houses
    and concert halls? ...  Glimpses of this idea include ...  read more

    READER: A Matter of Education
    By Beata Moon
    posted @ 8:45 am

    How can we improve music education? I think Kyle’s point about American audiences not feeling competent to respond to music is an important one. So often have I witnessed children responding intuitively to classical music only to have their responses quelled by the adults...  read more

    Composers are the next big thing
    By Andrew Druckenbrod
    posted @ 9:52 am

    Off for a few days and heeding Doug’s call to try again to address the question of what could be the next big idea(s) in music:

    Having gone on record as thinking composers today have the wonderful opportunity to establish their own language as well as style in a world bereft of a dominating stylistic presence, I propose further that we look at composers, not movements or styles, for the next big thing.

    This sounds like a tautology, but it's not. It follows the recent posts of this debate that suggest we take a longer listen to contemporary composers we might think are major (whoever that is to you, but you know what i mean). I would argue that the next big ideas in music are simply going to be nearly synonymous with what the best and most influential contemporary composers are doing. It’s about quality and originality these days, not imitation of others or adherence to a style.

    So often in the history of music (to which I keep trying to bring this debate back so it isn’t so focused on the last 50 years or so), musical development occurs when a composer does his/her own thing. Theorists writing about it later, performers performing it, and other composers aping it are also crucial, obviously, but it is the composer's originality that is the driver.

    So, the next big thing in art music is none other than Ades or Adams or whomever. The next big thing is not a thing at all, but people – composers. How one gets influential or programmed is a conversation for another blog. But I think the question of big things makes more sense thinking less of a style and more about specific composers.

    Just as Bach was quite different from others of the early 18th-century galant style, Adams (to pick one undeniably major composer) is different from most other contemporary composers, even post-minimalists.

    If this seems too great a splintering of genres – that every composer represents a style – just remember that the music of the past still relevant to us today is but 1 percent of all that’s been written. If we as critics are critical within an egalitarian view that gives all composers a chance in our ears, we can name who we think are the best composers and who are the most influential.

    Any of the composers on Kyle’s list, many of which I don’t know and cannot wait to hear (I love his column on contemporary composers in Chamber Music magazine, btw), can rise to this occasion. And even an influential composer like Adams doesn't force his style on others, though many may take from it and it may form a sort of language (though not a lingua franca). I think that today’s composers drive the train of compositional style rather than sit as passengers.

    a few small ideas
    By Anne Midgette
    posted @ 10:53 am

    Bravo to Kyle’s post on the right to dislike music: so true. In America, the so-called general public often doesn't feel it has a right to have an opinion about music - although members of the same public are perfectly ready to pontificate about books, movies, and visual art they know little or nothing about.

    And bravo to Dennis Bathory-Kitz on the failure of marketing. It’s so striking in this field that major organizations make tiny, half-hearted stabs at marketing their product, then sit back and wail about how difficult it is to sell classical music. If classical music - ANY kind, from the least-known composer on Kyle’s list to “Salome” at the Met - were marketed with the same savvy and effort of your average movie release, it would be a lot higher on the popular radar. (Sure, it takes money - but I think the big classical music institutions, and I include record labels, ultimately lose more money by marketing poorly than they would by spending the extra bucks to do it well. After all, they all already have marketing budgets and departments; but one wonders what their criteria are for how successfully those budgets are utilized.)

    It’s like Justin’s chicken-and-egg question about indifference and ignorance: it’s a vicious cycle. There’s an idea that classical music won’t interest people, so less is written about it and it's marketed less, so fewer people learn about it, so its frame of reference shrinks. This blog even propagates this, since its scope is pretty selective. I’m not sure that general readers, or even some classical music fans, will feel included in this discussion. (I’m hoping a reader will chime in here with another opinion.)

    Marketing madness
    By Andrew Druckenbrod
    posted @ 11:32 am

    ...but I think the big classical music institutions, and I include record labels, ultimately lose more money by marketing poorly than they would by spending the extra bucks to do it well...

    -- Midgette

    Anne: No kidding about classical marketing; it is truly depressing! There is nothing more boring or off-putting than an orchestra’s ad campaign. Why can’t they understand that engaging in up-to-date marketing concepts doesn’t mean sullying the music on stage? As long as you don’t goof with the musical quality or programming, I say be adventurous with the ads. Besides, classical music itself is adventurous, not that you could tell that from their advertising (little “truth in advertising” here).

    This is off the thread, I guess, but if symphonies and operas can’t market the established, awe-inspiring ideas/music of the past, how in the world are they to be trusted to market cutting-edge music or the next big idea? There are such amazing composers working today, but when new ones are put on a subscription concert, it is still apologetically, usually not even mentioned (or barely mentioned) in the ads. I am sorry, but “world premiere” is not enough of a selling point!

    Staging big ideas
    By Anne Midgette
    posted @ 11:34 am

    It’s interesting to me that this is supposed to be a blog about big ideas, but has turned into a blog about which critics like which composers. I raised the question a few posts ago (that’s six weeks in blog years) about why big ideas in music necessarily have to be about NEW music. Since, as Wynne says, a large part of the classical music audience doesn’t like new music, new composers are not necessarily going to serve as ambassadors for Big Ideas, even if they’re dealing with the ideas that most interest us, as critics.

    Greg and I both posted earlier about some Big Ideas in the classical music field that have given rise to a lot of discussion and dissent among a wider public; but nobody else in this conversation seems to share our views.

    One of those ideas was contemporary stage direction, and I’m coming back at you, Alex, because I feel your earlier posting on the subject partakes of the hand-wringing one so often encounters when music critics talk about stage direction today. I share your regret that opera houses are not putting more energy into finding “bold new opera,” but I strongly disagree with the idea that interpretive stage direction is “a substitute for new opera,” or that its ascendancy is “a tragic state of affairs” - even if this idea represents a majority opinion in the USA. I think contemporary stage direction is a Big Idea. I am happy to concede that 90% of it is crap - like 90% of what’s new in any serious art form - but the idea of plumbing the operatic repertory to find new ways it can speak to an audience is not in itself awful or anti-musical or sacrilegious, even in cases where the result is not as successful as one might have wished.

    One of the main proponents of creative stage direction in this country is Pamela Rosenberg in San Francisco, whom you admire (as do I) for her “bold new ideas.” Many of those ideas involved opening people’s eyes to what this particular element of opera can be, at its best. I gather that she had some real clunkers and some glorious successes, which in my opinion is a pretty fine track record.

    To market, to market
    By Anne Midgette
    posted @ 11:43 am

    Andrew: Amen, and it isn't only the big ad campaigns either. Some of the pitches I get as a journalist are toe-curlingly awful.

    I don't even think this is off the subject, because part of the problem we face today is that marketing so assiduously seeks to avoid big ideas. I get pitches inviting me to puff on cigars with Susan Graham, or write about the "sex kitten" Lara St. John (in both cases, shortly AFTER I had done major features on the artists in question). But God forbid that any piece of marketing material, from a brochure to a program biography, should actually try to define an organization or performer or composer in ARTISTIC terms.

    To Anne, On Directors
    By Alex Ross
    posted @ 12:07 pm
    I half-accept your criticism of my earlier post on the "tragic" phenomenon of opera direction. I still think the celebrity opera director is in some way a substitute for the composer, just as the celebrity conductor is a substitute. Both allow new-music-hating audiences to hear the same works over and over again with an overlay of novelty. (The suspicion of new music set in long before the modernist heyday, as we know. It was epidemic in the international music-loving middle class from about 1850 onward.) Pamela Rosenberg's regime in SF excited me not so much because of her fondness for daring directors but because of her commitment to 20th-century and new opera. Nevertheless, I went over the top in calling the situation "tragic." You can't have a modern opera house or orchestra without an established repertory. I want to hear the old operas along with everyone else. And I want to see intelligent, inventive direction. Robert Carsen basically rewrote "Die Frau ohne Schatten" in Vienna, and the result may have been superior to the original. The trouble is that it's an incredibly risky, unpredictable process, and some outright frauds have made a career of it. I still haven't quite recovered from the shock of "Parsifal" in Bayreuth, so forgive me if I painted with too broad a brush.


    The recontextualizing opera production isn't really new, though; it's an early 20th-century idea (twenties Berlin one more time) getting intensified by early 21st-century pop-culture shock tactics. I wouldn't put it at the very top of a list of Giant Notions in the performance world. So what might they be? I'm very excited by the idea of taking music out of traditional concert halls; the club-hopping cellist Matt Haimowitz has been mentioned, and he's done something quite amazing. I like the the idea of the bridge-building concert with smart pop musicians: the London Sinfonietta has been doing a lot of this England, collaborating with the minimalist-loving electronic artists on the Warp and Rephlex labels. I like the general loosening of the concert ritual -- getting rid of evening dress, talking briefly to the audience between pieces, fiddling with a shorter, intermission-free format. Manipulations of the internet in all its forms are pretty huge; I love reading musician bloggers, such as Helen Radice in the UK (see harpist.typepad.com). But these aren't really a-ha Ideas so much as practical consequences of a fundamental, inward change of attitude among younger musicians, who are deeply serious about their art but don't want to play out the staid, stuffy "classical" routine anymore. More on this anon.

    Challenges, if not ideas
    By Scott Cantrell
    posted @ 12:54 pm

    Maybe instead of groping in the dark for "the next big idea" we should be listing the challenges we can see all too clearly. And trying to suggest ways to deal with them.

    The reactionary state of orchestras is one problem.

    What other artistic phenomenon is virtually unchanged in the last century? Where else, except debutante balls, do you still see men in tail coats? What kind of message does this convey in an increasingly casual and anti-elitist society? (I write this in my newspaper office, where my standard summer attire is a t-shirt and khakis.) When the Dallas Symphony Orchestra presented some "Casual Concerts" earlier this summer, the audiences were dramatically younger--and more attentive. Hardly a cough to be heard, as opposed to the veritable squadron of consumptives who seem to attend every main-season concert.

    If audiences are hostile to new music, orchestra musicians are scarcely less so. All too few conductors have any vital interest in music beyond Shostakovich. If they deign to notice American music at all, it's Copland, Barber and Gershwin. Period.

    If they're shamed into paying some attention to newer American music, it's apt to be a short, splashy curtain-raiser -- a short ride in a noisy machine. The purgative administered, everyone can wipe off and get on to the real music.

    The DSO, never terribly adventurous, now hardly dares program anything that the most casual concertgoer won't recognize. Anything else and, I'm reliably told, the marketing department says, "We can't sell that." They even put a stop to principal guest conductor Claus Peter Flor's idea of pairing the Schubert "Unfinished" and Bruckner Ninth symphonies. Chamber music groups around here evidently consider Bartok and Shostakovich the ne plus ultra of modern music.

    The season-subscription marketing scheme has been losing ground for decades. With leisure opportunities multiplying by the year, people are less and less willing to book themselves months in advance. Multiple subscription plans now offered in season brochures are as confusing as IRS forms. But then marketing concerts one by one is horribly expensive. I don't know the answer to all this, but maybe presenters should just offer open-ended quantity discounts: subscribe to any three concerts and get 5 percent off; take five concerts and get 10 percent off.

    Maybe we should be grateful for directorial imagination in opera. Has any opera newer than Billy Budd (1951) come close to joining the standard international repertory?

    READER: Education & Audience Engagement
    By John Shaw
    posted @ 2:03 pm
    Maybe it’s a function of growing up in the provinces (Kalamazoo, Mich., in my case), but I’ve never known people not to be confident in their dismissal of modern arts.  My pianist grandmother (B.A., piano, Northwestern, some time in the ‘20s) didn’t like the Schoenbergian strain and one year for Christmas bought me Henry Pleasants’ amusing diatribe “The Agony of Modern Music"... read more

    READER: Lists, Categories, & Big Ideas Miss The Point
    By Joan La Barbara
    posted @ 2:12 pm
    Nicholas Kenyon finally hit it on the mark!  The "Big Ideas", "isms" and named categories happen afterwards and, while it is interesting to see what name critics apply to certain groups of individual composers, many of those composers eschew the categories anyway, preferring to simply do their own work and get on with it.  Sometimes being included in a particular category has had an inhibiting effect on the expansion of the musical output of certain composers...  read more

    READER: A Little of This, A Little of That
    By B. Fleming
    posted @ 2:25 pm

    If, in the past, composers have used their knowledge of audiences expectations to help make their creative decisions (in which case, composers with similar audiences would have a similar set of expectations against which to respond), then perhaps a new "big idea" or unifying idea will not be possible until a new creative directive (something that takes the place of the past's known quantity of audience expectations) emerges that can be responded to by multiple composers during a similar period in time.  read more

    READER: Point of Clarification
    By Marc Geelhoed
    posted @ 2:43 pm
    I didn't mean to imply that I think it's wonderful that someone is thrown into a violent rage by a new piece of music they didn't like just because it shows that they have a pulse or that they're obviously engaged, as Kyle pointed out I did (can't seem to attach a hyperlink; it's Nothing to Do with Big Ideas). I was thinking more along the lines that I'd rather have someone disappointed and saying so about a new work rather than having them A) Feel they're not smart enough to express their opinion or B) Think they have to like it but don't know why they didn't... read more

    For Joan La Barbara
    By Alex Ross
    posted @ 3:12 pm
    Joan La Barbara's caution against "isms," categories, and lists is possibly the most sensible thing that's yet appeared here. We are, of course, just trying to have a conversation — throw out some ideas, have a few disputes, show where we're coming from. I feel as though casual posts are being scrutinized as if carved in marble. I guess, though, it's always good for critics to get smacked around a little. Profound, mysterious irony: some of us don't take criticism very well. A composer correspondent has compared our blog to eleven-year-old kids trying to explain their social networks: "...so then Garrett and I used to be friends, but then her dad got a promotion and now she's really stuck up, and then my friend John well he's not really my friend but I'm going to invite him to my bar mitzvah anyway..." Ouch. In defense of my own list, which may very well contain Salieris and Hummels and a Hermann Goetz or two in the bunch, all I can say is, this is the music I believe in, and in order to present some kind of legible picture to readers I am definitely going to be selective. If John Adams turns out to be the mediocrity of all time, OK, but I've been singing "This is prophetic" to myself since 1989, and that's all I have to go on.


    ADDENDUM: John Adams is my own example. Ms. La Barbara did not place him at any position on the Mozart-Salieri axis.

    ADDENDUM 2: Apologies to Morton Feldman for the title.

    READER: so what's the big idea?
    By John Shaw
    posted @ 4:28 pm
    I may have missed something, but here’s the tally of Big Ideas so far: 1. There is no big idea. 1.A.  Fragmentation, or the lack of a big unifying idea, is the big idea. 1.A.i.  The individualism of composers going their own way is the big idea. 1.B.  Critics worrying about whether there is a big idea is a big new phenomenon. 2.  Polyrhythmic expansions on the rhythmic complexities of the classic minimalists is a big, or at least a medium-sized, idea. read more


    By Alex Ross
    posted @ 6:39 pm

    I must leave early, so here are my last thoughts in what has been a lively exchange. Thank you to all colleagues and readers. I’d written a few paragraphs on elitism and contemporary styles and other familiar topics, and I may still put them on my blog, but the best way to bow out is to quote from some e-mails that have piled up in my inbox, which render everything I was going to say superfluous: “I think the most beautiful thing about composing now, as opposed to then, is that there is the option to ‘hang out’ in the crazy network of music that is available. Writing music feels like I'm having a conversation or writing an e-mail or making a phone call rather than writing an essay. It has to do with the way people talk with their friends – a little language begins to develop, little nuances and half-truths and leitmotifs.… Wise young composers are eating everything up in their path, devouring all the available musics and building a family made up of Conversants, rather than Inductees.... The Future, which I'll define here as representing a movement from Bad Attitude to Good Attitude, operates, like evolution, on the level of the individual, not on the level of the institution. If you see writing as a form of social engagement, you soon realize that it doesn't make any sense to be undiplomatic, ever.”

Read this blog by date: 7/27 7/28 7/29 7/30 7/31 8/1 8/2 8/3 8/4 8/5 8/6 8/7


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If the history of music is the recorded conversation of ideas, then where do we find ourselves in that conversation at the start of the 21st Century? In the past, musical ideas have been fought over, affirmed then challenged again, with each generation adding something new. Ultimately consensus was achieved around an idea, and that idea gained traction with a critical mass of composers.

Now we are in a period when no particular musical idea seems to represent our age, and it appears that for the moment – at least on the surface – that there is no obvious direction music is going. So the question is: what is the next chapter in the historical conversation of musical ideas, and where are the seeds of those ideas planted?

Or: Is it possible that, with traditional cultural structures fragmenting, and the ways people are getting and using culture fundamentally changing, that it is no longer possible for a unifying style to emerge? Is it still possible for a Big Idea to attain the kind of traction needed to energize and acquire a critical mass of composers and performers?

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READER: The purpose of music
- Linda Rogers (08/06/2004 10:46 am)

READER: Thank you to all
- Jennifer Higdon (08/06/2004 10:10 am)

READER: To Corey Dargel and Kyle Gann
- Garth Trinkl (08/06/2004 9:21 am)

READER: re:Where Are The Young Voices?
- Andrea La Rose (08/06/2004 9:21 am)

READER: To Justin: Art can be entertaining, but it is not entertainment
- Arthur J. Sabatini (08/06/2004 8:42 am)

Final Disinformation

- Kyle Gann (08/06/2004 8:41 am)

READER: Where Are The Young Voices?
- Corey Dargel (08/06/2004 8:21 am)

Over and out - an anti-rant rant
- Justin Davidson (08/06/2004 7:05 am)

READER: Classical Music Doesn't Fit The PR Mold
- Dennis Bathory-Kitsz (08/05/2004 9:21 pm)

READER: Eclecticism Is Better Anyway
- Hale Jacob (08/05/2004 7:41 pm)

All Posts


Greg Sandow
  The Wall Street Journal
 - To Justin: Hermetic

 - Performance ideas
 - Truly big classical

Another view

Wynne Delacoma
  Chicago Sun-Times
 - Composer bashing, female
    critics, form and content
 - Big Ideas--Who Needs Them?

Alex Ross
  The New Yorker
 - Clarification, Departure
 - The New New Thing
 - Provocation!
 - To AC Douglas
 - Pop Innovation
A Potential Goldmine
 - To Rockwell: Styles, Not

 - Listening for Passionate

Kyle Gann
  Village Voice
 - Listening examples provided
 - Queries for John Rockwell
 - Unfair on my part
 - Composer bashing
 - Inside a big idea
 - Names & Their Inadequacies
 - The Idea & Its Conditions
The Next Medium-Sized Idea
 - Alternate Universe

Justin Davidson
 - Thanks, Kyle
 - proposal
 - To Kyle
 - Who's saying give up?
 - Some Things Are New, Actually
 - High/Low Redux
 - pop envy
Where was THAT in Classical

 - Apology & Comment
 - How Big is a Big Idea?

John Rockwell
  The New York Times
 - Reply to Kyle and a Plea
 - Arghhh, or however you
    spell it
 - The Magpie
 - Brahms and Wagner
Question for Kyle
 - To Alex, Justin: the pedant
    at work

 - Initial Entry

Scott Cantrell
  Dallas Morning News
 - What's success?
 - Pop music precendent
 - Multiculturalism
 - Fragmentation
 - Female Critics
 - Movements & Media
A Blurry Patchwork

Charles Ward
  Houston Chronicle
 - Jotting IV: Grab Bag
 - Jotting III: When John
 - Jotting II: I'd Rather Not Get
    A Call From Stalin

Jotting I: We Do Have A Big

Anne Midgette
  The New York Times
 - What's the big idea?
 - A Few Responses To
    Other Postings
 - Back to Fragmentation
    for a Minute

 - Gender footnote
 - Another preamble

Andrew Druckenbrod
  Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
 - Composers are Composers
    but Distinctions are
 - No apology to pop and

 - Taking Issue With The

John von Rhein
  Chicago Tribune

Kyle MacMillan
  Denver Post

Joshua Kosman
  San Francisco Chronicle


The Purpose of Music
- Linda Rogers (08/06/2004 10:46 am)

Thank you to all
- Jennifer Higdon (08/06/2004 10:10 am)

To Corey Dargel and Kyle Gann
- Garth Trinkl (08/06/2004 10:00 am)

re: Where Are The Young Voices?
- Andrea La Rose (08/06/2004 9:21 am)

To Justin: Art can be entertaining, but it is notentertainment
- Arthur J. Sabatini (08/06/2004 8:42 am)

Where Are The Young Voices?
- Corey Dargel (08/06/2004 8:20 am)

Summing Up
- Brian Newhouse (08/05/2004 9:26 pm)

Classical Music Doesn't Fit The PR Mold
- Dennis Bathory-Kitsz (08/05/2004 9:18 pm)

Eclecticism Is Better Anyway
- Hale Jacob (08/05/2004 7:40 pm)

What Is Live Performance, Anyway?
- Steve Layton (08/05/2004 7:34 pm)

All Reader Posts


- Discography of Minimalist and
    Totalist music

- Kyle Gann on Post-Minimalism
- Kyle Gann: Following the
    Classical Script


- DJ Spooky
- Tan Dun
- Zhou Long
- Bright Sheng



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