Where do artists learn best? In the midst of a bucolic landscape — with no urban distractions? Or, is “natural” beauty distracting? Is there an ideal environment for making art? Perhaps, different arts come from different places?
Pianist Russell Sherman writes:
“The large cities of the world provide a treasure trove of culture and its artifacts, of concerts, theaters, museums, and libraries nurturing the forces of creation and
appreciation. In some instances, however, they can also inhibit creation, as well as the imagination of minds young and old stretching back into time and ahead, needing sun, space, and solitude to pursue interior visions and their external models. In particular when that city is the locus of the culture industry and all its appurtenances of success, market, and rat race, judgment is easily shriveled by the appeal to Mammon. And in particular when that city is drowned in traffic, noise, garbage, derelicts, and dereliction, in foul displays and distortions of wealth and poverty, in hordes of homeless, in sunless streets dominated by monolithic buildings, in the concrete slabs and jackhammers that wring and wrench the earth of its green and grace, of the patterns and colors that feed inspiration and are the very blueprint and green print of art, then I would suggest that this may not be the right place for self, for growing up, for an independent perspective on the goods and griefs of life …
“Parents of the world, consider well before sending your children to such a town … Send them to places with great cathedrals and vistas …”
An apparently contrarian view is presented in Thomas Bernhard’s The Loser:
“The town of Salzburg itself … was and is antagonistic to everything of value in a human being, and in time destroys it … But to study … in this town, the sworn enemy of culture and art, was surely the greatest advantage. We study better in hostile surroundings than in hospitable ones, a student is always well advised to choose a hostile place of study rather than a hospitable one, for a hospitable place will rob him of the better part of his concentration for his studies, the hostile place on the other hand will allow him total concentration, since he must concentrate on his studies to avoid despairing, and to that extent one can absolutely recommend Salzburg, probably like all other so-called beautiful towns, as a place of study, of course only to someone with a strong character, a weak character will inevitably be destroyed in the briefest time …”