Reaping the Whirlwind

My, oh my – it turns out the good people at New England Conservatory are reeeally touchy about that Charles Ives line I quoted in connection with them (“You never hear negro spirituals mentioned up there to the New England Conservatory!”). I got blown away by my own little personal Hurricane Katrina of sarcasm, via e-mail from their PR department. Number one, Charles Ives said it, not me. Number two, it was more than 80 years ago – you think they’d laugh it off by this point. Number three, I didn’t really consider the line a reflection on NEC – it was Ives, fairly or not, making fun of a hypothetical schoolmarm who considered NEC the respectable final arbiter on all things musical. I suppose I shouldn’t have referred to it as “Ives’s complaint,” then, and I happily withdraw the term.

Number four, I’m from the wrong side of America’s musical tracks, and that quote is about all I have to connect with NEC. The school doesn’t come up often in discussions of Harry Partch, or Diamanda Galas, or Charlemagne Palestine. If I had some historical quotes like the following, I would surely have used them instead:

Harry Partch: “I can never thank New England Conservatory enough for supporting my work on the instruments I needed to complete Delusion of the Fury.”

Glenn Branca: “It was New England Conservatory that nurtured my efforts to write symphonies for electric guitars.”

You go into a blog entry with the historical references you have, not the ones you wish you had, or might hope to have at a later time.

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