Here’s yet another view of modernism and the BSO — well worth taking seriously — from a reader who’d prefer I didn’t use his name:
I come from the same side of the boat as you with regard to modernism, but I don’t have the same distaste for the BSO season you’ve expressed. When we were young the modernists would always say If only this music got played more often, people would come to like it. Now, for the first time, one of the premier professional orchestras in the country is going to test that theory. If they are right, and the audiences eat this stuff up, then I will bow to their prescience. If they are wrong, and the Symphony starts playing to empty halls, then they will have had their opportunity to test the theory.
One very important difference between the BSO’s season and the world we lived in 30 years ago is that the BSO’s programming features only major works by major composers. That is important because the old academic moderns used to play everything that fit their credo, which meant that most of what we heard was garbage. It is conceivable that, with the chaff peeled away, these modern monuments will have an opportunity to succeed after all.
In any case, given the current hopeless climate for modernism, I have a hard time begrudging them one celebratory season. A boat with one side won’t keep any of us afloat.
Thanks for putting your thoughts out there for others to bat around.