New book episode — no blog for a while — and happy holidays to all!

I’m about to go off for the holidays, which means no blog for a while. Or more specifically, no blog till the second week in January. I’m going to be visiting family, and then taking a long, leisurely drive home. Maybe I won’t even pick up e-mail during the drive. The very thought is liberating.

So this also means I won’t approve comments until I’m back. It sounds so geeky, so controlling — I have to approve every comment everybody posts, before they show up on the site. And why? So we won’t have to look at the spam comments that arrive in profusion every day. The comments I’ve been getting have been numerous, and very welcome (even when I disagree with them). So please, keep them coming, after January 8. I promise posts that ought to provoke some commentary.

Finally, there’s a new episode of my book online. This book, of course, is about the future of classical music, and I’ve been improvising it in instalments. Lately the instalments have been about modernism, and how I think it distorted classical music. Not because I don’t like modernist music; I like a lot of it, and I’d hate to have any ideology about how music should sound. No, it’s the old modernist orthodoxy that bothers me. We don’t feel much of it any more, except maybe in college music history classes, where serious teachers still seem to spend a lot of time with the likes of Pierre Boulez, maybe making modernist music more important than it really was.

Me, I wish there had been a composer equivalent of James Joyce, someone who could turn the language of music upside down, and still stay in touch with everyday life. (Wait — there was a composer like that! His name was Ives.) And I wish there had been a composer in Paris in the ’50s and ’60s who was as sharp and influential as Boulez, but whose music was like Godard’s films. Which means it would have been surprising, even shocking; turning the world inside out; and directly addressing the world he or she lived in, with all its changes and uncertainties. Oh, and fun, too. I get more exhilarated over 10 minutes of Masculin Féminin or Bande à parte (the last two Godard films I’ve watched) than I’ve been in all the hours I’ve spent listening to Boulez.

Enough. If you’re interested in the book, you might want to subscribe. I’m not writing episodes at two-week intervals, as I used to. The pace was too intense. I’m going to take my time, and add something new only when I’m ready. If you subscribe, you’ll be notified by e-mail whenever something new goes up. Just click here, and type “subscribe to the book” in the subject line of the e-mail form that’ll appear. Add a few lines, if you like, about who you are and why you’re interested. My subscribers are an interesting bunch, and I enjoy getting to know them.

And to all of my readers — I hope you all have a fine, peaceful holiday. We all need a break, and I know I’m looking forward to mine.

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