Here’s the second part of FW-M’s keynote on the state of classical music 2012. In the first half, he attacked Asianisation and tabloidisation. Here, he seems to reject cultural supremacism and calls for more risk, more ‘exceptional’ art.
A word about art and, above all, the music of today: to those who are so fond of wrongly and mistakenly calling on Adorno with reference to contemporary music, appointing themselves guardians of modernism itself, let it be said to them: Pierre Boulez, whom I greatly admire, said 20 years ago in an interview with the Los Angeles Times that a tree has many branches!
I’d like to add to this the following: arrogance is uncreative and crippling. Music in its most artful form has also always nourished itself from sources such as popular music and nature. And today, with us having been “globalized” and also acting that way, it would be a contribution to the decadence of our culture if, in the field of new music, we were to retreat into the ivory tower of cultural “superiority.” The connection of intellect and emotion, which music needs and without which it would not survive, can only be experienced when dealing with the audience. And all too often, over the past decades of programming new music, we have seen not conviction but rather political correctness and the currying of favor with self-proclaimed high priests of modernism, and instead of curiosity we have seen fig leaves. Far too often, this has constrained creativity, indeed often choking it off entirely.
Some philosophies of our era would assert that science has superseded religion. If this applied to art, this would entail art’s abandonment of its very self. And that would rob us of our dreams!
So just where is this journey headed?
In our culture, we still need individuals and institutions who do not shy away from being elites, but also do not withdraw to the ivory tower—simply put, those who are prepared to forge ahead. The exceptional will always be viewed as suspect at first, but later on be regarded as visionary and, indeed, celebrated.
I would wish for my beloved Musikverein, for this city, this country, Europe, and the Western word, an unerring sense for quality in our culture. That we might not only maintain it, administrate it, or—in the worst case—take it for granted, but above all show openness, curiosity and courage toward the new and other.
Hegel said, “The freedom of art condemns it to be subjective.” What he meant, of course, is that in art, as well, freedom is to be found within order—this is something that every musician knows. But if one reads his sentence differently, namely from the standpoint of cultural policy, it is a fatal statement—the contradiction of which must be a challenge for all of us to take up.
Creativity only arises in places where self-satisfaction is not predominant. Art leads us to deal with our very being, to go in-depth, and it is also the attempt to penetrate to the core our individual existence. On this journey into the fog of the future, one seems to go in circles—this is, in fact, a spiraling path that leads into the depths, toward the core of knowledge itself. The energy for this is the investment we must make in creativity. Every society, every country, every institution must take on to this task of intellectual investment and innovation. Only in this way can the journey actually proceed onward. The story of this society and this institution’s founding showed us this, and it must show us this more than ever in the future.