Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Cultural Historian and Music Critic Alex Ross Gives Five Reasons Classical Music Is As Alive As Any Other Type Of Music

1. "A tradition that has existed for 1,000 years, surviving the Black Death, the Thirty Years' War and the Holocaust, has something vital to say. [Listen up, WETA/WGMS-FM.]

2. Classical music provides an escape from electronically saturated culture. Beethoven's Ninth, heard live in a concert hall, begins in total silence, and the huge waves of sound that ensue are the result of simple collective effort.

3. Then again, composers today are writing pieces generated entirely on computer, or picking up rhythms from hip-hop, or echoing folk influences from every corner of the globe; they are furiously relevant.

4. Stereotyped as a prim, proper art, classical music can be just as violent, decadent and primitive as anything in pop. See Stravinsky's Rite of Spring.

5. There's actually no such as classical music; it's not a style. Composers are simply creative artists reacting to the music of their time and of past times. Their music is infinitely adaptable, and will be around as long as the species survives."

Alex Ross in Washington Post's Express: A Free Publication of the Washington Post. Posted by Express at 7:16 AM on November 19, 2007

From Witold Lutoslawski's Symphony #3, a supreme masterpiece of the late 20th century.

[Click on image for enlargement.]

Alex Ross on Lutoslawski's Symphony #3: "In old age, this Polish avant-garde master developed a nostalgia for grand, sweeping, Romantic gestures. The Symphony #3, [composed from 1973 to 1983 and] first heard in 1983, should by now be a popular favorite: the ending is orchestral showmanship of an exalted kind."


And Pan Cogito says that Witold Lutoslawski's Symphony #3 is a greater work than Steve Reich's more well-known [in America] "Music for 18 Musicians"; which Ross lists as one of his top ten classical hits of the twentieth century.

Image credit: (c) Witold Lutoslawski. All rights reserved. Via Wikimedia.com. With thanks.


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