Monday, November 26, 2007

I'm for Schoenberg!

Among all the papers and articles I'm trying to collect about our topic, this is the most exotic one: , you have to look at it at the library because it's from the JSTOR catalogue!

In 1984, the International Music Council (I didn't know something like that exists) sent out questionnaires to leading persons in the music world. One of these questionnaires was published by the very eccentric and controversial composer Karlheinz Stockhausen. He is "disgusted by the world's most famous interpreters who are not serving musical progress" and thinks that music has never been in a worse status than now...

Reading his text was quite interesting, sometimes even funny; although I have great respect of the music of Mr. Stockhausen, his opinions are quite arguable. I think this text represents the opinion of a whole generation of especially European composers in a maybe exaggerated way - I have to think about Boulez, who is also famous for his arrogance towards other music than the one he's writing himself. Nevertheless, I think it's a waste of time to talk about how backwards or arrogant these opinions are. And I feel that a lot of people do it. They spend a lot of time blaming composers like Stockhausen for their isolation of the masses, they blame Schoenberg for his idea of concerts only for experts. But they forget that this doesn't matter any more. Instead of complaining, they should just play the music and try to make it interesting for a wider range of audience.

I write this because I was irritated during the last weeks that Schoenberg is always called the bad guy who's fault it is that we don't enjoy contemporary music anymore. I got this impression from different directions, including the books we have to read. Doesn't everybody know that the model of concerts for experts doesn't work any more? Isn't it clear that an attitude like the one of Stockhausen leads to nothing? Compared to Stockhausen, I'm pretty young, and when I was introduced to his music in high school, there was a clear distinction between the music he writes and what else he says. Why can't we like the music of someone and at the same time distance ourselves from the personal opinions of the composer?

(I thank Alex Ross for the very nice comment on Schoenberg during the question-session - it felt really good to hear that not everybody hates him)

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