Maximalism and Transcendentalism

The question of how to slice and dice the history of western music into a narrative that is stylistically coherent, historiographically intelligible, aesthetically prepossessing, and ideologically “usable” is, of course, a perennial concern to those working in a discipline whose job it is (in part) to define such a narrative. As Mark just pointed outContinue reading “Maximalism and Transcendentalism”

Transcendence Ain’t Easy: Schoenberg’s Spiritual Side

We eased back into our Challenge this week like an elephant eases into a teacup. This week’s reading covered almost all of Taruskin’s chapter on the early life and work of Arnold Schoenberg, a composer whose opaqueness is famous, and well known in his own day: Schoenberg’s disciple Alban Berg wrote an article called “WhyContinue reading “Transcendence Ain’t Easy: Schoenberg’s Spiritual Side”

The Ten Greatest Composers

NYT classical music critic Anthony Tommasini’s recent article and videos have been making the rounds the last couple weeks now, so I’ll keep the description brief: Mr. Tommasini, much to the delight (and ire) of music fans, has ventured to rank the top 10 greatest composers of all time. I was a bit shocked, andContinue reading “The Ten Greatest Composers”

Stravinsky and Heavy Metal

I played “Bleed” by Meshuggah to my dad, who’s a massive fan of Stravinsky, and he asked me “How can you possibly listen to such tripe?” This pissed me off, because I strongly believe that metal and classical are 2 very very very closely related genres. In fact, some classical is heavier than most metal.Continue reading “Stravinsky and Heavy Metal”

Stravinsky on Film

There have been few—if any—composers in the canon who were more aware of their public image than Igor Stravinsky. The classic 1946 portrait by Arnold Newman demonstrates this quite clearly, and will serve as our header image for the next couple weeks. Here is the photograph in full. Be sure to also check out thisContinue reading “Stravinsky on Film”