Sunday, October 6, 2013

Music, old and new

I’ve gone to two concerts in as many days, and here, as they say, is the thing:

The recent music that I heard — not so-called “new music” but music just a handful of years old — had nothing interesting about it. It was banal, relentlessly diatonic, with every effect a special one, a gimmick. It was the older music, by Maurice Ravel and a handful of pre-Baroque composers, that sounded utterly new, with nothing stale or contrived about it. I intend no generalization here: there’s much recent music of all sorts that I love, and orchestral warhorses often leave me cold. My point is that what’s good stays good, and, in some way, new. I’ll quote Emerson: “perpetual modernness is the measure of merit in any work of art.”

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