Tuesday, November 24, 2009

These days I am enjoying attending many contemporary music performances. It saddens me that the music world is so divided into what feel like enemy camps--the traditionalists, who have their own sectarian subsections, vs. the moderns. Within just one week I have heard performances dedicated entirely to the work of a single composer: Ralph Shapey and Davidowsky. In each concert I was struck by the powerful musical means with which the composer treated the conflict within their own development. It is a problem on a massive scale involving far more than compositional technique. Each composer has clearly struggled to find and express an individual voice in the face of cultural forces that feel inimical.

Analysis of those cultural forces would be the subject of a major study, which has been undertaken by thinkers about music in the name of philosophy, music criticism, cultural history and so on.

My concern is with the history of each individual musician and music student confronting or condoning these forces in the process of making a life.