Thursday, January 24, 2013

Why Should I Listen?

Okay, so you're the greatest living virtuoso.  We can agree with The New York Times and assorted authorities on the subject.  But can you make me listen to the music you play with my gut rather than with the distraction of your admittedly glowing technique?

In the old days when I was too young to understand such things such virtuosity would literally make me ill for the simple reason that I knew I would never achieve it, that it was physiologically impossible.   Now, in the new day, it is not the virtuosity that compels my response but the absence of driving impulse.

This applies as much to composition as to performance.  A young virtuoso composer whose work with sound is unusually compelling was somewhat offended when I asked if he wrote music for children.  (His work is characteristically associated with subtexts of the utmost seriousness, beautiful but literally dreadful.) It would do him good to realize the power of his sound imagination, a power he would be unable to miss if he would give it to children and allow them to give it back.