Saturday, 2 February 2019

The blind leading the deaf

Again and again, when new music is concerned, is modernism (in all its forms, including its watery progeny) seen as the symbol of a free, pluralist cultural field, the only available alternative to a totalitarian society where music had to follow party lines and could only operate within narrowly-defined limits, laid-down by the state, as in Soviet Russia and Franco Spain. Obviously, this politization of culture avoids the question of artistic quality and invites for considering only the wrapping paper of any work and not its contents or qualities. Hence, composers with flawed abilities and naive ideas about the art form, sport their illusions as reprentative of the true nature of music, without the need to have their works be compaired by existing artistic achievement, shielded by the ideological and political contradiction of 'freedom' versus 'suppression', and the implied historicist idea that there exists something like progress in the arts, and thus also in music. Thus doubly shielded, they produce self-congratulating gestures for a gullible elite of organizers, fulfilling the needs of equally gullible audiences fearing the return of rightwing, extremist forces in politics which would deprive them of the idea that they are living in a free, pluralist society where all forms of culture have the right to exist.

A recent concert in Germany proves the point, and it is interesting that in the following review no less composer as Beethoven is invoked to underline the symbolic interpretation of a type of new music which is the opposite of everything that Beethoven's work represents. It is the conventional idea that Beethoven stood at the beginning of a line of innovation and transgression of boundaries of which the composers of this concert represent, so to speak, the result:

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