Just in time for Halloween comes the eerie coincidence to read at one sitting Richard Taruskin’s (TNR) article  and Lawrence Dillon’s recent comments on the composer’s dilemma:  What  choice of outlook to adopt  for new-made music?  Either give the public what you believe it already wants, or write to push the high-art envelope in terms of innovation.   

Calculated? – yes.  Valid? – no.  [ Unless you're writing jingles. ]

If our work has any integrity, it already speaks inimitably as we speak. We don’t ordinarily have such decisions to make – there turns out to be one right way for the piece to manifest, and that’s the one right way it should come to life. 

Artists can (if they wish) make taste.  And there are, among us,   composers who see their place as being neither revolutionaries nor panderers,  but evolutionaries.   These are folks who do not put on new coats for each piece.    Their music knows and respects what came before; presses innovation forward when the moment calls for it;  and   cares not too much if – at first hearing – all of the piece is revealed to all the listeners.  

These composers know that art is a mirror and a lens – they presume a piece will have future performances which continue to reveal its contents, flavor, and character across time.    And they count on being able to reach listeners  repeatedly over years with various works, each of which is meant to have lasting resonance in some way.

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