I'm broadcasting live from Tanglewood right now as the Boston Symphony plays Beethovens Pastoral Symphony. Tanglewood, where Lenny got his start, where Copland and Messiaen and Hindemith and Martinu and Berio and Henze and Dallapiccola and Thomson and Piston and W. Schumann and Foss and Schuller mentored generations of composers. For an American classical musician, for an even modestly aspiring composer, this is like going to Jerusalem.
And yet while I was there I was just told by a friend of mine that she's uninviting me to the contemporary music festival down the street merely because I praised a piece of hers in the wrong way. Apparently she also thinks I don't listen to living composers. All I can say to that is... fuck you you ungrateful, intellectually lazy fanatic. Fuck every goddamn thing you stand for, and fuck everybody else who thinks that way. I have listened to more recent compositions from the time I was an early teenager until now than virtually any musician in Baltimore. I've stayed on top of every compositional development in the world I can get my hands on since I was a social outcast for unabashedly loving classical music as a kid before anybody else our age knew what classical music was, and will continue to do so as long as I have ears long after people who get their first whiff of success turn into snobs who then become academics who make their students as miserable as we all were in music school.
People who've never suffered for their love of music, people who get their feet wet and fall ass backward into a career while he rest of us languish without reward, who have no idea how they affect the subject which they barely still know anything about and don't want to learn, have no right to judge those of us who do. I've earned my opinions in a lot of subjects by sitting through a lot of stuff I didn't like, but if I've earned the right to have opinions in any subject, it's music. I have listened to a hundred times more living composers than the piddlingly, myopically small scene with which some overeducated and underlearned composers want to validate each other in place of an audience. If I was going to bristle at what I heard, I certainly wouldn't have done it in public. If my presence was unwanted, sure, I can take the hint. But to then say that I have no knowledge, no love, no regard or respect, for living composers, is just horrifying.
All I've asked is that other composers who occasionally show me their work be respectful of the past by learning a bit about it and being mindful of a few lessons which great musicians have to teach us, but apparently that is too much. People like this are the enemy, they're the enemy of art, they're the enemy of discourse, they will kill whatever talent which anyone whom they have power over has on the altar of their fanaticism, all that is left to do is fight that much harder against them. It breaks your heart when it was a friend, but a list of enemies always replenishes because they're made from ex-friends.
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