Cultured New York

If ever there was an argument to be made for drawing a line between modern music and “classical,” it’s this. Take it away New York!

But that first Webern set [...] drew a smattering of polite applause and a resounding boo.

Good gosh. Music written way back in 1924, which has stuck around for one reason or another (mostly because some think it’s really good), is still being booed, in New York, when it interferes with their precious Mozart. How gauche.


Gustav said...

I wonder if the guy that booed was Pinchas Zukerman...

"What the #@*! is this is #*&$ ...$#!%$ Webern in the #@@!$ #$&^@# @#*^@# %*^*@#^ *#$&^*#$ and he can suck my !@$#%@"

AnthonyS said...

... Just heard a story that Shostakovich 9 prompted many an angry letter here in Redlands, CA.

Modern music, indeed.

Anonymous said...


And just because something sticks around for 75+ years doesn't mean it's any good:


Current vestige of Webern's political party. Just saying 'cause it needs to be said.

Aaron said...

Actually, I'm not sure it did need to be said. Do you also not listen to Wagner because he was an anti-Semite?

Empiricus said...

While I agree that just because something has stuck around for 84 years doesn't mean it's any good, I'd like to offer some music that hasn't lasted very long, even though this stuff was once popular enough to be anointed "good":

* 2008: David Lang, The Little Match Girl Passion
* 2007: Ornette Coleman, Sound Grammar
* 2006: Yehudi Wyner, Chiavi in Mano, (piano concerto)
* 2005: Steven Stucky, Second Concerto for Orchestra
* 2004: Paul Moravec, Tempest Fantasy
* 2003: John Adams, On the Transmigration of Souls
* 2002: Henry Brant, Ice Field
* 2001: John Corigliano, Symphony No. 2 for string orchestra
* 2000: Lewis Spratlan, Life is a Dream, opera (awarded for concert version of Act II)
* 1999: Melinda Wagner, Concerto for Flute, Strings, and Percussion
* 1998: Aaron Jay Kernis, String Quartet No. 2, Musica Instrumentalis
* 1997: Wynton Marsalis, Blood on the Fields, oratorio
* 1996: George Walker, Lilacs, for sopranano and orchestra
* 1995: Morton Gould, Stringmusic
* 1994: Gunther Schuller, Of Reminiscences and Reflections
* 1993: Christopher Rouse, Trombone Concerto
* 1992: Wayne Peterson, The Face of the Night, the Heart of the Dark
* 1991: Shulamit Ran, Symphony
* 1990: Mel D. Powell, Duplicates: A Concerto
* 1989: Roger Reynolds, Whispers Out of Time
* 1988: William Bolcom, 12 New Etudes for Piano
* 1987: John Harbison, The Flight into Egypt
* 1986: George Perle, Wind Quintet No. 4, for flute, oboe, clarinet, horn, and bassoon
* 1985: Stephen Albert, Symphony RiverRun
* 1984: Bernard Rands, Canti del Sole
* 1983: Ellen Zwilich, Three Movements for Orchestra (Symphony No. 1)
* 1982: Roger Sessions, Concerto for Orchestra
* 1981: no prize awarded
* 1980: David Del Tredici, In Memory of a Summer Day
* 1979: Joseph Schwantner, Aftertones of Infinity
* 1978: Michael Colgrass, Deja Vu for percussion and orchestra
* 1977: Richard Wernick, Visions of Terror and Wonder
* 1976: Ned Rorem, Air Music
* 1975: Dominick Argento, From the Diary of Virginia Woolf
* 1974: Donald Martino, Notturno
* 1973: Elliott Carter, String Quartet No. 3
* 1972: Jacob Druckman, Windows
* 1971: Mario Davidovsky, Synchronisms No. 6
* 1970: Charles Wuorinen, Time's Encomium
* 1969: Karel Husa, String Quartet No. 3
* 1968: George Crumb, Echoes of Time and the River
* 1967: Leon Kirchner, Quartet No. 3 for strings and electronic tape
* 1966: Leslie Bassett, Variations for Orchestra
* 1965: no prize awarded (See Duke Ellington)
* 1964: no prize awarded
* 1963: Samuel Barber, Piano Concerto
* 1962: Robert Ward, The Crucible, opera
* 1961: Walter Piston, Symphony No. 7
* 1960: Elliott Carter, String Quartet No. 2
* 1959: John La Montaine, Piano Concerto
* 1958: Samuel Barber, Vanessa, opera
* 1957: Norman Dello Joio, Meditations on Ecclesiastes
* 1956: Ernst Toch, Symphony No. 3
* 1955: Gian Carlo Menotti, The Saint of Bleecker Street, opera
* 1954: Quincy Porter, Concerto Concertante for two pianos and orchestra
* 1953: no prize awarded
* 1952: Gail Kubik, Symphony Concertante
* 1951: Douglas Stuart Moore, Giants in the Earth, opera
* 1950: Gian-Carlo Menotti, The Consul, opera
* 1949: Virgil Thomson, Louisiana Story, film score
* 1948: Walter Piston, Symphony No. 3
* 1947: Charles Ives, Symphony No. 3
* 1946: Leo Sowerby, The Canticle of the Sun
* 1945: Aaron Copland, Appalachian Spring, ballet
* 1944: Howard Hanson, Symphony No. 4
* 1943: William Schuman, Secular Cantata No. 2: A Free Song

I'd just like to say that only a handful of these pieces are still performed on a regular basis. The others...meh, not so much. At least not as much as Webern. So in that sense, some = enough.

Sator Arepo said...

1) I can't believe--no, stomach--some of thome Pulitzer winners. Wow.

2) Webern was a marginal nationalist at worst--his teacher (Mr Schoenberg, remember?) was a Jew, and he warned his Jewish friends to flee ahead of the Ancshluss. He gave some lip service to the Nazis, but also was subversive (also: his music was banned!). As far as I know, the verdict is still out on Anton. Let me know if I'm wrong.

3) It's a shame that it took until 1943 for Ives to win the Prize. National treasure much?

Feeling tired and cranky, obviously,

Sator Arepo said...

thome = those.

Eesh. Typos. anzu's gonna have my head...

Sator Arepo said...

Fuck. "Anschluss" Crap.

Anonymous said...

Censorship? On the Detritus? How un-postmodern! (or maybe how postmodern depending on one's perspective- if one's even able to have a perspective, depending on another's perspective)

Anonymous said...

How naive of you to imply that composers are to blame when their music isn't performed every week! Do you really believe, stupid person, that a piece is "good" just because it is programmed often, here in America, where fluff and "American Idol" rule?

Most composers in this country are treated like crap. Many of us toil for years on our work, and walk away from the performance with nothing -- no recording, nothing. Players (and their decades-behind-the-times unions are afraid we will "take advantage" and sell CDs on the street. Pieces are programmed here merely because they are entertaining and easy to conduct.

Anonymous said...

But wait! Many, perhaps most, of the pieces "anointed" are actually programmed! I guess you didn't know that because, well, you didn't bother to back things up...