The Phoenix Symphony is expanding its musical horizons. They're going to program a bunch of world music this season. Cool! Hooray! Let's have Richard Nilsen of the Phoenix Sun (online) tell us about it.
(Caveat: much of this has to do with his interviewee.)
Symphony Mixes Pop, Tradition
Suddenly all world music is pop music?
There is a tendency to think about classical music as somehow different from other musics in the world, something separate and distinct.
1) Passive voice much?
2) By whom? Westerners? Phoenixites? (?-ed) Critics? Everyone? The Japanese?
But that's not the way it really is: Every major composer has been influenced by the popular music of his time and by the music of the rest of the world.
The...general sense of this is clear, but false. Machaut was, I'm sure, not aware of Japanese music (let alone Japan) in the 14th century. No? Sure, he was influenced by the troubadors and trouveres, but...the rest of the world?
Also: define "major composer" please.
Which is one reason the Phoenix Symphony is starting its season with a "World Music Festival" (Sept. 11-21). It will include performances by many groups and soloists not normally associated with white-tie and tails.
Um. Scare quotes unnecessary. "White-tie" is not modifying anything, so doesn't need a hyphen, I think. Just saying. Really the scare quotes bother me more.
"Composers were of the world they lived in," says Maryellen Gleason, Phoenix Symphony director.
Paging Captian Obvious, come in Captain Obvious. Sheesh. Director? Wow.
Also: are there no longer composers?
Mozart lived in Vienna, she says,
Get the fuck out. No way!
and included not only Austrian and German folk music in his work, but the other influences of the time, such as the Turkish janissary band music that was so popular. Hence his "Turkish Rondo,
Um. Rondo a la Turka? From the Sonata for Piano in A Major, K.331? Yes.
or later, Beethoven's "Turkish March" from The Ruins of Athens. Even Beethoven's sublime Ninth Symphony has a Turkish military march in the middle of the finale.
Fair point about the Beethoven.
The list is long and invigorating: Bach wrote in French, Italian and English styles, in addition to his own German; Haydn loved to sneak an Alsatian folk tune into a symphony or two; Beethoven borrowed Russian folk tunes for his Rasumovsky quartets; Brahms and Liszt loved Gypsy tunes; Debussy imported Javanese gamelan music into his piano scores; and Bartok and Kodaly built their 20th century Modernism on Hungarian and Romanian folk melodies they collected in the countryside.
See? The point is fair, but...Hungarians like Hungarian music? Seriously? Yes, seriously.
Anyway. The rest of the article details the programming for the """World Music Festival""". It sounds like a great idea. Read about it here.