1/19/09

The Ever-Grumpy Crumpie

Fox News is something of an odd interest of mine. Their brazenly argumentative style and ass-kissing provides much unintended humor for my masochistic sensibilities. I mean, who could keep a straight face when, instead of calling the recession a recession, they call it an “economic tsunami?” That’s sure to elicit the kind of viewer response for which I’m sure they’re aiming. But I find it so grossly transparent, it becomes funny. Still, their slogan, however trampled upon it may be, is composed of ideals fundamental to the notion of a free press: Fair and Balanced. That is, biased reporting tends to distort and deceive; fair and balanced reporting, on the other hand, allows us to make informed decisions.

Now, in Music Criticland this becomes somewhat complicated, where opinions, not facts, are the precious commodity. Unfortunately, opinions come with a certain amount of bias, impinging negatively on the tenets of fairness and balance, which can distort the reader’s impressions or decision-making abilities. If I were to say, “This review is about a genius named Bach—oh, by the way, Telemann was an abominable fucktard,” could anyone take me seriously? An opinion like that is so irrationally vindictive, so incredibly devoid of informative context that only a mother could refuse to spit on it. Conversely, if I had said, “This is a review about a genius named Bach, whose reputation in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was lesser than his now oft-shunned contemporary, Telemann,” then, one, my tone is civil (a rhetorical virtue) and, two, I am now charged with the task of substantiating my claim. It’s a win-win for everyone: I don’t sound like an ass and the reader can expect an informed opinion. Even though critics deal in opinions, there are ways to be intelligent, informative and responsible, i.e., otherwise fair and balanced. Simple, right?

Well, for the boys over at ClassicsToday.com, it is the most daunting task, especially when they have to deal with "non-melodic music"—I’d like to talk at length about how stupid that term is, but I’ll save it for another time. Here, George Crumb escapes their non-melodic wrath:

A few years ago I had the great privilege (in cooperation with Becky and David Starobin of Bridge records) of presenting George Crumb with a "Lifetime Achievement Award" at the Cannes Classical Awards, which were held at the MIDEM trade show in France.

That’s a lot of name-dropping. Just get on with it.

After the ceremony there was a dinner for the honorees, and George quickly amassed a small band of young composer/admirers.

Just for the record, Crumb groupies are popularly known as Crumpies.

One of these, anxious to display his avant-garde credentials, asked George who he personally enjoyed listening to, and rather presumptuously suggested a few of his own favorites as politically correct examples...

If they were indeed his favorites, then why would he need to hedge? He wouldn't.

(led off--if memory serves...

David doesn’t quite remember, so keep in mind he could be pulling this out of his ass.

(led off--if memory serves--by the atrociously untalented Salvatore Sciarrino).

And, unnecessarily, Telemann was a fucktard!

















Fig.1. Salvatore Sciarrino
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4 comments:

Gustav said...

Fantastic work, E! Very funny.

But you should have also included the next line of the article too:

"'Well now, I think Rachmaninov wrote some terrific tunes, don't you?' The look of shock and confusion on his questioner's face was memorable, to say the least."

What the fuck does "shock and confusion" mean? Is that a jab at Crumb or Rachmaninov?

Empiricus said...

You know, I think it's a ham-fisted attempt to justify David's opinion about certain types of music he can't stand. It's like, "See? I told you so. Even George Crumb can't stand it. Now, here's a review of some folk song arrangements. I like simple tunes, like Simple Gifts"

By the way, as I'm typing this, Perlman and Co. are playing John William's arrangement of Simple Gifts at the inauguration. What flaccid amusement!

When did the inauguration turn into a variety show? Blecht.

AnthonyS said...

"Untalented" is an odd word choice.

gustav said...

What exactly does atrocious untalent look like in a person anyways?