In a wonderfully misguided piece of come-on-we-all-know-I'm-right drivel, Joe Queenan (of the Guardian UK) asserts that he is the ultimate arbiter of taste, and, furthermore, speaks for everyone. For some unknown reason, he was presumably paid to pen and publish this pointless prattle:
Admit it, you're as bored as I am
Ha ha! Oh, and while I have a second: fuck you!
After 40 years and 1,500 concerts, Joe Queenan is finally ready to say the unsayable: new classical music is absolute torture - and its fans have no reason to be so smug
Well, good thing you decided to...make it your profession? Genius.
Furthermore, I am chagrined at having received, finally, my comeuppance. I know: how about you tell me what I think--maybe I'll thank you for it!
A few choice bits should suffice...
In New York, Philadelphia and Boston, concert-goers have learned to stay awake and applaud politely at compositions by Christopher Rouse and Tan Dun. But they do this only because these works tend to be short and not terribly atonal; because they know this is the last time in their lives they'll have to listen to them; and because the orchestra has signed a contract in blood guaranteeing that if everyone holds their nose and eats their vegetables, they'll be rewarded with a great dollop of Tchaikovsky and Mendelssohn.
Well! That'll learn 'em for paying money to support orchestras that hate them. Also, every point supporting the argument is a baseless assertion. If it was supposed to be funny, well, I guess I found it a few notches below Hee Haw.
I reckon it'd be pointless to point out that there was a time when Brahms and Tchaikovsky were new, audiences resisted them, and there was speculation about whether this "new-for-new's-sake" music would ever make the canon. But never you mind that.
I have tried to come to terms with the demands of modern music. I am no lover of Renaissance Muzak, and own tons of records by Berg, Varèse, Webern, Rihm, Schnittke, Adès, Wuorinen, Crumb, Carter, and Babbitt: I consider myself to be the kind of listener contemporary composers would need to reach if they had any hope of achieving a breakthrough. So far, this has not happened, and I doubt that it will.
Those kids and their rock and/or roll music! Why, it'll never replace the dulcet tones of big band crooners! Furthermore, I've staked out my cultural place already, so why bother trying?
Also, having established that the critic owns lots of records of music he doesn't like is a bizarre rhetorical move. I guess it's supposed to show that he "knows of what he speaks" but translates as strange and incongruous. If my home is filled with cubist paintings, one might assume that I like cubist paintings. But no: I just have them all over my walls; really, I think they suck.
A certain market for demanding new music can always be found among brash young urbanites, but this audience is not large, nor well-heeled. Moreover, it is by no means certain that the affection for new work survives one's youth, when sonically grating music is mostly a way of antagonising older people. The central problem in writing music targeting hipsters is that even hipsters one day stop being hip, and get replaced by hipsters who want their own brand of annoying music.
Yeah, I believe that "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" was just as antagonizing to my great-grandfather as Melt Banana would be to my father.
The assertion that Lizst, gangsta rap, and Terry Riley are all merely assults on the establishment that are not even remotely "really" liked even and/or especially by their fans (or even creators!) is shallow, unsubstantiated, and borderline criminally stupid.
But lo! A counterpoint piece. Here is a measured response with less indignant swearing:
Tom Service, Guardian UK: Why Joe Queenan is wroing about new classical music
That's better; much better. However, if this was a dualistic attempt by the Guardian at a point/counterpoint set of opposing opinion/review pieces, it sucked.
Why not just get an American sportswriter to opine about how boring soccer is? [It's not.--ed.]
Well, it seems like this is a year old, and I already addressed it, sort of.
Shows you what my memory's like, I guess.
Regardless, and in deference to netiquette, I'll leave it be.]