Lark Hunting

Let’s go. I’m all ears.

[Vaughn Williams’] death was symbolic of another death: that of contemporary classical music as a mainstream cultural activity.


In Vaughan Williams's day, the premiere of a new work of music was a significant event. No one would be considered culturally aware unless they were au fait [sic] with the new Vaughan Williams symphony.

Can’t argue with you there.

Today, any averagely informed person has read the latest fiction and seen the buzz films and theatre. But new music - serious rather than pop or rock - is a cult pursuit among a tiny proportion of the already small minority who are interested in culture.


Classical music took a wrong turn in the period after the death of Vaughan Williams.

I couldn’t agree more.

The ruination of music as part of mainstream culture came largely because of subsidy. Composers stopped writing for their public and wrote instead for the small clique that was responsible for commissioning pieces.


The cultural commissars were obsessed with theories of music that held that melody was no longer a legitimate tool and only atonal music was appropriate to the age.

Kill the pig! Cut her throat! Spill her blood!

Their dominance of the subsidy racket meant that not only were composers freed from any obligation to secure an audience for their music, but they were pilloried and starved of funds also if they did attempt to do that.

Serves them right!

Vaughan Williams was the last composer to speak directly to a wide audience...

You lost me.



David Ocker said...

Curiously, I posted that same paragraph here.

But 1) I didn't make any comments ("Obviously.") and 2) I stopped one sentence earlier.

Why d'ya'spose?

Could that have been the point where the critic went all "English"?

Empiricus said...

Nice to see you again, docker.

This hot mess sure got some play all around the intertubes, huh? You definitely beat me to the punch on this one.

There is a nice rebuttal to this in the Gaurdian, found here.

And yes, this was the point in the story where he went a bit cockney on us.

David Ocker said...

I don't give a rat's ass for the music of Vaughn-Williams nor do I much care when English music died.

But judging by English music critics, who seem willing to take BIG positions about serious music things - even if it is merely to push people's buttons - I think English music must be less dead than American music

Empiricus said...

Ha! I don't think you're that far off, at least in some sense.

Here's what I find interesting, though. The London Times seems to always be the aggressor in these matters. And the Gaurdian kinda cleans up their mess. So, I wouldn't go out on a limb and say that all English critics take BIG positions.

Nonetheless, MORE big positions seem to be taken up in England compared to our side of the pond. So, make of it what you will.