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This 24 message thread spans 2 pages:  < <   1  [2] > >  
  Re: Chief Heckler made bankrupt  Misuc at 15:43 on 19 October 2008
 

Well said, Marc!

I wouldn't be coming into this discussion. Actually I thought my membership of this forum had lapsed and I wasn't going to start (sounding off) again. I have had my say on other occasions. In any case Nicolas – and now I see Scott too – have made many of the basic points that have to be made.

But what I have to say also has to be said. Nicolas' and Scott's contributions that convince me it is not a waste of time to enter this discussion after all.

Let's sort out the different issues:

First of all, I believe that Keith's manifesto on tonality is such a morass of commonplace primitive misunderstandings, widely spread half-truths (among 'tonalists' and their adversaries) and unintelligent prejudice that it is worth a fairly lengthy answer: not for the sake of name-calling but in the interests of a better musicology which could inspire more imaginative musicians. This I will do in another contribution.This is really important.

Meanwhile, credit where credit is due.there is the right of free speech too. He is a victim of a cynical and sinister plot. Bankrupting him means, among other things, effectively stealing his performance rights and royalties, which seems a high price to pay for the right to - Marc's phrase: " use and exercise such opinions"


THE ROYAL OPERA HOUSE

is a more or less unaccountable trust, receiving more public funding than any other arts institution in the country from taxpayer and lottery-ticket idiot. Nothing has changed
substantially since the scandal which caused the charity commission and the national audit office to step in to deal with its record of chaotic closure, broken contracts, provoked strikes, gross mismanagement and fraud or near fraud. [In this respect the board of trustees were not behaving so very differently from their peers in banking and industry, from whose ranks they were mostly chosen].
At a time when "A quarter of all the leading opera houses in Italy are under special administration - corresponding to bankruptcy - with debts approaching €50m (£40m)" the Royal Opera House has also received business sponsorship from all sorts of finance houses and corporation bosses as well as such dubious crooked banks as Royal Bank of Scotland and various Icelandic banks. "Art and Business" (formerly "The Association for Business Sponsorship of the Arts")was always very fond of pointing out to overpaid CEOs the advantages they can gain in terms of tax-evasion, corporate entertainment, brand image etc. by dishing out some of their ill-gotten surplus super-profits.


Hence, up until last month, you would get frequent announcements like this:

"Deloitte, the business advisory firm, has announced the start of a 5-year partnership with the Royal Opera House.

Deloitte’s £1.75 million sponsorship will enable the ROH to stage Deloitte Ignite

“It will also give Deloitte's clients, staff and partners some unique entertainment opportunities and experiences at what is undoubtedly one of the UK's leading arts and culture venues.”

When I looked up the "Art & Business" website just now, however, I got this message:

"INVESTMENT PROGRAMMES IN ENGLAND ARE NOW CLOSED

Following our confirmed funding agreement from Arts Council England, Arts & Business regretfully confirms that the Arts & Business Investment Programmes in England are now closed. No new investments for 2007-08 will now be considered. We are unable to offer an alternative programme in England for 2008-09 onwards."

The report goes on:

"We have seen some of the biggest global sponsors go bust; but how much of their funding is still protected in their corporate foundations? We have also seen that disaster for some is financial reward for others.

The very foundations of capitalism are being both threatened and questioned......when, eventually, the turmoil subsides, the institutions left standing and the new companies being formed will need to rethink their 'license to operate', i.e. their relationship to society and their contribution to the wider community, including the arts."

ELITIST?

I can see no objection to providing funding for minority interests - archery, high-jumping, ping-pong, new music...... or for social or ethnic minorities, South Asians, the unemployed, pensioners.....but special extra subsidies for millionaires and billionaires? Now that is true elitism.

And the recent £1000s deal whereby one of the newspapers which is hardly fit for bum-wiping bought up the ROH "Don Giovanni" first night tickets to give away to their 'readers' - or those who picked up thrown-away copies - offering "sex and violence" with live 'page 3 girls' in the auditorium does not lessen the elitist role of the Royal Opera House.

THE LAW-SUIT

The Evening Standard's claim is a typical piece of gutter-press lying and nastiness: so badly thought-out and obviously untrue that there is no need to prove the point again here. But not all readers will be aware of the background. The Evening Standard is part of the notorious Associated Newspapers group whose bosses forged the infamous 'Zinoviev letter' to ditch the chances of the first Labour government, supported Hitler and propagandised against letting in Jews, who engineered the famous trick which had the Greater London Council's (Labour) policy of massive fare reductions declared illegal (!) and subsequently got the council abolished altogether, thus ending democratic government in the capital!!,.More recently: ‘when David [English] retired as editor of the Daily Mail in order to take over as chairman of Associated Newspapers, he gave a party wherein he and all his editorial staff dressed up like Hitler and various members of the Third Reich. A memorable appearance of the newspaper’s drama critic Jack Tinker as Goebbels brought the house down.’ (An Unlikely Hero p171)

These are the people who bankrupted Keith and have now effectively seized control of his compositions as well as his money.

HECKLING

Keith seems to have conducted his 'heckling' sessions quite appropriately. Music is a human social - and therefore political - act This is so, whether or not the composer, participants, sponsors etc. are aware of this or not. There are things that people do in public that are in their nature an outrage and an insult not only to the particular musicians and audiences that are present at the time - by their own choice or otherwise – they are an insult to the achievements of countless generations of human beings: to the very art of music. Without having to adopt the pre-postmodernist pathos of Adorno [“What is Music in the age of the holocaust?”], there would be no harm in trying to gain a little sense of the awesome perspective of what our music is actually doing regardless of its presumed aesthetic purpose. Merely to stand up on the stage at the Royal Opera House and gesticulate is in itself a sort of antisocial act. It would take a work of mighty depth, imagination and sincerity to transcend the circumstances of such a premiere.

It is not only the dissidents and the disaffected who recognise how far status has displaced content as the crucial factor in art and performance. The notorious toilet, signed R. Mutt was rejected as 'no work of art' until Marcel Duchamp claimed it was his. Now, almost a century later, 500 prominent UK artists voted it “the most influential artwork of the 20th century”. It was publicly smashed to bits in 2006 by a rival con-artist as a 'performance art' act. This has not stopped it from turning up in auction houses across the world. [Unfortunately, you have to sign up and pay up as a potential purchaser to find out how much these fakes have been selling for.] Do I need to go on? In 2002, the Tate Gallery in London justified paying over £22,000 for a can of (literal) shit on the grounds that it had emerged from the personal arse-hole of someone called Manzoni.

It is cases like this which make the act of responsible heckling not just a right, but in principle a democratic duty.

But the heckler has as much responsibility as the artist. He/she has to 1] aim at the right targets. 2] indicate clearly just what is objectionable and why 3] what an alternative could be. Otherwise, whatever the intentions, it is not progressive heckling it is a feeble attempt at mob-rule in the shadow of the Ku-Klux-Klan or the Nazis.

This will lead to a discussion of Keith's idea of tonality etc. This is an issue I will take up another time........


  Re: Chief Heckler made bankrupt  emburke at 22:04 on 23 October 2008
 

There is a third option: don't attend the performance.

  Re: Chief Heckler made bankrupt  Marc at 07:38 on 24 October 2008
 

Absolutely! If you don't want to listen - don't!!

One can politicise the music industry and it's funding networks to try and find an explanation for the general decline in relationship between some composers and their audiences, a general lack of public education towards the wide range of musical style and endeavor that exisits - incresaingly closed minds to the new . . . and issues with composition - composers - and audiences too - many things are wrong in the world; and opinions generated by audiences and some critics as well as some composers, often misguided (although as in all arguments, there are elements of truth, some of which are significant and need to be considered by composers). . . some people love to call very individual composers elitist, for instance. This is a particular bugbear of mine! However, I feel that the great majority of composers feel a need to communicate with others - be it one human being or thousands, through their music. Even composers with a highly individual musical language may want to communicate but realise that the nature of their musical communication is not such that everyone can relate to their work. Rarely does this inability to communicate and appeal to the masses transform into elitism. Even me, with my individual musical language (so I'm told), sometimes fantasise about packed concert halls and an appreciative audience (it rarely happens)! Of course, it's not really going to happen that way - but this lack of mass appeal never transforms to elitism in my mind so I take it unkindly when the nature of my work elicits the same old tiered and unimaginative blanket response that because my music sounds this way or that, I am elitist! Not to include my work along side these wonderful composers, but I'm sure that composers such as Birtwistle (as he was previously mentioned), Xanakis, Ligeti, Stockhauson, etc., and many others feel the same - that they are definitely not elitist - they just do what they do!

<Added>

Absolutely! If you don't want to listen - don't!!

One can politicise the music industry and it's funding networks to try and find an explanation for the general decline in relationship between some composers and their audiences, a general lack of public education towards the wide range of musical style and endeavor that exisits - incresaingly closed minds to the new . . . and issues with composition - composers - and audiences too - many things are wrong in the world; and opinions generated by audiences and some critics as well as some composers, often misguided (although as in all arguments, there are elements of truth, some of which are significant and need to be considered by composers). . . some people love to call very individual composers elitist, for instance. This is a particular bugbear of mine! However, I feel that the great majority of composers feel a need to communicate with others - be it one human being or thousands, through their music. Even composers with a highly individual musical language may want to communicate but realise that the nature of their musical communication is not such that everyone can relate to their work. Rarely does this inability to communicate and appeal to the masses transform into elitism. Even me, with my individual musical language (so I'm told), sometimes fantasise about packed concert halls and an appreciative audience (it rarely happens)! Of course, it's not really going to happen that way - but this lack of mass appeal never transforms to elitism in my mind so I take it unkindly when the nature of my work elicits the same old tired and unimaginative blanket response that because my music sounds this way or that, I am elitist! Not to include my work along side these wonderful composers, but I'm sure that composers such as Birtwistle (as he was previously mentioned), Xanakis, Ligeti, Stockhauson, etc., and many others feel the same - that they are definitely not elitist - they just do what they do!

  Re: Chief Heckler made bankrupt  pwoxtoby at 09:27 on 24 October 2008
 

I find myself in two minds about this issue. On the one hand I agree that there is a lot of badly-written, pretentious music doing the rounds; however, just as beauty is said to be in the eye of the of the beholder so, too, could acceptable music said to be in the ear of the listener! Personally, I thought 'Froms' was a load of old tosh but the majority of the Proms audience appeared to like it. It would never have occurred to me, had I been in the audience, to stand up and boo it or make any other form of public protestation. I also recall the only occasion when I ever felt moved to leave a performance and that was many years ago in Birmingham. I forget the piece and its composer but I vividly recall the event. It was written for a chamber group with a soprano: as the soprano screamed one of the ensemble - not involved in scrubbing away furiously on his violin - picked up a sheet of glass, held it over a bin and hit it with a hammer... I left, not my scene really.. I could have heckled but what would have been the point? Others were enjoying it.... A waste of a fiver though!

  Re: Chief Heckler made bankrupt  Marc at 10:03 on 24 October 2008
 

Good story . . !

Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Like all things in life, including art and music, there is a certain amount of risk involved in experiencing the new - one may not like it, and on that occasion, you obviously didn't, but the experience (under different circumstances and with another composer perhaps) could just as easily have enthralled, mainly because you were willing to take the risk and try something different.

I compose what many would consider 'odd and inaccessible music' - not because of any form of affectation, but because it's what I do. I've never had anyone walk out of a performance as yet (some actually claim to enjoy it, which is great)but was included in an article that amounted to a literary heckle! lol . . . But I agree that there is a huge amount of terrible music out there - to my taste, at least, but it isn't confined just to the extremes of the avant garde and experimental - most of the tosh is, I believe, the ready made easy listening cross-over and often pseudo-spiritual classical music that is being churned out for mass consumption.

There's bad art in all quarters!

  Re: Chief Heckler made bankrupt  pwoxtoby at 10:22 on 24 October 2008
 

I agree unreservedly - if we restrict our ability to listen to and assimilate new ideas then we become that which we seek to do away with. I have always adopted an open mind to new music and occasionally I experience something that is truly rewarding. I have been writing music for a number of years and I although I am more comfortable working in what could be described as a 'traditionalist' manner that doesn't mean that I condemn other ways of working. Incidentally, a confession: as a music student - and a bit full of myself - I once pinned a sheet of MS to a board, flicked ink at it and then joined up the dots. After assigning instrumentation I then had it 'performed'. I did this in a misguided attempt to expose how shallow experimental music really was. Sure enough, there were a few who became very excited about the work's aesthetics whereas those who knew me slightly better had their suspicions. I did confess...eventually.

  Re: Chief Heckler made bankrupt  Marc at 10:34 on 24 October 2008
 

I like that! . . But then the end is more important than the means - if 'ink flicking' produced a great piece then fantastic - if not . . .well, try something else! LOL

Some composers take many months or even years to painstakingly produce a work, others can produce music very quickly, but similarly, the prof of the pudding is in the eating - or rather the listening . . . . the time it takes to produce work is not of itself a guarantee of success or quality . . . . if only it were that easy!

And strangely enough, although my music would fall broadly into the avant garde and experimental bracket (I think), my listening tastes are very different. Indeed, I listen almost exclusively to 'tonal' music and especially love composers such as Haydn, Charles Ives, Bruckner, Vaughan Williams, Bax, Holst and Moeran - and many others besides . . . . I have the greatest respect for tonal composers even though their work is worlds apart form my own. But I believe that having a catholic taste is a positive attribute. I especially love 'The Prodigy'! LOL

  Re: Chief Heckler made bankrupt\; THE THIRD OPTION  Misuc at 12:01 on 24 October 2008
 

Re the 'third option': this is the option 'chosen' by most people.

I once saw a bus conductor throw a cripple (stroke-victim} off a bus, jump down and beat him up in the street with his own crutches.

....I picked up his glasses, which were lying broken in the middle of the road, fixed them and gave them to the man, who was shaking uncontrollably. [He couldn't walk properly - was only going to the walk-in clinic down the road,the next stop, and therefore had refused to move along the bus]...

Without exception, the passengers took the third option - kept silent and got on the next bus.

[They were right, of course, being sensible practical people looking after their own interests and minding their own business - not the sort of people who write in to COMPOSITION TODAY.

The case went to court. The defendant did not turn up. He had no witnesses to back his case. He was granted a delay. After a lengthy procedure the bus company rustled up somebody to lie on his behalf. The lies were transparent, but the magistrate had to declare that he had no way of knowing the truth, so he had to let the perpetrator off.

I don't want to say that Birtwistle is 'evil' - far from it! He has had moments of great inspiration. But no one - least of all a successful individual composer - is immune from the culture of fraud, corruption, egotism, self-deception and hypocrisy which is endemic in our financial, political and business institutions and the cultural institutions which depend on them.

So don't forget: 'All that is necessary for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing'

  Re: Chief Heckler made bankrupt  Marc at 12:23 on 24 October 2008
 

Informed comment and debate is always preferable to mob rule and ignorance, and certainly to inertia . . doing nothing is never the best option in the case of art! Fight your corner and stand up for your beliefs and aesthetics but be mindful that art is not an exact science and there are no totalitarian truths. The brilliance of any composer may fluctuate from work to work and across a life time - our tastes change as we grow - some composers just never seem to make it to the next level - our appreciation of what is 'good' and what is not, is mutable . . . . as Plato said . . . 'all is flux'!

This 24 message thread spans 2 pages:  < <   1  [2] > >