Monday, April 19, 2010

thingz 2 reed

David Simon waxes poetic about Treme (already the best show on television, after one episode) and its status as fiction, anticipating any criticism of it as factually inaccurate:
"If we are true to ourselves as dramatists, we will lie and cheat and pile one fraud upon the next, given that with every scene, we make fictional characters say and do things that were never said and done." What a badass.

A few months ago, John Adams visited campus. I sat in on one of his composition master classes, and listened to two pieces by student composers. The first, Old Virginny by Shawn Jaeger, was a rustic, dense, and beautiful setting of Appalachian ballads for double-bass and soprano (you can listen on his website). The second, I think, was exactly what Adams describes in a brilliant piece on the ills of this kind of master class. Adams' comments about conservatory sound systems appear to come directly from the class I attended, and everything else rings true. I will say that Adams was very impressed by Jaeger's piece, noting it was one of the best and most original student works he had heard in quite some time.

Finally, if you somehow missed it, here's Richard Taruskin's Times article about Stravinsky's reception history and issues of nationality. Taruskin has this amazing ability to always turn any article about a composer into one about himself. But he does so in generally smarmy, eloquent writing which raises a ton of good points about said composer. I almost wish the Times hired him as a regular music critic (not that he would want to be one), since his writing is better than that of most of their arts crew, and he'd at least stir things up a bit more. His article doesn't reveal much new about Stravinsky, but does present a few recent issues in musicology in a way that appeals to your average newspaper reader (a.k.a. white man in his 70's).

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