Custodians of high journalism
September 23, 2008 § 3 Comments
In his op-ed piece in the Weekend Australian, Greg Sheridan writes of his recent attendance at an Australian Chamber Orchestra concert that “There is precious little consolation to be found in classical composers of the 20th Century…. ..My complaint, really, is that the ACO played four Bach fugues but between every one interposed a Kurtag movement. That’s not really playing the game.”
Let’s examine these statements for a moment. With the flick of a keyboard, he opines about the worth of all “classical composers of the 20th century”. Granted, the generic descriptor of music performed by the ACO and other Australian orchestras is classical so I won’t have a semantic debate about the term here, but his description is a powerful reflection of the sort of music he feels is appropriate at a gentile gathering of “older women”.
He also referred to Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons” as having the ability to “cheer one up”, as if they’re some sort of musical anti-depressant. Follow that line of argument, and we’ll never get to experience the musical depths of despair that some great examples of “Western Art Music” have to offer.
What exactly is “the game”? Is it one played by his rules? That is, we are consoled, or we are not consoled. The arts should know their place. They should not ever challenge their audiences.