Felsenmusick - The Weblog of Daniel Felsenfeld
The Web Log of a Certain Daniel Felsenfeld: Composer, critic, avid reader, aspiring
bon vivant, capricorn, shadowy figure, advice for the lovelorn

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

SoHo the non-Dogmatic

Like everyone, I am following Matthew Guerreri's blog with astonishment: he does, as Alex says, seem to be wired into his own rather brilliant information feed. I'd like to reprint something he wrote and comment:

"Rudolf Serkin, infamously, once played the entirety of Bach’s Goldberg Variations as an encore. “When I finished,” he remembered, “there were only four people left in the hall—Adolph Busch, Artur Schnabel, Alfred Einstein and myself.” Did the value of Serkin’s recital dwindle along with the number listening? Hardly. My sanguine view of the survival of classical music is reflected in that illustrious trio staying in their seats. There will always be an audience whose demand for the music will remain purely functional, immune to fads, buzz, trends, what have you. Will it be smaller than the audience for this month’s pop sensation? Probably. Does that matter? Nope."

This comes at the end of another weighing in on The Death of Classical Music, in his way using a kind of post-Veblen economic measuring stick. He makes his usual salient points, rounded off here, and I'd like to add my own few cents. I am reminded of the movie 24 Hour Party People, director Michael Winterbottom's paean to the rise and fall of Manchester's rave culture(with the ever-acerbic and self-lacerating Steve Coogan as entrepeneur Tony Wilson). In the movie, he organizes a show of the Sex Pistols just before they hit, and though few are in the audience, most of them went out and started important bands. Same is true of the Velvet Underground: they had a mighty listenership which was small but full of people who went out and innovated in their name. This is a sort of defense of insider art: quality of audience can sometimes trump quantity. Looked at from an economic standpoint: if myself, you, and Bill Gates are in the room together, our average net worth is something in the billions. In other words, sometimes it is important to have a smaller, potent bunch than a larger group of near-participants.

When Alex Ross' book comes out, you will all get to see who was at the premiere of Salome in 1906: some heavy hitters, making the crowd a more potent global force than, say, a huge concert of La Boheme in the park.


Blogger Lisa Hirsch said...

Alex blogged a big chunk of the opening of his book. The thought of Mahler and Strauss hiking in the woods the day of the Austrian premiere.....!

4:25 PM  

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