On criticism…. De la crítica.

Muchos no entienden bien cuál es la función de un crítico, en este caso, de un crítico de arte. Pues usualmente se entiende que el crítico no hace, sino que se limita a ver hacer y luego, en un acto de pseudovenganza, señala lo que no le gustó, lo que considera imperfecto, en fín…..  muchos críticos aparecen como “pesados”, gente sin oficio que sólo se dedica señalar… pero de hecho, la labor del crítico -al menos de un crítico concienzudo y respetuoso de l oficio sobre el que discute-  es más dura de lo que se cree. Requiere estudio, análisis, dedicación y ensuciarse las manos con el oficio, o sea, aprender las minucias técnicas y materiales.

Cuando se encuentra un crítico de este calibre, vale la pena escuchar, por que lo que tiene que decir, seguramente es muy valioso y nos hará aprender.

Por lo tanto, hoy leemos a Anthony Tommasini, crítico musical del New York Times, que respondió algunas valiosas preguntas:

Q. We seem to be in a very eclectic time for classical music. Composers produce all kinds of music, from the atonal to things that sound more like noise than music, to fusions with traditional folk instruments, to things that are basically purely diatonic. My question is, how would you describe the classical musical landscape in the early 21st century, and do you foresee any resolution of these many trends with a coherent theoretical framework?

— Mark Samuels

¿Critico vs Artista? ¿Critic vs Artist?

¿Crítico vs Artista? ¿Critic vs Artist?

A. You raise an important issue, something I think about all the time. I agree that the landscape for classical music today is more diverse and eclectic than ever. Somehow, the word “eclectic” has become a pejorative. But I like that word and what it conveys, and I’m thrilled that the classical music scene today is so alive with variety and experiment, so open to harmonic idioms of all kinds, so embracing of fusion with world music, folk music, rock, so eclectic!

Much has been written about the terrible decades of the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, when, the story goes, the 12-tone composers who held secure teaching posts at universities treated with disdain those composers who still favored tonal harmonic idioms. It’s simplistic to view that period this way. Still, I remember being a music student at Yale in the early 1970s, when to mention during lunch that I liked the operas of Britten would bring withering looks from composers and composition teachers.

Those days, thank goodness, are long gone. Young composers today neither know nor care about the stylistic wars of earlier decades. They feel free to write any music, any way they choose. And good for them.

I have written for years of my enthusiasm for the 12-tone and atonal works that excite and move me. The problem back then was not the music itself but the dogma surrounding it. Today we live in wonderfully undogmatic times.

So I’m not sure I could describe the compositional landscape today, as you ask me to. And I’m not sure that’s a very essential thing to do. Shouldn’t we embrace the diversity and count ourselves lucky?

Also, it’s important to remember that when we look back to earlier eras — the Romantic period, Viennese Classicism, the Italian Baroque, and so on — it may seem to us that “coherent theoretical frameworks,” as you put it, prevailed back then. But there was actually a great deal of diversity and stylistic conflict. Way before Schoenberg, composers from Monteverdi to Gluck to Wagner were considered radicals. Right now, the Metropolitan Opera is presenting a revival of Francesco Cilea’s “Adriana Lecouvreur,” a verismo melodrama from 1902, not a great work, but a very skillfully written and effective opera composed in a fairly conventional, though elegant, harmonic language. Just consider what else was being written around that time. There was Debussy‘s opera “Pelleas et Melisande,” Schoenberg’s massive orchestral tone poem “Pelleas und Melisande.” and Strauss‘s “Salome.” So I’m not sure we should spend much energy searching for coherence in the compositional scene today.

Thanks for the question, Mark.

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