So Round 3 begins. What, is this a fight? Well, in a way it is, I suppose. In the past two days on this page, I've tried to look as sensitively as possible at where the art of music has come and its prospects for the future. So far, audiences and performers have been discussed and today, out of my conviction that an art has health only according to the fresh material coming out of it, composers and compositions are the issue.
They are, to be sure, the hardest nut to crack among these three ingredients for music. In discussing them, I risk awful accusations of sophistry, pandering , question- begging, being out of touch, ill-informed, and generally a stick-in-the-mud. But my mulish lunacy, and my zeal for music's being the very best it can be, drive me on.
Performers are impelled, in the main, by what they suppose audiences are after. Audiences seem to have cleft themselves into two camps: I mentioned previously that they remind me of the two faces of Janus, one face looking backward as far as he can, the other in the opposite direction. My point, simply put: it isn't necessary for us to look always to the receding music of yesterday, or to preen ourselves in the chicness of the "totally new" and avant-garde. There is a repertoire that exists, that has been composed within our time, which can answer the needs of everyone -- right nowm . Music that exhibits a consistently fresh handling of all that's the most universally compelling about music.
Well, having said that, what's left to do? Start naming names? Perhaps I will, Is our symphonic tradition dead? I don't know. But in thinking about whether or not it stopped with Sibelius, we mustm look at a huge body of symphonies by Aaron Copland, Samuel Barber, Roy Harris, Peter Mennin, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Paul Creston, Howard Hanson, David Diamond, Leonard Bernstein -- the list is endless, in all the other forms too! Songs, organ music, other orchestral works, opera, choral, you name it. There is virtually a whole body, a whole era of music which, to my sensibilities, has musical technique, inspiration, sensitivity and much else to say to those who have given up on the music of our time. ("Give me a symphony I can take my family to hear!")