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Why does contemporary classical music spurn melody?

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An acquired taste?

The Guardian, in London, recently published a piece called "Why Do We Hate Modern Classical Music?" by Alex Ross, in which he argued that we shouldn't. He urged that fans of symphonic music embrace the new, pointing to acceptance of abstract and conceptual art following years of critical and popular rejection.

While works by Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollack, and others have generated millions of dollars in sales, there's a difference between painting or sculpture and music. An objet d'art's worth is measured by how much a collector will pay for it. Visitors to an art museum, as Mr. Ross does point out, can glance at a piece and move away. A concertgoer is probably stuck in a seat for 20-plus minutes, gnashing teeth while the orchestra plays a cacophonous opus in something like 37/9 time.

Ross also opines that since classical music is an acquired taste, enduring exposure to modern expressions will develop an appreciation for 20th- and 21st-century compositions. The problem: Some tastes are more easily acquired than others. Would periodic servings of fried tripe produce diners ravenous for the dish, or would those predisposed to abhor it continue to do so? (No offense intended to connoisseurs of fried tripe.)

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