Random Music Related Thought

I really should get to know more about the music of Shostakovich. I'm especially intersted in the string quartets. There's one - No. 15, I think - that someone reviewed on a message board a long time ago and it made me really interested in that one but I never got around to getting it.

Anyway, I just had to say that before I say this, which is really what I started out to say: I am getting extremely bored with the whole Shostakovich and the Soviets debate which some people apparently find endlessly fascinating even though nothing new has come up in the few years that I've been paying attention to such things.

Pretentious Blather

I hate that word, "pretentious." All it usually means is, "I don't like people who take music and art seriously." But when I read the following lines about Paul Griffiths, quoted by Aworks, the first words that came to mind were "pretentious nonsense."

I regret that I have never heard of Ellen Taaffe Zwillich so I can't offer an opinion of her work but what the hell does "not add anything to the universe of musical possibility," mean? Well, I suppose it's at least more original than just saying that it's derivative, a favorite word of those who look down on anything composed after 1930 or so that has an actual melody, but why can't critics just say what they mean? Well, I'll tell you why: Because what they actually mean in most cases is simply, "I don't like it," but they can't come right out and say that because that would make it too obvious that their opinion is roughly equal to the opinion of any reasonably well-informed listener.

There is good and bad contemporary music and audience acclaim is not always a reliable indicator of which is which but neither are the opinions of critics or academics. Some works are derivative. Some are banal and unoriginal. But "[doesn't] add anything to the universe of musical possiblity"? Please! That just sounds ignorant and... I hate this word but here it is... pretentious!