Sunday, March 21, 2010

"Battle of the Bands"

Mariss Jansons of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam

In the latest issue of The New Yorker, classical music critic/blogger Alex Ross talks about a recent gathering of the world's most powerful orchestras on Carnegie Hall's stage. The Chicago, Boston, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh orchestras, the New York Philharmonic, and the Royal Concertgebouw orchestra were just a few that were there.

I thought this concept was interesting. Ross points out "The impulse to pit one orchestra against another is as regrettable as it is irresistible. In 1928, Wilhelm Furtw√§ngler, the most relentlessly deep-thinking of conductors, bemoaned what he considered the American habit of “seeing things from the point of view of sport,” but even by then the “Who’s on top?” tendency had become universal."

Sometimes music is just meant to be enjoyed and the superiority of the orchestra should be pushed aside for the listener's own sake. This reminded me of cperkal's post on interchangeable parts and how as Americans, we seem to want to find the most efficient, competitive and profitable model so we can be ready for competition. In the case of simply enjoying music, do these principles still apply?

The New Yorker article can be found here.

1 comment:

  1. Or we could argue, perhaps more generally, that capitalism is what encourages us (as Americans) to see things in terms of competition.

    On the flipside, could we argue that the divide between art as "competition" verses something "just to be enjoyed" is a bit overdetermined? I'm thinking of this question in terms of the stock criticism lobbied at English teachers: Sometimes books are just meant to be enjoyed, not analyzed. Do we buy that