Music: Healing the Rift

A&C Black, 2005 M04 29 - 288 páginas
It's often said that 'old new music' - the sort that poses challenges, stirs up antagonisms, and refuses to soothe - is dead. We've put the modernist dogmas behind us, and have moved into a happy musical utopia, where anything can be mixed with anything, and the old distinctions between high and low, art and non-art, no longer matter.
In this book Ivan Hewett argues that, far from being an irrelevance, these distinctions matter more than ever. He traces the story of classical music over the past century, showing that modern music and 'old' classical music in general are not the enemies they're often made out to be. They're both symptoms of the same problem: how to create an imaginary musical unity, when the old ways have been ruptured by social changes. They are both ways to 'heal the rift'. The first rift gave us classical music. But then that too was riven, and so modern music arose. Now modern music itself has become bewilderingly multiple, but the author argues that there's more to the present scene than mere variety. An unholy alliance of new technologies and a new form of expressivity has created a distinctly new type of musical experience, which lays claim to the seriousness of the old one. In the final part of the book, he sets out to show why that claim can't be sustained, and why classical music, and the modernist spirit which is its true heir, are still our best guides to musical value.

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Ivan Hewett presents Sound Read on Radio Three and is a regular contributor to The Times, Musical Times, BBC Music magazine and Prospect.

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