Writings on Music - Vol. 3

Writings on Music - Vol. 3

Writings on Music - Vol. 3

Writings on Music - Vol. 3

Synopsis

Nicolas Slonimsky was an influential and celebrated writer on music. Working as a freelance author, he built a large file of reviews, articles, and even manuscripts for books that were never published. This is the third volume in a four volume set of his work.

Excerpt

You would not expect a person of my father's cultural heritage-steeped in the Russian musical tradition, trained in its premier conservatory-to be attracted to “modern” music. He had everything to gain from the old musical regime: he was educated in it, he performed it brilliantly, and it was prevalent, offering the opportunity for a successful career. Piano was his instrument, taught by his formidable Aunt Isabelle Vengerova from childhood. His rich education in the theory and practice of music could also have suited him for composing or conducting, a purveyor of the classical tradition at its highest level.

But that's not what happened. He was interested in the modern seemingly from the moment of expulsion from his pre-Revolutionary cultural cocoon and continued to be so for the following 80 years-during which, of course, the definition of modern evolved and twisted and morphed and turned inside out, and even reverted to “classical.” Why did he choose to be a proponent of the modern? Surely it had to do with his intellectual curiosity, impatience with repetition, and rebellious spirit, but further psychologizing is pointless.

This volume opens with a short article written in 1926, when he had barely mastered English. He takes on the definition of modern music-by suggesting what it isn't. In those days, perhaps, definitions seemed necessary but the time had also come to accept the new era in its many manifestations. Acceptance of the unfamiliar was a personal characteristic and a recurrent theme in his writings. While the traditionalists bemoaned deviations from the mandates of history, he applauded innovation-adding new elements, smashing and reassembling the old ones-but only if intellectually valid and esthetically driven. Also, throughout his life, he could not resist an idea if it was fun-dropping a

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