Intimate Music: A History of the Idea of Chamber Music

By Neil Minturn; Micheal J. Budds | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 5
Autobiographical Voices and Critical Commentary

How the pilgrims abused each other! Each said it was the other’s
fault, and each in turn denied it. No word was spoken by the
sinners—even the mildest sarcasm might have been dangerous at
such a time. Sinners that have been kept down and had
examples held up to them, and suffered frequent lectures, and
been so put upon in a moral way and in the matter of going slow
and being serious and bottling up slang, and so crowded in regard
to the matter of being proper and always and forever behaving
that their lives have become a burden to them, would not lag
behind pilgrims at such a time as this, and wink furtively, and be
joyful, and commit other such crimes—because it would not
occur to them to do it. Otherwise they would. But they did do
it, though—and it did them a world of good to hear the pilgrims
abuse each other, too. We took an unworthy satisfaction in
seeing them fall out now and then, because it showed that they
were only poor human people like us after all.

Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad (1869), 498-99.

This chapter offers a selection of published and quoted anecdotes, opinions, and assessments. Part of my intent is to show that perception is in the eye of the beholder, that sound is in the ear of the listener, that analysis is in the mind of the judge. Naturally, I do not claim to be a disinterested documentary reporter in offering these views. In some instances I have offered a short commentary to situate the excerpt in context.


On Musical Break-Ups

BREAKING AWAY FROM RONNIE HAWKINS

The Last Waltz was certainly a celebration, one that continues every time one listens to the soundtrack or re-views the movie. But it also marked the breaking up of The Band. Relationships of all kinds unravel all the time, and many of us have the experience more than once. Different parties tell different tales and give different explanations. The members of The Band had dissolved a musical association at least once before, with Ronnie Hawkins, and, like The Last Waltz, that break-up was less than completely amicable. The events leading up to the Hawks’

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