'An Anatomy of Musical Criticism' by Alan Walker

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IcedNote
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'An Anatomy of Musical Criticism' by Alan Walker

Post by IcedNote » Tue Mar 13, 2012 5:06 pm

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Anyone know this book? I just started it and was completely enthralled through the first chapter.
I believe that masterpieces unfold according to timeless, creative principles, that they would not be masterpieces unless they did, and that it is the chief function of any theory of musical criticism to tell us what these principles are.
Can't wait to see how he supports that belief!

On a related topic, do any of you read much about musical criticism? If so, could you recommend further reading? It's a topic I'd like to know more about.

-G
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Re: 'An Anatomy of Musical Criticism' by Alan Walker

Post by absinthe » Tue Mar 13, 2012 5:23 pm

Theory of musical criticism?

Jesus, they'll be doing degree courses on it next. What the heck does a critic think he can do? Useful I mean?

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Re: 'An Anatomy of Musical Criticism' by Alan Walker

Post by Werner » Tue Mar 13, 2012 6:47 pm

Serve as an informant? Irritant?
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Re: 'An Anatomy of Musical Criticism' by Alan Walker

Post by John F » Tue Mar 13, 2012 9:25 pm

absinthe wrote:Theory of musical criticism?

Jesus, they'll be doing degree courses on it next. What the heck does a critic think he can do? Useful I mean?
Do you believe that informed, intelligent, and purposeful discussion of music is useless? If so, then what are we doing here? Not all those who review performances and recordings measure up, but that's only the journalistic aspect of criticism.

Alan Walker is not a musical journalist, as the bio in Wikipedia shows. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Walker_(musicologist)) He is a university professor, a musicologist, and the author of a 3-volume biography of Liszt and recently a biography of Hans von Bülow. I'm sure his views on musical criticism are cogent and worth reading. Thanks, IcedNote!

Joseph Kerman, author of one of the most influential works of musical criticism, "Opera as Drama," discusses that discipline in "Contemplating Music: Challenges to Musicology." (Musicology is one of many forms of musical study that can provide a foundation for serious criticism.) Here's a much abridged version of what he says in the Introduction:
Joseph Kerman wrote:Criticism - the study of the meaning and value of art works - does not figure in the explicit programs of musicology or theory. In music-academic circles, the term "criticism" is little used. It is, in fact, positively distrusted. Part of the problem is the vexing common usage of the term "criticism" to mean the reviewing of concerts for daily or weekly papers - that and nothing more. Journalistic criticism has a very bad odor in the profession. The folklore of journalism is rich in rascally tales of music critics who switched over one fine day from the sports pages to revel in a life of ignorance and spite. What I would call serious music criticism does not exist as a discipline on a par with musicology and music theory on the one hand, or literary and art criticism on the other. We do not have musical Arnolds or Eliots, Blackmuirs or Kermodes, Ruskins or Schapiros.
But we do have Kerman, Charles Rosen, and not a few others in and out of the academy, who may not work within a defined theory of what music criticism is or should be, but who do music criticism anyway, and on a high level of complexity and sophistication.

"Contemplating Music" is, as its subtitle says, about musicology, which is scholarly research and study, usually academic. However, it includes a chapter, "Musicology and Criticism," which goes further into what musical criticism is or ought to be. Because of its academic orientation, you may not find it as engrossing as Alan Walker's book, but who knows? If the subject interests you, these 40+ pages may open up the discipline of musical criticism in many ways - none of them having the slightest connection with the reviews in the New York Times and Fanfare.
John Francis

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Re: 'An Anatomy of Musical Criticism' by Alan Walker

Post by jbuck919 » Tue Mar 13, 2012 9:43 pm

John F wrote:But we do have Kerman, Charles Rosen, and not a few others in and out of the academy, who may not work within a defined theory of what music criticism is or should be, but who do music criticism anyway, and on a high level of complexity and sophistication.
Why thank you, John. :oops:

Seriously, a name to add to the list is Tovey, who did not eschew writing reviews.

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Re: 'An Anatomy of Musical Criticism' by Alan Walker

Post by IcedNote » Tue Mar 13, 2012 9:51 pm

John F wrote:Joseph Kerman, author of one of the most influential works of musical criticism, "Opera as Drama," discusses that discipline in "Contemplating Music: Challenges to Musicology." (Musicology is one of many forms of musical study that can provide a foundation for serious criticism.)

...

"Contemplating Music" is, as its subtitle says, about musicology, which is scholarly research and study, usually academic. However, it includes a chapter, "Musicology and Criticism," which goes further into what musical criticism is or ought to be. Because of its academic orientation, you may not find it as engrossing as Alan Walker's book, but who knows? If the subject interests you, these 40+ pages may open up the discipline of musical criticism in many ways - none of them having the slightest connection with the reviews in the New York Times and Fanfare.
Oh, right...Kerman! I've read him before in graduate seminars and whatnot. And no, I don't mind books with an academic bent. In fact, I prefer them. :)

Don't tell my professors I forgot about that book... ;)

-G
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Re: 'An Anatomy of Musical Criticism' by Alan Walker

Post by Lance » Wed Mar 14, 2012 12:47 am

In a very real sense, we are all critics, at least to some degree. Some are critics that have never had any professional training yet believe they are the end-all on deciding who is good or bad, or what composer should get lost. (We have all run into them, I'm sure.) That said, anyone can review or become a critic based on whatever knowledge they have gleaned over a lifetime - or what they have NOT gleaned. Critics are writing about how a performance affects them at the time they are hearing/seeing something, though many times, few "in the know" do not agree, OR the reader decides this guy knows what he's talking about and believes the review accordingly and thus his influence of the performing artists is initially forever established - maybe.

Even bad performances give joy to some people in the audience who are there only for the sheer enjoyment that can be provided. I know someone who paid the top $$$ to attend a NYP performance with guest artist Andrea Bocelli. She was "overwhelmed" by what she heard but really had nothing to compare it to, not even a recording of Jussi Bjoerling singing the same repertoire. I wasn't going to spoil the joy she had from the high-priced concert. In the end, it is all a matter of educating people. I personally try to learn something every day in my lifelong love of great music. Nobody has all the answers, and often when they think they do, it's more in their own imagination than anywhere else. However, some critics do know very well and very much know how to put it in words in a manner of being instructive rather than destructive. [Our own critic on CMG, Dr. Gary R. Lemco is one of the geniuses that I know who can write.]

I learned a great deal about LISTENING to music from the well-known pianist and music critic (of High-Fidelity magazine days) Harris Goldsmith. Not only is he a profound critic, but he's a front-ranking pianist. I have prepared his pianos for such things as Schubert's B-Flat, Op. Posth. Sonata and some Beethoven sonatas and was knocked over by his brilliance of interpretation and well-thought-out performance.

I can recommend some books dealing with criticisms, where one can learn the style or create a personal template to cover such a vast range of being a critic. These include:

•Critical Entertainments: Music Old and New - by Charles Rosen
•Hanslick's Musical Criticisms- by Eduard Hanslick (who was disliked by many in his day!)
•Music Observed - by B. H. Haggin [reprint entitled: 35 Years of Music]
•My Adventures in the Golden Age of Music - by Henry T. Finck
•The Pleasure of Their Company: A Reminiscence - by Howard Taubman [NY Times Critic of 57 years]
•Romantic Poets, Critics and Other Madmen - by Charles Rosen [Rosen is one of the great minds of music in our own time. All his books are a revelation and he is also a pianist of great distinction.]
•So I've Heard Notes of Migratory Music Critic - by Alan Rich [who contributed to CMG during the original Ward Botsford days, former owner of CMG]
•Voices, Singers and Critics - by J. B. Steane
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Re: 'An Anatomy of Musical Criticism' by Alan Walker

Post by John F » Wed Mar 14, 2012 3:43 am

jbuck919 wrote:
John F wrote:But we do have Kerman, Charles Rosen, and not a few others in and out of the academy, who may not work within a defined theory of what music criticism is or should be, but who do music criticism anyway, and on a high level of complexity and sophistication.
Why thank you, John. :oops:

Seriously, a name to add to the list is Tovey, who did not eschew writing reviews.
I don't know Tovey's reviews, but his most famous work, "Essays in Musical Analysis," is a collection of program notes he wrote for concerts he conducted, an equally humble form. He did write criticism too, and his collection "The Mainstream of Music and Other Essays" is good reading for those who don't think music criticism is useless.

Lance, on the other hand, is mainly defending the usefulness of music reviewing, which I suppose is what absinthe is so dismissive about. Using the word "criticism" for musical journalism confuses the issue, but despite what I quoted Kerman as saying, people will keep on doing it. Whatever, I agree with Lance that reviews can be useful; they've sometimes been helpful to me. And collections of reviews, like some in Lance's list and Andrew Porter's collected New Yorker pieces, can call back a bygone time for those who were there, or evoke it for those who weren't.
John Francis

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Re: 'An Anatomy of Musical Criticism' by Alan Walker

Post by absinthe » Wed Mar 14, 2012 3:45 pm

John F wrote:
absinthe wrote:Theory of musical criticism?

Jesus, they'll be doing degree courses on it next. What the heck does a critic think he can do? Useful I mean?
Do you believe that informed, intelligent, and purposeful discussion of music is useless? If so, then what are we doing here? Not all those who review performances and recordings measure up, but that's only the journalistic aspect of criticism.
That's all right as far as it goes but of what can a critic inform us? They can sketch forth the details of a work/performance and list alternatives with technical comments but anything else is opinion (which, with 'critic' in the job title, pretends to carry some authority). All too often contrary opinions appear. And charlatans who haven't even been near the object.

The best I can hope for is consistent agreement with a critic: predictability that allows me to decide on something new.

Trouble is that these cultural eunuchs have been legitimised. They live uncomfortably on the fringe of "the professional musical consensus" - because their unfortunate commitment to print entails a risk. But they're there; they take a salary and thus feed off their host, the people who do the actual work and whose careers are on the line.

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Re: 'An Anatomy of Musical Criticism' by Alan Walker

Post by John F » Thu Mar 15, 2012 2:57 am

absinthe wrote:
John F wrote:
absinthe wrote:Theory of musical criticism?

Jesus, they'll be doing degree courses on it next. What the heck does a critic think he can do? Useful I mean?
Do you believe that informed, intelligent, and purposeful discussion of music is useless? If so, then what are we doing here? Not all those who review performances and recordings measure up, but that's only the journalistic aspect of criticism.
That's all right as far as it goes but of what can a critic inform us? They can sketch forth the details of a work/performance and list alternatives with technical comments but anything else is opinion (which, with 'critic' in the job title, pretends to carry some authority). All too often contrary opinions appear. And charlatans who haven't even been near the object.

The best I can hope for is consistent agreement with a critic: predictability that allows me to decide on something new.

Trouble is that these cultural eunuchs have been legitimised. They live uncomfortably on the fringe of "the professional musical consensus" - because their unfortunate commitment to print entails a risk. But they're there; they take a salary and thus feed off their host, the people who do the actual work and whose careers are on the line.
Again, you're using the term "critic" when you're actually talking about reviewers. OK, so let's talk about reviewers. What can they tell us that we don't already know? For one thing, they can tell us what a piece of music is like, so that people who haven't heard it can decide whether to seek it out or buy a recording (if there is one). For another, they are the chroniclers of their community's musical life, or used to be before many newspapers got rid of their musical staff, usually a staff of one. Not only do we learn from them what's going on now, but future readers will be able to find out what was going on in the past. More generally, reviewers provide laypeople with a model of how to talk about music without having learned music theory and the terminology professionals use when talking with each other.

To answer your rather jaundiced view directly, reviewers do much to create and sustain the general public's interest in classical music and its performances live and on records. At least the best of them do. And this free publicity benefits the musicians they write about. What if you gave a concert and nobody came? What if you made a recording and nobody bought it? Where's your career then?

Different reviewers have different approaches and priorities. Andrew Porter's weekly column in the New Yorker aimed first of all at informing readers about music and musicians, more than judging this or that performance, though that was inevitably part of his job. When I reviewed records and videos for Fanfare, not very many and not very long, I tried to do the same. Reviewing a Boulez Schoenberg album that included the first recording of "Die Jakobsleiter," I wrote two long paragraphs about its history, text, and music, and another describing the recording, which I praised, objecting only to the lack of an English translation of the text.

I didn't praise another selection in this box, and I'll end this defense of the reviewer's job and art by quoting myself - have a bash if you like:
John Francis wrote:In the Four Songs, Op. 22, I think that [Robert] Craft and his soloist Regina Sarfaty have the edge. Sarfaty is more comfortable than Boulez's Yvonne Minton in the low-ranging tessitura, and both she and Craft respond more expressively to the sense of Dowson's and Rilke's poems, which speak of winds and surging seas. Schoenberg's settings are certainly not word-painting as in Brahms or Wolf, but they do embody his responses to the text - which is to say that they are not abstract - and his own analysis suggests that he wanted an expressive performance. "Now, if a performer speaks of a passionate sea in a different tone of voice than he might use for a calm sea, my music does nothing else than to provide him with the opportunity to do so, and to support him." Minton sings cautiously and without much response to the words, which makes the songs seem even more cerebral than they are. But this version now stands alone in the Schwann, Gramophone, Bielefelder, and Diapason catalogs, and it's certainly satisfactory. Indeed, other listeners may prefer it.
John Francis

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Re: 'An Anatomy of Musical Criticism' by Alan Walker

Post by absinthe » Thu Mar 15, 2012 7:53 am

Well, ok.

But the OP seems to be about a review or collation or deconstruction of musical criticism, which I read to mean the criticism of music. Reviewers are ok except here in the UK they're more after the event than before (though some probably write stuff up before they listen/attend). Fine, if a show extends over several nights and you'd like to find out what your fav reviewer has to say. Concerts are usually advertised though mail shots, subscriptions and 'what's-on's' but that's possibly because the UK is smaller with just a few centres of art and music.

As for opining on what a performance or composition is like - well, they can talk technical usually with comparisons; tempi, dynamics. What they NEVER tell me is about the recording engineering and I've been disappointed too many times to realise there's only one way to find out. Otherwise, telling us what a piece of music is like can only be achieved through simile or vague references to the rubric.

Read a review or crit in, say, the Gramophone and the first two paragraphs are usually autobiographical then some way down you notice a reference to the work. Mostly waffle, though - and as we've learned recently, the quality and size of review is sometimes tied to advertising.


Last night I picked up Tender is the Night. Penguin Classics. so I expected some informative stuff. But the introduction (which at the outset seems to assume you're already familiar with the story in outline) is 44 pages long, telling me what the characters are supposed to be like, and what F Scott Fitzgerald really meant by this and that...and I thought oh for pete's sake finding that out is my job and turned to the story. A 44-page bio would have gone down a lot better.

Still, it helped some literary person to pay his mortgage and tax. I suppose there's that - rather him cranking the dross machine than taking unemployment benefits. Same with many of these musical groupies, not all but many.
Last edited by absinthe on Thu Mar 15, 2012 8:05 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 'An Anatomy of Musical Criticism' by Alan Walker

Post by John F » Thu Mar 15, 2012 8:04 am

Well, if reviews and literary commentary and so on are useless to you, they're easy to ignore. Just don't read them! (You do read them, don't you? What for?) Clearly they are useful to other people or authors wouldn't be paid to write them, and publishers wouldn't pay to publish them. :)

By the way, what's "OP"?
Last edited by John F on Thu Mar 15, 2012 8:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 'An Anatomy of Musical Criticism' by Alan Walker

Post by absinthe » Thu Mar 15, 2012 8:06 am

John F wrote:Well, if reviews and literary commentary and so on are useless to you, they're easy to ignore. Just don't read them! Clearly they are useful to other people or authors wouldn't be paid to write them, and publishers wouldn't pay to publish them. :)

By the way, what's "OP"?

Just "original posting/poster"

:)

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Re: 'An Anatomy of Musical Criticism' by Alan Walker

Post by diegobueno » Thu Mar 15, 2012 8:47 am

And here I thought OP was Ron Howard's character on Andy Griffith.

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Re: 'An Anatomy of Musical Criticism' by Alan Walker

Post by diegobueno » Thu Mar 15, 2012 8:57 am

I've so far made it through the first 2 volumes of Walker's Liszt biography. It's fascinating reading, though the staggering amount of information he accumulated on his subject clearly resists being sausage-skinned into a straight-forward narrative, and instead goes spilling out into lengthy footnotes on just about every page. Some of the most interesting stuff is in the footnotes.

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Re: 'An Anatomy of Musical Criticism' by Alan Walker

Post by John F » Thu Mar 15, 2012 9:19 am

absinthe wrote:
John F wrote: By the way, what's "OP"?
Just "original posting/poster"

:)
Got it! OP means "out of print" in book publishing, my former profession, and I didn't see how it fits here. :)
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Re: 'An Anatomy of Musical Criticism' by Alan Walker

Post by hangos » Thu Mar 15, 2012 2:59 pm

This hardly adds to the discussion, but it may well lighten things up ;
Sibelius once said "Nobody ever erected a statue to a critic". I wonder what he would have made of this theory?
Also, wasn't it Mahler who, while on the toilet, wrote to a critic ; "Ich habe Ihre Kritik vor mir, aber bald werde ich sie hinter mir haben" (I have your critique in front of me, but soon I'll have it behind me" :D :D :D

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Re: 'An Anatomy of Musical Criticism' by Alan Walker

Post by John F » Thu Mar 15, 2012 3:39 pm

No, that was Reger.

And there's more than one statue erected to George Bernard Shaw, aka Corno di Bassetto. Sure, he wrote other stuff besides music criticism, but he was nonetheless a professional music critic - his music reviews and commentaries fill four volumes. Sibelius got it wrong.

Other professional music critics to whom statues have been erected: Robert Schumann and Hugo Wolf. Also Philip Larkin, who wrote about jazz. No statue yet for Virgil Thomson, as far as I know. Any others?
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Re: 'An Anatomy of Musical Criticism' by Alan Walker

Post by absinthe » Thu Mar 15, 2012 4:27 pm

John F wrote:No, that was Reger.
Wasn't he renowned as a locksmith too? Somewhere I read he went down with Reger Mortice.

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Re: 'An Anatomy of Musical Criticism' by Alan Walker

Post by John F » Thu Mar 15, 2012 4:30 pm

:)
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Re: 'An Anatomy of Musical Criticism' by Alan Walker

Post by John F » Mon Mar 19, 2012 10:47 am

Found a copy in the library. As it could only be read there, and I didn't have much time, I went directly to the end, and found this:
Alan Walker wrote:An act of criticism is not an act of intelligence; it is an act of intuition. The intellect is there only to move in after the intuitive event, to explain it. It would make no difference to a critical reaction if it did not move in at all.
About criticism in general, this is simply not true. Theories of criticism are useful not because of the after-the-fact reasons they may provide for our intuitive value judgments, but for providing ways of perceiving and taking in the work of art, whether literary, pictorial, or musical - educating our intuition, you might say. Without an intellectual understanding of symbolism in general, and iconography in particular, it's not possible to grasp what certain pictures are saying:

Image

Well, maybe the next time I'm in the library I'll have the time to look at Walker's discussion - it's quite short. Might be more there than this conclusion suggests.
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Re: 'An Anatomy of Musical Criticism' by Alan Walker

Post by absinthe » Mon Mar 19, 2012 12:18 pm

I suppose Bosch does pictorially symbolise the minds of critics.

:D

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Re: 'An Anatomy of Musical Criticism' by Alan Walker

Post by John F » Mon Mar 19, 2012 12:27 pm

Maybe so. The title of the picture is, "The Garden of Earthly Delights." :)
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Re: 'An Anatomy of Musical Criticism' by Alan Walker

Post by diegobueno » Mon Mar 19, 2012 3:13 pm

Knowing Walker's writing, I would trust that his argument is a much more complex one than can be refuted from a quick reading of the last paragraph.

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Re: 'An Anatomy of Musical Criticism' by Alan Walker

Post by John F » Mon Mar 19, 2012 4:29 pm

In such a short book (about 100 pages in a small format), on such a broad subject, there's hardly room for a very complex argument, and the dismissive conclusion doesn't promise much. But I'll see for myself.
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Re: 'An Anatomy of Musical Criticism' by Alan Walker

Post by IcedNote » Mon Mar 19, 2012 5:18 pm

Part 2, which is the meat of the book at 78 pages, is a supreme disappointment. All he does is give a very weak argument in favor of Schenkerian Analysis, as though that's meant to prove something about objective musical excellence in the compositions--i.e. his proof that masterworks are tangibly "special."

I have little hope for the remainder, and it appears that his setup was far more interesting than his actual argument.

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Re: 'An Anatomy of Musical Criticism' by Alan Walker

Post by John F » Mon Mar 19, 2012 5:38 pm

Interesting. I can see how formal analysis, Schenkerian or whatever, might be a basis for musical criticism, as I understand that discipline; but you say Walker's argument is weak. Still, I'll read some more of it when I can.
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Re: 'An Anatomy of Musical Criticism' by Alan Walker

Post by absinthe » Mon Mar 19, 2012 5:56 pm

IMHO Schenker cherry-picked composers to demonstrate his ideas. There is SO much music that won't fit his system. A composer coming to mind is Debussy - and I doubt much early Stravinsky would be Schenkered!

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Re: 'An Anatomy of Musical Criticism' by Alan Walker

Post by IcedNote » Mon Mar 19, 2012 6:03 pm

Mind you, I don't recall him actually using the word "Schenker," but it is nevertheless. He focuses more on motivic unity and such, but whatever. Zzzzzz.

-G
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Re: 'An Anatomy of Musical Criticism' by Alan Walker

Post by diegobueno » Mon Mar 19, 2012 7:00 pm

Oh, so it's Schenker, is it? That would explain this sentence:
Alan Walker wrote:I believe that masterpieces unfold according to timeless, creative principles, that they would not be masterpieces unless they did, and that it is the chief function of any theory of musical criticism to tell us what these principles are.
Schenker was a new discovery in the English-speaking world at that time (1966) and they had this idea, based on the claims of his disciples -- and heck, even from Schenker himself -- that this was the magic formula that unlocked the secret of why masterworks are masterworks*, and other music is not. This book would be a product of its time. I don't think anyone is peddling the idea of Schenker as the litmus test for musical greatness any more. It's just an insightful way of showing how tonal composition is derived from the basic principles of voice leading and species counterpoint.


* Specifically, why GERMAN masterworks are masterworks and other music is not.

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Re: 'An Anatomy of Musical Criticism' by Alan Walker

Post by jbuck919 » Mon Mar 19, 2012 9:15 pm

diegobueno wrote:It's just an insightful way of showing how tonal composition is derived from the basic principles of voice leading and species counterpoint.
Maybe a little more than that, and importantly, for a Schenker graph is an appreciative reading of a work which, for the music to which it applies to begin with, illustrates for those who want to go on more than instinct why Mozart is on a different plane than Dittersdorf. I lack the talent for it myself, but people who skillfully undertake Schenker the way it should be done unveil for themselves and perhaps others an additional dimension of appreciation of music that they already knew was great. But I think you know that, and were perhaps not saying anything much different.

On the other hand, I would not assume that Schenker guruism is dead. I went to grad school with a true believer of the second generation (i.e., a pupil of a pupil of Schenker) who is now a professor at City College. He is a very brilliant musician and a productive scholar and I won't belittle him for this, but I imagine that he has been passing on the torch for the last 35 years.

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Re: 'An Anatomy of Musical Criticism' by Alan Walker

Post by jbuck919 » Mon Mar 19, 2012 9:28 pm

absinthe wrote:IMHO Schenker cherry-picked composers to demonstrate his ideas. There is SO much music that won't fit his system. A composer coming to mind is Debussy - and I doubt much early Stravinsky would be Schenkered!
Schenker was only interested in the music to which he thought his analysis applied. Many think that he actually included composers for whom it was already inadequate (everyone after Beethoven is at best a weak case for strict application). Some of his pupils such as Felix Salzer claimed with a certain justification to find voice-leading features of both later and earlier music worth discussing in Shenkerian terms, and I am not willing to say that their approach is completely uninteresting.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

IcedNote
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Re: 'An Anatomy of Musical Criticism' by Alan Walker

Post by IcedNote » Mon Mar 19, 2012 10:52 pm

My master's thesis in music theory expanded Schenkerian analysis to treat the works of Prokofiev. It was well received, and I would have pursued it further had I continued my PhD in theory. Alas, here I am...a composer. :)

-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

John F
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Re: 'An Anatomy of Musical Criticism' by Alan Walker

Post by John F » Tue Mar 20, 2012 4:29 am

diegobueno's quotation from IcedNote's excerpt puts the focus on a likely reason why Walker concludes that musical criticism can only be intuitive, and is intellectual only after the fact. If you define the purpose of criticism as he does, to reveal "timeless creative principles" by which all "masterpieces unfold," and implicitly define "masterpieces" as musical works that "unfold" according to such principles, you're begging your own question before you even start and aren't going to get anywhere. Walker was pretty young when he wrote this book, his second, and after immersing himself for so many years in the music as well as the life of Liszt, I'd expect he now has a different view about musical masterpieces and what makes them so.
John Francis

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