Classical music at the turn of the 20th century, before the great schism, was, amongst many other things, a comprehensive reflection of the culture of its day. The older generation was personally connected with the musical traditions of the imminent past and the younger generation was raised and educated in those traditions. Then the world witnessed a seemingly irreconcilable loss of ideals, of vision, and of innocence. After the great war the old seemed to represent something so undesirable, that the younger generation went another way: dismissing the traditions of the past, searching for new expressions.
Children felt separated, sought to distance themselves from their parents; elders stood for a world that appeared distant, alien, and abominable. Rebellion without cause was the mind of the young, dissociation from the old and crusty world ~ rock 'n' roll; flower power; sex, drugs, and the former; parents listening to Beethoven - children listening to Beatles ... and the gap widened. At that point, when Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms were mentioned, they seemed to belong to the ominous past, while the future promised fun, freedom, and peace. While parents knew someone who knew Rachmaninoff, children got high on Elvis, Hendrix, Stones, and the Wicken of Woodstock. Seduced by Hyperopia - understandable. And making a point in presenting classical music as relevant and valuable was scoffed at ... "look what it brought us, your old world", "Mozart is boring", and "we don't need no education". Mislead by Myopia - questionable.
This of course is a substantially simplified narrative, but, and this appears to me as crucial: Read more
But I believe practicing for performance to be more important. There are period instruments today but there are no period performers. Tradition must be studied and the knowledge applied, no doubt, but we are children of the future as much as of the past and we must carry the torch of classical music with competence, dignity, and devotion.
"Um die erforderliche Bindung zu erzielen, hebt sich der Finger nicht eher von der ersten Note jeder Gruppe, bis die vierte Note anzuschlagen ist."
In order to achieve the necessary connection, the finger shall not lift off the first note of each group until the fourth note is to be played.
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
The Oral Tradition, the ancient art of transmitting historical and mythological information in spoken word with a corporal presence in front of a crowd, is the foundation of the continuous desire for live performances. Art is a multifaceted phenomenon and a metaphysical need of individuals and civilizations. The Epic and the Tragedy are but some of the manifestations of high art; Drama, Sculpture, Painting, and Music from Orpheus to Cage are others; they all have a systemic imperative of material manifestation, a physical performance.
Gould erred in his prediction about the demise of live performances though he was right about the advent of the recorded media. He did not foresee MTV and MP3 though, alas his predictions would have been less enthusiastic, and if he knew about the schemes of John Q. Walker's Zenph Studios, he might have reconsidered.
"Aus dem Geiste schaffe sich die Technik, nicht aus der Mechanik.
Wir beten die Götter der Musik an am Altar der Tastatur."
"Technique shall be created from the spirit, not from mechanics.
We worship the gods of music at the altar of the keyboard."
Franz Liszt (1811 - 1886)
"Practice is the great magician, who makes the apparent impossible not only performable, but also easy. Industry and practice are the Creators and Founders of all that is great, good, and beautiful on earth. Genius and talent are merely the raw marble: Industry and practice are the hammer and chisel, lead by expert hand, enabling the creation of the beautiful statue from the that marble."
"Übung ist der grosse Zauberer, der das Unmöglichscheinende nicht nur ausführbar, sondern auch leicht macht. Fleiss und Übung sind die Schöpfer und Urheber alles Grossen, Guten und Schönen auf der Erde, Genie und Talent ist nur der rohe Marmor: Fleiss und Übung aber ist der, von kundiger Hand geführte Meissel, welcher aus diesem Marmor erst die schöne Bildsäule erschaffet."
Carl Czerny (1791 – 1857)
See: 258 • Time in water
The reciting profession – the Epic – as well as the collective experience – the Tragedy – were very important to ancient society, to the people of Hellenistic Greece. To remind of the heritage of culture, to remember who we are as a people, to reiterate truth about the human condition. These priceless traditions were in existence for centuries. They are now lost, forgotten.
If we collectively forget Beethoven, we will become another people. Do we want to become those other people?
"Die Bildung des Ohres ist wichtiger, als die der Hand."
Robert Schumann (1810-1856)
"Ars longa, vita brevis - no, life is long and art is short as art grants a moment's worth visit with the gods!"
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
"The pianist needs three qualities: a heart, a mind, and technique.
Without heart he is a machine
Without mind he is a moron
Without technique he is a disaster"
Vladimir Samoylovich Horowitz (1903 – 1989)