Not that I am an advocate of a totalitarian state, but Shotakovitch 5th symphony, arguably one of the great masterpieces of the form, was written in conformity with and as an apology to the totalitarian ethos of that great lover of personal expression, Stalin. In this sense Shotakovitch is perhaps a little like Haydn, composing music constrained by the politics in which he found himself and yet utilizing those constraints to create something bigger and more robust than the rules he was suppose to be following. At least, thats my opinion.. which, along with a few dollars, will get you a coffee at starbucks.
You and your Starbucks. That opera 'The Nose' and 'Lady MacBeth of Mtensk' got him into an awful lot of trouble.
Anyway, it's my theory that being creatively shackled to some degree can make you produce something quite magical at the best of times. By the way Fred, did you ever get around to listening to the Scherzo of my symphony in progress?
"Skill without imagination is craftsmanship and gives us many useful objects such as wickerwork picnic baskets. Imagination without skill gives us modern art." -Tom Stoppard
I think this little statement, although on its face somewhat close-minded, speaks volumes on the relationship between classical form versus avant-Garde, erudition versus instinct, genius versus schizophrenia. If you mean, by "insanely great", extraordinary prowess, and by "greatly insane", pioneering and unconventional creativity, then in my small opinion, fortified by no real understanding of his music beyond careful listening, he was undoubtedly both, but without any implied causality between the two. I've visited his music throughout the years and left with the humbled opinion that I posses neither a fraction of his musical competence nor creativity.
Not in Chicago, nor will a few bucks get you a gallon of gas these days. Often considered a courtesy in outlying areas, condiments for your hot dog can't be had in Chicago proper for a few bucks at most venues. Hell, the marginal increment of monetary exchange, ie the minimum amount for which someone will actually kill you, has crept up to around a few dollars. Prudence demands that one carry a minimum of two Jacksons and several of your opinions before venturing out in these times.
"I think it's an idiotic statement" - True; Unnecessary roughness on modern artists. It's unfortunate that he did not temper his statement with a qualifier like "some some modern art" or "certain modern art." The problem with pithiness is it often results in disingenuous oversimplifications. That does not detract however from the more useful observation on the independence of creativity and skill. One neither excludes nor mandates the other.
On Schmorm: I agree with your sentiment, but the thought needs to be parsed a little further. Taking only subjective enjoyment of your music into account, form which is recognizable to others might indeed be irrelevant. Each composer undoubtedly understands their own internal logic and rationale. If you view music as the simple act of bathing yourself in pleasing frequencies, structure and planning might indeed be an unnecessary expenditure. If however, music is to be conveyed to, enjoyed by, and hopefully, understood by an audience, it is now both expression and communication. Communicability requires some agreement on premises between the sender's side and the recipient's. Goidh ygsjiioj snkjn? - I might indeed be a literary genius, but you don't really have enough parametric information to decide from just that phrase. Imagine you walk into a room, observe my chess game in progress. After examination of the board, you exclaim, "good game." Your evaluation of my game is predicated on a tacit understanding of the parameters of the game. If I decide to change the properties on each move at whim, my analytical abilities will be no less, but your assessment of those abilities will be made nearly impossible. Those who take wide latitudes in their art are no lesser or greater artists for it, but they invite greater volatility and variability in its reception and interpretation.
I don't believe that Avante-Garde composers are more imaginative than those who adhere to rigorous protocol, nor do I believe that those who adhere to classical conventions are more skilled than those that do not. I do maintain though that adhering to some semblance of conventional standards and common language facilitates distinguishing between what's genius, mediocre, and just plain bad.
I agree with Mr. Emerig. The comments of Ms. Civil do not seem to be related to Mr. Emrig's comments, nor in fact to the narrowly focused topic of this thread, specifically the technical and expressive skills of Dimitri Shostakovitch.
Ms. Civil assertions are just that, assertions, one assumes, based on her own experiences and bias and not based on factual data nor, as far as I can determine, on what Mr. Emerig wrote. For example Ms Civil asserts that composing a fugue is "masterbatory." In fact nothing could be further from the truth. If any musical activity could wear that label it would be the aimless sonic meandering, devoid of structure, the intent of which rather than lucid communication, is adolescent self gratification.
In my opinion, Ms. Civil's lengthy blogs and musical submissions make it clear she knows far less about music than she thinks she does.
I would never presume to make a judgement on the musical potential of a composer, but what I sense in Ms. Civil's writing and music is that she believes she has already "arrived." I do not concur.
Ms. Civil appears to want to convince us of her musical gravitas by apparently telling us of her triumphs. I say "apparently" because the following has no meaning: "I have managed to have an audience and convey, in my lifetime." What, precisely is Ms. Civil trying to tell us?
At least Ms Civil has consistency going for her, her prolix comments are as poorly structured as her music.
There are many composers on this forum with real, solid musical accomplishments to their credit, yet wisely they do not spend paragraphs talking about them. Rather than telling us how adept they are, these fine composers present us with well crafted music, some of it strikingly original. They validate themselves with their work. In my opinion there is no other way to do it.
"They validate themselves with their work. In my opinion there is no other way to do it."
Spoken by a true admirer of Stravinsky. In his realm, and Bach's, and mine (no comparison insinuated), there are no boxes to be in or out of - just music. These boxes are an arbitrary and illusory construct and to exalt one's work for being "out of them" - meaningless. A magician's trick - smoke and mirrors.
As far as Jan's unfortunate method of debate, well I find it incendiary, defensive, logically disconnected - even incoherent at times, and personally affronting. The extraneous and irrelevant citations aim to fortify her credentials rather than her position. It shows clearly that wisdom (part of which entails kindness, gentility, and honesty) does not necessarily accompany intelligence
Fredrick, I thank you, not for agreeing with me, which is never necessary for my friendship, but for objectively reading and comprehending what I wrote. I was almost ready to request that a third party read my post and tell me if I'm insane or not.
Back to the subject: Here's Shostakovitch being insanely great - and sounding a bit like JS Bach. I think OP.99 is my favorite (of what I've heard, that is). It must be the favorite of others as well, because while searching for this fugue on Youtube, I noticed OP.99 came up first.