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Subject: Critics and the New
From: James Camner <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:James Camner <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Fri, 6 Apr 2012 01:51:38 -0400
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I am amused by the idea that critics have the last word. They never have
and they never will.  Mr. Douglas of all people might recall how Wagner was
treated at first...

It's funny and pathetic when critics like Tommasini quote other critics as
if their judgement really means something, as opposed to genuine theater
professionals, performing musicians, other directors, theater designers,
artists, people who have achieved success on a stage and whose perspective
and judgement might count for something. Or perhaps quote audience members
for their reaction -- after all, they are the ones who do have the last
word and always will.

A few months ago, the greatest and  most celebrated living theater composer
Stephen Sondheim sat in Princeton opposite Frank Rich and trashed critics
as being worthless as Rich grinned in embarrssment.  Sondheim has always
dismissed critics who now of course fawn over him:  " You can always tell
when something is new by how violently it is attacked by the critics, says
Stephen Sondheim"  (from an interview in People Magazine in 1976 when his
own work was still new and under attack. He could just as easily have been
talking about "The Machine"

The biggest hit on Broadway and one of the biggest in the history of the
musical is Wicked. It got uniformly bad reviews. No one liked it when it
came out. Try and find a critic who will admit to it. The controversial
revival of Porgy and Bess, a brilliant one in fact, got mostly bad reviews
ironically including one by Mr. Sondheim of all people, who slammed it
before it was first presented. Now it is a smash hit.

A famous conductor once told me "To Hell With The Critics"

Does anyone remember the name of the man who called Tosca "A shabby little
shocker"?

How about the once famous New Yorker bigshot film critic Pauline Kael and
her judgement on Clint Eastwood?

Suggested reading: Nicolas Slonimsky: "Lexicon of Musical Invective,
Critical Assaults on Composers Since Beethoven's Time."

Long Live The Machine!

James Camner

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