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Subject: Re: Nelson Eddy, etc. (formerly, OPERA/Lanza/Schmanza}
From: donald kane <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:donald kane <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sun, 4 Dec 2016 13:49:00 -0500

text/plain (102 lines)


I would have responded to this days ago if I hadn't been sidetracked
by an unbelievable private exchange of emails with another frequenter
of Operalist who accused me of racism for even mentioning "Shortnin

As a kid, I never studied a musical instrument, and was bored to
death by whatever attempts were made to instruct us in the basic
elements of musical notation: the "do re mi" s and all that.  But
when the first exposure to old shellac records of actual "classics"
like LOHENGRIN Act 3 Prelude and Marche Slav came along, I was
hooked.  It's been a long and fulfilling journey through the amazing
universe called classical music, not merely opera, ever since.

Where I differ from you though, is in the matter of melody; I believe
it is the defining element in the greatness and memorability of any
piece of music.   Yes, harmony, counterpoint, rhythm, dissonance,
etc. cannot be dismissed, and there are composers who excell in
the mastery of those elements, but without good tunes, what all
of that adds up to is: Max Reger.  I have collected a good deal of
his enormous output on disc only to learn that, like Saint-Saens,
who also produced reams of earnest, technically accomplished
works, including many operas besides the splendid, but unique
SAMSON ET DALILA, the technical wonders are plentiful, but the
pleasures are rare.  With the pitiful choirmaster in Wilder's OUR
TOWN, I say: "remember ladies, music came into the world to give
pleasure"  Amen.

You mentioned LULU and WOZZECK; haven't they done fairly well at the
box office in recent years?   I don't regard their music as off-putting as
the sordid nature of their libretti.  Opera, to me, and I believe to the
majority of audiences, has always been an expression of artistic
Romanticism: all its most enduring and satisfying works tend to adhere to
the principles of that primarily Nineteenth Century aesthetic movement.
Berg, the late works of Strauss, and Puccini are the glorious remnants of
an art in decline.  Who said it had to last forever?  Nothing does.


On Tue, Nov 29, 2016 at 1:54 PM, <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>     Hi, Y'all!
>     I realize that the quote below was likely intended as a passing
> observation and as a sort of by-the-way reflection of the poster's own
> taste.  But it struck a deep chord in me, and I think that there is far FAR
> more involved in the poster's thought than shows in the post.
>     When I was in sixth grade, "Shortnin' Bread" was in our music text
> book.  The entire class loved it, most likely because of that very same
> "catchy melody."  The entire class ASKED to sing it in every class we had,
> and we did.  THIS is what is taught as "music" in our schools, as a model
> embedded in elementary school students' hearts and minds, class after
> class, year after year.  Most of us who studied piano as children made over
> time the traditional progression from "Chopsticks" to Chopin's "Nocturne in
> E Flat" to Mozart's Rondo alla Turca."  It is exactly this "indoctrination"
> that listeners had as young people that leads today's adult opera audiences
> to resist a great deal of our so-called "modern music."  They have been
> actively "taught" for years on end that melody, even "catchy melody," is
> the most important element in music and the element
> that should determine first and foremost their aesthetic response to music
> they hear in opera houses and in concert halls.  As an elementary student,
> I was given music classes three days a week for eight years. In NOT A
> SINGLE ONE OF THEM did a music teacher mention the ROLE of harmony (even
> though we were, of course, taught to sing it,)  harmonic variations,
> harmonic modes, or how harmony and/or dissonance can create musical
> expression.  When our teachers played "classical" music on records for our
> classes, we got endless exposure to "The Nutcracker" and "Gaiety
> Parisienne," but NEVER to Schoenberg's "Transfigured Night."  Fast forward
> to today's mass opera audience, who in large part will line up around the
> block for "Carmen" but want no part of "Lulu" or Wozzeck."   Ask any young
> person in today's opera audience if he was ever exposed to Penderecki's
> "Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima" in elementary school.   Today's
> opera audiences are simply enjoying (and reflecting) what they were TRAINED
> to enjoy.
>     Best,
>     Dennis Ryan
> In a message dated 11/29/2016 7:11:41 A.M. Central Standard Time,
> [log in to unmask] writes:
> What has always bothered me about Shortnin Bread is not how
> well it was or was not sung, but that anyone should bother to
> sing it at all.  Catchy tunes are irresistable, for a time ; they come
> and, thankfully, they go.

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