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Subject: Re: "Three Doctorate Degrees"
From: Genevieve Castle Room <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Genevieve Castle Room <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Wed, 30 Aug 2017 23:19:08 -0400
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Ray,


>"You badly need to get a life or a shrink"


And what is wrong with taking a few moments to point out that Professor
Lang was not listening carefully enough -- or that he brought IRRELEVANT
expectations to his judgment of the opera? Also, his implication that an
opera should be judged by the standards of instrumental music is so
misguided!






On Wednesday, August 30, 2017, RAYMOND GOUIN <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> GET A LIFE OR A SHRINK!
>
> RG
>
> ***
>
> > On August 30, 2017 at 10:12 PM Genevieve Castle Room <
> [log in to unmask] <javascript:;>> wrote:
> >
> >
> > Albert,
> >
> > >"Paul Henry Lang earned his third doctorate from Cornell while teaching
> > harmony
> > and counterpoint at other colleges. It was on French opera"
> >
> >
> > On French opera?
> >
> > Ok let's take a look at what Professor Lang wrote about Pelléas in his
> book
> > "Critic at the Opera" from 1973.
> >
> >
> > >"As we cast a critical eye on the score of Pelléas et Mélisande we
> > discover that the musical substance of this opera is slight; sometimes
> > flickering, sometimes dimmed almost to extinction, yet never dying
> > completely, it asserts itself to any extent only in the instrumental
> > preludes and interludes [....] This is indeed a strange musical language:
> > expression hides behind the words, requiring constant alertness to the
> > niceties of inflection and cadence. The orchestral part may follow its
> own
> > rhythms, but the vocal line is purely word-begotten; the music almost
> > completely abdicates its rights and privileges since the vocal lines have
> > little or no musical substance [....] Is it a fault that Pelléas et
> > Mélisande is not a real opera? No, only a peculiarity. It was created by
> a
> > composer to whom sensuous, hedonistic beauty is more important than the
> > weight of utterances"
> >
> >
> > -----------
> >
> >
> > I must say my mind boggled when I read this last night.... What an oddly
> > ahistorical pronouncement!
> >
> > Isn't very weird to see a scholar of French opera taking issue with
> > Debussy's unique, declamatory style and complaining about the 'musical
> > substance' of what is certainly one of the greatest operas of all time?!
> >
> > I certainly don't understand his criticism that Debussy forces one to
> focus
> > on the text. And isn't Maeterlinck's language one in which expression
> often
> > "hides behind the words"? This is something that Debussy captures so
> > movingly. And his claim that "the vocal lines have little or no musical
> > substance" is simply UNTRUE as are other of his seemingly objective
> > assertions. As I am sure you know Debussy himself answered this charge -
> > and others - in his reply to the critics which he wrote in response to
> the
> > reviews of the premiere.
> >
> > Lang's remarks also bring to mind something that Joseph Kerman once said:
> >
> > >"Musicology deals essentially with the factual, the documentary, the
> > verifiable, the analysable, the postivistic. Musicologists are respected
> > for the facts they know about music.... They are NOT admired for their
> > insight into music as aesthetic experience"
> >
> >
> > Lang missed the boat, I believe, in hearing the surface but missing the
> > meat and potatoes below.... Sometimes an initial impression and three
> > doctorate degrees can mislead an intelligent mind forever.
> >
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