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Subject: Milan Kundera on music
From: "Robert T. Jones" <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Thu, 29 Feb 1996 00:01:41 EST
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A wonderful book of essays has just landed on my desk.  It's TESTAMENTS
BETRAYED by Milan Kundera, the Czech novelist and essayist who fled
communist Prague and made his home in Paris.  In TESTAMENTS BETRAYED,
Kundera rages softly over the well-meant defamations of works of art by
well-meaning editors and rewriters.  He is most eloquent on Stravinsky and
most passionate about Janacek.

Kundera writes like a well-trained musician, and he even gives musical
examples to illustrate his comments. But he wins me over when he writes
about THE CUNNING LITTLE VIXEN and goes straight for the scene that moves me
more deeply than any other, the second tavern scene, the penultimate scene
of the opera.  Writers Kundera, "There is one scene of the VIXEN that I have
always found particularly moving: in a forest inn, a gamekeeper, a village
schoolmaster, and inkeeper's wife are gossipping: they reall their absent
friends and talk about the innkeeper, who is away that day in town, about
the parish priest, who has moved house, about the woman the schoolmaster
loved, who has just married someone else.  The conversation is completely
banal (never before Janacek had a situation so undramatic and so ordinary
been seen on the opera stage), but the orchestra is full of a nearly
unbearable yearning, so that the scene becomes one of the most beautiful
elegies ever written on the transience of time."

There is a lot more of this sort of thing in Kundera's book.  If you care
what a deep and perceptive thinker thinks about music, it's your kind of
book. It's published by Harper Collins.

-- Robert T. Jones ([log in to unmask])
      "Assassination is the extreme form of censorship."  (Shaw)

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