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CONSEQUENCES OF CANON: The Institutionalization of Enmity between Contemporary and Classical Music

CONSEQUENCES OF CANON: The Institutionalization of Enmity between Contemporary and Classical Music Page 78 CONSEQUENCES OF CANON The Institutionalization of Enmity between Contemporary and Classical Music William Weber When concerts of “classical music”—only recently so named—arose in the nineteenth century, they brought with them a culture of intense enmity between new and old music. Ask any composer in the avant-garde today what symphony orchestras have done for him or her, and you will unleash a barrage of resentment against such institutions. Then ask a subscriber to orchestra concerts how much new music should be performed, and you will get the contrary reaction: an accusation that composers do not care about the public, that they write only for each other. We take these expressions of enmity for granted now; they seem natural, inherent to the musical landscape. The dense polemical meanings of the term “modern music” define an area of high art where proponents and opponents have little common ground and where conflict has become institutionalized. When agreement periodically occurs — there is a popular taste for various works by Igor Stravinsky, Aaron Copland, Henryk Gorecki, and John Adams — the agreement is quickly disclaimed by an avant-garde anxious to recategorize modern pieces in concert repertory as “merely popular.” Myself, I http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Common Knowledge Duke University Press

CONSEQUENCES OF CANON: The Institutionalization of Enmity between Contemporary and Classical Music

Common Knowledge , Volume 9 (1) – Jan 1, 2003

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References (13)

Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright 2003 by Duke University Press
ISSN
0961-754X
eISSN
1538-4578
DOI
10.1215/0961754X-9-1-78
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Page 78 CONSEQUENCES OF CANON The Institutionalization of Enmity between Contemporary and Classical Music William Weber When concerts of “classical music”—only recently so named—arose in the nineteenth century, they brought with them a culture of intense enmity between new and old music. Ask any composer in the avant-garde today what symphony orchestras have done for him or her, and you will unleash a barrage of resentment against such institutions. Then ask a subscriber to orchestra concerts how much new music should be performed, and you will get the contrary reaction: an accusation that composers do not care about the public, that they write only for each other. We take these expressions of enmity for granted now; they seem natural, inherent to the musical landscape. The dense polemical meanings of the term “modern music” define an area of high art where proponents and opponents have little common ground and where conflict has become institutionalized. When agreement periodically occurs — there is a popular taste for various works by Igor Stravinsky, Aaron Copland, Henryk Gorecki, and John Adams — the agreement is quickly disclaimed by an avant-garde anxious to recategorize modern pieces in concert repertory as “merely popular.” Myself, I

Journal

Common KnowledgeDuke University Press

Published: Jan 1, 2003

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