June 07, 2010

Column Excerpt

Interesting Michael Medved USA Today column on the imperishability of music:
The "sunset glow" suffusing the work of all these great orchestral interpreters also enriched the late creations of celebrated composers. Beethoven (The Late Quartets), Bach (The Art of the Fugue), Mozart (The Requiem), Mahler (The Ninth and Tenth Symphonies), Bruckner (The Ninth Symphony), Bartok (Third Piano Concerto) — all forged eloquently elegiac masterpieces in the shadow of failing health and impending death.

In most fields of endeavor, even geniuses face declining powers in the final phase of existence: Leo Tolstoy wrote no big novels afterAnna Karenina (completed 33 years before his death), and the immortal Shakespeare finished The Tempest, the last play definitively acknowledged as his work, at least six years before he died at 52).

Only in music, the most spiritual of all arts, has old age conferred frequent advantages, often bringing new richness, depth and even grandeur to the artistry of both composers and performers. Most of us spend the first third of our lives ignoring death, the second third denying it and the final third struggling against it. That struggle can shine through in musical expression with a nobility that trumps youthful impetuosity.

1 comment:

HokiePundit said...

I wonder if it's related to the transitory nature of music. After writing a book or painting a picture, one can sit back and admire the work. "There, that was in me and now here it is for all to see."

Music, at least until the past few decades, is something that only lasts a moment and, even when repeated, is different each time (in the past, this was even the way things were expected to be). Even if you're able to create what you consider to be perfection, it's gone in an instant.

It'd be interesting to see how this compares with performance art. Many actors perform until they're physically incapable, and even then some simply adapt their roles to fit this infirmity. Will artists such as Christo be active throughout their lives? Seeing how this last group behaves may help us understand both music as well as art and literature.