Saturday, November 21, 2009

Ann Coulter on a classical music blog?

If Ann Coulter is most famous for her incendiary and reason-defying antics, then Susan McClary can certainly be considered the Ann Coulter of musicology. For those who aren't well read in the field of musicological feminism (I'm not joking), Susan McClary is famous for describing a certain portion of Beethoven's 9th Symphony as the "murderous rage of a rapist incapable of attaining release." This gem is found in her book, "Feminine Endings," in the middle of a dizzying interpretation of the sonata form itself as being misogynistic and imperialistic. Her book is the prototypical example of what most "academics" in musicology are doing these days -- coming up with far-fetched speculations and cherry-picking musical examples to defend them. What results is writing that shows profound misunderstanding of the composer's complete output... especially if it only focuses on one work, and makes erroneous conclusions about the composer's life (or at least false links between the composer's music and life). Susan McClary, the majority of musicologists, and Ann Coulter are all guilty of the same thing: being idiots.
Mozart vs. Rachmaninoff

To my dismay, a friend recently told me he prefers the Rachmaninoff piano concertos to those of Mozart because Rachmaninoff is more “gutsy” and “wears his heart on his sleeve.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Even for people who can't imagine that anything in a major key could be worthwhile, Mozart should still reign king. In addition to the amazing stormy movements from 20 and 24, he composed the brooding slow movements to 9, 18, 22, and probably most famously, 23. For someone who only appreciates the melancholy, this is still enough nutrition to make resorting to simple carbs like Rachmaninoff unnecessary.