My Dreams Are Getting Better All The Time Sheet Music Musical Portraits – Interpretations of Twenty Modern Composers by Paul Rosenfeld

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Musical Portraits – Interpretations of Twenty Modern Composers by Paul Rosenfeld

The taste changes. Patterns change. As each new age interprets its aesthetics through the prism of refraction, the assumptions also change, but often unpredictable as we internalize the limitations without realizing their control. It’s called culture, and perhaps we’re all trapped by its inherent commercial pressures. And we rarely notice changes in our ability to respond to stimuli, and are surprisingly receptive when we transfer our experience to another culture, another aesthetic, perhaps another time. It is for this reason that the study of criticism from the past is so rewarding and so challenging that the novel would never have been able to achieve it in a modern context. That experience oozes from every page of Paul Rosenfeld’s A Portrait of Music.

These “Descriptions of Twenty Modern Composers” were published in 1920, and had previously appeared as an occasional piece. A hundred years later, the first challenge is, of course, the meaning of the word “modern” in the title, especially when the list of featured composers begins with Wagner and ends with Bloch. Personally, I have no objection to classifying Bloch as “modern” in the 1920s, but since Wagner has been dead for over 35 years, his inclusion certainly pushes the definition.

But reading Rosenfeld’s text, one quickly grasps Wagner’s input. As a composer, Wagner’s work bridged the divide between the feudal and modern worlds. His stature and influence remained so great, and his achievements so highly regarded, that the work of critical appraisal had to begin with his name alone. Rosenfeld sees his musicals as manifestations of a new industrial age that showcases the unprecedented power of a new coal-fired civilization.

Strauss and Richard would come later, of course. He is pure genius, at least on the evidence of his early symphonic poems, which come close to realizing Nietzsche’s dream through colors that suggest impressionist painting. By the time we get to Salome, she’s gone from a “bad composer,” a “once very electric, very important, wonderful character” to a “dull, outsider, idiot.” Rosenkavalier is described as “hollow, flat, dull, joyless and damp”. It was 1920, and we must remember that Richard Strauss had more than 20 years of creative life left.

Mussorgsky’s “wonderful originality” represented the true essence of Russian folklore, culture, and peasant life. Liszt, on the other hand, proposed works such as “atlas robes covered with ugly and unsightly rags” and “the design of Palladio, which is elegant and classical, but made of stucco and other cheap materials.” The impression was clear, but the substance was close to zero.

But Berlioz grew in size. His music was considered brutal, extreme and revolutionary, and alongside it, contemporary music is becoming less and less popular. He originally wrote directly as an instrument for orchestra.

It is a shame that Caesar spent a good part of his discussion on Franck Saint-Saëns. However, the author will be happy to see his work appreciated more than this famous composer who only sought to increase the number of compositions. An army of social workers and people who feel “abandoned, lonely, powerless” who see Frank’s own music as an expression of the silent majority. The basis of this is that Frank himself had to work in order to live.

By contrast, Claude Debussy Rosenfeld seems already to have achieved the status of a god, elevated so high by the aesthetics and achievements of other human beings that he could never be considered to have composed a bad note. This lively musician’s piano becomes “satin and liqueur” and the orchestra glows “with an iridescent fire … in shades of delicate pink, argent, and rose.”

Ravel is a troubled child who is very exciting, but doesn’t really trust his judgment, no matter how interesting it sounds. “Allowed to remain a child, like all men,” he patted her head, apparently encouraging her to try harder.

A truly proud nationalist, Borodin suffered from a “deviant identity.” But his music is perfect in its unpolished, natural, unpolished way, like porphyry or malachite. Rimsky-Korsakov, on the other hand, offered products that were simply decorative, elegant, and gaudy, while Rachmaninov offered products that were “too smooth, too soft, too elegant, too elegant, too dull.” This was the music of the pseudo-French culture of the upper crust of St. Petersburg.

However, Scriabin “awakened all the hidden animals of the piano”. He wrote music that “treads on the borderline between ecstasy and agony” that might be bittersweet to the layman. But Stravinsky was an absolute realist. A product of industrialization, he produced “masses of heavy metal, molten piles, sheets of steel and iron, glistening lumps of adamantine.” His impressions of the music were so real that even the smell of roasting sausages could be smelled at Petrushka’s fair.

The four modern “German” composers have been rejected entirely, Strauss bankrupt, Reger crass pedantic, Schoenberg demented, Mahler trite, but only two-quarters German. Specifically, Mahler’s score was “sadly weak, often dry and trite.” Much of Rosenfeld’s criticism seems to stem from his distrust of Mahler’s sincerity in his conversion from Judaism. The author believes that Reger’s music is unlikely to be revived, and describes the composer himself as “a bloated, myopic beetle, fat-lipped, sad-faced, hunched over an organ bench.” Say no more. Schoenberg is a brooding, formal, intellectual man. He reeks of a laboratory and lives under some abstract scholastic demands. By the way, we are still talking about music.

Sibelius represents nationalism and Finnish nationalism. Coming out of Russian domination, Finland suddenly realizes that it has beautiful landscapes, meadows and forests.

Loeffler, surprisingly, gets a full entry. Perhaps this is due to his decision to live in the United States. Ornstein will be an unfamiliar name to 21st century music fans. At the time, he was a brilliant 25-year-old pianist who was beginning to compose a rigorous and rough score. Finally, Bloch is credited with introducing non-European and Eastern influences into Western music. He is praised for preserving his Jewish identity and culture, which might have been more mildly criticized if Mahler had not rejected the faith, thus allowing the authors to note the composer’s similarities to the clarinetist Klezmer.

Paul Rosenfeld’s verbal opinions often mix biases, observations, and preconceptions with insight to make them stand out. He describes his appreciation of these twenty composers through the lens of his own aesthetic distortions, which are rooted in the assumptions of his own age. After reading this short, focused work, we soon found ourselves grateful to be doing the same. Only the language and assumptions change.

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