Book Review: The Classical Revolution by John Borstlap

Matty123 (Posted by) Level 3
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In a time when the President has openly questioned what the United States get from being in NATO and fears that Russian and Chinese influence threaten the stability of the Atlantic American-European order, now would not seem like the most urgent time to advocate that what will renew humanity is Western European classical music. I love classical music from the masses of Tallis and Byrd up through the string quartets of Shostakovich and the guitar sonatas of contemporary composer Atanas Ourkouzounov… but I just don’t see that a revival of Western classical music will mean a revival for humanity.

That is, however, what John Borstlap and members of the Future Symphony Institute believe is possible.

Enemy - Music - Enemy - Kind - Music

First, however, the enemy within classical music has to be defeated and that enemy is … a certain kind of music that Borstlap doesn’t want to call music that has emerged in the last 120 years. It turns out that Borstlap has a score to settle with the kind of postwar sonic art of arch modernists that gained institutional power through figures like Pierre Boulez. Borstlap presents a Western Europe munificently blessed with American aid and protection that forsook the riches of its own cultural legacy by embracing an avant garde sonic world that repudiated traditional beauty.

The tricky part with this account is that Borstlap doesn’t focus much on the extent to which the C.I.A’s role in funding avant garde art at home and abroad could play a role in what he’s complaining about. Borstlap seems grateful for American protection during the Cold War and in the new era yet bridles at the kind of sonic experimentalism that was championed during the same era as emblematic of freedoms Western societies have in the arts over against Soviet totalitarianism.

Borstlap - Cause - Sort - Composer

Borstlap is, not entirely without cause, the sort of composer...
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