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#1989592 - 11/21/12 09:55 PM Kit Armstrong
pianoloverus Offline
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Loc: New York City
Just discovered this pianist while surfing. Anyone heard him play live or on recordings and what do you think?

An article revealing why "genius" seems an appropriate description of him.
http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entert...rs-2219807.html

Taking lessons with Alfred Brendel:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1I_dgJBpzI

Performing Mozart and Liszt:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=swkO6sNaNoA
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mi2Hr6-4Zeo


Edited by pianoloverus (11/22/12 01:25 PM)

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#1989596 - 11/21/12 10:04 PM Re: Kit Armstrong [Re: pianoloverus]
AZNpiano Online   sleepy
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Registered: 08/07/07
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Loc: Orange County, CA
I met him and his mother when he was seven. I know his teachers at that time. Kit is the very definition of a genius.
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#1989600 - 11/21/12 10:24 PM Re: Kit Armstrong [Re: pianoloverus]
JoelW Offline
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Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 4762
Loc: USA
Indeed he is a true talent. But if he is a genius, what does that make Mozart, Bach and Beethoven?

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#1989605 - 11/21/12 10:36 PM Re: Kit Armstrong [Re: pianoloverus]
AZNpiano Online   sleepy
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I'm pretty sure Mozart, Bach, and Beethoven didn't do advanced Calculus at age 8.
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#1989606 - 11/21/12 10:39 PM Re: Kit Armstrong [Re: AZNpiano]
JoelW Offline
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Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 4762
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
I'm pretty sure Mozart, Bach, and Beethoven didn't do advanced Calculus at age 8.


I thought we were talking about music.

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#1989696 - 11/22/12 07:31 AM Re: Kit Armstrong [Re: AZNpiano]
wr Offline
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Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7754
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
I'm pretty sure Mozart, Bach, and Beethoven didn't do advanced Calculus at age 8.


Beethoven never even learned the multiplication tables. If he wanted to multiply 5 by 6, he had to laboriously count it out.

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#1989710 - 11/22/12 09:01 AM Re: Kit Armstrong [Re: pianoloverus]
Nikolas Offline
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rrrrrright...

He has a problem with music that crosses the boundary into noise, citing parts of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring as offenders here. Doesn't this exclude much of what modern composers are doing, and incidentally line him up with Middle England? He quotes the psychologist Steven Pinker's view that music is auditory cheesecake. Armstrong goes on to say: "Every chef knows that a cheesecake is a work of art to be enjoyed, rather than something which must be 'interesting'."

A cheesecake?
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#1989719 - 11/22/12 09:35 AM Re: Kit Armstrong [Re: pianoloverus]
debrucey Offline
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Instant dislike for the little pillock now, grrr...

"Every chef knows that a cheesecake is a work of art to be enjoyed, rather than something which must be 'interesting'."

It is exactly this sort of attitude that I despise in critics of contemporary music. The implication being, if you think about it, that the feelings of enjoyment I experience when listening to something as crazy (!) as the Rite of Spring are not genuine, and that I've just convinced myself that I like it because I know it's intellectually sophisticated. It's so narrow minded to dismiss the opinions of people who find genuine enjoyment in something which you do not. Although, he is only 18 I suppose.

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#1989721 - 11/22/12 09:39 AM Re: Kit Armstrong [Re: pianoloverus]
Piano*Dad Offline
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He is hardly alone in not liking music "that crosses the boundary into noise." And even in this little sound bite of a quote he articulates a coherent argument for a taste preference. One may disagree, but I credit him for going further than simply asserting that his preference must be universal just because it's his preference. Some people who post on forums should learn this ... smile

Then, of course, I read the truly salient fact offered up in the article ...

Quote:
This boy with a wide smile and luminous gaze was living with his mother May, an economist,...
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#1989723 - 11/22/12 09:59 AM Re: Kit Armstrong [Re: pianoloverus]
Damon Offline
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Registered: 09/22/06
Posts: 6064
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Originally Posted By: pianoloverus


You seem to be developing a knack for posting the same link over and over. I don't know why, but I'm guessing that you are selecting links that are displayed in the flash player when the present video concludes. When you do that, the address bar in your browser doesn't change.
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#1989724 - 11/22/12 10:00 AM Re: Kit Armstrong [Re: pianoloverus]
debrucey Offline
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Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2600
Loc: Manchester, UK
'Music that crosses the boundary into noise' is an incredibly subjective description, and I don't think he defends his opinion particularly well at all.

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#1989728 - 11/22/12 10:33 AM Re: Kit Armstrong [Re: pianoloverus]
Piano*Dad Offline
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You may think what you wish, but you should realize that "he" is not writing this. "He" is being paraphrased and reduced by a reporter. If you expect a thesis in a bullet point you will always find ways to disagree. The point about music versus noise is indeed subjective. It's almost the definition of subjective. All that "I" was saying is that Armstrong offered a bit more than just his opinion. He offered -- well, as much as the reporter allowed him to -- at least a skeleton of a framework for defending his opinion.

I may have been a bit snarky, but Armstrong's two sentence blurb of an argument is probably better reasoned than 1/3 of the posts I see here at PW.
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#1989735 - 11/22/12 11:06 AM Re: Kit Armstrong [Re: Piano*Dad]
Nikolas Offline
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Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5216
Loc: Europe
Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad
You may think what you wish, but you should realize that "he" is not writing this. "He" is being paraphrased and reduced by a reporter. If you expect a thesis in a bullet point you will always find ways to disagree. The point about music versus noise is indeed subjective. It's almost the definition of subjective. All that "I" was saying is that Armstrong offered a bit more than just his opinion. He offered -- well, as much as the reporter allowed him to -- at least a skeleton of a framework for defending his opinion.
When you put quotations, you actually quote someone... I'm not in that business, but I know that much...

Quote:
I may have been a bit snarky, but Armstrong's two sentence blurb of an argument is probably better reasoned than 1/3 of the posts I see here at PW.
Given the amount of presence Kit is getting and the amount of fame and attention on him, I'd be much more careful in what I say if I were he! wink

Who cares about a PW post, when they've got their image on the newspapers? wink
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#1989747 - 11/22/12 11:37 AM Re: Kit Armstrong [Re: Nikolas]
bennevis Offline
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Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 4821
Originally Posted By: Nikolas
rrrrrright...

He has a problem with music that crosses the boundary into noise, citing parts of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring as offenders here. Doesn't this exclude much of what modern composers are doing, and incidentally line him up with Middle England? He quotes the psychologist Steven Pinker's view that music is auditory cheesecake. Armstrong goes on to say: "Every chef knows that a cheesecake is a work of art to be enjoyed, rather than something which must be 'interesting'."

A cheesecake?


If he really dislikes Stravinsky's Le Sacre, how does that square up with his teacher (and admirer...) Alfred Brendel who apparently loves Harrison Birtwistle and some other contemporary composers. Just compare Birtwistle's Earth Dances with Stravinsky's Rite, and the latter sounds melodious, harmonious, even tame..... grin

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#1989765 - 11/22/12 12:29 PM Re: Kit Armstrong [Re: bennevis]
landorrano Offline
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Loc: France
Originally Posted By: bennevis
Just compare Birtwistle's Earth Dances with Stravinsky's Rite, and the latter sounds melodious, harmonious, even tame..... grin


Stravinsky's Rite is melodious and harmonious. It is tame, it always was tame.

I remember as a lad hearing a fellow give a little talk about the Rite of Spring, saying that it gave rise to boos and riots ... and rightfully so (said my classmate) because it is absolute shite. Then I remember hearing the work in a concert with a certain degree of fear, and then being simply swept off of my feet and wondering what the fuss was all about. I think that Stravinsky and a whole lot of other people wondered what the heck the fuss was about.

In fact, what the heck was the fuss about? And how is it possible that a hundred years later a musician says something like this quote? My guess is that it isn't possible, that the journalist or the editor is trying to juice up the story a bit.

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#1989766 - 11/22/12 12:34 PM Re: Kit Armstrong [Re: Piano*Dad]
landorrano Offline
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Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2457
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad

I may have been a bit snarky, but Armstrong's two sentence blurb of an argument is probably better reasoned than 1/3 of the posts I see here at PW.


What argument? Armstrong gives no argument in this article.

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#1989800 - 11/22/12 01:37 PM Re: Kit Armstrong [Re: pianoloverus]
pianoloverus Offline
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Registered: 05/29/01
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Loc: New York City
I was also a little surprised by the Armstrong quote being discussed in the last posts. But I think just listening to his playing and everything else he says is enough reason to not get too concerned about this one particular comment of his...whatever he means or how fully it expresses his own thinking.

If one goes to his website and reads his own comments about some of his compositions, I think its hard not too agree that he's incredibly knowledgeable about music.

I think another interesting aspect about Armstrong is that, unlike most young performers, he seems most attracted to Baroque and Classical music vs. the Romantic music often favored by pianists this age. His concerto repertoire lists only three Romantic Concerti(Chopin 1, Grieg, Schumann) but 4 Bach,
5 Beethoven, and at least 7 Mozart.

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#1989980 - 11/23/12 04:58 AM Re: Kit Armstrong [Re: pianoloverus]
bennevis Offline
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Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 4821
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus


I think another interesting aspect about Armstrong is that, unlike most young performers, he seems most attracted to Baroque and Classical music vs. the Romantic music often favored by pianists this age. His concerto repertoire lists only three Romantic Concerti(Chopin 1, Grieg, Schumann) but 4 Bach,
5 Beethoven, and at least 7 Mozart.


That's not as uncommon as we generally assume. It's probably because we've so used to hearing the big late-Romantic concertos (Tchaik 1, Rach 2&3, Prok 2&3) played by prize-winners in the Tchaikovsky, Van Cliburn etc, that we think young pianists prefer them to Beethoven and Mozart. Many of the Leeds competitors and winners don't touch those repertoire: Perahia, Lupu, Dalberto, Uchida....

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#1989999 - 11/23/12 07:53 AM Re: Kit Armstrong [Re: bennevis]
pianoloverus Offline
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Registered: 05/29/01
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Originally Posted By: bennevis
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus


I think another interesting aspect about Armstrong is that, unlike most young performers, he seems most attracted to Baroque and Classical music vs. the Romantic music often favored by pianists this age. His concerto repertoire lists only three Romantic Concerti(Chopin 1, Grieg, Schumann) but 4 Bach,
5 Beethoven, and at least 7 Mozart.


That's not as uncommon as we generally assume. It's probably because we've so used to hearing the big late-Romantic concertos (Tchaik 1, Rach 2&3, Prok 2&3) played by prize-winners in the Tchaikovsky, Van Cliburn etc, that we think young pianists prefer them to Beethoven and Mozart. Many of the Leeds competitors and winners don't touch those repertoire: Perahia, Lupu, Dalberto, Uchida....
It's not only the winners of the big competitions who tend to play the Romantic warhorses but all the non winners in those competitions and most of the contestants in virtually every other competition.

Just look at the list of concertos played in most any competition. Also, look at the concerto rep lists for most pianists, especially the younger ones. I think you'll have a hard time finding another young pianist other than Armstrong whose concerto repertoire is 85% Baroque or Classical.


Edited by pianoloverus (11/23/12 07:57 AM)

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#1990004 - 11/23/12 08:14 AM Re: Kit Armstrong [Re: pianoloverus]
bennevis Offline
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Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 4821
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus


Just look at the list of concertos played in most any competition. Also, look at the concerto rep lists for most pianists, especially the younger ones. I think you'll have a hard time finding another young pianist other than Armstrong whose concerto repertoire is 85% Baroque or Classical.


It depends on what the competition is. As I said, the Leeds, among the big ones, is one where pianists who prefer mainly the Austro-German classics go for. The first (Beethoven's Emperor) and second (B's 4th) prizewinners in this year's Leeds won thus. Andrew Tyson, who played Rach 3, took 5th place. Angela Hewitt won the Bach competition by playing, er.....

But most of the other well-known competitions do favor big guns, and pianists have to adapt accordingly. Some may then choose to return to the Viennese classics, e.g. Paul Lewis, who used to play Rach 3, dropped it from his repertoire in favor of Beethoven and Schubert.

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#1990044 - 11/23/12 11:45 AM Re: Kit Armstrong [Re: bennevis]
pianoloverus Offline
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Originally Posted By: bennevis
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus


Just look at the list of concertos played in most any competition. Also, look at the concerto rep lists for most pianists, especially the younger ones. I think you'll have a hard time finding another young pianist other than Armstrong whose concerto repertoire is 85% Baroque or Classical.


It depends on what the competition is. As I said, the Leeds, among the big ones, is one where pianists who prefer mainly the Austro-German classics go for. The first (Beethoven's Emperor) and second (B's 4th) prizewinners in this year's Leeds won thus. Andrew Tyson, who played Rach 3, took 5th place. Angela Hewitt won the Bach competition by playing, er.....

But most of the other well-known competitions do favor big guns, and pianists have to adapt accordingly. Some may then choose to return to the Viennese classics, e.g. Paul Lewis, who used to play Rach 3, dropped it from his repertoire in favor of Beethoven and Schubert.
Obviously in the Bach Competition or in a Beethoven Competition the pianists will play Bach and Beethoven, but it's not relevant to my point. There may be a handful of competitions, perhaps the Leeds, where the competitors play less Romantic Concerti than usual, but,if so, I think this is the rare exception. In fact, even in the 2012 Leeds Competition only 20% of the pianists had a Classical Concerto, almost exclusively Beethoven's Emperor, as their listed concerto.


Edited by pianoloverus (11/23/12 11:59 AM)

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#1990062 - 11/23/12 12:45 PM Re: Kit Armstrong [Re: pianoloverus]
bennevis Offline
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Registered: 10/14/10
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Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Obviously in the Bach Competition or in a Beethoven Competition the pianists will play Bach and Beethoven, but it's not relevant to my point. There may be a handful of competitions, perhaps the Leeds, where the competitors play less Romantic Concerti than usual, but,if so, I think this is the rare exception. In fact, even in the 2012 Leeds Competition only 20% of the pianists had a Classical Concerto, almost exclusively Beethoven's Emperor, as their listed concerto.


What I really meant is, pianists who don't play big Romantic stuff won't be entering the Tchaikovsky (obviously) or Van Cliburn, but may well enter the Leeds - unless of course they decide to learn one or two of those pieces in the hope of doing well regardless. But we don't hear much about these pianists because those competitions are not as well-known. I get an annual diary that lists all the major (and not so major) competitions and their prize-winners over the past twelve months. Most of the winners aren't big names, and will never become big names (though there are a few pianists who evidently use these competitions to build up experience for the big ones). Unfortunately, winning a competition with a Mozart Concerto doesn't get you many concerts, or attract many concert promoters. Michel Dalberto won the Leeds with Mozart, but he isn't in the big league.

BTW, half of the finalists in the Leeds 2012 played Beethoven.

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#1990087 - 11/23/12 03:01 PM Re: Kit Armstrong [Re: bennevis]
pianoloverus Offline
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Originally Posted By: bennevis
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Obviously in the Bach Competition or in a Beethoven Competition the pianists will play Bach and Beethoven, but it's not relevant to my point. There may be a handful of competitions, perhaps the Leeds, where the competitors play less Romantic Concerti than usual, but,if so, I think this is the rare exception. In fact, even in the 2012 Leeds Competition only 20% of the pianists had a Classical Concerto, almost exclusively Beethoven's Emperor, as their listed concerto.
BTW, half of the finalists in the Leeds 2012 played Beethoven.
Why anyone would look at such a small sample size in the hope of reaching a significant conclusion is beyond me. You chose 6 pianists but I chose 60.

Even in the Leeds only a 20% percent of the pianists play Baroque or Classical concerti, and this figure would be less than 10% without the Emperor Concerto. Apparently the percent playing Baroque or Classical is even smaller in many other competitions. One only has to look at the online repertoire lists, both solo or concerti, of the huge majority of young pianists to see that Armstrong is the exception in terms of his repertoire.

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#1990092 - 11/23/12 03:38 PM Re: Kit Armstrong [Re: pianoloverus]
Praeludium Offline
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I'm surprised Amstrong said that about Stravinsky. I saw a documentary about him about 1 year ago I think (on Arte TV), and he was shown rehearsing with a chamber music ensemble which played one of his work. One of the member said that there was a beautiful structure in his work, reminiscent of Ligeti, or something like that.

Now, if he said that, prodigy or not, he's wrong (I'm not saying this because I don't agree but rather because tons of musicians or great minds as great or greater than him would disagree, and pretty violently).

Maybe he's trying to appear anti-conformist to make his name more well known ?
If he doesn't play romantic stuff and is some kind of radicalist, he will less likely disappear in the mass of great young pianists who all play Chopin and Rachmaninov. I suppose this could be a strategic choice. When Schiff says something radical, many peoples react immediatly : maybe he's after the same thing (looks like it works...).


Edited by Praeludium (11/23/12 03:41 PM)

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#1990095 - 11/23/12 03:50 PM Re: Kit Armstrong [Re: Praeludium]
pianoloverus Offline
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Originally Posted By: Praeludium
I'm surprised Amstrong said that about Stravinsky. I saw a documentary about him about 1 year ago I think (on Arte TV), and he was shown rehearsing with a chamber music ensemble which played one of his work. One of the member said that there was a beautiful structure in his work, reminiscent of Ligeti, or something like that.

Now, if he said that, prodigy or not, he's wrong (I'm not saying this because I don't agree but rather because tons of musicians or great minds as great or greater than him would disagree, and pretty violently).

Maybe he's trying to appear anti-conformist to make his name more well known ?
If he doesn't play romantic stuff and is some kind of radicalist, he will less likely disappear in the mass of great young pianists who all play Chopin and Rachmaninov. I suppose this could be a strategic choice. When Schiff says something radical, many peoples react immediatly : maybe he's after the same thing (looks like it works...).
I think he just has opinions about music, and they have zero to do with any ulterior motives. I don't think his choice of repertoire(which doe include Chopin and Liszt) is strategic either. He just plays what he loves.

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#1990231 - 11/24/12 07:49 AM Re: Kit Armstrong [Re: pianoloverus]
izaldu Offline
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Stravinsly is beyond the discussion of genius/not genius. Armmstrong is yet to prove that he is something more than a competent precocious composer.

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#1990234 - 11/24/12 08:12 AM Re: Kit Armstrong [Re: debrucey]
wr Offline
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Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7754
Originally Posted By: debrucey
Instant dislike for the little pillock now, grrr...

"Every chef knows that a cheesecake is a work of art to be enjoyed, rather than something which must be 'interesting'."

It is exactly this sort of attitude that I despise in critics of contemporary music. The implication being, if you think about it, that the feelings of enjoyment I experience when listening to something as crazy (!) as the Rite of Spring are not genuine, and that I've just convinced myself that I like it because I know it's intellectually sophisticated. It's so narrow minded to dismiss the opinions of people who find genuine enjoyment in something which you do not. Although, he is only 18 I suppose.


I always thought Le Sacre was really great cheesecake.

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#1990240 - 11/24/12 08:38 AM Re: Kit Armstrong [Re: pianoloverus]
Piano*Dad Offline
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I think you mean Sacher ... oh, wait, that's not a good re-torte.
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#1990241 - 11/24/12 08:39 AM Re: Kit Armstrong [Re: landorrano]
wr Offline
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Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7754
Originally Posted By: landorrano
Originally Posted By: bennevis
Just compare Birtwistle's Earth Dances with Stravinsky's Rite, and the latter sounds melodious, harmonious, even tame..... grin


Stravinsky's Rite is melodious and harmonious. It is tame, it always was tame.

I remember as a lad hearing a fellow give a little talk about the Rite of Spring, saying that it gave rise to boos and riots ... and rightfully so (said my classmate) because it is absolute shite. Then I remember hearing the work in a concert with a certain degree of fear, and then being simply swept off of my feet and wondering what the fuss was all about. I think that Stravinsky and a whole lot of other people wondered what the heck the fuss was about.

In fact, what the heck was the fuss about? And how is it possible that a hundred years later a musician says something like this quote? My guess is that it isn't possible, that the journalist or the editor is trying to juice up the story a bit.


Oh, come on - it was not "tame" when it was premiered. Except in the sense that any notated music is "tame" by definition. But nobody had heard anything like it at the time (and it still packs a punch when done well). If one has any sort of historical imagination, it is not really that difficult to get some sense of how profoundly shocking those sounds and rhythms must have been to most in the audiences of the time.

But about the "fuss" - there was an interesting BBC docudrama some years ago that proposed that the fuss at the premiere was about the dancing and choreography, and not about the music. And that the fuss was, to a certain extent, preplanned. Looking at the recreation of Nijinsky's choreography, I can see why - it is a fairly drastic departure from what people's expectations of "ballet" might have been, not to mention disturbing even in its own terms.


Edited by wr (11/24/12 08:46 AM)

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#1990247 - 11/24/12 08:46 AM Re: Kit Armstrong [Re: pianoloverus]
Nikolas Offline
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Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5216
Loc: Europe
wr: I should just note that about 10 years ago I also thought that it's amazing, it's stunning, and that it should provoce some angry feelings by everyone, especially non music lovers: I was dead wrong. I had it played back at a couple of non musician friends and all were perfectly fine with it, all of them thinking that it must be the soundtrack of some Williams film (Williams the composer, not the director). When I moved the 'ugliness' up a few notches I came back with some Ligeti (Atmospheres). Same effect. They thought that it was 'thriller' music and were not bothered by it, at all.

Try that with Kit! laugh
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