Editorial Reviews. From Library Journal. This is a reprint of the enormously popular What to Listen For in Music (Signet Classics) by [Copland, Aaron] . COPLAND ON MUSIC Other books by Aaron Copland: WHAT TO LISTEN FOR IN MUSIC OUR NEW MUSIC MUSIC AND IMAGINATION COPLAND ON })j Aa. What To Listen For In Music PDF. What to Listen For in Music (Signet Classics) ( Mass Market Paperback). Aaron CoplandMusic BooksArt MusicDuke.
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Agrew Copland,. Whet to his ten for in Music. Ncu Jork: McGraw-Hius, ( ). Preliminaries. All books on understanding music are agreed about. Page 1. Aaron Copland: What to Listen for in Music (). Page 2. Page 3. Page 4. Page 5. Page 6. Aaron Copland (), one of the most prominent American Aaron Copland analyzes how most listeners actually hear music, and how they might enrich.
The growing trend toward govern- ment involvement is clear, also. And yet it happens: Don't get the idea that the value of music is commensurate with its beauty of musical sounds. She was particularly intrigued by new musical developments. Most listeners are not sufficiently conscious of this third plane.
Musical Structure Sectional Form Variation Form Fugal Form Sonata Form Free Forms Opera and Music Drama Contemporary Music Film Music From Composer to Interpreter to Listener Epilogue: Join Reader Rewards and earn your way to a free book! Join Reader Rewards and earn points when you purchase this book from your favorite retailer. Music Category: Music Nonfiction Classics Category: Music Nonfiction Classics. Paperback 2 —. Buy the Ebook: A civilization that produces no creative artists is either wholly provincial or wholly dead.
A mature people senses the need to leave traces of its essential char- acter in works of art, otherwise a powerful incentive is lacking in the will to live. What, precisely, does creativity mean in the life of a man and of a nation? For one thing, the creative act affirms the individual, and gives value to the individual, and through him to the nation of which he is a part.
The creative person makes evident his deepest experience- summarizes that experience and sets up a chain of com- munication with his fellow-man on a level far more pro- found than anything known to the workaday world. The experience of art cleanses the emotions; through it we touch the wildness of life, and its basic intractability; and through it we come closest to shaping an essentially intractable material into some degree of permanence and of beauty.
The man who lives the creative life in today's world is, in spite of himself, a symbolic figure. Wherever he may be or whatever he may say, he is in his own mind the em- bodiment of the free man.
He must have the right to protest or even to revile his own time if he sees fit to do so, as well as the possibility of sounding its praises. Above all he must never give up the right to be wrong, for the creator must forever be instinctive and sponta- neous in his impulses, which means that he may learn as much from his miscalculations as from his successful achievements.
I am not suggesting that the artist is with- out restraint of any kind. But the artist's discipline is a mature discipline because it is self-imposed, acting as a stimulus to the creative mind. Creative persons, when they gather together, seldom speak of these matters as I speak of them now. They take them for granted, for they are quite simply the "facts of life" to the practicing artist.
Actually, the creator lives in a more intuitive world than the consciously ordered one that I have pictured here. He is aware not so much of the human and aesthetic implications of the rounded and finished work as he is of the imperfections of the work in progress. Paul Vatery used to say that an artist never finishes a work, he merely abandons it.
But of course, when he abandons it, it is in order to begin anew with still another work. Thus the artist lives in a continual state of self-discovery, believing both in the value of his own work and in its perfectability.
As a free man he sets an example of persistence and belief that other men would do well to ponder, especially in a world distracted and ridden with self-doubts. All this is very probably elementary stuff to the mem- 53 Section One bers of this distinguished community of creators. But the question in my mind is whether it is correct to assume that it is also "baby stuff" for the generality of our fellow citizens. Does the average American really grasp the con- cept included in the word "creativity"?
Have the artists of America succeeded in impressing themselves that is to say, in the deepest sense on the mind of America? Frankly, I seriously doubt it. Some of my friends tell me that there are no special circumstances that surround the idea of creativity in our country, and that my theme- creativity in America makes no sense, because creativity is the same everywhere. But my observation and experi- ence convince me of two things: The origins of the American attitude toward crea- tivity are understandable enough.
We are the heirs of a colonial people, and because for so long we imported cul- tural riches from overseas, it became traditional for Ameri- cans to think of art as something purchased abroad. Fortu- nately there are signs that the notion is slowly dissolving, probably forever, along with other nineteenth-century preconceptions about art in America. Europeans, how- ever, seem intent upon perpetuating that myth.
The inference seemed to be that it was un- fair for a country to have industrial and scientific power and, at the same time, the potentiality of developing cultural power also. At every opportunity I pointed out that it is just because commercial and scientific know- how alone are insufficient to justify a civilization that it is doubly necessary for countries like the United States to prove that it is possible, at the same time, to produce, along with men of commerce and of science, creative artists who can carry on the cultural tradition of mankind.
The British music critic Wilfrid Mellers dramatized the crucial role America must play in this regard by writ- ing that "the creation of a vital American music [he might have written American poetry or American paint- ing] Thus the impov- erished peon with none of the distractions of modern urban life carves something out of a piece of wood, or weaves a design in cloth.
Subsequently someone comes along and says: Creativity in such an environment does not take too much imagination. But in a civilization like our own, with few traditional concepts, and with many conflicting drives, each generation must reaffirm the possi- bility of the coexistence of industrialism and creative activity. It is as if each creative artist had to reinvent the creative process for himself alone, and then venture forth to find an audience responsive enough to have some ink- ling of what he was up to in the first instance.
I say this with a certain amount of personal feeling, as a native from across the East River, who grew up in an environment that could hardly have been described as artistic. My discovery of music and the allied arts was the natural unfolding of an inner compulsion. I realize that not all lovers of art can be expected to have the kind of immediacy of contact that is typical of the practicing artist. What seems important to me is not that all our citizens understand art in general, or even the art that we ourselves make, but that they become fully cognizant of the civilizing force that the work of art represents a civilizing force that is urgently needed in our time.
My fear is not that art will be crushed in America, but that it won't be noticed sufficiently to matter. Whose fault is it that the artist counts for so little in the public mind? Has it always been thus? Is there some- thing wrong, perhaps, with the nature of the art work being created in America? Is our system of education lacking in its attitude toward the art product?
I realize that I am raising more questions than can possibly be discussed in so brief an address. No doubt the most controversial of these questions is that of the in- volvement of government in the arts. Central to this issue is the problem as to whether the arts and artists ought to be nurtured in the first place, or whether it is more healthy to let them fend for themselves. One might deduce cogent arguments for both sides of this question. In America nurturing of the arts has traditionally come from private rather than public funds.
The kind of free-lance patronage that served the country fairly well in previous times is now becoming more inadequate each year, for reasons that are obvious to all of us. The growing trend toward govern- ment involvement is clear, also. Everything points to the eventual admission of the principle at issue, namely, the principle that our government ought actively to concern itself with the welfare of art and professional artists in the United States.
Actually the federal government does ex- pend a certain part of its budget for cultural projects, but unfortunately these must always be camouflaged under the heading of education, or of information, or even of na- tional defensebut never as outright support of the arts.
That should be changed. Please don't misconstrue me. I am not asking for a handout for the artists of America. Even on that level the Works Progress Administration proved that artists who were government employees often did valuable work. My 57 Section One belief is that the future will prove that the government needs artists just as badly as artists require government interest. Here is an instance that comes to mind. Our State Department, in a comparatively recent development, has set up more than a hundred fifty cultural centers throughout the world and deposited therein American books, musical scores, phonograph recordings, and paint- ings as well as educational and scientific materials.
It is a stimulating sight, by the way, to observe one of these cultural centers in action, as I have, in Rome or Tel-Aviv or Rio de Janeiro; to watch a crowded room of young people making contact with intellectual America through its books and music and paintings.
The government pur- chases the materials necessary for these centers and dis- tributes them abroad. It is only one step further, is it not, to hope to convince the government that since the end product is needed, and worth purchasing, something should be done to stimulate the creation of the product itself, instead of leaving this entirely to the fortuitous chance that some artist will supply what is needed.
I have no doubt that some of you are thinking: Is it worth the risk? The experience of European and Latin American countries in this regard is surely worth something. Subsidies for the arts in those countries are often of an astonishing gener- osity. These have persisted through periods of economic stress, through wars and violent changes of regime. On more than one occasion I have heard complaints about 58 THREE TALKS the dictatorial behavior of a ministry of fine arts, or ob- jections to the academic dud produced by a state-spon- sored opera house.
But I have never heard anyone in for- eign lands hold that the system of state subsidy for the arts should be abandoned because of the dangers it entails. Quite the contrary. They look on us as odd fish for per- mitting a laissez-aller policy in relation to American art. Bureaucratic control of the artist in a totalitarian regime is a frightening thing; but in a democracy it should be possible to envisage a liberal encouragement of the arts through allocation of government funds without any per- manently dire results.
All this is not unrelated to my main contention that the artist and his work do not count sufficiently in twen- tieth-century America. People often tend to reflect atti- tudes of constituted authority. Our people will show more concern for their artists as soon as the government shows more concern for the welfare of art in America.
This has been admirably demonstrated in our educational system in regard to the musical training of our youth. In one generation, with a change of attitude on the part of the teachers, the entire picture of music in the schools has altered, so that today we have symphony orchestras and choral ensembles of youngsters that would astonish our European colleagues, if only they knew about them. I can- not honestly report, however, that the young people who 59 Section One sing and play so well have been led to take any but the most conventional attitude to the musical creators whose works they perform.
There is a vital link missing here, a link that should enable us to transform a purely per- functory respect into a living understanding of the idea that surrounds creativity.
Somehow, sooner or later, it is that gap in understanding that must be bridged, not only as regards music, but in all the arts. Somehow the reality of the creative man as a person made meaningful for the entire community must be fostered. Creativity in our country depends, in part, on the understanding of all our people. When it is understood as the activity of free and independent men, intent upon the reflection and summa- tion of our own time in beautiful works, art in America will have entered on its most important phase.
The grander the theme, the more hazardous it is to bring it to fullest fruition. Today's theme is very grand indeed.
I very nearly lacked the courage to undertake it, until it struck me that, as a composer, I am occupied each day with this very subject, namely, the expression by way of music of a basic need of the human spirit.
To a casual onlooker I may seem to be doing nothing more when I write my scores than the placing of tiny black marks on ruled paper. But, actually, if I now stop to think about it, I am concerned with one of humanity's truly unique achievements: In point of fact, I have been concerned with it for more than thirty years, with no lessening of my sense of humility before the majesty of music's expressive power, before its capacity to make manifest a deeply spiritual resource of mankind.
My subject is so immense that it is hard to know where to take hold of it. To begin at the beginning, can we say what music is? Over and over again this question has been asked. The answers given never seem entirely satisfactory for the reason that the boundaries of music are much too extensive and its effects too manifold to be containable within a single definition. Merely to describe its physical impact upon us is none too easy.
How, for in- stance, would I undertake to describe the art of music to a deaf-mute? Even to tell of the effect of a single tone in 61 Section One contradistinction to that of an isolated chord is difficult enough. But how can one adequately encompass the de- scription of an entire symphony? All we know is that for some inscrutable reason most humans vibrate sympa- thetically to sounds of established pitch when these are coherently organized.
These sounds or tones, when pro- duced by instruments or the human voice, singly or in combination, set up sensations that may be deeply mov- ing or merely pleasant or even at times irritating.
What- ever the reaction, music that is really attended to rarely leaves the listener indifferent. Musicians react so strongly to musically induced sensations that they become a neces- sity of daily living. In saying so much, I have, of course, said very little. One can no more say what music is than one can say what life itself is.
But if music is beyond definition, per- haps we can hope to elucidate in what way the art of mu- sic is expressive of the human spirit. In a quasi-scientific spirit let me consider, if I may, what I do when I compose. The very idea is a little strange, for one can hardly hope to watch oneself compose. The penalty for so doing is the danger of losing the continuity of one's musical thought.
And yet it cannot be claimed that when I com- pose I am thinking precise thoughts, in the usual meaning of that term. Neither am I mooning over conceptions in the abstract. Instead, I seem to be engrossed in a sphere of essentialized emotions. I stress the word "essentialized," for these emotions are not at all vague. It is important to grasp that fact. From the instant of their inception they have specific identity, but it is an identity beyond the power of words to contain or circumscribe.
These germi- nal ideas or essentialized musical thoughts, as I call them, seem to be begging for their own life, asking their creator, the composer, to find the ideal envelope for them, to evolve a shape and color and content that will most fully exploit their creative potential.
In this way the profound- est aspirations of man's being are embodied in a pellucid fabric of sonorous materials. Curious, is it not, that so amorphous and intangible a substance as sound can hold such significance for us? The art of music demonstrates man's ability to transmute the substance of his everyday experience into a body of sound that has coherence and direction and flow, unfold- ing its own life in a meaningful and natural way in time and in space.
Like life itself, music never ends, for it can always be re-created. Thus the greatest moments of the human spirit may be deduced from the greatest moments in music. It occurs to me to wonder at this point in what way music differs from the other arts in its affirmation of man's spirit.
Is it more or less intellectual than literature or the graphic arts? Does it exist merely to melt the human heart, or ought our minds to be engaged primarily in grappling with it?
I was interested to read a passage in William James's Principles of Psychology that indicated the Ameri- can philosopher feared excessive indulgence in music 63 Section One would have a debilitating effect on the passive listener. He wasn't entirely serious, I suppose, for he suggests the rem- edy, "never to suffer one's self to have an emotion at a con- cert without expressing it afterwards in some active way, such as giving up your seat to a lady in the subway.
But do the musically gifted take music in a purely intellectual way? They most certainly do not. They take their music as everyone else does, with this difference: Music is designed, like the other arts, to absorb entirely our mental attention. Its emotional charge is imbedded in a challenging texture, so that one must be ready at an instant's notice to lend attention wherever it is most required in order not to be lost in a sea of notes. The conscious mind follows joyfully in the wake of the composer's invention, playing with the themes as with a ball, extricating the important from the unimportant de- tail, changing course with each change of harmonic in- flection, sensitively reflecting each new color modulation of the subtlest instrumental palette.
Music demands an alert mind of intellectual capacity, but it is far from being an intellectual exercise. Musical cerebration as a game for its own sake may fascinate a small minority of experts or specialists, but it has no true significance unless its rhyth- THREE TALKS mic patterns and melodic designs, its harmonic tensions and expressive timbres penetrate the deepest layer of our subconscious mind.
It is, in fact, the immediacy of this marriage of mind and heart, this very fusion of musical cerebration directed toward an emotionally purposeful end, that typifies the art of music and makes it different from all other arts. The power of music is so great and at the same time so direct that people tend to think of it in a static fashion, as if it had always been what we today know it to be. It is scarcely possible to realize how extraordinary the march of Western music has been without considering briefly its historical origins.
Musicologists tell us that the music of the early Christian Church was monodic that is, it was music of a single melodic line.
Its finest flower was Gregorian chant. But think what daring it took for com- posers to attempt the writing of music in more than a single part. This novel conception began to impose it- self about a thousand years ago, yet the marvel of it is still a cause for wonder. Our Western music differs from all others mainly in this one aspect: It is fascinat- ing to follow the slow growth of musical thinking in the new contrapuntal idiom.
Parenthetically, I might add that we of today, because of our great rhythmic and harmonic freedom, are in a better position than our predecessors to appreciate the unconventionalities of these early com- 65 Section One posers. From the experimental daring of the early con- trapuntists, whose music had mood and character along with a certain stiffness and awkwardness, the musical riches of the Renaissance were born.
Musical expressivity developed in depth and variety, in grace and charm.
By the year the peak was reached in the sacred and secular vocal masterpieces of the European continent. Take note that this was a hundred years before Bach took up his pen. Out of this many-voiced music, vocal and instrumental, the science of harmony as we know it gradually evolved. This was a natural phenomenon re- sulting from the fact that independent melodic lines, when sounding together, produced chords.
Then the unexpected happened. These resultant chords or harmonies, when properly organized, began to lead a self-sufficient life of their own. The skeletal har- monic progression became more and more significant as a generating force, until polyphony itself was forced to share its linear hegemony with the vertical implications of the underlying harmonies. That giant among composers, Johann Sebastian Bach, summarized this great moment in musical history by the perfect wedding of polyphonic device and harmonic drive.
The subsequent forward sweep of music's development is too well known to need recounting here. We ought always to remember, however, that the great age of music did not begin with Bach and that after him each new age brought its own particular compositional insight. The Viennese masters were followed in turn by the fervent romantics of the nine- teenth century, and the past fifty years have brought an anti-romantic reaction and a major broadening of all phases of music's technical resources.
Preoccupation with our own remarkable musical past ought not blind us to the fact that the non- Western world is full of a large variety of musical idioms, most of them in sharp contrast to our own.
The exciting rhythms of African drummers, the subtle, melodramatic singing of the Near East, the clangorous ensembles of Indonesia, the incredibly nasal sonority of China and Japan, all these and many others are so different from our own Occidental music as to discourage all hope of a ready understanding.
But we realize, nonetheless, that they each in their own way musically mirror cherishable aspects of human consciousness. We needlessly impoverish our- selves in doing so little to make a rapprochement between our own art and theirs. We needlessly impoverish ourselves also in confining so much of our musical interest to a comparatively re- stricted period of our own music history.
An overwhelming amount of the music we normally hear comes from no more than two hundred years of creative composition, principally the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. No such situation exists in any of the sister arts, nor would it be tolerated. Like the other arts, the art of music has a past, a present, and a future, but, unlike the other arts, the world of music is suffering from a special ailment of 6?
Section One its own, namely, a disproportionate interest in its past, and a very limited past at that.
Many listeners nowadays appear to be confused. They seem to think that music's future is its past. This produces as corollary a painful lack of curiosity as to its present and a reckless disregard for its future. This question of the public's attitude toward the art of music has become crucial in an age when the general interest in music has expanded beyond the expectations of the most optimistic.
Since the advent of radio broad- casting of serious music, the expansion of the recording industry, sophisticated film scores, and television opera and ballet, a true revolution in listening habits is taking place. Serious music is no longer the province of a small elite. No one has yet taken the full measure of this gradual transformation of the past thirty years or calculated its gains and risks for the cause of music.
The gains are obvious. The risks come from the fact that millions of listeners are encouraged to consider music solely as a refuge and a consolation from the tensions of everyday living, using the greatest of musical masterpieces as a first line of defense against what are thought to be the inroads of contemporary realism.
A pall of conventionalism hangs heavy over today's music horizon. A situation dangerous to music's future is developing in that the natural vigor of present-day musical expression is being jeopardized by this relentless overemphasis on the music of past centuries. But for some curious reason, music-lovers per- sist in believing that music on the highest level ought to be timeless, unaffected by temporal considerations of the here and now.
It can easily be shown, however, how far from true that notion is. The music a composer writes makes evident his life experience in a way that is exactly similar to that of any other kind of creative artist, and it is therefore just as closely identified with the aesthetic ideals of the period in which it was created. The composer of today must of necessity take into account the world of today, and his music is very likely to reflect it, even if only negatively.
He cannot be expected to execute an about- face for the sole purpose of making contact with an audi- ence that has ears only for music of the past. This dilemma shows no sign of abatement. It isolates more and more the new generation of composers from the public that should be theirs. How paradoxical the situation is! We live in a time that is acutely aware of the medium of sound. The words "sonic" and "supersonic" are familiar to every schoolboy, and talk of frequencies and decibels is a fairly common usage.
Instead of composers being looked to for leader- ship in such a time, they are relegated to a kind of fringe existence on the periphery of the musical world. It is a fair estimate that seven eighths of the music heard everywhere is music by composers of a past era. Because music needs public performance in order to thrive, the apathetic attitude of the music-loving public to contem- porary musical trends has had a depressant effect on pres- Section One ent day composers.
Under the circumstances one must have tenacity and courage to devote one's life to musical composition. Despite the absence of stimulus and encouragement, composers in Europe and America have continued to push forward the frontiers of musical exploration. Twentieth- century music has a good record in that respect It has kept well abreast of the other arts in searching for new expressive resources. The balance sheet would list the following gains: The very modest rhythmic demands of a previous era have been supplanted by the possibilities of a much more challenging rhythmic scheme.
The former regularity of an even-measured bar line has given way to a rhythmic propulsion that is more intricate, more vig- orous and various, and, certainly, more unpredictable.
Most recently certain composers have essayed a music whose basic constructive principle is founded on a strict control of the work's rhythmic factors. Apparently a new species of purely rhythmic logic is envisaged, but with what success it is too soon to know.
Then the area of harmonic possibilities has also been greatly extended in contemporary writing. Leaving be- hind textbook conventions, harmonic practice has estab- lished the premise that any chord may be considered acceptable if it is used appropriately and convincingly. Consonance and dissonance are conceded to be merely relative terms, not absolutes. The young composers of today are the inheri- tors of a tonal freedom that is somewhat dizzying, but out of this turmoil the new textbooks will be written.
Along with harmonic experiment there has been a re-examination of the nature of melody, its range, its intervallic complex- ity, and its character as binding elements in a composi- tion, especially in respect to thematic relationships.
Some few composers have posited the unfamiliar conception of an athematic music, that is, a music whose melodic ma- terials are heard but once and never repeated. All this has come about as part of the larger questioning of the ar- chitectonic principles of musical form.
This is clearly the end result toward which the newer attitudes are leading. Carried to its logical conclusion, it means an abandon- ment of long-established constructive principles and a new orientation for music. Sometimes it seems to me that, in considering the path that music is likely to take in the future, we forget one controlling factor: Isn't it possible that we shall wake up one day to find the familiar groups of stringed instruments, brasses, wood- winds, and battery superseded by the invention of an electronic master instrument with unheard-of microtome divisions of a scale and with totally new sound possibilities, all under the direct control of the composer without bene- fit of a performing interpreter?
Such a machine will emancipate rhythm from the limitations of the perform- ing brain and is likely to make unprecedented demands on Section One the capacity of the human ear. An age that has broken through the sound barrier can hardly be expected to go on producing musical sounds in the time-honored manner of its ancestors. Here, I confess, is a prospect a little frightening to contemplate. For this really may be that music of the future about which Richard Wagner loved to ruminate.
All this belongs to the realm of speculation. Only one thing is certain: So long as the human spirit thrives on this planet, music in some living form will accompany and sustain it and give it expressive meaning. Year after year during those two decades he has consistently carried through a policy of performing orchestral works, old and new, by American composers.
In so doing he has not been alone. Other conductors and other orchestras have introduced numerous works by Americans during the same period. But just because he was not alone in nurturing the growth of an American music, it is all the more remarkable that we think of his sponsorship of the native composer as something unique something unprecedented and irreplaceable.
In order to retain the sense of con- temporaneity, nothing has been changed. Here at least is one legend that will have been well founded. Since circumstances placed me among the earliest of the conductor's American "protg6s," I should like to put down an eye witness account, so to speak, of how the legend grew what it is based on, how it functions, and what it means in our present-day musical culture.
I first met the future conductor of the Boston Symphony at his apartment in Paris in the spring of , shortly after the announcement of his appointment had been made. My teacher, Nadia Boulanger, brought me to see him. It was the period of the Concerts Koussevitzky, given at the Paris Op6ra each spring and fall. It was typical that at the Concerts Koussevitzky all the new and exciting European novelties were introduced.
Mademoiselle Bou- langer, knowing the Russian conductor's interest in new creative talents of all countries, took it for granted that he would want to meet a young composer from the country he was about to visit for the first time. That she was entirely correct in her assumption was immediately evident from the interest he showed in the orchestral score under my arm.
It was a Cortege Macabre, an excerpt from a ballet I had been working on under the guidance of Mademoiselle Boulanger. With all the assurance of youth I was twenty-two years old at the time I played it for him.
Without hesitation he promised to perform the piece during his first season in Boston. Koussevitzky has had with American composers. The submitting of a new work to Dr. Kous- sevitzky is always something of an ordeal for a composer. He is well known for being outspoken in his reaction to new music.
If he likes a composition he generally likes it wholeheartedly, and the composer leaves his presence walking on thin air. After all, it means a performance by the Boston Symphony Orchestra! If he doesn't like it, it means that other conductors may perform it, but the special atmosphere that surrounds a Koussevitzky pre- mire will be lacking.
That sense of "specialness" is part of the legend it has seeped through even to composers who have never had occasion to show their works to the Russian director. But they all dream of that occasion; just as every ten-year-old American boy dreams of being Presi- dent someday, so every twenty-year-old American com- poser dreams of being played by Koussevitzky.
It is not simply a matter of the quality of the performance, fine as that is likely to be, that accounts for the prestige attached to a performance by the Boston Symphony under its present leader. It is rather the "philosophy" behind the playing of the work that, in the final analysis, makes the difference.
It is the nature of that "philosophy" that gives to the relationship of Dr. Kous- sevitzky and the American composer its more than local interest and significance. Consider, for a moment, what was normal procedure for the introduction of native works into the symphonic repertoire during the first years of the twenties.
Most char- 75 Section One acteristic of the period, as I remember it, was an unholy concentration on first performances. A new work seemed automatically to lose whatever attraction it may have had after a first hearing. Even when a composition was well received locally, its repetition by other orchestras was by no means guaranteed. But worse than this seasonal dab- bling in novelties was the patent lack of conviction on the part of conductors with certain exceptions, of course as to the value of the new pieces they were presenting.
That lack of conviction was reflected, more often than not, in the attitude of the men in the orchestra. In an atmosphere of distrust and indifference works were likely to be under- rehearsed and played without conviction.
After all, if the music really wasn't worth much, why waste time rehears- ing it? And in the end the audience, sensing the lack of any sustained policy on the part of the conductor or sym- phonic organization, concluded quite justly that the play- ing of any new American work might be regarded as a bore, to be quietly suffered for the sake of some mis- guided chauvinism on the part of the management.
In Boston, under the Koussevitzky regime, all these things were ordered differently. Taking its keynote from the attitude of the conductor himself, a musical New Deal was instituted for the American composer. Fundamentally this New Deal was founded upon the solid rock of Dr. Koussevitzky's unwavering belief in the musical creative force of our time.
He had simply transplanted to our own country his basic confidence in the creative powers of our world. That confidence is unshakable it is an essential part of the man. Someplace deep down Dr. Koussevitzky is himself a composer not because of the few works he has actually written, but because he has a profound under- standing for what it means to be a composer.
I have never met a man who loved music more passionately than Serge Koussevitzky.
But when he thinks of music he doesn't conjure up a pristine and abstract art he thinks rather of a living, organic matter brought into being by men who are thoroughly alive.
He loves music, yes but never for an instant does he forget the men who create music. That is why it is no mere conventional phrase when he says: I can personally attest to the fact that he meant every word of it literally when he recently wrote: All history has con- vinced him that the creative force in music is a continuous one, and that each generation adds its mite to the sum 77 Section One total of musical culture. Koussevitzky would be the first to allow that certain ages have been more fortunate in their composers than others.
But if there has ever been a completely impotent age, as far as musical creativity goes, he has never heard of it. He has explained his point of view at some length in a recent interview: Each one brings his portion. He not constitute the whole story.
By There is no need to digress further on the sensuous plane. Its appeal to defining each, illustrating it, and contrasting them with one another, Copland lays out his ideas every normal human being is self-evident. There is, however, such a thing as with clarity and directness, proving just the right amount of detail to make his explanations clear.
Don't get the idea that the value of music is commensurate with its beauty of musical sounds. If that were so, Ravel would be a greater composer than Beethoven. The reader can see, therefore, that a more conscious approach What begins as an essay of explanation becomes in the end an attempt at persuasion, is valuable even on this primary plane of music listening.
The second plane on which music exists is what I have called the expressive one. Here, immediately, we tread on controversial ground. We all listen to music according to our separate capabilities. But, for Composers have a way of shying away from any discussion of music's the sake of analysis the whole listening process may become clearer if we expressive side.
Did not Stravinsky himself proclaim that his music was an break it up into its component parts, so to speak. In a certain sense we all listen "object," a "thing" with a life of its own and with no other meaning than its to music on three separate planes.
For lack of a better terminology, one.
This intransigent attitude of Stravinsky's may name these: The only advantage to be gained from mechanically splitting up into so many pieces. Heaven knows it is difficult enough to say precisely what the listening process into these hypothetical planes is the clearer view to be had it is that a piece of music means, to say it definitely, to say it finally so that of the way in which we listen.
But that should not lead one to the The simplest way of listening to music is to listen for the sheer other extreme of denying to music the right to be "expressive. That is the sensuous plane.
It is the plane My own belief is that all music has an expressive power, some more on which we hear music without thinking, without considering it in any way. A kind of brainless but attractive state of mind is engendered by what the piece is about. The extraordinary strength moments. But from the layman's standpoint. This is getting the whole such a theme as the first main one of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. There concrete it is the better they like it.. Simple-minded souls will never be satisfied with the answer to the Let us suppose that you are fortunate and can describe to.
Either he hears a pretty melody or he does not. Most listeners are not sufficiently conscious of this third plane. In that case. This whole problem can be stated quite simply by asking. You will be able. The more the music reminds them of a is still no guarantee that anyone else will be satisfied. Is it pessimistically sad or resignedly sad. The train. That is why they always find Tchaikovsky easier to "understand" The third plane of which music exists is the sheerly musical plane.
In the first place. They often fall into the error of becoming so engrossed that is why Beethoven is the greater composer. Yet anyone hearing it immediately gets a feeling of strength. One timid lady once confessed to me that she to it. But one should never try and boil it down subtle shadings and. Tempered Clavichord. And if it is a great work of abetted by the usual run of musical commentator-.
What they really mean whereas the nonprofessional is only to anxious to hang on to any explanation to say is that no appropriate word can be found to express the music's meaning that gives him the illusion of getting closer to the music's meaning. Much easier. It is a power inherent in the theme itself.
Take her inability to connect it with anything definite. Music expresses.