invasively quaint

Nobody can know himself

or be separated from himself

But let him every day test what

should be clear:

What he is and what he was

What he can and what he may.

-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1796)


how do you prepare (young) students to deal with questions like what do we do with Strauss or Wagner, or, what does music mean, if anything, or (even better), can we separate the music from its creator? it was an attempt, or more than an attempt, at a good try today in history 4. i could see the looks on faces (somewhat preoccupied from the results of their midterm) and they revealed brains ticking away behind their usually cheery visages. they were thinking. that’s not in italics because they haven’t thought before. it’s in italics because they really began to think about music as a concept, as a problem, as something that can come with real repercussions. 

and that is exactly the kind of thinking i like.

soon this section on “music in crisis” will be over and things can get a little bit back to normal (britten is included in this but it’s not so much crisis as me talking about how i’m getting a Peter Grimes-inspired tattoo) and until the britten fun times, i’ll end this the way we ended the class (and the way i started this entry), with Richard Strauss’ Metamorphosen (Berlin Philharmonic, Karajan).



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2 thoughts on “invasively quaint

  1. Jason says:

    Sorry if the question isn’t as self-evident to me as it might be to everyone else, but what do you mean by “what do we do with Strauss and Wagner?”

    What did you guys come up with for the meaning in music challenge? I have to admit that I’ve always been skeptical of meaning being discussed in classrooms; they seem very geared toward mapping the intellectual component of meaning, at the expense of the raw emotive, intuitive, visceral part. Unfortunately, that’s the part I like the most…

    • Imani says:

      sure no, it’s okay. i’m referring to how do we teach students to deal with Strauss’ place in the history of Nazism in Germany and Wagner’s somewhat abhorrent socio-political views in regards to their outputs as composers? does it affect their music? is their music tainted? do we respect them less? all those questions…

      as far as the meaning in music, that’s not really for this class to delve into too much, it’s just that this class plants the seed more than any other because it’s the 20th century and the question has to be asked more here than in other periods, on a somewhat introductory level.

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