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From Brian van der Spuy

Published before 2005


---This is a significant point - I have also noticed that browsing around through the ARC web museum, one often runs into great work that one has never heard of. Now this makes me wonder whether you should not perhaps make a point of introducing visitors to new artists? One simple way of doing this would be to have software that automatically puts up a random (thumbnailed) image from the web museum on the site's home page. When a visitor clicks on that thumbnail, he is then taken to the full size image, and in the process, to that artist's section in the web museum. Would such a feature be difficult to program? It might be worth looking into when you next update the site? [[[[There's an exact parallel in music, with the phrase "20th Century Music" meaning unlistenable serialism in most people's minds, while those not fitting the mold - Vaughan Williams, Korngold, Prokofiev, etc. - are considered aberrations. How many gifted young composers were sucked dry by academic atonalism we'll never know!]]]] ---Ah, but I have this feeling Prokofiev would not go down too well with most of the ARCers either... ;-) Still, the writer makes a good point. It is not that I disrespect serialism, because unlike modern art, it actually requires tremendous musical knowledge and skill to compose. But I think Schoenberg's original theory is fundamentally flawed, and as the writer points out, this sort of music is frankly unlistenable and hardly recognizable as music at all. It completely alienated audiences to the point where nowadays, a composer working in the classical idiom has to become a film composer, or he gets nowhere at all. As an aside, I find it interesting that whereas university visual art departments have virtually destroyed the very notion of traditional skill and craftsmanship, the music departments are still very much the 'carriers of the torch' when it comes to basic musical skills. Indeed, the standard for such things as music performance are today higher than they have ever been before, and many of the great virtuosos of the past would today quite probably not even pass their exams, let alone become famous performers. Similarly, as in the past, modern music students have to develop an advanced 'inner ear' that will enable them to read a musical score as fluently as as the rest of us can read written words. As far as I know, most universities also require music students to learn to play at least two intruments to a high level of skill. All of this requires music students to work harder than probably any other university students. It is not at all unusual for them to spend four, five or six hours a day practicing their instruments, in addition to all the other demanding requirements of their curriculum. Hence, while it is common to see the art students hang out at parties with weird clothes and weirder hair, you'd be lucky to see the music students anywhere on campus at all, other than in lecture halls and soundproof practice rooms. They are simply too busy working their butts off to party; become a virtuoso soloist today entails rather more work than becoming a brain surgeon or NASA engineer. But for all of this very respectable work, I fear that the modernist virus has infected music as well. Which is why most people today, even ones who in general enjoy classical music, and even ones with very broad and tolerant tastes such as myself, avoid concerts of contemporary classical music. Coming from someone who enjoys such composers as Stravinsky and Bartok, this ought to tell you something!