Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Arthur Berger: Serenade Concertante

From the picture you can obviously tell it's another of the scary academic serialist compositions of Arthur Berger.   To whom that terribly and coldly mathematical critic Virgil Thomson attributed a "sidwalks of New York charm".   Listen at your own peril.


  1. More of that twelve-tone stuff, right?

  2. I've got the score and he definitely used all twelve eventually.

    Berger did write 12-tone music and I love it but as he wrote, he wasn't writing it for an audience that didn't want to hear it. I especially like the short pieces he collected as "Birthday Cards". He wasn't ever a "serial" composer that I've heard or seen, not by the technical definition of the term. I've played enough of his music so I'd have known. If Simels knew anything about serial music and he heard Bergers Chamber Music for 13 Players he'd know how clueless that label was. It's funny how people are just to accept the most nonsensical visual art and it's a sin against modernity and freedom of everything to to criticize it as nonsense but the same defenders of art have no problem with angrily blasting music that no one is forcing on them. I'm constantly exposed to crappy, often grossly offensive pop music but any criticism of that is treated like a sin worse than turning babies into glue or something.

    Simels probably never heard a note of Berger's music when he wrote what he did. What's so funny about his harping on this is that "academic serialism" is sort of a post-war accusation of entartete kunst, often a semi-veiled hit against a group of composers such as Milton Babbitt who were Jewish, as was Berger. Stefan Wolpe, another composer whose music I like very much, has the distinction of having been on both Simels' and the Nazi's list of degenerate composers. Really and as documented in those who have documented that program to extinguish 20th century music.

  3. I love 20th century music, but your analogy to modern visual arts is spot on. I'm also, as I mentioned, tired of "popular music," especially stuff from this century. Call it old age, call it what you will, the stuff just doesn't interest me.

    But do I dare make that statement in public? Or say what I really think of it? The heavens would fall.

    I have my standards. I also simply have my preferences. Difficult to find a place where you can express your preferences without them being taken as standards and grounds for rejecting what doesn't meet the standards. I don't even like to mention I prefer "classical" music because I sound like a snob.

    Yet it's okay to appreciate the Impressionists, and that still leaves room for enjoying contemporary art (some of which is good, some of which sux, but don't say that, you'll be a Philistine!).