I’ve been at home with the flu this week so I hope no one will object to me continuing my post from last week in bulleted form—this makes my need to reach for some more Kleenex every 45 seconds somewhat less disruptive. Here are a few of the more negative comments I’ve been accosted with following performances of my music, some just plain out of line and some richly deserved:
- “The piece wasn’t any good, but it’s okay because you’re young.”
- “Are you associated with Visconti fountain pens?”—re. Kyle Gann’s comment last week, sometimes the lengths people go to in order to avoid engaging the music speak louder than mere words.
- (Overheard while in a bathroom stall at intermission): “I didn’t think much of it either—but let’s be careful, I think the composer might be in here!”
- (from a concert in Berlin): “Das ist Vaterboarding!”—the German people, broadly speaking, seem to have perfected the art of turning aesthetic distaste into perceived ad hominem attacks.
- “The piece was too long.”—This comment has always been correct when I’ve been hit with it.
- “Why couldn’t you have done x, y, or z instead?”
- “I wish you would have had all the instruments playing the whole time.”
- (One of my favorites): “I didn’t care for your piece but don’t worry, it’s not your fault. I wouldn’t have liked anything after having to sit through that first half!”
- “You didn’t finish your DMA? Maybe you should have.”
…and the most frequently heard negative comment of all?
- (From another composer): “WOW! That was great, just great…a real accomplishment…you deserve it, no you really deserve it….” There’s an unspoken rule of sorts that acquaintance-level composer colleagues will almost never tell you if they think your new piece is garbage.