Articles by Daniel Felsenfeld
Can any kind of music actually be dangerous? This rhetorical question has an obvious answer: it cannot kill you, but something in it scares enough people that the famously oppressive regimes of, say, the Taliban, Stalinist Russia, Maoist China (during the Cultural Revolution), the pre-Reformation Catholic Church, or that tiny town in Footloose all felt that certain music should be duly restricted.
“Listy” thinking—the notion that anything as elemental and sloppily chaotic as music (or any art, for that matter) can withstand ordering, this-or-that-ing—can be, at best, problematic. The list can take the place of the work much like ideas of the people involved can be easily replaced by received notions. And that represents a danger because when something complicated is easily and quickly understood, the chances are that you are doing something wrong.
Bernstein’s Mass is my theme song, my touchstone, my secret garden, my musical Castalia, the song of the inescapably confused but willing to try. Everything I want to do in music, it does better. Everything I hear, it contains. All that I feel, it seems to address in a clear and absolutely beautiful way.
A critical look at three recent music books published by the MIT Press: Computer Models of Musical Creativity by David Cope; Sweet Anticipation: Music and the Psychology of Expectation by David Huron; and Gareth Loy’s Musimathics: The Mathematical Foundations of Music, Volume One.
What makes Kyle Gann’s Music Downtown so significant is that Gann did not just fortuitously witness an unfolding; he lived it, not as an impartial observer, but as a steeped, way-down-in-the-thick-of-it composer.
Despite all the memorials aimed at codifying the expression of grief, perhaps catharsis is simply not within our ken as composers.
An interview with the author of Classical Music in America: A History of its Rise and Fall
Richard Taruskin’s six-volume Oxford History of Western Music in perspective.
No need to wait for pop music to save the classical tradition.