Charles Ives, George Gershwin, Leonard Bernstein, and John Corigliano have all used music to promote social commentary, but these are all individuals who use their talents to create great music and see it performed. To the Great American Culture Machine, music is still mainly seen as a pastime marketed primarily to sexually frustrated adolescents with enough money to buy new product.
Sometimes we need to set aside the training that can shackle us to what can or should be done and instead to tap into the sense of “play” that comes so naturally to us when we’re young and have no concept of boundaries or rules or expectations. One of the biggest challenges along these lines is that many of us don’t recognize when we’ve stopped “playing,” especially after so many years of accruing the necessary tools to perform/create at a high level.
When I admit to most music aficionados that I am visiting Vienna for the first time next week they tend to be shocked. How can someone who claims to be so enamored of music have not made the requisite pilgrimage to the musical capital of the world? But great music takes place all over the planet and you can find amazing things to listen to wherever you go.
Even though there are more and more fast food outlets and less and less old-style delicatessens than when I first arrived in 1977, New York is still the best place for me to live when it comes to the music I play and listen to. Living elsewhere is like cigarettes, drinking, drugs, promiscuity, and “super-size” fast-food: I gave it the old college try, and it’s just not for me.