It Didn’t End With Mahler

by Steve Lancaster10/12/17
Gustav Mahler, 1860-1911, was the last of traditional composers of the 19th century. His First symphony, composed in 1887/88 is a capstone to the late romantic period of classical music with numerous themes, some of which also appear in Das Lied von der Erde (Song of the Earth). Like many composers in Europe Mahler traveled to America. With his death in 1911 what was left of traditional classical music also died. Although, the style continued for a while in the USSR with Sergei Prokofiev. What happened to all the musicians, composers and conductors post WWI?

Quite simply, they went west, far west, following Dvorak, and Mahler in the mid 30s Erich Wolfgang Korngold moved to Hollywood. In 1935, he composed and directed the score of Captain Blood, followed by The Adventures of Robin Hood, Anthony Adverse, The Sea Hawk, and Kings Row. In the classical tradition Korngold and others, Miklos Roza, Dimitri Tomkin followed suit.

On Broadway 100 years ago, music was mostly minstrels with catchy songs. Then Asa Yoelson discovered in New Orleans, jazz; and as he said, “you ain’t heard nothing yet”. Alongside the patriotic songs of George M. Cohan, Over There, Grand ol Flag, and Yankee Doddle Dandy. There was Jolson in the first talking motion picture (1929), singing jazz often in blackface. Breaking ground for other artists, and composers and lyric writers, like Rogers and Hammerstein. Some of the most notable, Oklahoma, South Pacific and of course, The Sound of Music. For Rogers, the sound track to Victory at Sea. This was a brief time when ABC, NBC, and even CBS maintained full symphony orchestras.

The ability, in the 20th century, for an individual to listen to music of his own choice in his own home created one of the great intellectual freedoms of the 20th century. By the 30s it was common to listen to the best performers of the day on either the radio or Victrola. The class exclusion of the formal concert was broken forever. John Q. everyman could listen to the greatest orchestras performing the greatest music of the West, Bach, Beethoven, and all the rest. And, with the introduction of jazz, a truly American music form, popular music transitioned from June/Swoon to Cat Scratch Fever in less than 75 years.

The easy availability today to download for only a few dollars the best of the art, even recordings made 100 years ago, digitally cleaned of flaws and enhanced to a more pristine listening form has revolutionized the experience. It should not be a wonder to any of us that our children and grandchildren have the earplugs in and are not listening to us. We can and should try to insist that they have more discretion. Music in all its forms, except perhaps some of the most offensive hip, hop/rap/gangster forms holds memories for all of us.

I recall my parents listening to Glen Miller, the Dorsey’s and of course, ol blue eyes Sinatra. The era they lived is long gone, depression, unemployment and war, but also swing, hot jazz and the beginning of rock can all be relived with a simple download. Our dreams and or memories are tied irrevocably to music.

Some of my best memories are of the late 70s and the mother of my oldest son. We never married, but in small ways with some of the music we shared we are still together almost 50 years later. My taste is more traditional and hers more contemporary. One of her favorites was a 1968 hit by, of all people, Richard Harris; MacArthur Park. One stanza she said was a favorite:

There will be another song for me
For I will sing it
There will be another dream for me
Someone will bring it
I will drink the wine while it is warm
And never let you catch me looking at the sun
And after all the loves of my life
After all the loves of my life
You’ll still be the one

In 1979, she moved with our son and my blessings, to Israel. She never married, and was murdered by a Palestinian just outside of Jerusalem in 96, she was only 36 years old. Our Son is now a Colonel in the IDF and we have three grandchildren in Tel Aviv. Diane lives in my memories daily and as I age many faces grow dim, but when I hear the music they loved; the sights, smells, and pleasures of the moment return. I would not trade it for anything. • (594 views)

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47 Responses to It Didn’t End With Mahler

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    So are you saying that the sound tracks for the Hollywood swashbucklers tended to be somewhat like classical music? I suppose that would be appropriate, recalling how Alex felt about Beethoven and some other classical composers in A Clockwork Orange.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      I believe it was Tiomkin who, during his acceptance speech for the Oscar for best musical score in a movie, said he wanted to thank….and then started to list off the great composers of the 19th century.

      Apparently, many of his contemporaries in the Hollywood music business were irritated that he gave away the secret of their success.

      Decades later, one only has to watch Darth Vader’s entrance in Star Wars to hear how John Williams swiped material from Holst.

      Listen to the following and see if you don’t agree with my remarks about Williams borrowing from Holst.

      I think “The Planets” is worth a listen.

      • Steve Lancaster says:

        If Beethoven were alive in the 1970s he would have been the composer for Star Wars.

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          Possibly. However, he was certainly heads-and-shoulders above the movie-soundtrack composers one generally hears. He was an original.

          Many believe that Korngold came closest to having the type of talent one finds in Mahler, Brahms and Beethoven.

          As to Williams, it is common for composers to use themes from others; Rachmaninoff and Paganini come to mind. But I find Williams was not so straightforward in his “borrowing” from others. Of course, most people who saw Star Wars did not know who Holst was so nothing was said about the appropriation.

          If you want to hear an original movie-score/theme then listen to Mike Oldfield’s “Tubular Bells” even though it was not written specifically for “The Exorcist.”

          • Steve Lancaster says:

            I still have the vinyl, from 1966/67? I play it once in a while when I feel nostalgic. I also have Santana, Evil ways, Jingo, Oye Como va. Some of the best stripper music ever written, although I doubt that was the intention.

      • Steve Lancaster says:

        Vinyl, from the 70s with no less than Leonard and the NY Philharmonic. I give Leonard his due, but the best of the era is the Boston Symphony and Charles Munch conducting.

      • M Farrell says:

        Dear Mr Kung Fu Zu– one of my pet peaves about a lot of current movies is they don’t bother with a soundtrack at all–what you get is replayed/recycled previous pop hits playing in the background– at least in the 40’s and 50’s you got new standards with a movie (Casablanca/”As Time Goes By”– An Affair to Remember/”Our Love Affair”– Breakfast at Tiffany’s/”Moon River– Exodus/”This Land”– “Three Coins in the Fountain”. And on and on)– the new stuff just smacks of laziness and the refusal to spend the $$$$ and do something new and interesting– John Williams borrowing from Holst is a welcome relief from a lot of the nonsense that passes as soundtrack today– Two more recent efforts I loved were from”Gladiator” and “Braveheart”–

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          John Williams borrowing from Holst is a welcome relief from a lot of the nonsense that passes as soundtrack today

          I tend to agree with you. My main complaint re Williams is the crass way he lifting themes from Holst. But heh, if one is going to steal, it only makes sense to steal something of quality.

          Just a few other movies which have great scores are, “The Magnificent Seven”, “The Big Country” and “Picnic.” I could go on, but I am sure everyone can come up with some of their own favorites.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            I saw Picnic for the first time last year or the year before. I thought it was rather good.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            Of course, the theme song from The Magnificent Seven was later recycled as the Marlborough theme and also had a small appearance in Moonraker.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          M Farrell, you have good taste in music. Soundtracks these days are generally fairly dreadful.

          • M Farrell says:

            Thanks Brad– My all-time favorite score is from “Once upon a Time in America”– absolutely haunting stuff– I’ve heard portions of it edited and played as concert pieces (same as with “Braveheart”)– the music can stand alone brilliantly–

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              Braveheart has a magnificent score. I’m partial to the soundtrack of “Lawrence of Arabia.” There are likely other great ones that escape my mind at the moment. It’s hard to find a good “best of list” because, as with most lists these days, they are tainted with the frost of Snowflakes. By that I mean that, of course, one of the 50 greatest scores ever is from “Life of Pi.” [Eyeroll]

              Here’s a more populist Ranker list that has some of the same Snowflake faults. (Nothing better could have been invented before the Age of the Golden Children, right?) As nice as the “Lord of the Rings” soundtrack may be, is it really #2?

              Still, even these stale, unartful lists highlight some good ones, including “Live and Let Die,” “The Wizard of Oz” (is “best soundtrack” the same as “best musical”?), “The Sting,” “The Pink Panther,” and “The Good, The Bad & The Ugly.”

              AFI’s list is a lot less Snowflake-ish. “Gone with the Wind” (and rightfully so) makes an appearance near the top. This list seems edited by grown-ups as well. Special kudos because it does not include the over-rated “Chariots of Fire.” Along with the soundtrack of “Butch Cassidy,” put it in the category of “If I never hear ‘Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head’ again it will be too soon.

              And I agree with you that if you must steal, steal the good stuff. Williams’ Star Wars scores are wonderful.

              • M Farrell says:

                Brad– I have to confess to never reading the lists you refer to– I agree on “Laurence of Arabia” and think “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” is only suitable to be played to torture terror suspects– although it is so sophmorically annoying that its use would probably violate the Geneva Convention–

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                MF, The story behind my dislike for “Raindrops” extends beyond mere aesthetic concerns. Put this in one of the “earliest sure memories” category. I was some sort of hall monitor in the 5th or 6th grade. My job was to corral Wrong Receptacle Terrorists. Used paper milk cartons were to go in one trash can and other refuse in the other. They needed me to monitor that. I don’t even want to talk about the ramifications if things got mixed up. World peace surely would have suffered. But a place for everything and everything in it’s place. I’m a conservative, after all. A Leftist would have been fine with throwing the garbage on the floor.

                Now for the implanted memory that will never fade on its own like an old Memorex tape (what a crap brand that is…always went for either TDK or Maxell instead). I think my tour of duty as a (what is today’s euphemism?) “sanitation engineer” was two weeks. And it happened to be that two weeks that coincided with mania for the Butch Cassidy film and for the soundtrack. Every single lunch for at least two weeks I was in the hallway while in one room the little 2nd or 3rd-grader tykes would lunch daily to the soundtrack to this record. (An indulgent teacher, no doubt, or just a Redford fan.)

                So…okay…I came to associate that song with garbage. But it didn’t take much of a push to make that association.

              • M Farrell says:

                Brad– my memory of “Raindrops” is a bit different– I was 11 years old and preparing for a classical piano proficiency exam at the time I saw the movie (which I enjoyed) but for what seemed like weeks after the movie that infernal song was playing in my head– and just when it would stop, someone would play it on the radio (sometimes 3 or 4 times an hour–remember old 60’s and 70’s top 40) and it would start all over again–I was trying to practice Motzart, Mendelssohn,and Scarlatti and it felt like Burt Bacharach and B.J. Thomas were trolling my adolescent brain– funny to remember (and what we remember), but at the time I wanted to throw things–

              • Timothy Lane says:

                The James Bond movies tend to have good soundtracks. I believe I have heard the lyrics of “The Entertainer” (the them song for The Sting, and I have an anthology CD with the theme of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, which has also been recycled elsewhere.

  2. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I have heard the lyrics of “The Entertainer” (the them song for The Sting, and I have an anthology CD with the theme of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, which has also been recycled elsewhere.

    Timothy, that brings to mind the most important point of all. Although sometimes music soundtracks are so good we buy the album and listen to them as we could any other form of music, the point of the music is to meld with and enhance the story.

    The plucky themes of The Sting do this extraordinarily well as does the score of TGB&U.

    On the other hand, some movies (such as “The Year of Living Dangerously”) are pretty awful but have memorable scores. Casablanca is a great movie (in fact, the best). And although it has some memorable tunes (“As Time Goes By”), it’s not a particularly showy score. But it’s content to be there in the background and do its job. Many movies these day hit you over the head with the music…very often to the point where you can’t actually hear the dialogue. Less is sometimes more. I put Casablanca in that category.

  3. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I was trying to practice Motzart, Mendelssohn,and Scarlatti and it felt like Burt Bacharach and B.J. Thomas were trolling my adolescent brain

    LMAO. Yeah. You got it bad as well, M Farrell. Funny story.

    • M Farrell says:

      Well Brad, you can laugh some more because when I went for my pre-exam piano lesson (with the “feel” of that pernicious song ringing/ingrained in my brain) I played the Mendelssohn with Burt Bacharach slightly-swing 8th notes– I wish I had a poster of my instructor’s horrified/apoplectic face– My father (who loathed classical musical snobs), who had taken me to the lesson could barely contain himself– his glee that is– Heavens what an awful, but funny lesson that was–I’m afraid it was the first but, I confess, not the last time I swung Mendelssohn–

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        Have to disagree with you and Brad. “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” is a wonderful song. The fact that it took over your mind is a tribute to its power.

        I like the change in mood when the song goes from the very chirpy “Raindrops keep falling on my head” verse to “But there’s one thing, I know” lyric.

        Its like the chorus of the song comes first and the main theme thereafter. Then it goes back to the chorus. A bit unusual.

        The song is very easy to remember and sing, which also made it popular. If you could sing it have-way decently, it wasn’t a bad way to meet girls.

        Finally, what’s not to like about the singing of B.J. Thomas? He may not be Jussi Bjorling, but then again, nobody else is either.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Mr. Kung, “Raindrops” was a very nice “soft” song the first time I heard it. Kind of soupy and dopey, but pleasant enough for a throw-away movie song. And it was nice the second time I heard it. Perhaps the third. But not after the 104th.

          Does “Happy Birthday to You” making anyone cringe even though they’ve heard it many times? Probably not. But “Raindrops” song does not bear frequent repetitions. Neither does Debby Boone’s “You Light Up My Life.” That’s another song I put in the “if I never hear it again it will be too soon” category even though the vocal performance, as with “Raindrops,” is superb.

          Granted, we all have different tolerances for schmaltz. But I find schmaltz to be like the narrow opening in the famous double-slit experiment (which no one really understands). It’s a very narrow passage. Probably no one’s gap lets in quite the same schmaltz.

      • Steve Lancaster says:

        Of all the people who might have been offended, Felix Mendelssohn would be the last. I read a bio of him and his family and his grand father was well renowned scholar of the German enlightenment. His father is known to have remarked, “At first they called me the son of the father, now I am the father of the son”

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          A very interesting family. There are some who consider the Mendelssohns the most important Jewish family in German history.

          Unfortunately, “Here Comes the Bride” seems to be Felix’s most played/famous piece.

        • M Farrell says:

          “Of all the people who might have been offended, Felix Mendelssohn would be the last. ”

          I agree Steve–Mendelssohn would have loved swing– it was my snooty “music master” ( as conservatory teachers were referred to in that day) that was offended– Mendelssohn was known as the post-Mozart Motzart– and yes Mr Kung Fu Zu, it is a shame that what is most remembered of his incredibly broad repertoire is the “wedding march”– and I concede BJ Thomas has a decent voice, but that “chirpy” song will get a pass only because its infernal, sappy stickiness brings back such fun childhood memories–But maybe that’s what we love about any music, its ability to take us back to where we were, who we were with, and what we were doing when we first heard it– and enjoy the memories all over again–

          • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

            that “chirpy” song will get a pass only because its infernal stickiness brings back such fun childhood memories–

            I believe one of the wonderful things about music is the way it conjures up good memories. I know Proust wrote about smells bringing back such memories, but I think music is more powerful in that department these days. Maybe its because there is less good cooking and more music available through media.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              Music is the art of the angels. Music is one of the many things that one can’t explain by any sort of materialist or evolutionary theory. And given how diametrically opposed the forms of music can come in (Karen Carpenter vs. Rod Stewart), the essence of music surely mirrors heaven and hell, good and evil, Sinatra and Dylan.

              And that’s not just some fancily constructed analogy. “Let there be light” might well have been followed by (or preceded by) “Let there be music.” There is something provably fundamental about vibrations to our material universe. But music, of course, although conveyed by vibrations, is not a vibration. It is something immaterially more.

              The only question is, do angels keep the soundtrack of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid on their iPods? But that music stems from, and can potentially connect to, the divine has been reasonably demonstrated by many of the classical masters. Unfortunately, our own age spends too much time in the musical equivalent of purgatory

              • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

                Unlike the other pursuits of mankind, music is something which is purely creative. It doesn’t borrow from nature or experience. It is the expression of something higher in mankind which speaks universally. Sorry for the platitude, but it is true.

                Western classical music can be seen to be the highest form of that creativity where structure and invention come together to, in many cases, create the sublime.

              • M Farrell says:

                That’s what’s so great about this blog– you started with Mahler and circled all the way around to Debbie Boone (!?!) and ended up wondering what the angels have on their iPods–great site Brad–always, always fun to read– Thanks so much–

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                That’s what’s so great about this blog– you started with Mahler and circled all the way around to Debbie Boone (!?!)

                MF, That would be called driving through the guardrail. But I’ll let Steve be final judge of that. But in terms of cinema, it might be pictured like this. Debbie Boone appears at about the 1:16 mark.

              • M Farrell says:

                Love the clip — S. Connery was the best Bond ever– but on the other hand, you were the one who mentioned the dreaded “You Light Up My Life”/D. Boone–so over the guard rails we went–

              • Timothy Lane says:

                Well, the clip may say it’s from Goldfinger, but it looks like a scene from Dr. No. Did Debby Boone do “Underneath the Mango Tree”?

  4. Steve Lancaster says:

    “That’s what’s so great about this blog– you started with Mahler and circled all the way around to Debbie Boone (!?!)”

    I believe Mahler and most of the 19th century classic composers would have felt at home with much of what we term popular music, even hip hop and rap, as examples of what not to do. I confess that my interest in pop music stops with Neil Diamond, The Doors, and Ted Nugent.

    My original intent was to demonstrate, in my limited way, that the ties of classical music to our culture are not only strong but in fact, have a binding influence on us, not only as Americans but also Westerners.

    Years ago, perhaps 30, it was rare that any Asians, especially Chinese, developed in classical music circles as musicians or conductors. Today, the concert halls are filled with some of the must talented musicians ever and many of the are Asian. I think that once they learn a Bach fugue, the contrapuntal essence of Beethoven and Brahms, and wonderful release of emotion of Tchaikovsky, there is little chance of dogmatic Communism remaining. It may be the one element that saves the West in human history.

    This theme is developed in literature by, of all people a German, Herman Hesse in his masterwork, Das Glasperlenspiel, in English, The Glass Bead Game.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      In Henry Hazlitt’s The Great Idea (later retitled Time Will Run Back), the hero Peter wonders why Communism (which long ago defeated capitalism and rules the whole world) considers Beethoven subversive, since he considers the composer’s works non-political.

      Examples of classical music included in popular music include “A Lover’s Concerto” by the Toys and “Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah” by Allan Sherman.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        I think the most beautiful and successful example of a pop musician using a classical theme is that of Barry Manilow’s “Could It Be Magic.” Chopin is all over that piece and because of that, it is very powerful.

        Eric Carmen’s “All By Myself” was lifted from Rachmaninoff’s 2nd Piano Concerto.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          That’s an interesting bit of info regarding Eric Carmen. And it is indeed interesting how Manilow successfully integrated classic components to “Could it Be Magic.”

        • Timothy Lane says:

          I’m familiar with “All by Myself”, and just compared it to the piano concerto. I see what you mean (though it took a while to see. Incidentally, I got the concerto from a multi-disk collection of top film classics.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      There have been Asian musicians involved in the classical scene since the early 1950’s latest. There have been Philharmonic orchestras in Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore for decades. Seiji Ozawa and Yo Yo Ma are a couple of artists who have been around for a while. There are of course, others who did not achieve international fame yet were quite good. I recall several female violinists, but not their names.

      In the 1980’s and 1990’s I had many discussions with Asian regarding the relative achievement/ranking of Western and Asian arts. While Asians might argue for the superiority of their plastic arts, not one would deny that the Western musical tradition was far superior.

  5. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Love the clip — S. Connery was the best Bond ever– but on the other hand, you were the one who mentioned the dreaded “You Light Up My Life”/D. Boone–so over the guard rails we went–

    My fault, M Farrell. I had my hand on the wheel and was reaching to the glovebox to put on another Sinatra tape and just turned it over the rail as can so easily happen. I have a friend who actually did that. She was reaching for something and drove the car off the road, but thankfully not over a cliff.

    Sean Connery was certainly the best Bond. I’ve tried to like the new guy. And one of his movies is actually okay (Quantum of Solace?) Another one was good and then completely fell apart at the end (Skyfall…possibly the worst and dumbest Bond ending.) Spectre was just all-around awful. In Quantum of Solace it sort of works for a while with Daniel Craig, the psychologically battered, yet still steely, agent whose recklessness seems to be tinged with self-destruction. His haggard and definitely non-suave look fits this grittier conception.

    The Sean Connery films, at least many of them, were actually spy thrillers with a little bravado and gadgetry thrown in. Now it’s all gadgetry and over-the-top special effects. The spy thriller aspect (which I say returned in parts with Craig) gave way to this age’s typical cinematic hyperactivity.

    Moore had his moments as well. He was a different kind of Bond. Neither Pierce Brosnan nor Timothy Dalton where memorable, although that wasn’t so much their fault as the fault of bad scripts. Neither had the charm of Connery or even Moore to smooth over the sometimes bad writing. The first three or so Moore films were good, although all accept his last were watchable. But they over-did Jaws. But Moore certainly had a great collection of Bond Women. Although her role was minuscule, one of my favorite Bond girls was Plenty O’Toole. “Hi, I’m plenty.” “Well, of course you are.”

    Perhaps I’m just partial to blonds, but I love Britt Ekland as Mary Goodnight.

    • M Farrell says:

      Brad , because you were reaching for Sinatra, anything (even D Boone) can be forgiven– I never leave home without him– as for Sean Connery, I’d bet major money he keeps a painting in his attic– the older he gets, the better he gets–

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        As Alan Swan might have said about Mr. Connery, “I’m not an actor I’m a movie star.” Connery is an icon.

  6. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Unlike the other pursuits of mankind, music is something which is purely creative. It doesn’t borrow from nature or experience. It is the expression of something higher in mankind which speaks universally.

    Well, there’s some really awful music out there, Mr. Kung. Much of rap music does not speak of anything higher, but lower. And maybe that expresses our lot in life. We have these tools/realities with which to work. Music can remind one of choirs of stratospheric angels or plunge us down into the dank gutter.

    Music may be the product of God, but like so much else, it’s depends upon what we do with it. A Stratovarius in the hands of a chimpanzee won’t likely produce much but kindling.

    This is the truth of art in Western Civilization. As Dennis Prager notes, art historically was about expounding on truth, beauty, and goodness. When man understood himself in the hierarchy of creation, he could explore his world with love and artfulness.

    Now, with the acid-drip of Darwinism, Marxism, and Freudianism, man is reduced to a meaningless, and thus vulgar, animal. “High art” typically is that which expounds on the supposed truth of the pointlessness of our existence, usually expressed second-hand by honoring the ugly, wicked, and vulgar.

    Man now takes the gift of music and makes firewood out of it. At least that describes much of popular music.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      Debased people create debased art. The democratization of the arts has taken them toward the lowest common denominator. That is to be expected, I guess.

      Complexity and/or genuinely new insight are rarely appreciated or understood.

      Crudity and vulgarity are something everyone can understand, but it takes taste, a willingness and effort to rise above the vulgar to strive for excellence and beauty.

      But much of what is called the modern “arts” is much worse than simply vulgar. It are often degenerate and sick. I am pretty sure this is because many of those who produce them are sick and degenerate. And due to Darwinism, Freudianism and Marxism too many of the leading lights of the culture are happy to contribute to the destruction of the West by promoting and praising such putrid material.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Yes, I was going to note that much of modern art would not be recognized as art a couple of centuries. They w9uld rightly have seen it as garbage, not art.

        • Steve Lancaster says:

          Sturgeon’s Law suggests that only 10% of everything created is actually art and the rest is nothing but crap. I think Ted was an optimist.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          One of the other primary aspects of modern art is rather obvious and I forgot to mention it in an earlier post: juvenilism.

          What do juveniles do? They rebel. And make fart jokes. Modern art is certainly reflective of the forever-juvenile that this country is now fomenting and abetting.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        One aspect too must surely be the excessive search for instant notoriety. It used to be common — and I’m sure it still is for serious artists — to recreate the works of the masters as an exercise. But that takes work. And more than work, it takes talent. And more than talent, it takes artistic humility — the recognition that simply pissing in a bottle and putting a statue of Jesus in it is not quite on par with Michelangelo’s David.

        I’ve seen the same effect with this site. People sometimes offer the barest of articles seemingly because the only point is some kind of online notoriety of being “published” instead of having something to say. It goes with the territory. And, I can tell you, I’ve rejected many of my own. Sometimes I sit down to write and I realize that what I wrote was complete rubbish…mental masturbation, at best. Discriminating is key. Being willing to sift out the garbage is key. Even being aware of the concepts of “erudite” and “mental masturbation” is key.

        It is difficult to analyze art in a purely objective way because art is not a science. It’s an art. It’s an expression….an expression of quite extra-material things. Still, I’ve noted that in the art world, perhaps even more than in the political world, that conceits are thick and central. What is “good” is usually only a conceit or, at best, a fad of the day sanctified by perhaps one good review and then notarized by the artistic mob based not on whether anyone actually likes something but whether in their pier group they think they ought to like something.

        Given the primacy of materialism and atheism in our culture (remembering that Pope Francis is not a Catholic but a Marxist, for example, to show just how insidious this is), a debased people with a debased taste have done the natural and normal human thing, especially in this gold-star-for-just-showing-up culture: They’ve called their bad taste “high art.” And they have therefore made it very easy to see something such as the Petra sculpture as art. It is art only in the fact that it is self-consciously crude and would shock the sensibilities of more religious-oriented people.

        Thus we see how art — always heavily influenced by the culture of the day — has become yet another thing politicized by the Left. It matters not if there is anything intrinsically artistic about it. But if it suits certain political goals (shocking the folks in fly-over country), that is not only enough to call it art but often the only necessary point at all.

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