Saturday, April 27, 2019

an old twwet from Future Symphony Institute that got some ... pushback that ... eh ...

https://twitter.com/FutureSymphony/status/959874993743126529

Replying to @mattmarks
The various canons throughout the arts are like crowdsourcing. These works are the best of the best and actual people over the ages keep voting for them without ideological intent. Seems pretty democratic.
11:43 AM - 3 Feb 2018

The way the Twitter conversation was not how I would have guessed it could have gone. There weren't any jokes about in ancient democracies land owning males got to vote or how that the democracy of the arts canons developed in a similar way.  There were indirect references to that, it seems.  But then as things went along ... 

https://twitter.com/FutureSymphony/status/959903688629407754

In the canon of literature, Jane Austen, contemporary with Mozart and Beethoven, is widely considered to be the greatest novelist to ever pick up a pen. Why did the white male patriarchy give her a pass? Who is the Jane Austen of composition? Perhaps she has yet to be born.

Her works were initially published anonymously. I.e. maybe people surmised a woman wrote the novels but they didn't not recognize that it was Jane Austen as such who published those novels. Replies mentioned that novels were things considered acceptable for women to write. Austen riffed on how many of the novels of her day were basically trashy. I have a friend who loves to intone how Mark Twain regarded it as better that a person should read no books at all than to read a book by Jane Austen.

There was a crowdsourcing element but there were also taste-making elements. There were plenty of high profile writers and taste-makers who regarded Austen's work as trivial or pedestrian and her works have been frowned upon as too friendly to bourgeois values in some nations. Austen made it into the canon but how ... and how long it took before her place in the English literary canon became more or less beyond dispute might invite a question as to which women composers have gone that distance in classical music. von Bingen, I would venture. It's the weekend and I'm not at my most limber in reading on composers lately. I'm also not exactly a big symphonist in my listening lately.

I mean, I could rattle off the string quartets of Joan Tower; Annette Kruisbrink's lively and brilliant 5 Dances as well as Cirex for double bass and guitar; Nadia Borislova's Butterfly Suite; But then the guitar tends to get left out when people discuss canons of classical music on social media, perhaps? Unless the conversation maybe "is" about a canon of guitar works ... .

So if there is a Jane Austen of composition whose work should be appreciated and was well-liked and even pleasantly reviewed but ignored by mainstream criticism could I suggest that "that" kind of Austen could be someone who's been overlooked and shouldn't be? The idea of an Austen of musical composition isn't an idea I'm going to dismiss altogether, but if the FSI tweet writer kept in mind the larger reception history of Austen's work before it gained its canonical status over the course of a century the invocation might have invited some more lively pushback ... if the participants had been Austenites, maybe.


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