Thursday, March 25, 2021

on double standards from music journalists: Norman Lebrecht's riff on Stravinsky as over-hyped would seem more witty if he didn't get livid last year at Philip Ewell's proposal that we say Beethoven was above-average and just leave it at that

There are a number of music theorists I only know about because of the ranting of Norman Lebrecht to the effect that smart and decent people shouldn’t be reading anything they have to say.  Ethan Hein is one and Philip Ewell is another.  Even if Lebrecht is taking a Swiftian hand at satire with his recent “myth of Igor Stravinsky as great composer” it is, I’m afraid it must be said, the kind of satire that’s made in bad faith. 

That Stravinsky turned out to be a significant and influential composer seems hard to contest, whether you enjoy his music or not.  I enjoy a fairly sizable chunk of it but I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Stravinsky towers over Bartok or Shostakovich or Messiaen or Ellington or even Scott Joplin so much as to claim that Stravinsky’s influence is unassailably “top drawer”.  He was an above-average composer and let’s leave it at that. ;)