In Memoriam: Robert K. Hoffman

I read in the paper today that the found­ing edi­tor of the National Lam­poon, one of my favorite mag­a­zines from way back when, has just passed away. In his New York Times obit­u­ary, we learn that after he made his money in pub­lish­ing, he became a col­lec­tor of fine art. In fact, he called art “the only effec­tive method to travel and con­nect across time and space.”

What an inter­est­ing con­cept! But isn’t it true? Don’t we con­nect to Mozart’s age by hear­ing one of his sym­phonies? Don’t we get a sense of the con­fu­sion and dis­ar­ray of early 20th Cen­tury Europe by hear­ing a Schoen­berg string quar­tet? And what about negro spir­i­tu­als? How about the jazz age music of Cole Porter?

And I won­der: How is the music we com­pose today reflec­tive of our “time and space”? Is clas­si­cal music ade­quate? Or must we look to pop­u­lar music as being more representative?

In 100 years, what music will be lis­tened to to reflect the “time and space” of the early 2000s?

About Richard D. Russell

This was written by Richard D. Russell, New York City based composer of fine music.