When Anything Goes, What Has Merit?

the kitchen sink

An impor­tant arti­cle (link below) by Anthony Tom­masini in the 14 Feb 2010 New York Times asserts that for both com­posers and per­form­ers, the old “dogma” has been dis­carded and “any­thing goes.” This is hardly news any­more, but that’s really not the point of the essay — instead, Tom­masini asks the provoca­tive ques­tion of why some ter­rific com­posers are over­looked. Com­posers such as David Dia­mond, Wal­ter Pis­ton, and Samuel Bar­ber are more eas­ily dis­missed as (to bor­row John Harbison’s phrase) “notes-and-rhythms com­posers” while, his­tor­i­cally, those com­posers who embrace elec­tron­ics, uncon­ven­tional instru­ments, and atmos­pher­ics grab all the atten­tion. In today’s “any­thing goes” world, is his­tory repeat­ing itself? Are the “notes-and-rhythms” com­posers being left aside yet again?

A fas­ci­nat­ing read, which you can access here.

About Richard D. Russell

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