Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Music That Is Not "Interesting."

"I am very glad that you find my music not interesting! The word "interesting" alone means the death sentence of every good and great music. Music has to come from the heart and soul of a composer [if it] aims to be something much more vital and important than "interesting." How come you are so sure of yourself? You are wrong--very wrong! . . . There is always a supreme judge--the public! Your public is a special one. It is a selected, discriminating and very educated crowd. Why don't you let them decide the issue!

This is Eric Zeisl's reaction to Lawrence Morton's dismissal of his music because of the fact that it was tonal. I find Zeisl's music rich and delightful, particularly this ballet suite.

Morton was one of the gatekeepers in the Los Angeles new music scene in the 1950s. Zeisl was one of many great expatriate composers who tried to make a living in Los Angeles during the 1940s and 50s. From what I read in Dorothy Lamb Crawford's fascinating A Windfall of Musicians, nearly every displaced European composer suffered from some kind of depression, in spite of the weather, eager students, the chance to work in the film business, and the presence of brilliant composers.

The hero of the times seems to be Rabbi Jacob Sonderling who led a congregation in a temple on Fairfax Avenue just south of Wilshire Blvd. It's no longer standing, and I can't find any old pictures, which is very sad, because it was such an important musical place. Sonderling commissioned a lot of music from composers who came to Los Angeles from Germany and Austria during the 30s and 40s, most notably Schoenberg's Kol Nidre.

1 comment:

Joe Carlson said...

The late critic Alan Rich wrote well about the continuing LA music scene after he decamped to California in the 1980's. Favorite picture in THE REST IS NOISE by Alex Ross: Schoenberg in tennis attire watering his backyard garden in sunny Brentwood.