Wednesday, May 18, 2016

"with all the power of my praise"


"Bernie Sanders Wins Oregon; Hillary Clinton Declares Victory in Kentucky" -- (New York Times headline)

3 Reader Comments,

Ellen Liversidge    San Diego  CA
...This is a year of insurgency, as working and middle class voters seek to upset the politics of the establishment parties, sensing clearly that neither party represents their economic interests; rather they represent those who have "made it."  The country must figure out a way to speak for, and represent, the common good.

DPC    Culver City, CA
Just imagine how big the margins of Sanders victories would have been had independents been able to vote in these two primaries.  His performance today, without the benefit of independents, was quite remarkable.

Cindy    Montana
Bernie Sanders just won another state!

Hillary Clinton has an almost insurmountable lead in delegates.

Bernie Sanders just won another state!




In Writing to Learn, William Zinsser identifies three qualities that gave the writing of music critic Virgil Thomson "unusual strength" --

1.  he was fearless

2.  he was not a snob

3.  his writing style conveyed great enjoyment.

-------------------------- [excerpt] -------------------------- But who was he?  I got a chance to find out in 1948 when I became drama editor of the Herald Tribune, responsible for the Sunday section that included theater, movies, music, dance, art and, eventually, an upstart medium called television.  It was a perfect spot for Thomson-watching...

First, he was fearless.  During Virgil Thomson's tenure no sacred cow could safely graze. 

He had the most impressive enemies of any critic in town -- the board  members and managers who ran establishment organizations like the New York Philharmonic, which had become parochial and smug. 

When Artur Rodzinski resigned as the Philharmonic's conductor, alleging interference by its autocratic manager, Arthur Judson, who was also president of Columbia Concerts, a firm that sold soloists to the orchestra he was manager of, Thomson wrote a strong column condemning the conflict of interest. 

Judson replied that he was "now more than ever" Thomson's enemy and "would remain so."  Thomson took this as good news; he said he saw it as his duty to expose the "manipulators" who controlled the musical scene and "to support with all the power of my praise every artist, composer, group or impresario whose relation to music was based only on music and the sound it makes."

To lob such a well-aimed grenade over the crenellated walls of the Philharmonic

might seem satisfaction enough for one twelve-month period.  But Thomson ended that same year with a scuffle that was no less piquant.  Describing it some years later in his autobiography, Virgil Thomson, he wrote:

>>>>>>>>>>>> In November the Pope's encyclical on art and music, Mediator Dei, had been published in Rome, and our bureau chief sent it to me. 

It encouraged the liturgical use of modern styles in both music and art. 

Naturally I wrote about it, translating from an Italian text such passages as dealt specifically with music. 

A flurry of querulous letters from priests editing Catholic papers hinted that the American clergy would have liked to bury the encyclical. 

And that is what their papers eventually did. 

I remembered that the American bishops had waited twenty years to implement the century's earlier encyclical about music, Pius X's Motu Proprio, of 1903. 

If now they showed a similar reluctance, that need not surprise.  Nor need it stop my cheering.  The Pope was news; modern music was my faith; their union was almost too good to believe.
<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< [end, autobiography excerpt]

Any critic who opens hostilities on both the New York Philharmonic and the Catholic Church in one year is not a man suffering from a failure of nerve. ---------------------- [end Zinsser excerpt, 1988; Harper & Row] ---------------