Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's Bête Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Luca Marenzio, bad-ass modernist

the modernistissimo

Via ACD, this tremendous essay by Charles Rosen on Western music history; it’s part one of a review of a 4,154 page, $699, 8-volume book that I have no interest in reading. Rosen makes me want to hear the music he’s describing. And this sentence, about a 16th century Italian composer I’d never heard of, knocked me for a loop:

For many scholars and music-lovers, the greatest composer of madrigals is Luca Marenzio, whose production was immense, and difficult to characterize because, as the musicologist Alfred Einstein observed, every poem for him needed a different approach and a different solution.

Inspiring! And intimidating -- the idea of never repeating oneself -- so modernist! Roll over, Miles Davis*, and tell Stravinsky the news.

* I originally wrote "Boulez" instead of "Miles Davis," but changed because: a) Boulez is still alive; b) I know his polemics and don't know his music, except some of the records he's conducted, which I admire; c) I'm not trying to disparage the modernist quest for The New, and Miles serves as well as Stravinsky, and I love his music, especially his electric stuff.

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