Monday, September 23, 2013

Pianist says live music is dead

Remember my Web log buddy from Brussels, Pierre-Arnaud Dablemont? As I mentioned before he has a Web log himself. And he wrote something the other day I found fascinating. That is a painting above of Pierre-Arnaud crafting his screed. The artist who painted it has a wonderful name. It is Joos van Craesbeeck!

I did not agree with everything he said, but it would take a while to sit and figure out why. Meanwhile, I appreciated his honesty.

The office kept me really busy the last couple of days and so I only just now got around to glancing back at what he wrote. From what he says on Twitter it seems I am not the only one to take what he wrote and chew on it.

It is about live classical music concerts and whether they are outdated. Pierre-Arnaud says they are, and that the future lies in music we listen to in our own homes or wherever else we go.

Glenn Gould said something like this, of course, but I always had the inkling it was because Glenn Gould did not like performing on the concert stage. Could not hack it on the concert stage, in some cases. He did not need the money from the concert stage and he was able to perform in the solitude of the studio.

I do not get the idea that Pierre-Arnaud Dablemont has this antipathy toward the concert hall. He is arguing that he does not like being in the audience.

Anyway, here is what he wrote. See what you think.

Before you go, "This Brussels sprout is all wet," I get some of what he says.

I go to concerts as part of my job so I know what it is like not to be in the mood to hear the music they are playing in the hall. I can go him one further in that sometimes it can be something I am in the mood to hear, but I am working and I cannot exactly sit back and enjoy it.

About changing the ritual of the concert experience, though, I tend to think we should not. If you start listening to the changes people say they want to make, forget it, because these are the same people who, you could do anything, and they still would not go. People call it stuffy, but I like silence in the concert hall. We have lost silence everywhere else, including the library, you know? There has to be some last bastion and this is it.

Pierre-Arnaud said that other arts have made changes long ago such as the ones he is proposing. I don't think that's altogether true. You still go to a play pretty much the way you would go to it 200 years ago, unless it's full of special effects or something. Books are still remarkably the same. Even with an ebook you are dealing with words on a background.

One positive thing about concerts for me: The group experience is sometimes -- not always but sometimes -- thrilling. It can be great, as long as no one is annoying you or anything, to be in a hall full of people loving Mozart's "Requiem."

Anyway, I know, words, words, words.

Thoughts, thoughts, thoughts.

Thank you, Pierre-Arnaud, for yours!


  1. Hi Mary!

    First and foremost, thanks for reading my blog and following my adventures! It's been a long time since I last commented here, I've been busy writing controversial posts!

    You perfectly got it: I don't hold anything against the concert per se, but surely question its relevance from a music oriented perspective.

    I agree with you when you say that there is no use to change the ritual. That would be, as we say in French, applying a cautery to a wooden leg (hope you get the picture, it is perfectly fitting the situation!).

    And concerning the other arts, I had a more general view. For example, actors fully embraced cinema as an art form, and not as an addition to a theater career, or as a marketing tool. They understood at an early stage that cinema and theater required very different acting skills and were for the audience a different kind of experience. And they made another move further, turning TV shows into more-than-entertainment. In fact, they just use other types of media to make their art (acting) relevant in people's life. That's what I had in mind, in a very condensed way. I hope this makes a little sense! I'll develop that in my book, which should be finished soon... Well, you know how writing a book goes :D

    And you're right about silence: it's more and more difficult to find quiet spaces and I find noise pollution very concerning these days.

    Thanks again and good luck with the Pennario Biography!

  2. Pierre-Arnaud, I enjoyed all this back-and-forth! I love following your adventures.