Author Topic: Greatness  (Read 1251 times)

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Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Greatness
« Reply #80 on: November 13, 2020, 07:56:12 AM »
Might as well argue that Fabergé just made pretty eggs to please a princess's eye.
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Offline ritter

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Re: Greatness
« Reply #81 on: November 13, 2020, 09:13:59 AM »
Then perhaps you can answer my questions, Karl, because Rafael didn't.
Rafael works for a loving, you know, and couldn’t answer at that moment ;D.

Fortunately, Karl (who also works fo a living) found some spare time to answer. I thank him, and agree with his comments... :)
ritter
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Offline Florestan

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Re: Greatness
« Reply #82 on: November 13, 2020, 09:37:33 AM »
Let me make a point about this, Andrei, because there's something which caught my attention. "Do not expect, whether you are a dilettante or a professor, to find in these compositions any profound intention, but rather an ingenious banter in the art" is very close to what Samuel Beckett said to Theodor Adorno about Endgame. Maybe he wanted to shut Adorno up; maybe he thought he'd sell more tickets if he presented the play as light entertainment. Because I am sure that there is a way of reading the play which makes it sound rather deep, and I'm sure that Beckett knew it.

 I don't know anything about Scarlatti so I won't comment, but assuming that Ritter's right, maybe he thought he'd sell more copies of the scores if he underplayed the transcendent quality.

Generally what artists, composers, authors say about their work may come from all sorts of places other than wanting to tell the truth about their work. Just listen to the interviews they give when their books are launched, or the blurb they approve for the dustjackets. They may want to maximise the dosh, they may want to court popularity, they may just want to put an end to all the questions. Or they may themselves have a very imperfect understanding of what they have made.

If this were so --- and it might very well be --- it still wouldn't invalidate my point. On the contrary, it woild only reinforce it because it clearly implies that artists do have regard and concern for what the audiences want and desire and strategically present their work as being in line with them even if they aren't. And why do they do that? Well, you said it yourself: to sell more copies and/or court popularity. In so doing they directly violate criterion 4 and obliquely criterion 3.
“Especially as far as I am concerned, romanticism is not the bloodless intellectual commitment to a program, but the expression of my most profound mind and soul.” --- Sergei Bortkiewicz (1877-1952)

Offline Florestan

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Re: Greatness
« Reply #83 on: November 13, 2020, 09:43:47 AM »
Good. The purpose and integrity of Scarlatti's sonatas lies not in a pro forma preface, but in how they are made.  World-class pianists in the 20th and 21st centuries would not devote years of practice time and recital/album space to them if they were merely "pleasant exercises."  Ditto for Haydn's piano sonatas and quartets.  Anyone who does not find high purpose in the Mozart symphonies of the summer of 1788 doesn't understand much about Mozart.

Thiis is all very fine and true. My question still stands unanswered: which specific Scarlatti sonata, Haydn piano trio and Mozart violin concerto meet criterion No. 2, viz. Serious content – Fisher was on to something when identifying seriousness as part of what informs greatness in art. Serious content is a universal theme in distinguished artistic works, with love, death and human fate being the most prominent subjects. If they do meet it, then it shouldn't be difficult to tell which one deals with love, which one with death and which one with human fate. But if it is indeed difficult or downright impossible to tell, then they don't meet it. I see no way out of this conundrum.
“Especially as far as I am concerned, romanticism is not the bloodless intellectual commitment to a program, but the expression of my most profound mind and soul.” --- Sergei Bortkiewicz (1877-1952)

Offline some guy

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Re: Greatness
« Reply #84 on: November 13, 2020, 10:21:16 AM »
I do see a way out of this conundrum, but it may not prove to be any more than my way out.

If it turns out to be valuable to others, that will be fine. It has already been valuable to me, so "to others" may be possible.

My way out is to look at the object itself, not to its content or its seriousness. What is the thing itself? That is, to substitute "is" for "about."

Very few of us have any training in doing this. I've had a little, but I struggle, too. I even make things that explicitly do not have any content,* that are simply themselves, but I struggle.

My personal "bible" is Richard Lanham's Analyzing Prose, but if you don't have jstor, it's hard to find and expensive if you do. Shorter and more accessible (https://sites.ualberta.ca/~dmiall/LiteraryReading/Readings/Sontag%20Against%20Interpretation.pdf) is Susan Sontag's essay "Against Interpretation," which argues for looking at the thing rather than using the thing to look at (or even to create) something else.

*In spite of my best efforts, people who have read my stuff are able to find all sorts of content and seriousness, even profundity in it. Which puts us right back into that hard sell (I've never been able to sell it, anyway) that all the important stuff, all the stuff we keep insisting is important, can be more successfully located not in the work or in the reader/listener but in the relationship formed when someone engages with a work.

Offline Florestan

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Re: Greatness
« Reply #85 on: November 14, 2020, 12:00:08 AM »
Might as well argue that Fabergé just made pretty eggs to please a princess's eye.

I see no reason why an artist wouldn't put into a commissioned work all his artistry and craftsmanship.
“Especially as far as I am concerned, romanticism is not the bloodless intellectual commitment to a program, but the expression of my most profound mind and soul.” --- Sergei Bortkiewicz (1877-1952)

Offline MN Dave

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Re: Greatness
« Reply #86 on: November 25, 2020, 01:15:36 PM »
"It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing."
“The effect of music is so very much more powerful and penetrating than is that of the other arts, for these others speak only of the shadow, but music of the essence.” — Arthur Schopenhauer

“It is my ambition to say in ten sentences what others say in a whole book.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

Offline some guy

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Re: Greatness
« Reply #87 on: November 25, 2020, 03:12:23 PM »
I see no reason why an artist wouldn't put into a commissioned work all his artistry and craftsmanship.
I was personally willing that this be the final word on this iteration of this topic. Since another word has been added, now, this is my contribution to the final word.