In reading this today while in Plymouth, MA, it struck me that many wonderful pieces of music were so ill received in their beginnings–which can be traced back ad infinitum. Check out about the 1904 Sibelius Violin Concerto and the 1943 Shostakovich Eighth Symphony. What’s remarkable, is that perhaps our society today, even though people say it’s not true, is just as much (if not more) acceptable of new music than 100 years ago. Nobody shouts these days, or yells out ‘boos’. If they don’t like something, they’ll simply clap less vigorously. I’d be curious to see who has knowledge of music composed from 1960-1990s that was shelved and thrown by the wayside, and revived since then for our more tolerable ears of the 21st century. Have the ears of 1904 transcended to our 2005 acceptability? Or, are we returning to a melodic romanticism to please the war-time aesthetics of our society–or just because these things cycle and go through trends? Do composers write today feeling that we are in a war-time society? What was it about the Sibelius Concerto that made it unsuccessful in 1904 and now considered to be a glorious piece of music? Are new works today considered in a similar fashion, hoping to be considered great music in 100 years too?

Leave a Reply