The main difficulty with assignment three was picking the pieces of music. There are so many composers and styles in this era that I like.
Although I settled on a piece from Vaughan Williams and one from Isaac Albeniz I could just as easily have picked something from Tchaikovsky, Bartok or Grieg. There’s a plethora of music that could have been used as a basis for an essay on Nationalism in music. In the end I decided to pick two vastly different pieces, but both written by composers with an abiding interest in folk music from their respective nations. They also happen to be pieces of music that I love.
Even though I am also a fan of Richard Wagner’s music I can’t get behind his views of Nationalism nor his antisemitism. It has not stopped me from listening to and appreciating his music, but I can’t help but think that perhaps my tolerance of him comes from the fact that he is far removed in time. I see him as a relic and product of his time. I ask myself if I would be quite as forgiving if faced with similarly racist views from a contemporary musician. I doubt I would, but perhaps it is an unfair comparison since I live in a post – Holocaust era and have seen the horrors that resulted from the Nietzschean inspired anti semitism. Wagner did not have the benefit of history to help shape his views. Regardless of whatever ignorance lay behind his ‘beliefs’ I do struggle to consolidate them with his wonderful music. I was recently in Switzerland and visited one of his residencies, now a museum. I found a lot of information about him there and there was a pamphlet he’d written about the ‘jews’. I would like to write up my notes from there properly and include them on my blog.
This brings me to another area in which I still struggle when it comes to the course work. I’ve yet to learn to limit the amount of information I gather. I have more research notes than I will ever have time to input into the computer. It is way beyond the scope of what can fit into my essays or listening logs. The result is that I end up running out of time and none of it gets edited and put into the blog. I have to master a more selective approach and stick to the main point rather than go off on tangents. One of those tangents was paying a visit to Cecil House, which is near where I live. There I gathered a substantial amount of information about English folk music. It has become a topic of great interest and I’m extremely glad my attention was drawn to it. So all in all I am extremely happy with all these new discoveries I’m making through this course, but I need to learn how to reign myself in and stick to the main task at hand.