Stravinsky’s struggle with music critics has become legendary. It began early in Stravinsky’s life, at the time of his works for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. Its origins and motivations are likely to be found in the rather unfavourable reviews of Stravinsky’s ballets scores in his motherland, and in the composer’s need to push the musical criticism outside Russia in a useful direction for his ends. Many of Stravinsky’s writings and interviews that appeared between the two wars show that the composer’s contempt for the critics was closely related to his need to establish a direct relationship with the European public. Worried about the possible influence musical criticism could exercise, he tried to get total control over the reception of his works. By using as leverage the typically modernist – also found in Schoenberg, for example – idea that competence in writing about music consists in knowing what the composer knows, and that this latter is the most qualified person to talk about his own music, he not only tried to impose his authority on musical criticism, but also to occupy its place, and to take for himself its role. This paper focuses the attention on the continuities and changes that this attitude toward music criticism underwent in the last period of Stravinsky’s life, following his ‘serial turn’. In his writings of this period, written in collaboration with Robert Craft, his controversy against music criticism reached its climax. Eminent music critics, such as Winthrop Sargeant, of The New Yorker magazine, or the musicologist and New Herald Tribune columnist Paul Henry Lang were accused of ignorance, incompetence, and «gratuitous malice» by Stravinsky. However, Stravinsky’s increased sensitivity to criticism was largely due to the peculiarities of the American post-war cultural context. He probably understood that, at a time when composers were continuously looking for novelties in compositional technique and musical language, audiences was turning to critics to get explanations and judgments about this increasingly difficult music. In this way the role of the critics as intermediaries between composers and listeners became more crucial than before. Stravinsky probably recognized that ‘words about music’ could serve an unprecedented role in shaping the reception of his serial compositions. He probably saw in the scientific ‘objectivity’ of the music theorist, which in those years was gaining ever greater prestige in the American music academy, a possible bulwark against the ‘arbitrariness’ of the kind of music criticism he had always hated. His involvement with academic specialists in theory of serial composition, such as Milton Babbitt and Claudio Spies can be considered as a new attempt to impose his authority on music criticism with the complicity of the music-theoretical academic establishment.
|Titolo:||«Brother Criticus»: Stravinsky ‘the Serialist’ against Music Criticism|
LOCANTO, Massimiliano (Corresponding)
|Data di pubblicazione:||2017|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||1.1.2 Articolo su rivista con ISSN|