Here’s more evidence of the campaign to oust atonality from the concert music scene. Bernard Holland reviews a concert of new piano music at Greenwich House. He writes:
…something seemed to be whispering in my ear that the Dark Ages of postwar atonality were over and tentative reconnections to the past were under way.
To call post-war atonality “the Dark Ages” is so entirely retarded, I’m beside myself. If anything, post-war serialism (which is probably what he really means to target), exposed more light on what music was, is and can be, and was nothing short of a cultural revelation. Post-war atonality made today’s taste for oblique tonality possible. It’s like women today who disparage the hard-core feminists of the 60s and 70s, even though today’s women are reaping the benefits that those unsightly, nail-spitting bull-dykes risked social derision to gain.
And, to evoke the spirit of one of my favorite hard-core feminists, Susan Sontag, to use military metaphors to excite the aesthetic politics of music–Holland writes, “The 20th century liked to use the piano as an assault weapon”–is morally irresponsible.
Can the haters of atonal music please get a grip and stop practicing this kind of retroactive snobbery? Atonality and serialism are not inherently “dark”, nor do they service militaristic metaphors, particularly since most of the music that is written for militaristic purposes is strictly tonal and generally written in major keys.
If we’re truly living in an age of open eclecticism, then let’s be just, and take atonality for what it really offers: a method for achieving alternative musical expression.