Roll over, Beethoven

Wheat from chaff.

The habitual, two-tiered way we talk about classical composers is ubiquitous. For instance, coverage of an early October livestream by the Louisville Orchestra praised the ensemble’s performance of a “Beethoven” symphony, and the debut of a composition memorializing Breonna Taylor by “Davóne Tines” and “Igee Dieudonné.” But ubiquity doesn’t make something right. It’s time we paid attention to the inequity inherent in how we talk about composers, and it’s time for the divided naming convention to change.

And just never anyone mind about the “inequities” inherent in the abilities of said composers, and the work they produced.

As we usher wider arrays of composers into our concerts and classrooms, this dual approach only exacerbates the exclusionary practices that suppressed nonwhite and nonmale composers in the first place. When we say, “Tonight, you’ll be hearing symphonies by Brahms and Edmond Dédé,” we’re linguistically treating the former as being on a different plane than the latter, a difference originally created by centuries of systematic prejudice, exclusion, sexism, and racism. (Dédé was a freeborn Creole composer whose music packed concert halls in Europe and America in the mid-19th century.)

Going forward, we need to “fullname” all composers when we write, talk, and teach about music. If mononyms linguistically place composers in a canonical pantheon, fullnaming never places them there to begin with. When we say, “Tonight, you’ll be hearing symphonies by Johannes Brahms and Edmond Dédé,” we’re linguistically treating both composers as being equally worthy of attention.

Even if they’re, y’know, NOT.

Musicians, academics, and teachers have a lot of work ahead to confront the racist and sexist history of classical music.

Which, naturally, is a given. For certain types of overly-precious idiots, anyway.

Fullnaming composers, especially those who have been elevated to mononymic status by this complicated history, will challenge us to at the very least afford the same respect to all of the individuals whose music we talk and write about. When we do return to the concert halls, let’s return to concerts that play Ludwig Beethoven alongside Florence Price, and Edmond Dédé alongside Johannes Brahms.

Meh. Get back to me when one of your no-name also-rans produces something anywhere near as powerful and influentional as a Le Nozze de Figaro, a Die Zauberflote, or a Jupiter Symphony; an Emperor Concerto, a “Pastorale” or “Fate” Symphony; a Swan Lake or Nutcracker Suite; a Thieving Magpie, Barber of Seville, or William Tell Overture.

I won’t be holding my breath, nor should anybody else. The above are all deathless, iconic compositions whose richness, beauty, and depth have stood the test of time to become potent totems of Western culture itself. To even obliquely suggest that the atonal cacophony or masturbatory noodling typically puked up by ANY modern composer automagickally qualifies such flyweights to even sweep a Mozart or Beethoven’s workspace—because RACIST!™—is to drive home fully how preposterous and contrived any notion of “equality” among creative types is.

But then, by casually excreting that little “racist and sexist history of classical music” buttnugget of yours, you’ve given away what it is you’re really all about…and it is NOT music. So let’s all just get right down to the nitty-gritty here, shall we? Just like every other Leftist, it’s actually Western culture you have a problem with, and not some silly-assed “fullnaming” horseshit.

4 thoughts on “Roll over, Beethoven

  1. The idiot says full names should be used but doesn’t know that Beethoven’s full name is Ludwig van Beethoven, not Ludwig Beethoven.

    1. Show some sensitivity, Henry. The idiot — Chris White — has some issues, as is obvious from his picture. (Not visible on Slate’s American site but present on their French site.) (Though the difference might be in the JavaScript required to render the image on each site. My browser protections are layered and mighty.) When he says something stupid — to a first approximation, everything he says — just nod and say “That’s nice.” or “Ooh, who’s using big-boy words now?”

      1. The red glasses are a nice hipster douche touch. When my kids were 6 they liked those fake red glasses. They outgrew that.

Comments are closed.

Comments policy

Comments appear entirely at the whim of the guy who pays the bills for this site and may be deleted, ridiculed, maliciously edited for purposes of mockery, or otherwise pissed over as he in his capricious fancy sees fit. The CF comments section is pretty free-form and rough and tumble; tolerance level for rowdiness and misbehavior is fairly high here, but is NOT without limit. Management is under no obligation whatever to allow the comments section to be taken over and ruined by trolls, Leftists, and/or other oxygen thieves, and will take any measures deemed necessary to prevent such. Conduct yourself with the merest modicum of decorum, courtesy, and respect and you'll be fine. Pick pointless squabbles with other commenters, fling provocative personal insults, issue threats, or annoy the host (me) and...you won't. Should you find yourself sanctioned after running afoul of the CF comments policy as stated and feel you have been wronged, please download and complete the Butthurt Report form below in quadruplicate; retain one copy for your personal records and send the others to the email address posted in the right sidebar. Please refrain from whining, sniveling, and/or bursting into tears and waving your chubby fists around in frustrated rage, lest you suffer an aneurysm or stroke unnecessarily. Your completed form will be reviewed and your complaint addressed whenever management feels like getting around to it. Thank you.

Categories

Archives

Notable Quotes

"America is at that awkward stage. It's too late to work within the system, but too early to shoot the bastards." – Claire Wolfe, 101 Things to Do 'Til the Revolution

"There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters." — Daniel Webster

"It is terrible to contemplate how few politicians are hanged." - GK Chesterton

"The only way to live free is to live unobserved." - Etienne de la Boiete

"History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid." — Dwight D. Eisenhower

"To put it simply, the Left is the stupid and the insane, led by the evil. You can’t persuade the stupid or the insane and you had damn well better fight the evil." - Skeptic

"There is no better way to stamp your power on people than through the dead hand of bureaucracy. You cannot reason with paperwork." - David Black, from Turn Left For Gibraltar

"The limits of tyranny are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress." - Frederick Douglass

"Give me the media and I will make of any nation a herd of swine." - Joseph Goebbels

“I hope we once again have reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited. There’s a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: As government expands, liberty contracts.” - Ronald Reagan

"Ain't no misunderstanding this war. They want to rule us and aim to do it. We aim not to allow it. All there is to it." - NC Reed, from Parno's Peril

"I just want a government that fits in the box it originally came in." - Bill Whittle

Subscribe to CF!

Support options

Shameless begging

If you enjoy the site, please consider donating:

Best of the best

Neutral territory

Alternatives to shitlib social media:

Fuck you

Image swiped from The Last Refuge

2016 Fabulous 50 Blog Awards

Rss feed

RSS - entries - Entries
RSS - entries - Comments

Contact


mike at this URL dot com

All e-mails assumed to be legitimate fodder for publication, scorn, ridicule, or other public mockery unless otherwise specified

Boycott the New York Times -- Read the Real News at Larwyn's Linx

Copyright © 2020