After a Viennese music critic died, some of his friends made the rounds of local musicians to raise money for the funeral.
“How much is my share?” asked one musician.
“Thirty shillings,” was the reply.
“Here are sixty shillings,” said the musician. “Bury two music critics.”
Criticism has always had a tough go – maybe now more than ever, as newspapers die away, and many people now turn to online blogs that agree with their own opinions on music, art, books, film, restaurants, etc. And yet, criticizing is a part of being human. We all do it, all the time, whether while we’re watching a film, or reading a book, or eating a meal, or meeting a person for the first time. But criticism should be educated and informed, and as knowledge increases about the topic, the easier it becomes to talk about. Good criticism should raise ideas, thoughts and concepts that force others to consider options. It has little to do with what’s right or wrong.
That’s the premise of my Toronto Pursuits 2013 seminar, Ear of the Beholder – Interpretation and criticism in music. We will listen to much music over the week, and then openly discuss the merits of the performances and why they communicate, or not. There will be no right or wrong – just informed opinions. In the process, we will learn more about our society, our time….and ourselves and how and why we “tick” the way we do.
“Great art presupposes the alert mind of the educated listener.” (Arnold Schoenberg, 1960)