This is getting to be a habit. It’s great fun to make outlandish statements without any need to back them up. My sincere advice: If you write in objecting to any of these observations, I want you always to keep in mind that the maxims you are objecting to are not the only ones that need to be objected to; the other ones are equally foolish. The solution? Pack a picnic lunch and make a day of it.
1. All the Transylvanian folk songs in the world aren’t worth one whisker on the chin of Bluebeard’s Castle. Bartok wasted his time with “ethnomusicology”.
2. Modern concert pianists are too perfect. Perfection is boring. Hear that, messieurs Pollini and Perahia? Make some wrong notes. Wrong notes are like shaking some pepper on your scrambled eggs. They improve the dish.
3. Can Korngold be that good? If hearing is believing, he is.
4. Forget the academy, please. Webern is a nature composer. He is closer to Mahler than to anyone else. And I ain’t talking about In Sommerwind.
5. French grand opera is a treasure. Why don’t we hear more of it? Money, money, money. And send me over some of those ballet dancers. You know, for later.
6. You want Russian neo-classicism? Forget Stravinsky. Your man is Tchaikovsky. Take an evening and give Queen of Spades a whirl. You’ll be glad you did.
7. Darius Milhaud. ‘nuff said.
8. But keep your Ned Rorems. Art songs or artsy-fartsy songs? You can keep Sam Barber too. (except of course, for Vanessa. Everyone knows that that’s a super dooper doo-dilly-doozer of a masterpiece. No wonder it’s played constantly!
9. Haydn’s piano sonatas. Somebody help me, pleeeeze! Masterpieces or bores?
10. Why is Prokofiev’s worst piano concerto (the third) the one that always gets played? And why is his worst opera (Love for Three Oranges) the one that always gets played? Did you know that in some jurisdictions, simply whistling the march tune from that opera is a misdemeanor? I kid you not.