Dogged NeoPre-Raphaelites

Dogged NeoPre-Raphaelites

9 March 2021 / William Anderson / Announcements, On the Beat, Compositions, recodings, composers, How to Talk about Music

Do you like your authenticity plain or with tinctures?
–spices, bitters, memories of ornamentation, of styles?

—As always—click and listen. Don’t read!—

Above–a Bernard Maybeck building. Maybeck’s work exemplifies the Arts & Crafts ethos. In California, people are so sick and tired of strip malls that they have finally discovered something real and authentically American–their Arts & Crafts architects. We’ve been seeing Arts & Craft architecture and interiors in TV sets–Monk and Psych. In Psych we see the Santa Barbara Police Station–

Left​–Santa Barbara Police Station​; right–The Seagrams Building in New York City​​

Wagnerism, Symbolism, Pre-Raphaelites, & Arts & Crafts movements are all kindred, all tinged with Gothic elements. The background is easy enought to explain–the 19th C. adopted Gothic art & architecture as the poster child for an authentic, autonomous, European cultural value system fledged from the Hellenistic. There was a tug of war between exalting and rejecting Greek and Roman artistic values. But for our purposes here, we can simply and declare that Gothic was a fashion. The International Style streamlined the Gothic elements, looking for more honesty, more authenticity.

In music, we had an International Style, allied in many respects with Mies van der Rohe’s Seagrams Building.

People got sick and tired of that, some never signed on. David Loeb is an example. The minimalists pushed back against it.

Steve Reich
Electric Counterpoint - movement 2

Wagner & Frank Martin (see below) loved the honesty and simplicity of Medeival singing–the minnesingers.
Reich loves the honesty and simplicy of African melodies, employed in Electric Counterpoint.

There is a wonderful and blatantly neo-Medeival number in John Adams’ El Niño.

Frank Brickle
The Creation, a Towneley Mystery Play
recording session

This piece is meant for puppet theater. Compare with Britten’s Curlew River. While the language will remind you of Stravinsky, there is a seamlessness that’s not found in Stravinsky’s work.

David Loeb
Gaunkyo – Loebgaunkyo

In Gaunkyo David Loeb combines the Japanese shō with archaic Western string instruments–viols. Likewise, modal melodies and harmonies both Asian and Western create David Loeb’s “international style”.

Arts & Crafts apprpriating Asian artistic values – see The Peacock Room and see below, Benjamin Britten’s settings of Arthur Whaley’s translations of Chinese poetry. See Ezra Pound’s Cathay, etc.

Moreover, doesn’t Gaunkyo invite a comparison between Baroque values and rough shewn assymetries of wabi-sabi?

Guitarists and and early music players know about David Loeb. If they’re like me, they might not know what to do with him. He’s like a test of one’s committment to 20th C. revolutions. The more ideologically committed one is to a 12-tone revolution or a minimalist, noise or x-EDO revolution, the less likely one will be able to embrace what Loeb does.

He’s the only composer who breaks all the rules about what’s not allowed after 1918, but it’s more like a remaking of music pre-1518, with Asian influences. He’s been a Pre-Raphaelite long before the Arts & Crafts revival that we saw in the 90s.

What he absorbs from his own era is a tolerance for dissonance, and we can’t deny some similarities with Bartok, with Asian idioms replacing Bartok’s Eastern European folk idioms .

Benjamin Britten
The Old Lute (404)

Frank Martin
Drei Minnelieder

This is a high Pre-Raphaelite work.

As is this one, also, but here a bit more modernistic
settings of Villon–