Love and Respect

Love and Respect

It was almost exactly 33 1/3 years ago when I met Ted Szántó at the Ferienkurse für Neue Musik Darmstadt. A composer and also radio producer, he had a regular program on Dutch radio called Kollage van Alledaags en Zeldzaam (or Collage of the Everyday and Strange). In those days, the only way to listen to it was to actually be in Europe and near the Dutch point of origin—no online streaming in 1974. Still, I had a few chances in the years to come, and I was always impressed by the twisted range of music he presented—often extreme, always interesting. The fact that his program was on a Catholic radio station was a curious fun fact.

Nineteen seventy-four was a good year for Darmstadt, I think, and I was lucky to be present at lectures and workshops run by the likes of Christian Wolff, Gordon Mumma, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Mauricio Kagel, György Ligeti, Aloys Kontarsky, Christoph Caskel, and others. Ted and I hung out a fair bit in the off hours and often we’d be joined by Claude Vivier, the talented Canadian composer who died tragically a few years later.

One day on a walk Ted spoke about an idea he had for a radio program—I can’t remember if he had already made the broadcast or if it was still in the formulative stage. Anyway, the idea was that he would ask people to declare, and he would then broadcast, four pieces:

  • One that you loved and respected
  • One that you respected, but didn’t love
  • One that you loved, but didn’t respect
  • One that you neither loved nor respected

I had been musing about this idea somehow a few days ago while on a short vacation up in the Bay Area, and even mentioned it to pianist Sarah Cahill (who for all I know may be lurking somewhere around these pages, poised to give me a friendly hard time in the comments section).

A day or two later, while going through four months of accumlated postal mail that had been awaiting my return from Japan, lo and behold, I found a package from Ted. Ted! Bwaah! Ted, who I haven’t seen or heard from in more than fifteen years. A chap who, as far as I can tell, still doesn’t have email. He sent a DVD-R of his improvised electronic music, works from 1985 to 1996. Thanks Ted! I can’t wait to get to my DVD player and listen.

But anyway. Love and respect. I’d like to borrow Ted’s idea and ask those of you who would care to participate to chime in with what your four choices would be, and maybe a few words about why. Not for broadcast, just for fun in the comments section below. Don’t confine yourself to contemporary American music, or even American music. It doesn’t have to be the piece that you most love and respect, just one that satisfies the basic requirements. I’ll go first.

Love and Respect:
IVES: Hawthorne (from the Concord Sonata)

Love but Not Respect:
AQUA: Barbie Girl

Respect but Not Love:
HINDEMITH: Mathis der Maler

Neither Love nor Respect:
VIVALDI: Spring (from the Four Seasons)

Let’s hear from you. Me, I have to go and write a long thank you and catch-up letter to Ted Szántó.

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14 thoughts on “Love and Respect

  1. Colin Holter

    Aiming for an inversion, so to speak, of the author’s:

    Love and respect: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, MK Ultra

    Love but don’t respect: “Votre toast je peux vous le rendre,” Bizet

    Respect but don’t love: Never Mind the Bollocks. . . , the Sex Pistols

    Neither love nor respect: AttenCHUN!, Bone Crusher

  2. Dennis Bathory-Kitsz

    Oh, this is such a good question, with a perfect level of angst. :) The love/respect bits were easy, but the others were hard, since I pretty much respect all newly composed nonpop in our cultural climate.

    Love and respect: Shing Kee by Carl Stone. Absolutely stunning. We played it at a residency a few months ago, and it was pin-drop quiet throughout.

    Love but don’t respect: Closest I can come is old … Kalinnikov’s first symphony. It’s just got such great tunes, but is otherwise pretty cheaply fashioned.

    Respect but don’t love: Carter’s Double Concerto. Oh, so homely.

    Neither love nor respect: Reich’s The Elevator Music … actually The Desert Music, but you knew that.


  3. Lisa X

    Love and Respect:
    Elizabeth Cotten: Freight Train

    Love but Not Respect:
    George Antheil: Ballet Mecanique

    Respect but Not Love:
    Lil’ Mama: Lip Gloss

    Neither Love nor Respect:
    Elliott Carter: Eight Pieces For Four Timpani

  4. sarahcahill

    Greetings from Inverness, up the California coast, where I can vouch that Carl is pretty impressive with a canoe paddle. This is a great idea, Carl, and overlaps interestingly with Frank’s most recent column in these pages. Just out of curiosity, why the “Hawthorne” movement from the “Concord” Sonata? Why does that particular movement appeal to you the most?

  5. carlstone

    Because, fundamentally Love is Blind.

    Actually I really do love the whole Concord Sonata. Thoreau is magnificent, and I remember James Tenney’s performance at the California Institute of the Arts when I was a student as a seminal musical experience. Yet, Hawthone, with all its craggy complexity the density, the clusters, the entire , um, je ne sais quois, somehow stood out as The Best of the Best, and caused me to cite it specifically.

  6. EveretteMinchew

    Love and Respect:
    Symphonia – Elliott Carter

    Love but Not Respect:
    If – Janet Jackson

    Respect but Not Love:
    Nomos Alpha for cello – Xenakis

    Neither Love nor Respect:
    Symphony No. 5 – Glass

  7. rfk

    Hey Carl!
    Hope you’re great.

    Do you mean the entire opera, Mathis der Mahler, or the symphony? For me there is a big diff between the two: I love and respect the symphony, but only respect, the opera. Also the opera is so rarely performed. I once heard a not so great performance by the NY City Opera. Would love to see what happens with a great performance.


  8. teresa

    Well, this could be fun, as long as no one holds it against me…

    Love and respect: Mahler Symphony No.2

    Respect but don’t love: Elliot Carter Piano Sonata

    Love but don’t respect: disco!

    Neither love nor respect: Philip Glass, Metamorphosis

  9. carlstone

    Richard, I have to confess that I don’t know the opera all that well, and my rating was based on the symphony. It is a solid, respectable piece in my view. Respectable, just not lovable.

    Care to share your picks, sir?

  10. sarahcahill

    It’s interesting if you narrow the choices down to one composer, as well. Here are mine, for instance, with Stravinsky:

    Love and Respect: The Rite of Spring.

    Love but Not Respect: Ebony Concerto.

    Respect but Not Love: Requiem Canticles.

    Neither Love nor Respect:
    Fairy’s Kiss.

  11. rfk

    Okay Carl, here goes:

    Love and Respect: Mliton Babbitt’s “Philomel”
    Love but don’t Respect: The Trashmen’s “Bird is the Word”
    Respect but don’t Love: Carter’s Symphony of Three Orchestras
    Don’t Love nor Respect: Wynton Marsalis’s “Blood on The Fields”

  12. rskendrick

    Can you love something without respecting it?
    Wonderful post Carl. I’ve been giving this one some thought on and off for a few days now. 3 of the categories are easy for me…but I’ve come to the conclusion that personally, I can’t think of a piece that I love but don’t respect. My initial inclination was to think of some pop songs that have a real hook to them..that I love listening to.. but when I really thought about them from a more analytical point of view, there was always something structurally that I could respect a great deal. I wonder if there are others out there with the same dilemma. For those of us who have gone down the grad school route and have analyzed, analyzed, analyzed things to death… are there certain litmus tests that pieces must meet to be respected? Are we afraid to just go with gut and intuition? I was thinking back to a lot of the conferences that I’ve gone to…boy there were lots of pieces I respected, but few that I loved. I’d much rather have my stuff be in the latter camp.

    Some musings for a quiet labor day.

  13. Leos

    I think one thing that is just as true of pieces of music and other works of art as it is of people is that it is possible to love them in spite of their faults.


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