Glad to see others are just getting to Bernard Holland, too. But I have to take exception with this guy - I think this is the sort of response that Holland was trying to provoke. I take one small but representative quotation:
“You want to cater to the masses. We have that in pop concerts everywhere, but does that advance the cause of art? Of course, that is not their concern, but should it not be yours?”
I’m not even going to get into the drawn dichotomy between “pop” and “art” - why bother… but… Am I really supposed to be “advanc[ing] the cause of art” when I write a piece of music? I thought I was, as Kraft tells us JFK put it, “remain true to [my]self.” What if, in expressing myself, I don’t advance the “cause” of art? What then? What is the cause of art? What if I actually cause it a setback? This sort of abstraction actually frustrates me as much as Holland’s seeming small-mindedness, and it plays into what has become my compositional pet peeve - people telling other people how they should do their (compositional) job. We’re all in the business because we think we have something to say. So leave us to say it without imposing some sort of order upon how things are supposed to work. Teach us to develop individual compositional voices and what have you, but there’s no need to dress it up in ideological finery. Just write!
Also, the thing at the beginning about Soviet composers is kinda weird - what does the Politburo have to do with a real audience? It’s nice to be able to compare the object of one’s scorn with totalitarianism, but it generally doesn’t work, and such rhetorical flourishes tend to weaken one’s argument.
p.s. it’s true that Brahms wasn’t universally loved in his time (he still isn’t, right?), but his music had a tremendous audience, who shared his artistic temperament, and for whom he wrote specifically, even when he was writing symphonies and not Hungarian Dances, aka pop music. (I cite Jan Swofford’s biography as evidence)b19