(Note: This post has been updated (2) as of 5:25 AM Eastern on 26 Sep. See below)
Weblogger, "New Music" ("Post-classical" music) composer, teacher, and print music critic Kyle Gann of PostClassic, a zealous champion and promoter of so-called New Music, after furiously savaging a New Music composer for posting an extended list of her various awards on her website, writes in a subsequent post:
[W]hen you research European composers [on the Web], how different, how much grainier and more thought-provoking the results are. I recently wrote about Arvo Pärt (roughly equivalent in fame to Corigliano) and Erkki-Sven Tüür (roughly as well-known as Higdon [the New Music composer whom Mr. Gann savaged]), and everywhere you go, there are quotes, interviews, insightful musical descriptions. Pärt and Tüür talk about what's musically important to them, how they write pieces, their relation to the culture they came from, why they ended up writing music the way they do. They refer to individual pieces as turning points, talk about musical architecture, aesthetics, even religion.
What gets me about the American orchestra-composer crowd [i.e., the "Uptown," more successful New Music composers for whom Mr. Gann has some contempt, he being a "Downtown" New Music composer] is how fiercely they avoid talking aesthetics - as though admitting what they're trying to achieve would make them vulnerable somehow, or scare off the next potential patron.
No prize can prove that a piece of music will be of lasting value. That's a truism. And the artist who aggressively tries to convince people otherwise, by shoving his or her list of prizes in your face as though they were all that mattered, is doing something unseemly.
No more unseemly or tedious and annoying it strikes me, than composers who "talk about what's musically important to them, how they write pieces, their relation to the culture they came from, [and] why they ended up writing music the way they do." Nothing, and I do mean nothing, more surely telegraphs in advance that a piece of music is not worth one's time listening to than its composer going on endlessly (or so it seems) about matters technical and cultural involved in the music's composition, and what influenced or motivated his (her) writing of it.
It makes no bloody difference how and why the music was composed, and no-one but a fellow composer, a specialist, or an intellectual poseur looking to add to his store of esoteric or inside information, gives a rat's ass about any of that of-no-consequence tripe. All that matters the only thing that matters is the music itself. If the music doesn't itself, by itself, say what needs to be said about it, it's ipso facto crap, and no amount of verbiage by its composer will serve to make it anything other.
I suggest to Mr. Gann that he needs to reassess his position on this matter. His present stance, as well as his two above linked posts, ill serves in spades his cause, and the music he champions.
Update (5:32 PM Eastern on 21 Sep): See here for a response to this post, and my answer to that response.
Update (5:25 AM Eastern on 26 Sep): Weblogger John Shaw of Utopian Turtletop comments.