06. February 2009 · Comments Off on Saying What One Thinks · Categories: Ramble

I was just telling Dan about the blog post by composer Nico Muhly where he makes some comments about composer John Adams. In that blog entry Mr. Muhly refers to composer Mark Adamo’s blog entry about John Adams. And then I recalled that Mark Adamo had written another blog entry talking about another John Adams work.

They are very blunt in what they think.

Which got me to thinking. Composers have, throughout the ages, been blunt about what they think about other composers. Certainly John Adams is blunt about what he thinks, so seeing that Muhly and Adamo comment about him probably doesn’t surprise him. Or it shouldn’t.

I don’t see this same thing in the “classical” performers’ world.

We might think some pretty strong negative things about some musicians. We definitely talk about them — in mostly hushed tones. (Yeah, we can be horribly catty.) But rarely do I see a musician talk openly, for all to hear, about a well known musician in a negative way. Or even a lesser known one. And rarely do I see a performer blog negatively about someone he or she is working with. Or worked with. (I’ve toyed with a few “time to tell the truth” moments about certain artists I’ve worked with, especially if they are no longer on this earth, and decided that while what I would write would be oh-so-true, it certainly wouldn’t be kind or necessary. So never mind.)

I think it’s partly because a composer works singularly so much of the time, and what he or she does is so much a part of who they are. So I think they are more “on their own”, so to speak, more defensive (and maybe more offensive as well?), and less in need of protecting a gig, since saying something negative about another composer won’t necessarily take away all future work.

Performers have to work together. Even with people we really really don’t like. We have to attempt to get along. Or at least pretend we do. We have to collaborate. Saying something negative often sounds like sour grapes. Blogging about it just looks bad. To me anyway.

But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe composers do the negative thing for other reasons. Maybe we don’t for reasons I’m not putting up here. Dunno.

I’m just pondering out loud. Or “out blog”. Or something. I don’t know if I’m anywhere close to getting to the real reasons we differ in this. If there are reasons.