Monday, November 28, 2016

Did WH Auden "uncloset" Benjamin Britten?

In looking for subjects for this blog, I often rely upon my friends on social media. More people encounter more articles (obviously), but I also appreciate that they possess different knowledge than I do and therefore spot problems that I would probably miss on my own. They also tend to be the type of people who can’t stand when someone is being wrong on the internet and will post that wrong thing to social media so we can all share in the wrongness of the thing. Without that trait, my blog probably wouldn’t exist.

So, when I encountered this post in my feed from UC Riverside musicologist Byron Adams, I had to investigate further:

I asked Dr. Adams to point me toward some context, and he recommended Philip Brett’s essay “Music, Essentialism, and the Closet” from Queering the Pitch: The New Gay and Lesbian Musicology, which is available on Google Books.

While investigating the initial link from Interlude, however, I noticed a major discrepancy between the headline listed on Facebook (“How WH Auden Helped Benjamin Britten Come Out Of The Closet”) and the headline of Georg Predota’s article in the link (“Coming out! Britten, Auden, and Berkeley”). So, my blog post is going to address two separate issues, both of which are timely: 1) historical treatment of LGBTQ+ figures, and 2) the spread of false information through social media.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Why is modern music so ugly? (Make Classical Music Great Again!)

So…some election, huh? I don’t know about you, but I was surprised (and honestly, horrified) by the outcome. In addition to my fears for the future, I also feel profound confusion because the results of the US presidential election showed me that the world isn’t exactly how I thought it was. I realize that my perception of the political landscape is shaped by being a white woman who has lived in liberal areas for most of my life. I had no idea that Donald Trump had that much support; I didn’t know how many people supported—or at the very least, could overlook—the very behaviors I found unacceptable. I thought the country was mostly like me, and the election tells me this is not the case.

I take my identity as a scholar very seriously, not just in my work, but in my life. When I am confronted with evidence that contradicts something I believe to be true, I should not ignore it. Though it would comfort me to look for other, different evidence that would confirm my previous worldview, that’s ultimately bad practice for a historian. I’m still trying to make sense of the information we received last week, and this blog post is part of that.

A few weeks ago, I received a message from reader Kenichi Ikuno on Facebook. He sent me a link to a blog post proclaiming that “Modern Classical Music is Dead,” and feminism killed it. He thought it would be a good addition to my ongoing series on snobbery, since the author, Max Roscoe, repeatedly asserts the superiority of classical music (up to a certain era) and supports his opinions with assumptions not supported by history. Normally, that is ideal fodder for this blog!