So here it is after the new year. Kariann's back from Brazil, I am now a married man, and yet, we are still finding it hard to find time to blog. So, we're going to be pretty laidback around here, just a post or two when we feel like it.
Meanwhile, what was up with Alex Ross's column in this week's New Yorker? I like Alex's writing a lot, and plan to assign The Rest is Noise first chance I get. In fact, I just wrote on spec a syllabus for a class on modernist music, and I cheerfully included two chapters, "Death Fugue" and "Music for the People." But this column first of all makes no sense: it begins with the nonsensical assertion the sexism has nothing to do with the absence of female conductors, gives a quick positive review of Marin Alsop's work with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and then suddenly veers into discussing how boring the New York Philharmonic can be. Bizarre.
The weird "classical music isn't sexist, it just doesn't like novelty" thing gives me special pause though. It's old history at this point, but back in 1994 Alex wrote an extremely dismissive review of Feminine Endings and other New Musicology classics. He had plenty of valid points, but overall it was a pretty annoying piece: let me, Alex Ross, show you, Susan McClary, how to historicize sexuality! And there is a weird undercurrent of anxiety that somehow new musicology will destroy the institution of classical music--he literally expresses unease that Feminine Endings is read by undergraduates!
That was fourteen years ago, back before he was more comfortably ensconced at The New Yorker. Knowing his current work, I was surprised to read this old stuff. Anybody know if he ever readdressed Feminine Endings?