A Change Has Occurred

I find Ehrenzweig full of insights that, for me at least, confirm experience. But he also has his own experiences to offer, sometimes startling. Here is one:

“I can still clearly remember when half a century ago I got to know and love the harsh music of Brahms. He was then considered a modernist in the largely conservative musical circles of Vienna. Brahms’s music still sounded acid and brittle, and lacking in smooth finish; his intricate and widely spaced polyphony produced a hollow sound that failed to support the thin flow of the melody. I loved this uncompromising music…As time went by, the hard edges of his music were smoothed down. Today there is a luscious velvetiness, an almost erotic warmth about his melody that makes the same music almost too rich and sweet a fare. The once hesitant melody has duly thickened into broad, solid song…I…can quite clearly remember the harsh and hollow sound of the Brahms of my youth; but I cannot, however hard I try, associate this memory with the sweet, lush sonority which meets me when I listen to the same music in the concert-hall today. I am left with a memory of a sound that no real experience can now duplicate.”

This is striking evidence of the “aging of art” as an objective phenomenon.

Johannes+Brahms

Avant-gardist Brahms

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