Tuesday, 1 July 2014


From the Guardian

Judith Weir is to be appointed Master of the Queen's Music. Weir, 60, will be the first woman ever appointed to this role, which has existed for nearly 400 years. The title may be archaic, the job's implied responsibilities establishmentarian, but given the struggles for recognition that have faced women composers over the centuries it is still a significant crack in a crystal ceiling.
Might like to talk to this young woman

28 million copies so far, double the number of the nearest artist, male or otherwise. She's also won an Academy Award and Golden Globe for co-writing Skyfall, the Ivor Novello award for Songwriter of the year in 2012 and had both her albums nominated for the Mercury Prize.

Oh, and the two biggest selling albums in the world of the 2000s were co-written by women (Norah Jones and Avril Lavigne).

Only artist to win 2 Mercury music prizes? PJ Harvey.

Might want to rethink that theory...


Mark Wadsworth said...

Yes, but being fair about this, Adele is not proper music is it? It's housewife's choice, like Coldplay or something.

Bayard said...

Popular music has never been as dominated by male artists as classical music, which has centuries of chauvinist "tradition" behind it.

(That's not to say it isn't "proper music", just not posh music.)

The Stigler said...

It doesn't float my boat, but it's a well-written album. I'd say that at least 7 songs on 21 are well-written songs. There's very little filler.

PJ Harvey on the other hand is one of my favourite artists, and Stories from the City is my favourite album of the 2000s.

The thing with pop, blues and rock is that there is no privilege in there. It's almost entirely an industry about merit. Classical music is a hugely subsidised industry, and so open to all sorts of corruption.

Most classical since WW2 is garbage, outside soundtracks. It's a musical form that was destroyed by better technology, much like gallery art. The talent went elsewhere, leaving what was left to a bunch of talentless avant-garde charlatans.

Bayard said...

"It's a musical form that was destroyed by better technology, much like gallery art."

I disagree. I think that modern classical music, like modern art and modern architecture all suffered in the C20th, not from technology, but from the desire by their designers to be different, when all the best forms and techniques had already been established, so what was different was necessarily aesthetically inferior.

Mark Wadsworth said...

TS, Ok yes, Adele's album is surprisingly good, if you go at it with fairly low expectations. I've got half of it on my oPod.

The Stigler said...


I agree with you about architecture. Architecture was definitely about post WW2 modernism, but architecture is often created or approved by the state and therefore political.

If you look at gallery art, its decline pretty much coincides with the rise of comic books and movies. The people with great artistic skills found that they could reach a bigger audience, do bigger things and make more money making movies than paintings. The last great popular gallery painting is probably Edward Hopper's Nighthawks from 1938. After that, it's pretty much all art-as-concept like Warhol.

Orchestras started to decline as radio and recordings and amplification came along. Composers no longer needed a massive orchestra or a huge concert hall to make money - anyone could do so with quite a small band, which opened up the market. Why bother going through all that trouble when you can just plug in a guitar? Seriously, what's the last great, popular bit of non-film classical music? I'll go with Barber's Adagio for Strings from 1938.

Derek said...

There's a lot of bad modern "classical" music around. But gems are still being written. On the choral front John Rutter has done quite a lot of good work over the last forty years. He has his critics like anybody else but most ordinary people that hear his stuff, like it if they like choral music at all.