Monday, May 08, 2006


r.i.p. citizen Kerner!

When I listen to classical music station WQXR ("The Radio Station of the New York Times"), here in New York City, my physical location, a certain pall is cast upon all of the station's musical proceedings by the fact that there are daily features such as "The Business Picture Today" & "Today's Advertising News With Stuart Elliott", and that the evening's advertisements too often run along the lines of "so just as Beethoven found superlative solutions to all his compositional problems, we at the Blah Blah Blah Corporation seek to discover innovative answers for every situation..."

On the other hand, there was a special excitement to reading the Village Voice classical music reviews of Leighton Kerner, who died on April 29 at age 79, because in the background of the experience of reading these intrinsically wonderful prose pieces there was the rumble of the trembling of social and political structures as recounted in the news and opinion sections of the Voice.

It was lovely how each week there was once a convocation of so many different
Arts in the pages of the Voice, and how the Rumble I have spoken of sparked the review section's vitality (of course many of the arts reviews, sometimes I thought for better, sometimes for worse, referred very directly to Important Social Questions, but that's not my focus here). But, alas, the Voice in recent years has abandoned its coverage of certain Arts it has decided are unprofitable for it to cover--and these abandonments include both the brave/upstart art of Avant Garde Film & Video, and the venerable/respectable art of Classical Music.

(For the purposes of brevity and sanity, I'm sticking to only one corner of the sad latter story of the Village Voice, and I won't get started on things like the shoving aside of Jules Fieffer--it's insane that his sweet magical cartoon satire should not be gracing the Voice to this day--and the cutting off of the monthly Literary Supplement. And FOR SURE I am not now going to get into parsing the Final Death Dance the paper at this moment seems trapped in with its ultra-coarse right- wing new owner).

I think I would simply like to tell of a resourceful prank enacted by the mensch Leighton Kerner after he was relegated by the Voice (in 2003, I think) to writing only Listings of classical music events, in the section with all the other Listings, but no more reviews. One week he listed a concert at which, among other pieces, Mozart's Symphony No. 48 (or was it No. 51?, something like that) would be performed. Of course, there was a letter to the editor (I was thinking of writing one myself, but never got around to it) asking what the hell THAT was about, since it's common knowledge that Mozart only wrote 41 symphonies. Kerner, granted his perogative to reply to printed letters, stated that in recent years there had been discoveries of certain previously-unknown early works of Mozart that could be classified as symphonic, so that some musicologists had established a new numbering system for the Mozart symphonies that was beginning to catch on. Be that as it may, it seemed like Kerner had found a wonderful witty way to get a little attention for himself and for Classical Music despite his new status as a lowly Lister.

(I should note that contemporary classical music composer/reviewer Kyle Gann is still listed on the masthead of the Voice. For a while after Leighton Kerner's reviews ceased to be printed, Gann was allowed to continue writing reviews about his special interest, "downtown experimentalist" contemporary music. These reviews, however, have appeared less and less frequently, and after a while they were only wanted when there was some sort of "pop" angle to the experimentalist concert in question. But there haven't been ANY Gann reviews in about a year, I think).

Labels: , , ,

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?