Adam the composer

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The R3 composer(s) of the week have been Adam and Delibes. Pure purgatory, or worse. When I went to the ballet The Corsair in St Petersburg I assumed that Adam was the name for a committee of composers who had been charged with saturating a score with as many soupy and racial cliches as could conceivably be squeezed into a single piece. I now discover he was a real composer with a substantial career. Ugh!

It is one of the characteristics of music that it can produce instant cliches. I don’t think the visual arts can do this. Schubert was the greatest master of the instant cliche, above all in his lieder – words, melodies, accompaniments, simultaneously and unerringly. The Earl King is comically awful – Mein Vater mein vater… The Goethe poem’s inherent kitsch is drawn out with extraordinary precision.

One of my ambitions is to be invited on to Michael Berkeley’s Private Passions on R3. I would include hates under my passions. Anything by any composer called Strauss, almost all romantic opera (shouting to music), all country-and-western and Vera Lynn. These and others on my list (don’t ask) induce real feelings of bodily discomfort. Wagner even beyond that. Bad painting produces nothing as intense. Odd.