Tunes That We'Ve Misheard
Life’s a frantic dance to tunes that we’ve misheard
because we cannot see a concertmaster,
and till we realize our dancing is absurd
we tend to ask for music that is faster.
Alex Ross writes about new American operas, including “Grendel” (Elliot Goldenthal) “The Greater Good” (Stephen Hartke) , “Our Town” (Ned Rorem) and “What’s Next? ” (Elliot Carter) (New Yorker, August 21,2006, “What Next? A trio of new American operas) . The same issue of New Yorker has a fascinating article about the mysteries of conducting (“Measure for Measure, ” by Justin Davidson”) :
[F]or fifty years, Rorem and Carter have been considered polar opposites in American music, the one defending tonality and the other rejecting it. In their late operas, they are seeing humanity with almost the same eyes, as a frantic dance to a misheard tune.