Harmony has returned and composers have put aside their
IT all got pretty ugly around 1990. Not music, but the discussion
of it in Sounds Australian, then the official journal of the
Australian Music Centre. What it boiled down to was a simplistic
and often acrimonious disagreement about style. In the red corner
there were the proponents of an uncompromising modernist
aesthetic in which one could faintly discern the remains of the
avant-garde's political program.
For young artists in late 1940s and early '50s Europe, it must
have been tempting to want to clear the deck. The Nazis had
remained devotees of the music of Beethoven and Wagner even as
they had systematically murdered millions of innocent people.
Culture was seen to be complicit in crime, so artists and
philosophers argued that art, if it could exist after Auschwitz,
needed to start with a complete ...