?¨Concertos of Deliverance"


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The following is my reaction to a discussion that took place on N. Branden’s message board about 18 months ago. One of the participants had written and recorded music in honour of Ayn Rand’s “Concerto of Deliverance.” There was considerable debate over using Rand’s title for the music.

I am interested in starting a thread where we can discuss the music in our lives that has moved us. I tend to think of this music as our personal “Concertos of Deliverance.” One of the most interesting things to discover about someone you are getting to know is what music moves them. It gives you some insight into his/her soul and personal history. It’s a means of coming to understand their perspective more deeply.

What I wrote in reaction to the idea of creating a representation of Rand’s “Concerto of Deliverance” 18 months ago was never posted. Often by the time I get my thoughts in order and type them out, the discussion has moved on so far it would be inappropriate to post it. But it now sets the context for initiating this thread. I hope others will tell their stories of their personal “Concertos of Deliverance.”

At first I thought I had little to contribute to this thread. I know nothing about creating and producing music. I not only have no credentials but, I thought, I had no relevant experience to draw from. I was wrong.

I am not an artist but I certainly do appreciate the art of music. I am familiar with “Atlas Shrugged” and I generally have a strong personal perspective on things once I allow myself to focus on them. So I asked myself a couple of questions. Firstly, what does “Concerto of Deliverance” mean to me? Secondly, what music has touched my soul that I hold as my “Concerto of Deliverance?” I will deal with the first question under this subject heading. For the second question, I will create a spin-off from this thread (see below) to take it in a new direction and call it simply “Concertos of Deliverance.”

When I reflect on the meaning of “Concerto of Deliverance” I think of the music that has defined me at different times in my life. It is the music that touches my soul and defines my deepest experience of myself and the world. It is the music that speaks to me of my struggle to achieve my potential, to self-actualize. It is the music that identifies my implicit metaphysics and ethics that lies so deeply and intimately at the core of who I am.

My problem with [intentionally trying to create music that is a representation of Ayn Rand’s concept of “Concerto of Deliverance” and giving it that title] is not with the title. It is with causality. (Yes, I think almost everything relates to causality at some point.) Trying to produce music in the spirit of Ayn Rand’s “Concerto of Deliverance,” [is to put] the artistic cart before the horse. He has set out to produce the cause of an effect rather than setting out to express an inner passion and the authentic vision of his soul. “Concerto of Deliverance” was the authentic expression of Ayn Rand’s soul. It should be left as such, not because it is stealing, but because self-respect demands that artistic expression come from the artist’s personal vision of existence. It is not genuine to write from the absorbed perspective of another.

I don’t mean what I am saying in a moralistic way. Although I am sure it is easy to interpret it that way. I am simply trying to identify reality as I see it. I truly believe that [the artists] created their music out of respect for Rand’s work. In that sense it did come from inner passion and an authentic vision. But the passion was for, and the vision was of, Rand’s art. It was not about expressing the authentic experience of one’s passionate struggle to reach one’s potential and self-actualize. It was not about identifying the implicit metaphysics and ethics that lies so deeply and intimately at the core of the artist. As Rand stated, causality is identity applied to action. “Concerto of Deliverance” does not come from the authentic personal identity of the artist. It comes from a desire to create the cause of a pre-existing effect. But it is a law of existence that causes must come before effects, not the other way around. In psychological terms, putting the effect before the cause makes one affected. A person tries to synthesize the mental state that is appropriate to, or produces, a given effect. I think the mistake was honest and had its roots in good intentions. But it was still a mistake.

Paul

What music has touched my soul that I hold as my “Concerto of Deliverance?” It partly depends when in my life we are talking about. When I was 12, The Beatles’ “Got to Get You into My Life” and “Good Day Sunshine” (from Revolver, 1966.) had meaning. Shortly after, when I started chasing girls, The Beatles’ “Here There and Everywhere” grabbed my imagination. (Revolver was one of my first albums.) In my teens I was a big day-dreamer. I existed in my imagination. Supertramp’s “Dreamer”, from “Crime of the Century, 1974,” spoke to me.

Later in my teens Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” named the frustration I experienced in school. That was an album that had something to say about social metaphysics. What is “The Wall” but a symbol of psychological defense mechanisms against social metaphysical manipulation. From the title, “The Happiest Days of Our Lives,” “The Wall,” 1979:

“When we grew up and went to school

There were certain teachers who would

Hurt the children any way they could

By pouring their derision

Upon anything we did

And exposing every weakness

However carefully hidden by the kids...”

“From Another Brick in The Wall (part 2),” same album:

“We don’t need no education

We don’t need no thought control

No dark sarcasm in the classroom

Teachers leave the kids alone

Hey teacher leave us kids alone

All in all its just another brick in the wall

All in all your just another brick in the wall.”

I didn’t discover Springsteen until I was 19. Quite frankly, I couldn’t get past his voice before then. A girl I started dating was really into his music. So I started to listen. He became, for me in music, what Branden represented in psychology and philosophy. Springsteen’s music touched my soul and defined my deepest experience of myself and the world. It was the music that spoke to me of the heroic struggle to hold onto my authentic personal perspective and strive for my potential. It is the music that identified the implicit metaphysics and ethics that was so deeply and intimately at the core of who I was. His music still has that power today.

Some of Springsteen’s songs that I consider part of my “Concerto of Deliverance” are as follows:

1) “Growin’ Up”— especially the live version with introduction, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band Live/ 1975-85:

“...I was open to pain and crossed by the rain and I walked on a crooked crutch

I strolled all alone through the fallout zone and came out with my soul untouched

I hid in the clouded wrath of the crowd but when they said “Sit down” I stood up

Ooh-ooh growin’ up...

...I took month-long vacations in the stratosphere and you know its really hard to hold your breath

I swear I lost everything I ever loved or feared I was the cosmic kid.

Well my feet they finally took root in the earth but I got me a nice little place in the stars

I swear I found the key to the universe in the engine of an old parked car...”

2) “Independence Day,” Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band Live/ 1975-85 and “The River” 1980:

“... ‘Cause the darkness in this house has got the best of us

There’s a darkness in this town that’s got us too

But they can’t touch me now

And you can’t touch me now

They ain’t gonna do to me

What I watched them do to you

So say goodbye its Independence Day...”

3) “Born to Run,” especially live acoustic version from “Chimes of Freedom” 1987:

“... The highway’s jammed with broken heros

On a last chance power drive

Everybody’s out on the run tonight

But there’s no place left to hide

Together Wendy we’ll live with the sadness

I’ll love you with all the madness in my soul

Someday girl I don’t know when we’re gonna get to that place

Where we really want to go

And we’ll walk in the sun

But till then tramps like us

Baby we were born to run.”

4) “No Surrender,” especially the live version, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band Live/ 1975-85:

“We busted out of class had to get away from those fools

We learned more from a three-minute record than we ever learned in school

Tonight I hear the neighborhood drummer sound

I can feel my heart begin to pound

You say you’re tired and you just want to close your eyes and follow your dreams down

We made a promise we swore we’d always remember

No retreat no surrender

Like soldiers in the winter’s night with a vow to defend

No retreat no surrender...”

I’ve lost touch with music in recent years but if I were to single out one song that identifies where I’m at, that is my “Concerto of Deliverance” today, it would be “Testify” by Melissa Etheridge, from “Brave and Crazy,” 1989.

“...if I close my eyes and throw back my head

I can see his face and I hear the words he said

And my memories ache and my senses burn

Did he dream too late will we ever learn

I, I want to testify

My love still lives and breaths

And my soul is screaming why

The thoughts won’t let me sleep

Don’t let hearts break

And don’t let children cry

Before it gets too late

I want to testify...

...And I swear tonight I’m gonna find that place

It’s not the love that dies but the understanding ways...

...Rip through the wire that screens in my window

Throw open the shade that covers my mind

I’m going to touch I’ve got to believe

The bell tolls for me.”

This song partly explains why I have come to this message board. I have something I think might be important to say. I assume all of us who write here believe this. I’m discovering how to say it. This is a good forum to learn how to say it. I’m sure everyone here will let me know if they think I’m wrong. Writing on this message board is just a way of reality testing hypotheses. I’m always ready to reevaluate. But then, I will only have something new to say.

I would be interested in knowing what others hold as their personal “Concertos of Deliverance.” What is the music that touches your soul and defines your deepest experience of yourself and the world? What is the music that speaks of your struggle to achieve your potential, to self-actualize? What is the music that identifies your implicit metaphysics and ethics that lies so deeply and intimately at the core of who you are?

Paul

I thought Branden's forum was good for my purposes. But this place that Michael and Kat have built has incredible potential for nurturing the personal growth of Objectivists. And I think Objectivism will grow along with this personal growth of individuals. I am thankful for the opportunity to discuss ideas that are deeply important to me with people for who's perspectives and intelligence I have such great respect.

Thanks,

Paul Mawdsley

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Oh well! It seemed like a good idea at the time. I guess some things are meant to be written for what the author gains from it more than what the reader gains. There is personal value and social value. They are not always the same. Live and learn.

Paul

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Paul,

I am so sorry I missed this when you posted it. I simply didn't see it. (The orange thingie didn't pop up for some reason.

Music, of course, is terribly important in life. (I am a musician.) Including popular music (I have done both classical and pop.)

Here are a few random comments you might find interesting.

Have you heard John Mills-Cockell's Concerto of Deliverance? I haven't heard it yet. I have read mixed comments about it and there seems to be some kind of controversy involving a guy named Monart Pon, who produced it I think.

From the description Rand gave of Richard Halley's work in Atlas Shrugged, I have always associated the "rising" with the melody of the first movement of Rachmaninoff's 4th Piano Concerto, which is practically a scale going up. I like this work very much, but then I sometimes like the more difficult works of great composers. For instance, I like Sibelius's 7th Symphony a great deal, yet his 2nd Symphony is his warhorse.

I found it interesting that your own Concerto of Deliverance is the music of Bruce Springsteen. From what I gather, the lyrics count a lot in your appreciation of music (and that's perfectly OK). Kat is a huge Beatles fan, so I am sure that she missed your post too, otherwise she would have been here already.

I have a couple of stories to relate about popular music. The first is that I was a classical music composer (even with some prizes beneath my belt) when I decided to start doing popular music. My friends in the pop music business groaned when I arrived because they said that I would ruin the arrangements by complicating things. Well, that's exactly what I did at first. //;-))

It took me a long time to learn simplicity. I used to think writing a pop song had to be easy. Boy, was i ever wrong. Now I have written quite a few, but I had a lot of unlearning to do before they were any good. (Some were used for TV shows in Brazil and others were recorded by a few stars there - even the ones in English, but I have some in Portuguese too. Later I might release some of my stuff here in the USA, but I haven't pursued the market here yet.)

I produced a Brazilian protest singer named Geraldo Vandré for a while. His most famous song has only two chords throughout the whole song (C minor and B flat major). My interaction with Geraldo was probably my greatest lesson in learning simplicity. The man could take a banal little motive and turn it into a thing of beauty that touches the hearts of millions of people.

I had the privilege of seeing a real life Concerto of Deliverance in Brazil - with the music of Elvis Presley of all people. I produced a keyboard artist for a while named Marcia Flores. She is blind and deaf in one ear and she has about 6000 songs in her head (when I last saw her years ago).

When she was born, she did not react as babies are supposed to react, so the doctors had to hit her with rubber belts to get he to "wake up." This went on for a while. Her mother told me the stories.

Nothing could get the baby to actively respond to stimuli - to want to start growing and engaging her mind, so to speak - until one day a song by Elvis Presley was playing in the background. Then Marcia started responding positively. It took a while and several sessions for the doctors and her mother to understand what was causing the positive reaction. Once they thought it might be the music, started feeding Marcia a steady diet of songs. But she responded the best to Elvis Presley songs. She then started developing in a normal manner.

What is curious is that Elvis's production is highly uneven, but for Marcia, she digests everything about him - his worse schlock from his movies on up to his ground-breaking early rock, his gospel singing and his later beautiful renditions of standards. Marcia even knows his movies by heart (she has "watched" all of them countless times despite being blind). She also knows just about everything there is to know about Elvis. It's an amazing thing to talk to Marcia and then ask her to play something. You simply can't trip her up, neither about facts nor about the music.

She has a name in Brazil but she is not a superstar (instrumentalists have a hard time in Brazil, you have to sing to go to the top there). She is extremely well-known around the Elvis fan clubs in Brazil and she stays booked solid at dances.

I have never heard of anything similar to this anywhere else. I had to see it with my own eyes and live with it to believe it. But there it is. Elvis literally "delivered" Marcia Flores from some kind of inborn indifference to life.

Elvis!

Dayaamm!

Michael

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Well, as a musician, maybe even as a human, one of the first things you have to accept is that Elvis could do things that mere mortals cannot do!

You have to wonder what this true story of MSK's is about, though. I wonder if it has something to do with his particular timbre. We know that voices are as unique as fingerprints. How odd!

But I truly believe that Elvis had special powers. I like Tom Jones much better but I'm sure even he kneels to the Power of Elvis.

I don't know what the deal was with that Concerto of Deliverance, Monart, and all. I remember they had an essay contest as to why you most deserve a free copy and I was one of the people who won. I lost the information and never got around to sending them 2.50 for shipping. It is odd that I just ran across this thread as well, because it popped into my mind last night while I was taking a break from composing a new piece. I never think about it, but last night, and this morning, it was hanging around me.

I'm about to go out to dinner with my lady friend, who beside being a dancer, is a very well-versed musician and a rabid Atlas fan. I'm going to ask her what she thought Halley would sound like, and such.

BTW, on a barely related topic (art, dance, Rand...) somehow I missed it before when I bought posters there, but take a trip over to www.objectiviststore.com and take a peek at a poster called "Heroic Spirit," which features a leaping ballerina, and a great quote from The Fountainhead. It's a little stiff at 26 bucks, but I really liked it so I got one.

rde

Even that Halley dude didn't have Elvis Power

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To the poster that lists the lyrics...

If you don't mind, I'd like to challenge you (in a friendly way). Imagine for a moment that all the song lyrics that you printed were in a language that you didn't understand. Would you still like those songs? Would the songs still have meaning to you? Whenever I listen to music that has words this is what I do.

In my opinion, lyrics are non-essentials to music. The music is the essential: the harmony, melody and rhythm; these being what defines the concept "music". This is my problem with most of pop music. The music itself is mostly a commodity of chords and melody that have been used countless times.

What moves me musically is harmony and melody that generate strong emotions. For a concerto of deliverance, the emotion would have to be a progresssion from tension to a release of bliss. Rachmaninoff's 2nd and 3rd concerti do this for me. So, do Puccini's operas. However, so does "Close to the Edge" by Yes.

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I love a lot of pop and rock music. But, given what I said above, only when it's the music that is good.

In today's culture, pop music consists mostly of: a) attitude/expression of rebellion; B) trite music with an interesting lyric; c) music with a purpose other than listening enjoyment (dance music, etc.).

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Am I the only one on this forum who hates all pop music and rock music?

I think that at least in this regard I'd have had an ally in Rand.

ALL of it, without exception? That takes in a very large territory, including classics that are popular.

And, no, I don't think you'd have had an ally in Rand at least as regards "all" pop music. She didn't like classical music as a child, resisted her elders' attempts to get her interested. She fell in love with the oomp-pah-pah band music she heard on a summer vaction (I think in the Crimea). To the end of her life it was what she called her "tiddlywink music" -- stuff like "It's a Long Way to Tipperary" -- that she loved best. (I'm going to have to quickly start thinking of other melodies to drive that one out of my head, having mentioned it. It's the sort of melody that, having gotten started, is hard to get rid of; and I hate it, feel about it as about fingernails scratching on a blackboard. But Rand loved it and such like compositions.) As I indicated when I was talking on one of the threads (I've forgotten which by now) about Allan Blumenthal's music course, she didn't even know much of the classical repertoire. Basically she liked Rachmaninoff, Tschaikovsky, Chopin (not all), and selections of others. She didn't like Bach. She considered Mozart "pre-music." She was not what I'd call a classical music aficionado. My summary view of AR on music is that she had a tin ear.

Ellen

___

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She considered Mozart "pre-music."

Do you have a reference for that? I didn't know that about AR. I actually agree with her on this. Personally, I hate Mozart. I realize I'm in a small minority on this ;)

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I must say, there’s some damned interesting people on this site. When it comes to music, I’m not one of them. The reason I wanted to start this thread was because I thought it might allow some personal insight into sides of people here that may not always be expressed. I am fascinated by the uniqueness of individuals. So much of life is about categorizing and being categorized; how left brained? :D Understanding the dynamics of the individual can be so much more interesting. I thought this thread might evoke more of our individuality.

When “Concerto of Deliverance” is considered in a relative way, as I have proposed, a beautiful thing happens: even an uncultured swine like me can have a perspective.

Michael,

It was Monart Pon’s posts, and the list’s response to it, that gave me the impulse to write my comments about personal “Concertos of Deliverance.”

Jordanz,

To the poster that lists the lyrics

My name is Paul. I didn’t think it was all that hard to figure out or remember. (I'm learning the art of sarcasm.)

Imagine for a moment that all the song lyrics that you printed were in a language that you didn't understand. Would you still like those songs?

Reductionism! Reductionism! Reductionism! Since when do you appreciate art by breaking it apart. This may be a way to study it but it is no way to feel it. I agree with Robin Williams character from Dead Poet’s Society: You don’t appreciate art– whether poetry, painting, or music– by breaking it into pieces. It's time for “a wild and barbaric YAWP!”

It’s great that you have music that moves you. That’s what I am talking about. Musically, I’d be the first to admit my tastes are very simple. The only instrument I play is my stereo. My exposure to music is minimal. But I know which music moves me. The meaning my music has for me is not simple. It is both the music and the lyrics as an integrated whole that moves me. There are songs on the list I gave above that speak of passions that bring tears to my eyes every time I sink into the experience. That is why they are my “Concertos of Deliverance.”

This is one of those places I think I disagree with Rand: absolutes and art don’t mix.

By the way, what’s wrong with the “expression of rebellion?” Spiritually, I’ve been a rebel all my life. I have always wanted to see the world through my own eyes and judge it for myself. It’s not easy to disagree with so much of what you see before you and still grow up relatively healthy. It’s good to have music that speaks to this spirit. If I hadn’t nurtured my spirit of rebellion, I would have very little to say on this forum.

Paul

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Jordanz wrote:

To the poster that lists the lyrics...

If you don't mind, I'd like to challenge you (in a friendly way). Imagine for a moment that all the song lyrics that you printed were in a language that you didn't understand. Would you still like those songs? Would the songs still have meaning to you? Whenever I listen to music that has words this is what I do.

In my opinion, lyrics are non-essentials to music. The music is the essential: the harmony, melody and rhythm; these being what defines the concept "music". This is my problem with most of pop music. The music itself is mostly a commodity of chords and melody that have been used countless times.

What moves me musically is harmony and melody that generate strong emotions. For a concerto of deliverance, the emotion would have to be a progresssion from tension to a release of bliss. Rachmaninoff's 2nd and 3rd concerti do this for me. So, do Puccini's operas. However, so does "Close to the Edge" by Yes.

Lyrics are non-essentials to music like frosting is a non-essential to cake! There are cakes intended to be eaten without frosting, and some which the applied frosting does not enhance (mismatch). But there are cakes for which frosting is strongly synergistic.

As for foreign language lyrics, I'll give you an example that illustrates my position. If I hear "If You Go Away/Ne Me Quittez Pas" (by Jacques Brel, English lyrics [i think] by Rod McKuen) played as an instrumental, it moves me to a certain extent, just by the melodic motion and harmonic progression of the main section (basically, a lament, even apart from the lyrics, and I can rationally support this) and the contrasting character of the bridge (basically, a protest, even apart from the lyrics, and I can rationally support this, too). When the lyrics are added, I get a modest additional jolt from hearing it sung in French (by Brel), but a significant additional jolt from hearing it sung in English (say, by Shirley Bassey or Frank Sinatra). The melody/harmony and lyrics really ARE crafted so as to reinforce one another -- and this is true of many of the great American standards.

A good book to read in this connection is Deryck Cooke's The Language of Music. (It was published about 1960 and has long been out of print, but it's worth digging up as a used book or in a library, if you're interested in emotionality and the elements of melody and harmony.) My long-term project in music -- working title: "Serious Schmaltz and Passionate Pop: the Objective Emotional Elements in Mankind's Best-Love Melodies" -- is to use ideas like those of Cooke and Leonard B. Meyer to analyze hundreds of pop tunes/standards and classical themes to find out what makes them tick, apart from lyrics -- and to assess how effectively lyric (when present) worked with melodies to evoke emotion.

As for the "Concerto of Deliverance," I should say: don't get me started! I'll simply say here that I did not greatly enjoy the CD that Monart Pons produced (I think it cost him over $10 grand), and I strenuously objected to his and (Cockrell-Mills, the composer) calling it either a "concerto" or something connoting "deliverance." In style and form, it is best (in my opinion) described as a New Age suite loosely depicting a mythic journey (or process of some sort). The several folk-like songs interspersed between the instrumental pieces gave it more of a programmatic quality than the pieces and their titles did by themselves. But if you were looking for "deliverance" to be embodied in the melody and harmonic progressions, you would have been disappointed, as I was.

But hey, if someone wants to stretch the vernacular to have "deliverance" mean whatever somehow or other stirs them emotionally or "liberates" them from their cares, sure, why not? I just think it's extremely misleading to call it a "concerto" and to imply that it provides some special stirring of the emotions or "delivering" from the burdens of everyday life that a good Sinatra or James Taylor album does not. It's certainly not what Rand meant, and it's (if I may be judgmental here) rather second-hander-ish and inaccurate to label it as though it were.

Anyone who is skeptical of my opinion and/or sufficiently curious to find out for himself is welcome to order a copy of the CD. It's advertised in the latest issue of The New Individualist and on Monart's website, as well.

REB

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She considered Mozart "pre-music."

Do you have a reference for that? I didn't know that about AR. I actually agree with her on this. Personally, I hate Mozart. I realize I'm in a small minority on this ;)

Hate him as you wish, that doesn't make him "pre-music."

Her description of Mozart was told to me several times by Allan Blumenthal. Joan Blumenthal mentions it in her Full Context interview. The mention is only one sentence, but I'd expect the surrounding material is of interest, so I'll copy a significant section.

Full Context, March 1993, Interview with Joan Mitchell Blumenthal, pg. 7-8:

Q: What did Ayn Rand think of impressionism and why?

Blumenthal: She disliked it very much. It went against her idea of conceptual art (which is a complicated subject about which we all could disagree). She thought that the juxtaposition of colors into non-defined areas and the intrusion of atmosphere indicated a poor psycho-epistemology. That's what she told me. She also thought it was naturalistic. I've already indicated that I don't agree with most of that. And I don't think it's naturalistic either for the most part.

Q: So do you think it was just a personal thing that she had that she tried to apply a general aesthetic principle on?

Blumenthal: Well, there were things that she personally liked. Those she elevated to the good. She was particularly enamored of the style she called conceptual, which is a little difficult to describe. It's easier to see it but it's clearly demarcated edges and clear demarcations within the form, no gradual gradations. I can hardly think of anything more opposite to impressionism. So it's not surprising that she didn't like it and that she thought it indicated a poor psycho-epistemology. That was something she said about things she didn't like. She didn't like Rembrandt. In that case I felt very, very alienated because Rembrandt did not have a poor any kind of epistemology, psycho or otherwise. He absolutely knew what he was doing.

Q: It seems that he really saw the figure as the most important thing, and he made it dramatic.

Blumenthal: He's very selective in his use of lights and darks. He's almost more psychologically insightful than anyone. Also he did beautiful landscapes. And what Ayn Rand held against him was the side of beef painting--which is absurd! If you're evaluating an artist, you have to look over the whole work. The side of beef was something she did not understand. It's a 17th century subject that had particular meaning for its day. He did it very well, but Ayn did not understand its meaning.

Q: So she didn't understand the context of the artist or look any deeper, but just gave a judgment?

Blumenthal: Yes, sometimes. She had an enormous tendency to judge things by style. I'm very content oriented, so I was aware of it. But she had a really great love for the style that she called conceptual, and when it was not present, it was hard for her to like anything. She was personally very generous to me about my art. I wish she had been more generous to great artists.

Q: Did you like impressionism back then when you knew her?

Blumenthal: Oh, yes; I've always liked impressionism.

Q: Did you ever argue with her about it?

Blumenthal: Uh huh. Many times.

Q: I guess you couldn't come to any kind of agreement?

Blumenthal: No, we couldn't come to any agreement about painting or about the other arts, usually, which is not to say that we didn't have areas of agreement. We did, but the areas of disagreement were greater. I am very impressed with her definition of art. I've heard hundreds of them, and I've never heard one that's as good, nor can I conceive of one that would be any better. I am definitely not in a position to disagree about literature, because I'm not well acquainted with it. We had countless discussions about painting, music, sculpture, ballet, and poetry. Often we would agree in principle--if the principle was broad enough, but rarely in application. We did have different levels of knowledge, that seemed to matter. She knew much more about literature but she didn't know much about the other arts. Clearly we were looking for different things. For example, I love Bach. Obviously, Ayn didn't. And she thought that Mozart was pre-music!

Q: I disagree.

Blumenthal: That's what she said. I love Michelangelo. She thought he was malevolent. Now, there is a streak of malevolence, according to the way Ayn saw things, but it seems to me utterly irrelevant compared to the grandeur of Michelangelo, the huge scale of his view of humanity and so on. But she thought he was malevolent and that was the most important thing to her.

Q: Even The David?

Blumenthal: I don't remember what she thought about The David particularly. That would be, I suppose, more innocuous in her eyes. But I don't want to second-guess her. I do remember telling her once what I saw in the Roman The Pieta, but she couldn't get past the subject. I was seeing beyond the subject.

Anyway, I like many styles and, as I say, I'm content-oriented. I thought the content of ballet was far broader than she did. I think Shakespeare is a great poet. She liked Kipling. So there was a lot of aesthetic disagreement. I walked out of the lecture in which Leonard Peikoff was saying something unpleasant about Rembrandt. I just couldn't stand for it anymore. I felt like I was betraying my values.

Q: What would you like to add to Rand's aesthetic theory?

Blumenthal: I've never thought of adding to Ayn's aesthetic theories. I'm not a aesthetician. If I were I would embrace her definition of art and start from scratch everywhere else.

[They then turn to discussing a trip Joan had taken to Italy not long before the interview.]

I remember the occasion when Joan huffed out of LP's lecture. She'd come that night not as dressed and coiffed as usual; I think she'd been painting and had worn the loose shirt and the slacks she'd been working in. I noticed her, either at the break or after the lecture, I'm not sure, perched crosslegged on a large serving table which was in the hallway, talking animatedly to a group who had congregated around her. (She often talked animatedly, but there was an agitation in addition on that occasion.) I didn't go up and join the group, though of course I was curious to hear what she was saying about the incident; I hadn't met her personally at that time and would have felt I was intruding.

Returning to Mozart, I think Barbara has also reported AR's description of him as "pre-music." And AR says something slighting about him in one of her The Objectivist articles -- "Art and Moral Treason"? (Haven't time to check right now, but someone else, e.g., Roger Bissell, might know off the top.) I don't think she specifically speaks of his work as "pre-music" there, or anyplace else I can recall in print; but she calls it formal and lacking in emotion, or something along those lines.

Ellen

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Paul, I, too, just discovered your post about music, and I found it extremely interesting. I agree with you about the “Concerto of Deliverance” – that is, that one does not create art by piggybacking on someone else’s sense of life.

My own musical loves have been varied. When I was about fourteen, and I discovered that boys had not been put into this world merely to play Tarzan with (with me as Tarzan) in the trees in my yard, I also discovered Frank Sinatra. I can’t say, however, that his music reached me in a profound sense-of-life way, although I did listen a great deal. It was more that I was sensing that love and romance, with all their permutations, with all the joy they brought, and the pain, were highly interesting phenomena, and he sang about them with deep feeling and sensitivity. His was the voice and his the songs I heard at the dances I went to all through my teens and twenties, and I remain very fond of them; they bring back memories that are important to me.

It was when I was, I believe, fifteen, possibly younger, that I heard the music of Wagner’s “Tristan und Isolde”. It was then that I first knew what it meant to feel that one’s own soul was expressed in music. The searing ecstasy of that music reached me as no other music, but only certain works of literature, ever had, and I love it passionately to this day.

About the same time, I heard the works of Chopin. I realized, then, that my identification with Wagner’s music was not complete, that a crucial element – the element of joy that was untouched by pain – was present only in Chopin. Discovering his music was a source of great joy to me, and, along with Wagner, went far to lessening my sense of alienation from the world. Through these two composers, and along with my literary loves, I began to feel that I was not alone in the world, that others had understood and had expressed the passions and the beauty that were boiling inside me.

Later, I discovered the phenomenon of opera, (I had only heard concert performances of Wagner) which I loved as an art form almost immediately. It seemed to satisfy my longing for larger-than-life people and events, for acts of heroism and the sight of great and enduring loves. “La Traviata” was one of my first loves, and I found in the careless gaiety of much of that great work what I had earlier found in Chopin. But it was only many years later, when I met James Kilbourne, that opera became an essential part of my life. Through him, I listened almost non-stop to the operas of Puccini – to “La Boheme” and “Madame Butterfly” and many others – and I knew that these operas were what I had been looking for, that they reached whatever was deepest in me and most essential. I remember that when he first showed me “Turandot,” I wept all the way through it – not because it was tragic, but because it was so incredibly beautiful.

I hope others on Objectivist Living will join us on this adventure through our pasts. And perhaps we can have a separate such thread on literature.

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I found the passage referring to Mozart, but not without some difficulty. Since Ellen suggested (correctly) that it was in "Art and Moral Treason," I went directly to The Romantic Manifesto, which contains that essay. But as we have seen many times, thanks to the indefatigable efforts of Michael Kelly and others (no, Michael, I didn't say you were fat!), version 1 of a given article may not be identical to version 2 of that article.

Specifically, in Rand's editing of her essays for republication in TRM, a total of TEN paragraphs totalling 642 words were cut from the version that originally appeared in March 1965 in The Objectivist Newsletter. And wouldn't you know it, those paragraphs contained the Mozart reference. I confess to having found the discrepancy not by getting up off my fat rear and going across the room to retrieve my copy of TON, but instead by popping in my Objectivist Research CD-ROM. One and only one reference to Mozart in all of Rand's works (i.e., all of them included on the CD-ROM), and there it was, in TON, March 1965. For those interested, here is the passage deleted from the version appearing in TRM, with comments to follow:

The case of Mr. Y was strikingly similar, though the two men were quite different in most respects. Mr. Y was a nuclear physicist who had a distinguished name in his profession and many notable achievements to his credit while still in his early thirties. On the surface, he appeared to be a "well-adjusted" man who, outside his laboratory, led a "normal," thoroughly conventional life. His manner seemed poised, quietly self-confident, at times charmingly witty, and merely a bit too stiff. He had an extraordinary intelligence, and his passionate love for his work was one of his most attractive qualities.

Yet he was quietly going to pieces, and the form he gave to his problem (though this was not its real nature) was: doubt of his own intelligence and doubt of the efficacy of science.

He, too, was struggling to discover the roots of his inner conflicts. I did not know him too well, so it was inadvertently that I contributed an important clue to his problem. One evening, I interrupted a conversation with him to tune in for a moment on a certain TV movie:

I explained to him that I wanted to hear a piece of music used in that movie, which I loved and could not obtain in record form. It was a popular number of the pre-World War I era and it was my kind of music: gay, melodic, rhythmically ingenious and projecting a totally unclouded sense of life.

I was startled by the look of his face when the first bars of that music came on: it was shock, recognition, amusement-an almost paternal amusement directed at me-bitterness, wistfulness and a terrible kind of pain. I asked him what was the matter. He was shaken by such an inner explosion that he could not speak for a while. Then, gradually, he told me.

He knew the place that my kind of music occupied in my life. In his life, that place was held by the art and music of ballet. This had been his great love. At one time, he had attended every performance of a good ballet company he could find. The emotion he had then experienced was a state of intense exaltation. He had regarded this as his guilty secret. He had tried to stifle it. He had not permitted himself to grasp the meaning of his love. He had sought to give it no place in his life and no importance in his own eyes-in the unstated hope that he could destroy it, not by eliminating it, but worse: by refusing to take it seriously. Acting, in effect, as the executioner of his own soul, he had branded it as "ludicrous."

He still loved music and he owned a large collection of records, which he played frequently-for an esthetic pleasure that conveyed no personal meaning to him and evoked no personal emotion; all the records were classics such as Bach, Haydn, Mozart; he did not own a single record of ballet music.

"Why?" I asked. He answered: "Because I am afraid of myself in that mood."

Afraid of what? Of his inability to negate his own values and to comply with the conventional standards he had been forcing on himself all his life. And the thing that had hit him, at the sound of my music, was a sudden insight telling him the meaning of what he was repressing and the full extent of his moral treason.

(Needless to say, I played ballet music for him for the rest of that evening. He has since bought the records he wanted. His problems are not yet solved, but he is improving and coming back to life month by month; and the personality that is now emerging has an authentic self-assurance that inspires enormous confidence, and a kind of subtle intellectual charm that is inimitably his own.)

From this, it is not absolutely clear whether Rand was saying that none of the music of Bach, Haydn, and Mozart "convey personal emotion," or just that the records of these composers that Mr. Y selected conveyed no personal emotion. But I suspect the former.

Here is my hypothesis. Rand held that all art (except architecture, so go figure how it is art) re-creates reality, and that was the core of her definition of "art" (again, architecture in her view doesnot re-create reality, yet is still art -- p. 46, TRM). Music specifically does so because it "evokes man's sense of life emotions." Any music that does not evoke sense of life (i.e., "personal") emotions does not re-create reality and is thus not (yet) art, but instead "pre-art" and thus "pre-music." Mozart's music does not evoke sense of life (personal) emotions (for Rand). Thus, Mozart is pre-music. Q.E.D.

Now, if Rand had said that some, or even a great deal, of Mozart's music was impersonal, technical, classical in its emotional restraint, or some similar comment, that would be fine. But just as with her blanket rejection of Beethoven (as being malevolent -- though presumably actual music and not pre-music), Rand appears to have generalized from a few (who knows HOW few) cases.

We have already noted elsewhere on Objectivist Living that there are perfectly gorgeous, stirring pieces by Mozart. Perhaps Rand didn't hear them or care to investigate far enough to discover them. But that doesn't excuse the ignorant global dismissal of one of the most incredible musical geniuses and passionate composers of all time. He didn't have the harmonic resources of Chopin or Rachmaninoff or Tchaikovsky, but what he did have was a unique, irreplaceable, eloquent soul that showed not only in the blinding brilliance of his technical writing, but also the lush, warm melodies of some of his slower pieces.

Neither Mozart nor Beethoven (whom I also admire greatly) is my favorite composer, but they are GREATS and some of their music is among my favorite pieces. But then, finding out that they were great and had their passionate, personal sides is part of my business and my professional responsibility, and I am thereby entitled to say so. Rand was speaking from ignorance and inertia, and she thus embarrassed herself and her fellow Objectivists by revealing that she didn't know what she was talking about. She should have shut up and let the Blumenthals speak about what they knew best, instead of trying to browbeat them and others into bringing their personal preferences into line with hers.

This is not to say that she did not perform valuable services to Mr. X and Mr. Y in helping them to get in touch with their deepest values in life by playing music that aroused their sense of life feelings. But whether due to ignorance and narrow exposure or just a resistant attitude to explore beyond her early opinions, Rand showed that she just didn't "get" a great many composers any more than she "got" a great many artists in other fields.

I agree with Joan Mitchell Blumenthal: I embrace Rand's definition of "art" (unlike the current non-ARI leaders in the field, Michelle Kamhi and Lou Torres, who want to revise her definition) and start from there. I also agree with the vast majority of her writings on the nature of literature, and I see a great deal of carry-over from dramatic literature to dramatic music. I write on this at length in my "Art as Microcosm" essay that Michael has posted over in the esthetics folder and which appeared in the Spring 2004 issue of Journal of Ayn Rand Studies. Some day perhaps we could have a discussion of the essay, though I confess I am way behind schedule in writing a response to Kirsti Minsaas's essay in the Fall 2005 JARS, in which she takes issue with (and largely does not understand) my essay. So, no hurry, I guess.

REB

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I've been remembering a comment made by Artur Rubenstein in a movie about his life which I recommend to classical-music lovers here, called "Love of Life." He's speaking of Beethoven at first. He pauses and then says something to this effect: there's music one can miss and it makes no difference, but there's music which one can't miss, it's like a mountain rising from the sea. He continues, "The greats last," then, after another pause, "especially Mozart."

The older I've grown, the more I've understood why the finest musicians so often, when themselves reflecting on musical greatness, name Mozart as the peak. I wasn't too keen on Mozart myself in my early years of learning music; I thought of him as sort of "sissy." But today, asked whom I'd name as the most incredible musical ear ever, I would answer without hesitating, "Mozart."

Beethoven, too, I'll add, revered Mozart. There's a story told (and supposedly documented) of how he and Moscheles were listening to a Mozart work and Beethoven said, "You and I will never do that, Moscheles." Well...to be sure Moscheles didn't. But though Beethoven is my eternal most Olympian musical god, neither did Beethoven. Not "that," not those tiny details of an impeccable ear.

No, Mozart isn't everyone's "cup of tea." He doesn't excite, in the way other composers can, Beethoven of course prominent among them; he doesn't sweep, the way the Romantics can. Etc. But those little details...his turning just this phrase just so with just this little chromatic alteration. Today, I feel breathless in awe at such touches. (Plus, do recall that Mozart lived to all of 36.)

Ellen

PS: Roger, thanks for looking up the "Art and Moral Treason" essay. I wonder if even more of it was cut, even on the CD-ROM, since there's a phrasing I thought was in there which doesn't appear in your excerpt. I'll look at the original essay tomorrow.

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Speaking of airbrushing or deleting "the good stuff" in revision, several years ago I bought the tape of Rand's 1962 (?) radio lecture on "Our Esthetic Vacuum" (aka "The Esthetic Vacuum of Our Age"), and I found that it was MUCH longer than the version that appeared in The Objectivist Newsletter and later (somewhat further cut/revised) in The Romantic Manifesto.

For my own study purposes, I transcribed the radio talk, and then, realizing that this was a largely unpublished gem, wrote three times to Second Renaissance Books, offering the transcription for them to publish and sell, but I never got a reply. <big sigh>

REB

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I re-read the "Art and Moral Treason" essay - from The Objectivist Newsletter, Vol. 4 No. 3, March 1965. Bear in mind, folks, as we all know today, that NB had started his affair with Patrecia in early 1964, etc., etc. (Also recall NB's mentioning in Judgment Day his imagining himself as, I think, "Buck Rogers" or a similar figure when riding his bicycle as a young child. But I'm not including the part of the essay which refers to an early identification with "Buck Rogers.")

MSK or Kat is welcome to move this to a different thread if either thinks it doesn't belong here. Sort of -- what can I say? -- all roads lead to Rome? Weird to encounter the concluding two paragraphs of this (any bets it's on the CD-ROM?).

She doesn't use the exact words I'd thought she did re Mozart, not in this. Maybe it's someplace else, or something I heard her say verbally. I thought she'd used the words "formal and lacking in emotion" (or similar words). Though that or near-to-that phrasing (see, however, the excerpt Roger quoted) isn't in the following, this is:

They knew [cases X and Y]--even though not in fully conscious terms--that they were achieving the opposite of their original, preconceptual goals and motives. Instead of leading a rational (i.e.. reason-guided and reason-motivated) life, they were gradually becoming moody, subjectivist whim-worshipers, acting on the range of the moment, particularly in their personal relationships--by default of any firmly defined values. Instead of reaching independence from the irrationality of others, they were being forced--by the same default--either into actual social metaphysics [notice the denigrative use of "social metaphysics"] or into an equivalent code of behavior, into blind dependence on and compliance with the value-systems of others, into a state of abject conformity.

[inserted para. break] Instead of pleasure, the glimpse of any higher value or nobler experience brought them pain, guilt, terror--and prompted them, not to seize it and fight for it, but to escape, to evade, to betray it (or to apologize for it) in order to placate the standards of the conventional men whom they despised. Instead of "man the victim," as they had largely been, they were becoming "man the killer."

The clearest evidence of it was provided, in both cases, by their attitude toward Romantic art. A man's treason to his art values is not the primary cause of his neurosis (it is a contributory cause), but it becomes one of its most revealing symptoms.

This last is of particular importance to the man who seeks to solve his psychological problems. The chaos of his personal relationships and values may, at first, be too complex for him to untangle. But Romantic art offers him a clear, luminous, impersonal abstraction--and thus a clear, objective test of his inner state, a clue available to his conscious mind.

If he finds himself fearing, evading and negating the highest experience possible to man, a state of unclouded exaltation, he can know that he is in profound trouble and that his only alternatives are: either to check his value-premises from scratch, from the start, from the repressed, forgotten, betrayed figure of his particular Buck Rogers, and painfully to reconstruct his broken chain of normative abstractions--or to become completely the kind of monster he is in those moments when, with an obsequious giggle, he tells some fat Babbitt that exaltation is impractical.

Just as Romantic art is a man's first glimpse of a moral sense of life, so it is his last hold on it, his last lifeline.

Romantic art is the fuel and the spark plug of a man's soul; its task is to set a soul on fire and never let it go out. The task of providing that fire with a motor and a direction, [sic - she had a habit of splitting noun and verb with a comma] belongs to philosophy.

In conclusion, let me give you a different kind of case history. It is the story of a man who withstood the tortures of childhood and made his own way to the discovery of moral abstractions. At the age of seven, his ideal was The Lone Ranger. At the age of nine, it was Superman. At the age of twelve, it was The Scarlet Pimpernel. Then he asked himself a crucial question; he realized that he had no desire to save French aristocrats from the guillotine and that there were no guillotines around, and he asked himself: how does one apply the things he admired in The Scarlet Pimpernel to one's own life and how does one practice them in the modern world? He found the answer two years later. At the age of fourteen, he read The Fountainhead.

His name is Nathaniel Branden.

Ellen

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Am I the only one on this forum who hates all pop music and rock music?

I think that at least in this regard I'd have had an ally in Rand.

"It's only Rock n Roll (but I like it)"*

The Stones

* me too

L W

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Ellen:

And, no, I don't think you'd have had an ally in Rand at least as regards "all" pop music. She didn't like classical music as a child, resisted her elders' attempts to get her interested. She fell in love with the oomp-pah-pah band music she heard on a summer vaction (I think in the Crimea). To the end of her life it was what she called her "tiddlywink music" -- stuff like "It's a Long Way to Tipperary" -- that she loved best.

That's not what I call "pop music" - I mean all the music which uses a stupid monotonic beat and also everything in which you can hear electric guitars (the most horrible sound in the universe). As Rand wrote: "The products of anti-rational, anti-cognitive "Progressive" education, the hippies, are reverting to the music and the drumbeat of the jungle." It seems to me clear that Rand didn't like that kind of music.

The reason that I hate it so much is that in our society it's nearly impossible to escape that kind of 'music'. What other people do in their bedrooms is their business, but why must they make such a noise in open-air performances so that you can hear it many kilometers away? Or why have I to endure it in nearly every supermarket or shopping centre. Not to mention those idiot car drivers with their Boom! Boom! Boom! noises which can be heard already several blocks away. That other people have a horrible taste is no problem, but that I have to endure the acoustic pollution that they produce is a problem.

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I'm a rocker too and I guess I would say that The Beatles Blue Album did it for me when I was about 15 and I was at a friends house and she dropped the needle down on the record and a strange voice started singing about sitting on a cornflake... She popped the needle down on various points in that song and it was the silliest thing I had ever heard. When I heard the entire album, I was hooked for life. There were a bunch of songs that I knew and liked but never connected. That was the day I discovered real music. It was so much better than the bad pop songs of the seventies or the crummy country music my mother listened to. I sold my soul to rock and roll.

As far as Concerto of Deliverence, not being a classical music fan, I can't comment about the quality of the material. I just see it as a tribute to Ayn Rand, much like some of the pieces at Cordair Gallery. I don't really have a problem with it.

Kat

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"The products of anti-rational, anti-cognitive "Progressive" education, the hippies, are reverting to the music and the drumbeat of the jungle."

It is statements like this that make me glad I am not a Randroid and can think for myself.

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Lyrics are non-essentials to music like frosting is a non-essential to cake!

Actually, I think you are making my point here. Take the frosting from a cake and it's still a cake. Take the cake from frosting and you don't have a cake.

Don't get me wrong - I love a great lyric. But the essential part of music is: harmony, melody and rhythm.

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Well, I think that for example in Schubert's songs the text is an essential part of the music. Liszt has made some very clever arrangements of Schubert's songs (as wel of other composers' songs) for piano solo, and I like to play them, they're nice music, but they can't replace the original. What can for example be more moving than Fischer-Dieskau's interpretation of Die Schöne Müllerin? Without the text (and his wonderful rendering of all the nuances of that text) the music would lose much of its power. Liszt's version of Erlkönig is an impressive virtuoso piece, but it doesn't give you the goose pimples you get from the original version.

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