Thursday, March 27, 2008

Misleading sobriquets

A few years back. a friend referred, ironically, to Ellen "Degenerate." He is actually an admirer of the TV personality, but couldn't resist falling into this little trap. "Oh, if only she were degenerate," I replied. "She is just too bland and wholesome. If only she could channel some of the kick ass spirit of Rosie O'Donell. Now there's a real dyke for you, not some plastic simulation."

I feel somewhat similarly about a noted English composer of somewhat earlier times. According toe the TLS, the sesquicentennial of Sir Edward Elgar's birth has been marked, quite variously, by the publication of five new books.

When I lived in England in the sixties, sophisticates referred to him as Sir Edward "Vulgar." Alas, the man was incapable of any lifegiving vulgarity. If only he had borrowed a thing or two from his Austrian contemporary Gustav Mahler, who actually quoted from the comic song "Ach du lieber Augustin" in one of his symphonies.

With a couple of Elgar CDs on hand, one need never bother purchasing sleeping pills. The only problem is what the ensuing hyperdullness might do to one's unconscious, as the relentlessly earnest melodies keep flowing in through one's ears.

Apparently Elgar had never even heard of Schoenberg and Stravinsky. He declined to meet with his Finnish opposite number, Jean Sibelius, another insufferable bore. They share the feature of using banality to capture, or so their admirers assert, the national spirit of their respective nations. And wouldn't you know, there is a Sibelius revival underway now too.


Post a Comment

<< Home