norman lebrecht

September 06, 2023

Jeremy Eichler’s new book, ‘Time’s Echo’, looks at common factors in Strauss’s Metamorphosen, Schoenberg’s Survivor from Warsaw, Britten’s War Requiem and Shostakovich’s Babi Yar symphony. All are connected by experiences of war and genocide.

The NY Times sent it for review to musicologist Kira Thurman (pictured), author of “Singing Like Germans: Black Musicians in the Land of Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms.”

Dr Thurman goes off-topic in the opening paragraph of her review and pretty much stays that way:

It’s worth considering whether these four canonical men serve as the best funnels through which to tell this particular story of the past. There is no room given here for the Fasia Jansens or Ruth Schonthals of the world.

In recent years, a debate has caught fire among historians about whether or how to bring colonialism and the Holocaust together in one frame. We might listen for classical music’s place within this fraught discussion in the work of the brilliant Nigerian choirmaster Fela Sowande, who composed orchestral pieces for the British Ministry of Information during World War II.

While Strauss and Britten were both tucked away in the countryside in 1944, Sowande conducted his “African Suite,” a blend of West African melodies and European instrumentations, for BBC radio in a bombed-out London. The suite takes on a new register when we hear it as an artifact that amplifies the complicated position of a colonized subject tasked with serving the war effort on behalf of the empire.

Hello? What has this to do with Eichler’s book? Clearly the NY Times could not be caught reviewing a book about ‘four canonical men’. So it reviewed the book that Eichler never wrote.

Source link

By mrtrv

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *