Saturday, June 21, 2014

The worst advice ever given to a creative artist

Thinking of Charles Ives and the hostile reaction his music has weathered from so many professional musicians,  I'm reminded of his confrontation with Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, the great music patron, as recounted in Jan Swafford's Chareles Ives: A Life With Music (p. 220). As Swafford tells it, Coolidge visited the Iveses in at their summer home in Redding in 1915, and Charlie tried out "Saint-Gaudens" and "Washington's Birthday" on her.

"Mrs. Coolidge listened sourly," Swafford goes on, "deplored the awful sounds, and finally walked out of the house. As she got into her motorcar she fired a parting shot: 'Well, I must say your music makes no sense to me. It is not, to my mind, music. How is I that -- studying as you have with Parker -- you never came to write like that?  You ought to know the music of Daniel Gregory Mason. He has a real message.' "

Thanks, Liz.

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