My email quote of the day source (from whom I also filched the excellent G.B. Shaw description of musick – from Man and Superman- with which I title this post), informs me that today is the 140th anniversary of the birth, in 1872, of English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams.

Because I’m actually more eclectic in my tastes than many people realize, I may say that I really don’t mind some of Vaughan Williams’ musick.  But I notice that it’s all the derivative stuff, the settings of folk tunes, the fantasias on ‘Greensleeves’ and the theme by Thomas Tallis, and so forth.  Not that I’d go out and actually spend money on these works, but when they turn up on the local classickal station (as they so often do), I can take them in my stride and even enjoy them a bit.  But when it comes to Vaughan Williams’ own original creations?   Fuggedaboutit!  I find these pieces to be uniformly sappy, twee dollops of mush that give me the guts-ache.  (My QOTD source pays particular accolades to The Lark Ascending.  Suffice to say that I disagree with his opinion.)

I would also remark that the rector at RFEC is a fan of Vaughan Williams’ hymn settings.  Not only is the sap factor present, but these hymns often trip up the congregation, what with all the awkward rhythms and intervals that RVW felt compelled to stick in that are over and above the ordinary non-schooled pew jockey’s ability to sight-read.

And speaking of such things, the annual fall pledge drive has started over to the local classickal station.  We hates annual fall pledge drives!  Nothing but Pachelbel’s Canon and the ‘Ride of the Valkyries’ and the ‘Blue Danube’ and the ‘Bolero’ and similar garbage (to use the technical term).  Nothing but horrid, bombastic, big name-yet-awful performances which the disk jockeys flog as wunnerful even when they know better.

I’ve also become increasingly aware that the jocks are marketing classickal musick almost exclusively on the basis of its therapeutic value.  “It takes you to another place!”  “It’s an outlet for your inner joy!”  ” It soothes and relaxes!”  Then they play clips of “real members” mouthing the same treacly pablum right back.  “I don’t know much about classical music, but I know it helps me…..center myself.”

Look, I know that they do this because they need to cast the widest possible donor net, but to me it’s just such a disservice to the art itself.   Musick isn’t just about feelings, it’s an intellectual venture as well and, indeed, even more so IMHO.

No doubt you are saying to yourself, “Self, if pledge week drives Tom so batty, why doesn’t he just turn off the radio?”

What, and spoil my fun?

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