After Us, No Deluge, But:

by danielgoode

After Us, No Deluge, But:

FIRST comes an emotional memorial concert arranged by the loved ones with as many of the performers who know and love the composer’s work as can be found. It’s a smashing success.

SECOND comes the dutifully praiseworthy reviews by all the reviewers who ignored him/her during the lifetime.

THIRD, name-ensembles pick up the more traditionally instrumented and notated works. They obtain the press previews that eluded the composer through most of his/her career.  But reviews, when they come, are already blander cookie-cutter varieties that almost seem narcotized by their own boilerplate.

FOURTH, the composer’s works and press about them fades into the general urban noise of culture.

FIFTH, months later some obscure PhD candidates begin to get curious about his/her works as possible topics for their dissertation. The composer in question becomes the unexploited resource for many would-be academics in music.

SIXTH, all this digging bears fruit in a bevy of college and university festivals which feature the composer’s works and others of younger or older vintages that can logically grouped in with the oeuvre.

SEVENTH, years of this kind of thing continue, but ever more sparsely spaced.

EIGHTH, the composer falls into complete obscurity, much as Hindemith, even Webern are in today.

NINTH, some young composer accidentally stumbles on some scores or recordings of the obscure composer and decides to rip off some salient ideas, in the manner of retro-chic.

TENTH, these ideas get spread around until a genuine retro -period celebration ensues.

ELEVENTH, the elite press, such as it is, reviles the whole movement and snidely criticizes the composers who were the unfortunate subjects of the retro movement.

TWELFTH, outraged descendents of the original composer(s) hit the press and internet with high-level moralistic screeds against the said press and internet perpetrators.

THIRTEENTH. This brouhaha all dies down in a couples weeks, leaving no traces and no follow-ups. Before this happens there is a series of heated back-page exchanges in the successor to the New York Review of Books. Intellectual blood is spilled, but few regular readers of this journal even notice this blip of anger and counter-anger.

FOURTEENTH. Years, decades, even centuries pass, and if culture still exists, no more mention is made of the composer and his/her works.

FIFTEENTH. Suddenly, a very angry artist appears on the scene who wants to castigate the whole culture of high art, and when almost accidentally s/he comes upon the whole history of the composer’s reputation, sees that it is a perfect tool with which to brow-beat the current cultural elite. This artist succeeds single-handedly in causing a broad-based revival of the composer’s work, which lasts and lasts, but finally exhausts itself in a counter-movement which buries even the idea of reviving the past.

SIXTEENTH. By now plagues and global warming have sapped the remaining civilization of any interest in the past except for what guidance previous epochs can give in the struggle for survival, or the techniques needed to escape to other planets.

SEVENTEENTH. Some lonely, disconsolate and depressed individuals seek solace from the disintegrating civilization around them in archives, mementos, and fragments of the music of the composer’s whose works are the subject of this tale. They create a mythology based on these fragments, but sadly, the mythology dies when they do.

EIGHTEENTH. Yet, maybe one, maybe two persons keep mementos of this mythology, so that complete eradication may in fact be avoided as long as human memory continues.

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