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Analysis, Criticism & Commentary: September 2008 Archives

Artists in Exile

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Artists in Exile by Joseph Horowitz

The exiles who wowed America

How exiled European artists reacted to the energy and freedom of the US

By Clive James
The Times Literary Supplement

Imagine Balanchine watching a bunch of cheerleaders and you've got this book in a flash. Vignettes are its basic strength, as was bound to be true. The subject of the twentieth-century European artists in exile is too big for one book. Jean-Michel Palmier proved it by publishing his pioneering compendium Weimar en exil (1988) as two books, one of them called Exil en Europe and the other Exil en Amérique. Since there could easily have been others – Exil en Australie would have been interesting – it will be appreciated that Palmier himself felt obliged to limit his purview.

Joseph Horowitz gets the story into a single volume, Artists in Exile, by concentrating on a single destination, America, and even then he trims the field. His subtitle "How refugees from twentieth-century war and revolution transformed the American performing arts" leaves out the writers, painters, photographers and architects, which means we aren't going to hear much about any of the Mann clan, and nothing at all about Mondrian, Ernst, Léger, Moholy-Nagy, Mies, Gropius, Andreas Feininger, Lyonel Feininger … but let's stop. Horowitz gives us mainly those exiles who worked in music, theatre and film. Even then, there are more than enough names to be going on with: Balanchine, Stravinsky, Koussevitsky, Toscanini, Stokowski, Kurt Weill and Rouben Mamoulian are only the most prominent.

Read the complete review at The Times website:

   http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/the_tls/article4618457.ece

An Atmosphere of High Seriousness

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Why So Serious?

How the classical concert took shape.

By Alex Ross
New Yorker

The modern classical-music performance, as audiences have come to know it and sometimes to love it, adheres to a fairly rigid format. The music usually begins a few minutes after eight, listeners having taken their seats beforehand to peruse program notes or chat with neighbors. The evening falls into two halves, each lasting around forty-five or fifty minutes. An orchestral concert often proceeds from overture or short tone poem to solo concerto, and then to a symphony or some other major statement; a solo recital builds up to a big sonata or a virtuoso showpiece. The audience is expected to remain quiet for the duration of each work, and those who applaud between movements may face embarrassment. Around ten o'clock, the audience claps for two or three minutes, the performers bow two or three times, and all go home. Opera has a slightly looser code – the length of the evening depends on the composer's whims, and the audience makes its feelings known with sporadic applause and very occasional boos – but there, too, an atmosphere of high seriousness prevails.

Read more about this at the New Yorker website:

   http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/musical/2008/09/08/080908crmu_music_ross

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