The composer bailout tournament of the century!
By Chris Van Hof ~ Posted Fri, 12/12/2008 - 1:55pm
One of my most important personal mantras is "Do not take yourself too seriously." In this spirit, I present to you Recession 2008: "Which Classical Composer Would Hypothetically Survive and Who Would Need a Government Bailout, The Tournament."
Quite the catchy name, eh? I knew I'd draw you in. Ok, here are the rules: Through a series of rounds, we'll determine Divisional Champions. Then the Divisional Champions will face off to earn the right to compose in the Ultimate Super Final Round. Finally, we will then crown a victor. Don't worry, this will only take a few minutes of your day.
Here we go: the Prelims
In the Baroque Round, it's a coupling of contrapuntal kingpins: JS Bach against GF Handel. Our clear and simple choice here is Handel as the winner. With at least 22 children, Bach's health care costs prevent any kind of significant capital investment in online development, iTunes distribution, Super Bowl commercials, and let alone stadium naming rights. His brand will not survive the fiscal year.
For the Classical Round, we have Haydn versus Mozart. The Old and the New, brick-and-mortar against dotcom, Kung-Fu Master versus Grasshopper. Perhaps a little surprise here, but Haydn trumps Mozart to proceed, by the narrowest of margins. Even though he represents the Old Garde, Haydn's entrepreneurial ideals, pragmatic approach, significantly better interpersonal skills, and strong backing from labor groups (see Farewell Symphony No. 45) enables this Sultan of Symphonies to take the cake for the Classical Era.
The Romantics proved challenging. The regular season saw hard-fought battles between Beethoven and Berlioz (although the Frenchman's enormous orchestras soundly walloped the German's pre-Napoleonic forces), Mahler and Schumann (Robert's nimble art songs darted and dashed around the Kindertotenlieder's legendary defensive line for a scoring and orchestration debacle for the century-straddling Gustav), and an epic Struggle for the Ages between Brahms and Wagner (with rabid musicologists on both sides causing riots at the final meeting of the 4th Symphony/Tristan rivalry showdown this Thanksgiving). In the end, it has come down to Bruckner against Liszt. Liszt was the one everyone loved to hate, what with that attitude and then the whole holier-than-thou thing towards the end. But Bruckner's immense forces called for far too much overhead to maintain a sustainable business situation. And the kicker was that even after his cash granted for the 7th Symphony, he had the audacity to write for triple woodwinds and four Wagner tubas in the 8th Symphony. Anton, if you think that's cutting back, then I've got a Senate seat to sell you.
And only just recently has the 20th Century season ended. But we were able to ascertain a champion without much thought at all (this suits me very well, thank you). In the end, the serialists were just a bunch of Wall Street bean counters whining about retrograde inversion and combinatoriality and tetra chords. Nobody understood why we needed it all, but we knew we were mad about it. Fortunately, Congress knew that we did need it, and promptly gave Schoenberg, Webern, and Carter 700 billion sheets of manuscript paper, a room with a desk and a calculator, and a performance hall with no seats for an audience. That's a loss in the rough-and-tumble world of Recession 2008: "Which Classical Composer Would Hypothetically Survive and Who Would Need a Government Bailout, The Tournament." By century's end, it was neck and neck between Philip Glass and John Cage. 4'33" sealed the deal for Cage, as it made the audience and performer feel really intelligent and good about themselves, and did so with no notes at all. Also, Glass toured with his own ensemble. As though writing operas were sin enough, Glass saw fit to burn valuable fossil fuels and resources to feed his own ego. We're in a recession here folks--get real.
So for next time, here's where things stand:
West Region: Elder statesman Handel for a final tour before retirement versus Haydn and his friends Vinny and Tommy from the Union.
East Region: the dark horse Mystery Man Liszt against the feel-good Left Coaster John Cage.
I've got my picks, but the choice is ultimately yours, America. Don't forget: the criteria are who would survive the recession without governmental assistance, Congressional oversight, or the need for any kind of "czar." Make your nominations now for who should proceed to the Ultimate Super Final Round!