Sunday, January 27, 2008

Jack Sullivan

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Leonard Meyer Remembered

Bob Gjerdingen, Leonard Meyer Remembered, American Society for Aesthetics

Also Peter Kivy, Leonard Meyer Remembered, Ibid.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Jonathan Goodman 1931 – 2008

Saturday, January 12, 2008

M. D. Aeschliman

The Power of Barzun can now be read on-line.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Frida Leider Sings Abscheulicher!

In 1949 this was one of Jacques Barzun’s Favorite Records.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


. . . I find Jacques Barzun’s recent delineation of modernism in From Dawn to Decadence to be stronger than Gay’s [in Modernism: The Lure of Heresy]. Even the use of the word “heresy” in the title doesn’t quite ring true in my ears. Modernism wasn’t exactly heretical, a purification, as heresies have usually been. Though it seems wholly experimental, a seeking of complete freedom, I think Winters was onto something more important in seeing it as a foreseeable development of Romanticism. For his part, Barzun calls the overarching concept that formed modernism and many of the movements leading up to it “Emancipation,” one of Barzun’s main intellectual “themes” of the last 500 years in the cultural history of the West. Here is a snippet of what Barzun says about what he calls the decadence that seeking Emancipation has engendered:

All that is meant by Decadence is “falling off.” It implies in those who live in such a time no loss of energy or talent or moral sense. On the contrary, it is a very active time, full of deep concerns, but peculiarly restless, for it sees no clear lines of advance. The loss it faces is that of Possibility. The forms of art as of life seem exhausted; the stages of development have been run through. Institutions function painfully. Repetition and frustration are the intolerable result. Boredom and fatigue are great historical forces.

I think Barzun’s Emancipation theme and his lengthy discussion of it more clearly reflect what the moderns were after than Gay’s term “heresy.” It would require a long essay to make my case, but I do not have the time or inclination to write about this issue at the moment. But comments on this and all other matters pertaining to modernism and Peter Gay’s study of it are welcome, as always.

— Ben Kilpela, Modernism as Endless Heresy, in Mr. Kilpela’s blog Yvor Winters: The American Literary Rhadamanthus.



Much of Westerners’ travel writings are dismissed as “orientalist”. Where Said finds Kinglake's account of his travels in Islamic lands, Eothen, overrated, Jacques Barzun considers it a minor masterpiece.
— Ibn Warraq, interviewed in FrontPage Magazine about his book Defending the West


Monday, January 07, 2008

Erich Kleiber

The Blue Danube:

During the 1930 season [with the New York Philharmonic] Kleiber had given a superb performance of the Fantastique. the first and last movements — the touchstones of conducting intelligence in that work — had been done with a control, animation, and sense of line that I have never heard equaled.
— Jacques Barzun, “Erich Kleiber” (1956), in Critical Questions, 1982, p. 39–40.

Search for “Erich Kleiber” on YouTube.

Search for “Carlos Kleiber” on YouTube.

See also Jacques Barzun, My Favorite Records

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Harry Partch — BBC Documentary

I happen to think that only in music have truly new directions been found, and that these are two and only two: electronic music and the 43-tone works and instruments of Harry Partch.
— Jacques Barzun, “Harry Partch and the Moderns” (1971), in Critical Questions, 1982, p. 59.

The BBC Documentary:

Part 1 of 6:

Part 2 of 6:

Part 3 of 6:

Part 4 of 6:

Part 5 of 6:

Part 6 of 6:

Search YouTube for “Harry Partch”.

See also Leo Wong, Barstow Inscriptions.

Varèse: Ionisation

Saturday, January 05, 2008

The Berlioz Society

Bulletin No. 175, December 2007, of the Berlioz Society is dedicated to Professor Barzun. Its contents include:

A message from Colin Davis

Frère Jacques, by Peter Bloom

Jacques Barzun, aet.100, by Richard Macnutt

A Source of Joy and Instruction, by Hugh Macdonald

Dining with Berlioz — or Not, by Katherine Kolb

Encounters with the Master, by Elizabeth Csicsery-Rónay

Barzun and the Founding of the Berlioz Society, by Brian Chenley

"Miscellaney" by David Cairns

Friday, January 04, 2008

Andrew Stout