11 June 2005

Truth in Advertising

You may recall that a while back, Patti and I went to see the Pittsburgh Symphony perform a couple of pieces by the modern composer John Adams - specifically his Short Ride in a Fast Machine, and his Violin Concerto. You'll likely also recall that I'm not a huge fan of Mr. Adams. It's not his fault. He purposefully and happily embraces all the things about modern orchestral composition that just drive me bugshit. I don't find it so much dissonant as I do overwhelming. With all those instruments competing for my attention, I can't grasp anything to listen to, and hence it's just so much noise to me. Color me a Philistine.

Anywho, beating up on one of America's most beloved composers (you're next, Phillip Glass!) isn't really the point of my entry.

I'm here to kick the ass of the marketing department at the PSO.

You see, the second half of the evening was a stunning and beautiful rendition of Schubert's Symphony No. 9 in C Major, which absolutely blew me away.

But while I was leafing through the program during the intermission, I came across this drawing of Schubert next to the biographical information on the composer. Well, you know me. My first reaction was, "Holy shit! Schubert was hot!"

So, of course, me being me, I want to know more about Schubert, and look at other pictures of him, and find out a little more about his life. I know he died early because of syphilis or some equally presently-treatable disease, but beyond that, zilch.

At the first opportunity, I logged on and did a Google search for Franz Schubert, and this is what I get!

It turns out that the drawing above is of Schubert in 1813. When he was 16 years old! The one to the right is a lot closer to when he wrote his 9th Symphony - a lot closer to his death.

So my grief with the PSO marketing gurus is this: What's up with trying to sell us on the sexy young Schubert, a decade before he's actually writing the piece in question? What's wrong with tired, prematurely old, syphilitic fat guys getting the props they're due?

Hot, callow, dreamy Schubert didn't write the 9th Symphony (although he may have had the syphilis already, for all I know); the old one did -- the one who knew he was sick, and that there was no cure for what he had. That's where the beauty in the symphony comes from.

But no. We gotta go with "sex sells." And that kinda drives me bugshit.

Still... Schubert was hot.

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