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Art for Whose Sake?

Is Beethoven's "art" really "greater" than that of an everyday folk artist?

Don Sucher


May 19, 2014 - 1:00 pm
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What is the value of art? Some esteem it as gold, others as paper, others as something of less value yet. “What good is art?” they ask, “what has art ever accomplished?”

I suppose the best answer to this later expression is to answer the question with a question. “Why is anything worth accomplishing?” After all, nothing man does truly lasts. And yet despite this eternity is, as the bible say, in ours hearts – the need to understand and feel connected to the past and the need to feel we are making some contribution to the future. For many art — its study, its creation, and its appreciation, is the greatest tool (apart, perhaps, from family) in our accomplishing this.

“Art,” it has been said, “is in the eyes of the beholder.”  And this is true.  Time, experience, culture and community  all apprise our judgement of art — what it is and how it is to be valued. And some appreciation of art is common to all societies of men.  As novelist Jane Austen wittingly commented on one such – the art of dance.

Sir William: “Do you dance, Mr. Darcy?”

Mr. Darcy: ”Not if I can help it!”

Sir William:  There is nothing like dancing,..  I consider it as one of the first  refinements of polished societies.”

Mr. Darcy: ”Certainly, sir; and it has the advantage also of being in vogue amongst the less polished societies of the world; every savage can dance.”

Point, set and match to Mr. Darcy.

Yet even if we agree that “art” itself is deemed of some universal value, we still may disagree on what exactly “art” is.

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All Comments   (3)
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Beethoven? Ah, yes. Most of what Beethoven wrote was not just "art", but actual genius. Think also of the immense talent it would take to compose various concertos or a symphony. Most of us do not have such knowledge, talent and inspiration.

Even the best of today's composers, for the most part, write movie music; and while I do not by any means denigrate movie music, for it takes talent and imagination, still I cannot think of even the best of who we have today writing a symphony that could compare to Beethoven's 5th, 6th, 7th or 9th symphonies. John Williams stands out among contemporary musicians / composers. Much of his music can inspire, and is great music (I'm thinking of his Fanfare for the 1984 Olympics here), but not on a par with Beethoven.

Beethoven, and those few like him are long gone; and I fear we shall never see their like again. More's the pity.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well, yes, Beethoven's art really WAS better, considering that he pioneered a lot of the stuff other musicians have been doing ever since.

Another great pioneer in music? Pachelbel. As noted in a comedian's "Pachelbel Rant" he and his "Canon in D" are behind an incredible amount of today's music:

Some good music is still being made today, yes, but most of it follows from what came before; and no follower is greater than a leader.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
You ask "Is Beethoven’s 'art' really 'greater' than that of an everyday folk artist?"


Ben Hartley
(I write it, I sign it.)
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
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