...come back to find that cyberspace has gone completely bananas. The blogosphere, anyway. While I've been chilling out in rural and seaside France, Scott Spiegelberg, ACD, Alex Ross, Helen Radice et al have been engaging in a fast and furious debate about the difficulty, indeed the whole point, of writing about music. In blogging etiquette, as it evolves around us by the moment, I'm really too late to add my bit to this as everyone is now moving on to other matters such as the best way to blow the shofar (bravo, Scott, I'm sure you did brilliantly!).
Better late than never, perhaps, but I'll keep it short.
I believe that:
1. Writing about music is basically impossible. Music is a medium sufficient unto itself and its point is that it begins where words end.
2. Nevertheless, we keep trying. Why? Because we love it and want to communicate our love for it to those who haven't had the opportunities to know it as we privileged poseurs have. Yes, I am a privileged poseur (poseuse?) because my parents steeped me in music from well before day 1 and I learned three instruments (good at piano, so-so at fiddle, only ever scared cat with oboe). I'm bloody lucky and I know it.
3. It is fine for us in the PP camp to say that biographical details about composers are irrelevant and music has to speak for itself, but for those trying to find a way in to the classical spheres - which can seem very remote and hostile for exactly that reason - such matters are absolutely invaluable. And we PPs can't afford to ignore that, because if we do then the music we love is going to be cut back and killed off.
4. For some possible solutions, read the piece I wrote for the Indy a few months back. I'm not offering these solutions to the PPs, but I know for a fact that bringing storytelling back into music can help to recruit new audiences. We need new audiences whether we like it or not.