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February 11, 2007

You've never seen tacks so sharp

Ok, I'm in the midst of PhD prelim exams and don't have time to be blogging, but damn... I mean seriously folks -- every time (repeating for emphasis: EVERY TIME) I encounter this man's writing, I am inspired and reminded just how sharp a good scholarly writer can be...

Richard Taruskin (faculty page, wikipedia entry) will never disappoint an attentive reader. He may rile you up; he may punch a sudden visceral laugh from your gut. You may find in him the razor sharp wit you wish you had on a topic dear to your heart, and you may think he deserves to be stabbed with something equally sharp for what he says. But if you can retain a little bit of objectivity in those moments, you will realize just how powerfully he has galvanized you out of your torpor.

He is one of very few Western musicologists who can read Russian and has specialized in Russian music. As a composer, lover of Russian music from all periods, and one who is fascinated with many elements of Russian history (music and other), that's the main context in which I've encountered Taruskin in the past. But in the past few days I've been reading about John Adams's opera The Death of Klinghoffer. A few months after 9/11, Taruskin wrote an article in the New York Times Arts section, commenting on the cancellation of a performance of choruses from the opera by the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

You can get a small taste of the context from the wikipedia entry on the opera, but you shouldn't stop there. If you want some thought-provoking reading, you should actually read Taruskin's article. If you don't subscribe to the NY Times online service, it will cost you $5, but for my fiver it's well worth it. You should also be sure to read the interview with Adams that our esteemed scholar quotes. He does not change the meaning of Adams's words, but those words do belong in a context which Taruskin does not mention.

Well, *MY* thoughts have been provoked... hope yours have too... no easy answers on this one... and that's as it should be, as it truly is...

Posted by crock038 at February 11, 2007 5:19 PM | Links


A reader named Tyson pointed out that those of you at the UofM have free access to the NY Times through the library's subscription to ProQuest Historical Newspapers.


Search for "Taruskin" and 12/9/2001 as the publication date.

Posted by: Zac at February 21, 2007 12:20 PM

Hello Zachary Crockett,
I came across your name online, and I thought it ironic that I have a son by your name. I am not sure of your middle name but his name is Zachary Crockett also, he's only 7. I just wanted to write here in your blog and tell you that. You dont have to respond back if you are too busy. I have listened you some of your music, Fire and FightToFlowBetween, it really sounds great. Oh well best of luck in all you do.. Thanks so much for reading this, in advance!!

Posted by: Jackie Crockett at March 2, 2007 7:51 AM

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