Saturday, March 1, 2008
On Wystan Hugh
Auden on porn! Auden on performance practice! (Well, at least on listening.) I can't decide which is sexier.
Words so excite me that a pornographic story, for example, excites me sexually more than a living person can do
-From "The Prolific and the Devourer"
We know the Mozart of our Father's time
Was gay, rococo, sweet, but not sublime
A Viennese Italian; that is changed
Since music-critics learned to feel "estranged";
Now it's the Germans he is classed amongst,
A Geist whose music was composed from Angst,
At International Festivals enjoys
An equal status with the Twelve-Tone Boys;
He awes the lovely and the very rich,
And even those Divertimenti which
He wrote to play while bottles were uncorked,
Milord chewed noisily, Milady talked,
Are heard in solemn silence, score on knees,
Like quartets by the deafest of the B's.
What next? One can no more imagine how,
In concert halls two hundred years from now,
When the mozartian sound-waves move the air,
The cognoscenti will be moved, than dare
Predict how high orchestral pitch will go,
How many tones will constitute a row,
The tempo at which regimented feet
Will march about the Moon, the form of Suite
For Piano in a Post-Atomic Age,
Prepared by some contemporary Cage.
-From "Metalogue to the Magic Flute," by way of Osbert Parsley