Joe Queenan certainly opened a bit of a can of worms with his article in the Guardian, even to the extent of its travelling across the Atlantic. Terry Teachout entered the fray in his column in The Wall Street Journal. Having read that, Ethan Iverson issued this challenge to Mr Teachout:
what about a list of classical music since 1950 that he finds interesting? It should be a list of music that is neither twelve-tone or minimalist, nor particularly “crunch and thump.”
Responding to the challenge, Terry comes up with a list of 10 pieces which includes several surprises (to me, at least). The ding-dong then continued, with TT challenging EI to do the same. He did. Once again, some of the choices came as a surprise. In particular, I was fascinated by the inclusion of Frederic Rzewski‘s North American Ballads — so much so in fact, that I investigated this composer further and went on to download a wonderful performance (by Marc-André Hamelin) of Rzewski’s monumental work for piano, The People United Will Never Be Defeated.
The final instalment of this saga (so far, at least) comes from George Hunka. So the strangest thing of all (at least for me) is that Joe Queenan’s dose of negativity has resulted in an expansion of my exposure to 20th-Century music, into areas I never previously imagined possible.