Magazine
Latest Issue

Who’s afraid of the avant-garde?

There's a reason why we find it easier to "get" modern art than avant-garde music, and it's not just about our natural conservatism and love of Mozart

By Philip Ball   November 2009

Looking at Rothko: no harder to “see” than wallpaper

Fear of Music: Why People Get Rothko But Don’t Get Stockhausen By David Stubbs (Zero Books, £9.99)

The writer Joe Queenan caused a minor rumpus in the austere world of contemporary classical music last year by complaining about how painful much of it is. He called Berio’s Sinfonia (1968) “35 minutes of non-stop torture,” Stockhausen’s Kontra-Punkte (1953) like “a cat running up and down the piano” and Birtwistle’s latest opera The Minotaur “funereal caterwauling.” “A hundred years after Schoenberg,” he wrote, “the public still doesn’t like anything after Transfigured…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to letters@prospect-magazine.co.uk

More From Prospect