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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…

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