An Eminent Critic Tells How Music Defines Us

Paul Griffiths at the Museum of Modern Art, Oxford, 2010. Painting: Howard Hodgkin, Where the Deer and the Antelope Play, courtesy of Gagosian Gallery. Photo: Edmund Blok.

“We Are What We Hear,” a talk by acclaimed music critic Paul Griffiths; a fifteen-minute concert; and a conversation between critic and conductor—these are the aural delights in store for those attending the 2013 Lloyd Old and Constance Old Lecture on May 10 at 6:30 p.m. in Elebash Recital Hall. The free event, which is part of the “Music in the 21st-Century Society” series, is sponsored by the Barry S. Brook Center for Music Research and Documentation and the Ph.D. and D.M.A. Program in Music at the Graduate Center.
Paul Griffiths’s music criticism has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, and the Times Literary Supplement, among many other major publications. He has also written many seminal books on modern music as well as short stories, novels, and libretti. Translated into German, Spanish, Chinese, Italian, Turkish, and Portuguese, his writings have shaped the scholarship and public discourse about music in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The eminent pianist Alfred Brendel has counted Griffiths among the “leading lights” of music criticism for “an informed and passionate involvement with new music, an imaginative and civilized turn of phrase, and the readiness to warmly appreciate.”
Griffiths selected two contemporary works to illustrate his talk: Song (2001), for cello and piano, by English composer Rebecca Saunders, and Herbstlied (2009), for English horn, string trio, and piano, by Danish composer Hans Abrahamsen. Following the talk and concert, Jeff Milarsky, a leading conductor of contemporary music, will join the critic to discuss the music of today.
Griffiths’s presentation, curated by Antoni PizĂ , director of the Brook Center’s Foundation for Iberian Music, marks the second event in the “Music in 21st-Century Society” series, inaugurated in April 2012. As Dr. Barbara Dobbs Mackenzie, the center’s director, explained, “The aim of the series is to present talks by major cultural figures addressing how the creation, consumption, contexts, and valuations of today’s music have changed.” She expressed gratitude to the estate of Lloyd Old and Constance Old for its continuing support.
The format for Griffiths’s appearance follows that of last year’s inaugural lecture, “The Challenges of Modernist Music,” by eminent pianist and writer Charles Rosen, a 2012 National Humanities Medal winner. A passionate advocate of new music who has been called “the single most influential writer on music of the past half-century,” Rosen spoke to an overflow crowd, illustrating his points on a piano and then joining in public conversation with Daniel J. Wakin of the New York Times. For more information about Griffiths’s May 10 lecture, please call 212-817-1819.

Submitted on: APR 23, 2013

Category: Barry S. Brook Center for Music Research and Documentation | Events | General GC News | Music Ph.D. - D.M.A