To speak or not to speak

Posted on: April 24, 2009

In a post last Friday (4/17) on NewMusicBox.com, Dan Visconti recalls attending a concert in Berlin featuring a performance of Berg’s Lyric Suite, preceded by a talk by Walter Levin. “The problem I’ve always had with most pre-concert talks of any serious length and/or depth is the inverse relationship between the quality of the talk and my desire to hear the subsequent performance; in this case, after nearly 75 minutes of speaking, performed excerpts, and slides, the last thing in the world that I felt like doing was sitting through a performance of the piece in question!” Visconti feels that post-concert lectures work much better. “But there’s no need to limit ourselves to the above dichotomy,” he writes, “for concerts with several works, what about optional 15-20 minute talks during intermission? That would be a great opportunity to dig a little deeper into the music on the first half of the concert while using it to set the stage for the second half. I’m sure that there are a host of other great paradigms for mixing music with talking about music. And looking back over some of Leonard Bernstein’s Young People’s Concerts—particularly an episode in which musicians play discarded versions of a Beethoven symphony from the composer’s original sketches—I see the beginnings of a more interactive approach which could surely benefit from the plethora of technology available today.”

Posted April 24, 200