Modernism R.I.P.


Sometimes I forget: deconstructionism is over. Modernism was yesterday, and John Cage is dead.

Tonight I saw the Philadelphia Orchestra, directed by Christopher Eschenbach. They’re on tour, with Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante and Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique (plus an encore: Dance of the Comedians from Smetana’s The Bartered Bride). Anyway, my point is that all these pieces are pre-modern! Lately, its been hard to go to the symphony without hearing Shostakovitch AGAIN. Not to be misunderstood, I love Shostakovitch. . . but modernism rejects everything that came before: classical complexity and romantic sincerity. These days, I think that complexity and sincerity are woefully absent.

Many people describe postmodernism as tongue-in-cheek, nihilistic, and “meta.” These descriptions are true, but I think postmodernism can also be about embracing the past and connecting with art on its own terms: classical, romantic, or whatever. Tonight embodies my vision of “optimistic” postmodernism: a packed auditorium reconnecting with Mozart’s flirty genius and Berlioz’s rich emmotionality. Cheers to our post-future.


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