Robert Schumann’s 1831 review of Chopin’s op. 2 variations depicts enthusiastic friends breathlessly emoting over a musical work, commenting upon it in nonlinear and sometimes borderline incoherent phrases. In Schumann’s commentaries—the most prominent examples of the burgeoning nineteenth-century tradition of music criticism—there is often no critical distance whatsoever; intensity and immersion are the driving force of these essays.
Similarly, Beavis and Butt-head’s intense interaction with music is what most clearly defines their daily activities; and, as depictions of critics whose interpretive and even artistic operations are an integral part of life, they reveal themselves to be cut from the same cloth as Schumann’s critical personae Florestan and Eusebius.
This according to “Florestan and Butt-head: A glimpse into postmodern music criticism” by Andrew Dell’Antonio (American music XVII/1 [spring 1999] 65–86; RILM Abstracts of Music Literature 1999-2733).
Today is Schumann’s 210th birthday! Above, the composer in 1850; below, a grouping of four movements from his Carnaval, beginning with his musical depictions of Eusebius and Florestan.
Related article: Chopin on Schumann on Chopin
While the boy band genre has mutated and evolved, its popular portrayal has altered little since groups like New Edition and New Kids on the Block conquered the charts back in the late 1980s.
Recent critical commentaries suggest that four discourses—youth, exploitation, gender, and fandom— interlock to determine how writers discuss the genre. Collectively their result is a relative stasis in critical commentary that helps to allay wider anxieties about the idea that, in a capitalist society, any of us can actively and pleasurably engage with a musical genre led by its own marketing.
This according to “Multiple damnations: Deconstructing the critical response to boy band phenomena” by Mark Duffett (Popular music history VII/2 [August 2012] pp. 185–97). Below, New Edition in the 1980s.
In collaboration with the Musikwissenschaftlichen Institut der Universität Basel, Schwabe Verlag inaugurated the series Resonanzen: Basler Publikationen zur Älteren und Neueren Musik in 2011 with Jacques Handschin in Russland: Die neu aufgefundenen Texte.
Edited by Жанна Викторовна Князева (Žanna Viktorovna Knâzeva), the book presents texts, reviews, correspondence, and biographies written by Handschin during his years in St. Petersburg (1909–22).
Launched by the Institute of Musical Research at the University of London in 2010, Francophone Music Criticism, 1789–1914 is a repository of digitized, searchable reviews relating to French music and ballet. Texts are grouped into collections devoted to particular works, events, series, performers, or authors. Bibliographical resources and work in progress of a more general nature are also included. The database’s development network is headed by Katharine Ellis and Mark Everist.