I’ve been thinking about this whole Stockhausen story. It’s not really very important, but still…

On one hand, I think I do understand what Stockhausen was trying to say in his incredibly self-absorbed and unthinking way, and I remember that one of my very first responses as I stood on sixth avenue watching the towers burn was to marvel at the horrific brilliance of the double attack with a little time in between to be sure everyone (including news cameras) would be watching, making sure it was first thing in the morning when people would already have arrived at work and many more would be streaming through the subways and PATH trains that run under the towers, the choice of a visible bastion of capitalism as the target, the coordination of multiple hijacked planes from multiple airports. I think many of us thought these things.

And at first glance, I can read Corigliano’s response as being nearly as self-serving as Stockhausen’s: I mean blaming modernism?!?! Like, who cares about tritones versus fifths when thousands of people have been killed?

But on some level, I have to say I agree with Corigliano. I find it very easy to connect Stockhausen’s response to the terrorist attack to Ezra Pound’s response to fascism. If you work really hard, you can see that Pound didn’t really mean to be an anti-semitic traitorous fascist, he just followed his aesthetic and economic ideas to their logical extreme. And Schoenberg’s claim that the twelve-tone system would ensure the triumph of german music for the next hundred years was not really fascist either (of course not, he was a jewish refugee) but it sure smells bad from a distance.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I believe that strongly-held ideology is inherently dangerous. And modernism was a very deeply-held ideology. It is very easy, especially in terrible times, to push one’s ideology, no matter how inherently virtuous, to a place where it becomes destructive.

Phil Kline told me he walked by Cooper Union last night, and the poster in front advertising the music series there has a big CANCELLED written over the previously-announced performance of Stockhausen’s Stimmung.

I think that's a big mistake.

As a teenager I was told a story about Jascha Heifetz, the legendary Russian Jewish violinist. He went to Israel to play a concert. At the time, it was illegal to perform the music of Richard Strauss. Heifetz performed the Violin Sonata. And the audience stoned him.

Heifetz was one of my childhood heroes. He remains one today.