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Look Who's Trashing Wagner

October 9, 2012

Thomas Adès Photo by Brian VoiceFashionable composer Thomas Adès, whose Powder Her Face and other works are considered by some to be in the mushroom category themselves, calls Wagner a "fungus":

I don't find Wagner's an organic, necessary art. Wagner's music is fungal. I think Wagner is a fungus. It's a sort of unnatural growth. It's parasitic in a sense — on its models, on its material. His material doesn't grow symphonically — it doesn't grow through a musical logic — it grows parasitically. It has a laboratory atmosphere.

In an interview with the Guardian, Adès goes on to talk about an apparently more important composer:

The music we listen to is the residue of an endless search for stability. I think you can make a sort of illusion of stability in a piece; you can fix it in a certain way. In a musical work, you permanently fix something that in life would be appreciable only for a moment. If I put a note under the microscope I feel I can see millions, trillions of things. In Polaris, my recent orchestral piece, a "voyage for orchestra," I was looking and looking at a particular C sharp, and as I put it under the microscope I saw or heard a writhing that turned into the piece.

Janos Gereben appreciates news tips, corrections, and words of encouragement at [email protected].