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I believe there are three kinds of music: good music, bad music and ‘packaged’ music.
Depending on one’s personality, upbringing, education and social interaction, one can either luxuriate or stifle under an enormous patchwork quilt of both good and bad music. Packaged music however, falls into its own category. It’s neither good nor bad. It’s simply packaged—either brilliantly or poorly; created to fulfill the rapidly changing social/commercial landscape. When the public tires of the packaging, new packaging will emerge to pour (or stream) into billions of electronic devices. However, in both its creation and performance, “classical” music and jazz resist packaging. And it is in these two expressions that my personal tastes have evolved, both as composer and conductor.
It is in the creation and performance of classical music and jazz that the history of the civilized world is revealed; its art, its literature, its politics, its humor, its pain, its religion, its love. With jazz there is the constant evolution and discovery during performance. No two performances of a tune are ever the same, even with the same players. In fact, the greater the imagination of the players, the more they tend to discover and expand in subsequent performances. With great classical music however, the music itself always prevails. (The music is indestructible; the performer is not.) Thus, Beethoven’s Violin Concerto will survive, whether performed by Joshua Bell or a 10 year-old Suzuki student.
In jazz, the musician charts his own journey, exploring the infinite possibilities of a few notes. With Beethoven, however, the musician shares passage on a predetermined route. It is a journey repeated over and over through life; each time a confrontation, each time a resolution, each time an expanding of the senses. In classical music and jazz there is a constant, living swirl of wonder and discovery—both sensual and intellectual. As a composer and conductor, I’ve always tried, in some way, to be part of that swirl.
-Arthur B. Rubinstein
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