Saturday, February 5, 2011

Oldies but Goodies

I've been spending a lot of time lately thinking about the interesting juxtaposition of old vs. new that seems so prominent in my life. It's no secret that I am a huge fan of vintage clothing (which I often pair with newfangled accessories and shoes), classical music, Romantic era literature, and funky antique decor. That's not to say that I'm disconnected from the present; those of you who know me are well aware of my fondness for the internet, modern cinematography (especially in television series), pop music, and of course Target.

So what is it that got me thinking like this? My music history midterm. A question on the test asked us to compare Hector Berlioz (of Symphony Fantastique fame) to Felix Mendelssohn (composer of such favorites as Wedding Music from 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' and my personal favorite, his Symphony No.5 which uses not only a very traditional form that was considered 'old fashioned' in his time, but the final movement is also based on an old Bach chorale, Ein Feste Burg which you Lutherans out there will know as 'A Mighty Fortress'). This got me thinking about the timelessness of the truly great works of art and society that will be around and great no matter how much time passes. In my continuous pursuit to be the best Hannah I can be, I think it is only appropriate to try to find the most timeless aspects of art and culture in my own life so as to avoid the 'oh my god I can't believe I painted my kitchen that color' or 'why on earth did I think it was a good idea to wear that to prom?' realizations later in life.

This argument is often brought up in musical discussions. There were plenty of composers back in the day writing music just like there are today, but we only continue to play the really good stuff. So really, it's not that 'modern music is atonal, weird, and icky', rather we just haven't weeded through all the fads yet. That's not to say that John Williams and Lowell Liebermann are going to be as revered as Beethoven someday, but they will probably continue to live on for a lot longer than whoever wrote the music for Napolean Dynamite. This holds true for literature. The Bronte sisters, Earnest Hemingway, and Voltaire are going to be a lot more popular in the long run than the Pretty Little Liars book series.

For my own selfish reasons, there is plenty of incentive to enrich my life with the classics; vintage clothing is much cheaper than a shopping spree at Gap, playing a Mozart sonata for a recital is usually seen as more 'legitimate' than something your composition major friend wrote, and if I get sick of reading Great Expectations I can always just watch any number of movie adaptations to see how it ends. (Just kidding about the last one)

I suppose the bottom line of what I'm trying to say is that the test of time is hard to argue with. And when I don't have time to sift through all the new fads and gadgets, its nice to have the classics to fall back on.

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