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Editorial Musings with Basil Ramsey

Looking for the best



Amongst the many things a curious music lover will need to study in the quest for enlightenment is the way in which composers of real significance enrich the period in which they live. Just as important is assessment of their impact on fellow composers and on the next generation of musicians. Which leads to a clearer understanding of how individual composers leave their mark on the overall progression of their art.

As this tiny proportion of mankind compose to the extent of using their gifts to generate music of uncompromising quality, so they retain identity, and the sheer diversity of their compositions entitles the best to adoption within the swelling ranks of good music.

It is with this refining process in mind that we discover the discomforting truth of the enormous range of acceptable music in relation to that small percentage of exceptional music for which performance takes place but rarely. This is no revelation. It has always been a fact that some of us find second best an easier alternative.

When I think of so many composers at any one time writing music for a variety of reasons, including the buzz of a new idea, the requirement of a commission, the joy of an invitation, the pleasure of an unexpected request, the relief of solving a problem, or the determination of proving a point, my curiosity reaches fever pitch. No doubt remains of the shortcomings of the greater percentage, nor of the mediocrity of much that remains. But what of the very few that survive through sheer quality? Perhaps we should filter again and gaze on just one remaining. It is at such moments that we may perceive the wonder of striving upwards in the quest for near-perfection. The word 'masterpiece' is grossly over used, yet worthy candidates appear once in a while.

It is the challenge of holding to a perception of quality that so easily gets drowned in that wretched sea of mediocrity lapping around us all.


Copyright © 19 July 2001 Basil Ramsey, Eastwood, Essex, UK


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