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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