ART AND SOCIETY - PAST SHAPES THE FUTURE
Analýza vztahů mezi současným skladatelem a společností
Prof. Massimiliano Messieri / San Marino / – composer, Conservatory of San Marino
We can say that art is not just a reflection of the society but also a dreamlike meditation on future.
We can take various example to demonstrate this concept but the most impressive and objective one, if not closer to us, may be the creative idea that the film director Stanley Kubrick had in 1964 for his film “2001: A Space Odyssey”. It was written both by Kubrick and by the British writer Arthur C. Clarke, who published the homonymous novel in the same year the film was released (Washington, 2 April 1968). The path of man’s history and his future are seen through partial but suggestive film-like shots, that are almost always fiction. Despite this, the movie anticipates technologies that were unknown in the 60s, such as people’s voice identification, the use of spaceships and their launch and the A.I., the artificial intelligence (listening: an excerpt by “2001: A Space Odyssey, HAL 9000 I’m sorry Dave, 1968). We must take into account that both the director and the writer lived in the same historical period when space travels were something ordinary. Just think about Laika, the Space Dog that was put into orbit from the Soviet Union in November 1957, or Yuri Gagarin, the first human to journey into outer space on the 12 April 1961.
Now that this concept is clear, what role has the composer into the society? We have seen in recent history and nowadays, that the path taken by composers during the Avant-garde led the “Music”, or better, the algorithmic combination of notes, to a dead-end. I can’t deny that this wasn’t necessary, and that the composers who were close to the horrors of hatred towards other men, the Holocaust, the tragedies of the First World War and the Second World War and later on, if that wasn’t enough, the Korean and the Vietnam War (just to mention a couple of them), were embarrassed to write about other topics, and the atavic screams that came out from those scores were cries of distress (listening: Luigi Nono, 1924-1990, “Como una ola de fuerza y luz” for soprano, piano and orchestra, 1971/72).
In opposition to it, can we say that in nowadays society, that is still not blended and globally connected, the composers of different nationalities saw the society through different eyes? (listening: Toru Takemitzu, 1930-1996, “Requiem” dedicated to the Japanese people, for string orchestra, 1957; listening: Luigi Nono, “Canti di vita e d’amore: sul ponte di Hiroshima” for soprano, tenor and orchestra, 1962).
These two examples show how a musician’s culture as well as his music, have always been influenced by the social history of the period when the composer lived. But in a globalized society like ours, where new media permit us with a click to listen to Maori or Aboriginal music while remaining seated in an armchair, is it really important to belong to a particular society or nationality rather than another? I believe that the cultural belonging of a musician is more the result of his own expressive-cultural personality rather than his nationality. A clear example regarding this aspect is Toru Takemitzu, born in Japan but later he became European in the expressive sense, absorbing musically other cultures (listening: Toru Takemitzu, 1930-1996, “Nostalghia” for violin and string orchestra, 1987). Another composer as great as the former, not just because he is a colleague of mine, but because of his ability to transcend musical emotionality, is Laurence Sherr (1953). He was born in the US but having Hebraic-Polish origins, he directed his musical research towards his origins, shaping his expressiveness that later became Middle-European. (listening: an excerpt by II movement from the Sonata for cello and piano “Mir zaynen do!”, Nicola Baroni, cello; Lorenzo Meo, piano, 2014).
Coming back to Kubrick’s common thread, on the decisions he made in the past, we notice that the society where we live, that shapes our creativity, is defined just by ourselves, by our free will. We are constantly looking for the deepest answer in our Ego: “why do I exist?” And the choices we made in our past define the way we write; the same choices that showed us a path rather than another.
It could be an absurd analysis reflecting on what could have happened to history if it took different paths, if we lived in a multiverse where it was possible to travel from a reality to another and it could surely be interesting listening to a kind of music coming from a parallel world; even if the interaction of a Multiverse (the concept of Multiverse was firstly proposed in a strict way by Hugh Everett III in 1957 with the “many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics”. Later it was underlined as a possible consequence of some scientific theories, especially the “String theory” and the “Bubble theory”. From a philosophic point of view, the theory is really old, having been referred as “plurality of worlds similar to earth” from the Greek atomists; it found new vigour after the Copernican Revolution with the discovery of the effective size of the universe, containing billions of galaxies. A forerunner of the modern idea of Multiverse was the Reinassance philosopher Giordano Bruno) could provoke a universal collapse because of the spread of many unknown, denier and subversive theories like the Flat Earth or the revisionism. If the Second World War hadn’t happened and the atomic bomb hadn’t been dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, would we have listened to the two previous scores? Of course not. Here is the possible answer: we are all linked like a perfect global harmony, and every choice a person makes, even if not directly linked to us, influences, in the past and in the future, the society that feeds our creativity. To sum up, every musical score is the effect of an action that happened in the past like the acquaintance of an emperor or a magnificent voice that becomes your muse. (listening, Massimiliano Messieri, 1964, “ЛАВИНА” Lyric poem for female voice and piano based on a poem by Irina Kotova, Elena Tereshchenko, soprano; Anastasiya Zimina, piano; 2017).
(Italian text translated in English by Martina Berardi)