I realize I ought to read the article, but it makes me so angry that this young man can get recorded because of his age when established composers can't count on getting their work recorded.This phenomenon brings up all sorts of feelings, doesn't it? I understand Ms. Hirsch's anger at these opportunities not going to more established composers.
However, it reminds me of feelings I had as an undergraduate regarding the funding and attention given to intercollegiate athletics. I felt at the time that the money and attention should be going elsewhere, especially the arts. This was based on the misquided notion that if the money and attention wasn't given to sports, it would naturally go to something more "worthy". It wouldn't.
In this situation, I think it would be naive to think that if Sony Classical wasn't recording Mr. Greenberg that they would be recording [insert the name of a composer you consider under-recorded]. I don't believe that this is the case. Regardless of the merits of Mr. Greenberg's music, I don't believe it would have been recorded were it not for his age. I have no doubt of this.
I haven't heard the two pieces on the Sony release. Based on the one-minute snippets available at amazon.com, Mr. Greenberg's melodic skill is considerable, and his rhythmic pallete appropriate and limited. I can't really judge the harmony, because I would need to hear how it plays out over the large-scale for to get a real grasp of it. As for his skill in handling structure (arguably the most important aspect in tonal symphonic [sonata-style] music), I haven't a clue, because the excerpts aren't long enough.
I don't know if Mr. Greenberg is the real deal or not. To proclaim him a "genius" at this time would, it seems to me, have to be based largely on the idea that genius equals facility and/or prolificacy. I think there's more to it than that. I think it has to include a profound sense of the human condition that most of us lack plus the talent and skill to present that sense in aesthetic form. It's way too early to tell if Mr. Greenberg has that.
I do think it is interesting how eager some are to label him a genius. There seems to be a need to have a composer we can all label the contemporary Mozart or Mendelssohn. I'm not sure I understand this. I don't know if there are any such geniuses out there, but I do know that there are countless new and recent works of genius that most of us don't get to hear and don't even get to hear about. To that extent, I do agree with Ms. Hirsch's lament that the Greenberg marketing effort has sucked so much oxygen out of the room.
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There is a word for composers who say they’re not jealous of Greenberg’s accomplishments at this point, and that word is liars. It’s impossible not to see in Greenberg all the dreams you had for yourself as a composer, if only your piano teacher hadn’t moved away, or a cousin stole your favorite banjo, or, frankly, that you had enough talent.
More to come.