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2011年9月28日 星期三

The Triumph of Modernity in Vienna - Gustav Klimt and the Secession Movement

前言: 很久沒有寫一些有關 art and painting 的文章。現在特選了Klimt 這位現代畫家,去探討他的成就和他對十九世紀末 Vienna 的藝術現代化的過程和貢獻。他的名句: Modern Man Needs a Modern Face,實在是一針見血的將 modernization 的定義道破。為何藝術風格也要經歷現代化呢? 這篇文章會有解答。希望讀者喜歡這文章。



                                               The Music - Gustav Klimt




The Triumph of Modernity in Vienna – Gustav Klimt and the Secession Movement



The modernity in Vienna had to start somewhere and this starting-point is synonymous with Gustav Klimt.  His paintings are highly personal symbolized and are as persistent as they are profound, captivating and powerful.[1]  He was favored to employ square canvas and heighten the hieratic effect of gold backgrounds.  His Lavish application of gold leaf anticipated the style of collage.  Klimt also liked to use tiny flecks of color to create mosaic-like surfaces that reflecting the eclectic charm of the hieroglyphs from Egypt, spirals from Mycenae, and floral patterns from Ravenna.  Even more compelling are portraits of women, whose quizzical faces and sensual figures anticipated the image of the vamp made popular during 1920’s after his death.[2]  Therefore Klimt, undoubtedly, was the leading symbol of the modernity in Vienna.



Klimt, in addition, is the central figure of the Secession Movement, an Art Nouveau Movement in Vienna.  Just as the writer Hermann Bahr claimed about the artistic atmosphere in the last decade of Vienna, ‘ Nothing happens here, absolutely nothing.’  Bahr had for some time been pessimistic about the state of painting and sculpture throughout the Habsburg Empire and especially in Vienna.  He believed that the visual Arts in Vienna was too conservative, narrowly provincial and absence of originality and creativity.  Klimt and his contemporaries agreed with Bahr’s critics and they argued that the Viennese artists did not have the opportunity to expose their works to their foreign colleagues.  However, their worries were not unreasonable.  During the last decade of the 19th Century, two principal bodies dominated the visual arts in Vienna: The Academy of Fine Arts and the Kunstlerhaus.  The Kunstlerhaus was in a position to impose not only government policy with regards to arts, but also to influence the formation of public taste, by means of its annual exhibitions.  It was a young organization, founded in 1861, but no less conservative for that.  Although Kunstlerhaus organized exhibitions and sold the work of its members, protected and furthered their interests, its policy was rather narrow and provincial, always looking inwards rather than towards the broad horizon.[3]  It should possess the responsibility to expose the works of the Viennese artists to the world, just as Klimt and his friends always claimed.  Therefore, the revolt against traditional conservatism finally spread to art and architecture.  On 25 May 1987, nineteen artists around Gustav Klimt split off from the Kunstlerhaus.  They searched for new style and new way to express their subjective emotion through their artworks.  Over the portals of the Secession building, the base for the revolutionary movement, Secession proclaimed its aims: To the Age it’s Art, To the Art it’s Freedom.  But none knew what concrete meaning actually was.  It may be the cultural renewal or personal introspection, modern identity or asylum from modernity, truth or pleasure.  However, no matter what was the real meaning behind, the components in the Secession manifestoes suggested many contradictory possibilities compatible only in one sense: their common rejection of the nineteenth century’s conservatism in Vienna.[4]  The success of the modernity in Vienna seemed near.



Unfortunately, the road of modernity is not easy as the Secessionists thought.  Klimt began his ‘Philosophy’ during 1899 and when he decided to show it in a still-unfinished state at the Secession exhibition, the consequence was unexpected.  Painting his new vision and depicting his new allegorical conception to the University project, the ‘Philosophy’, he brought upon himself the wrath of old rationalists.  The controversy, even scandal, and the public reaction wounded him deeply and made him realize that carry out the kind of public commissions he had so successfully completed in previous date, for instance, in the new Burgtheater and Kunsthistorisches Museum, was compatible neither with artistic freedom in general nor his personal favorite.[5]  In the course of the ensuing struggle, painters, public, and even politicians vigorously debated the function of modern art in Vienna.  Confronting such crucial time in Klimt’s life did not scare him off in pursuing of the artistic freedom.  The battle of the modernity, by contrast, brought an end to his role as a mere subverter of the ancient way in his art and led him more strictly attached to the new mission as an artist of real modernity of Vienna and ultimately led to a new, abstract phase in his paintings.

The struggle of Klimt on the road of modernity in Vienna was not wasted.  The crisis over the University paintings led to the confrontation of both the modern and orthodox liberal parties of the University in hostile array and also brought forth the deep debate in the political context.  The debate between two cultures that Jodl, the opponent of Klimt, and Wickhoff, the defender of Klimt, represented –old ethics and new aesthetics – in the university raged on the podium and in the press, but it was in the political context that the issue could be finally decided.[6]  According to Dr. Ernest von Koerber, an able and imaginative official of the Government, the supporting of Klimt meant the supporting of the modernization of Vienna, either in the area of economics or in culture.  Whilhem Ritter von Hartal, the State assistance of the Ministry of Culture in Austria, undoubtedly gladly threw the weight of the State behind the modern movement of the city.  With Hartel’s assistance, the Secessionist Movements achieved the dramatic success.[7]  Modern artists won painting and architectural commissions and teaching posts.



Therefore, the gradual succession of the modern art in Vienna was the insistent effort of the central figure, Gustav Klimt, and the result of Secession Movement. The abstraction and symbolism portrayed in his works depicted the real modern face of the modern man.  Just as Tietze, one of Klimt’s friend, claimed in 1918 after Klimt’s death that “Klimt, German-Bohemian in origin, absorbed the Viennese spirit…. and at the turn of the century he more than anyone else guaranteed the artistic individuality of Vienna.”[8]  The modernity of art in Vienna, undoubtedly, under the valuable contribution of Klimt was then completed.






[1] Boubnova, Iaroslave, et al., Vienna Secession 1898-1998, Prestel: New York, 1976, p.9.


[2] Willam, M. Johnston, The Austrian Mind: An Intellectual and Social History 1848-1938, University of California Press: Los Angeles, 1972, p.144.


[3] Frank, Whitford, Klimt, Thames and Hudson: Singapore, 1990, p.67.


[4] Carl, E.Schorske, Fin-De-Siecle Vienna: Politics and Culture, Vintage Books: New York, 1981, pp217-219.


[5] Frank, P.67.


[6] Carl, pp235-236.


[7] Carl, p238.


[8] Frank, pp.144-145.


David Leung (theorydavid)
2011-09-27 (published)

2011年9月20日 星期二

The Humor of Beethoven Piano Sonata op 14 no 2 in G Major

前言: 當我們常說Haydn的性格充滿幽默,反影在他的音樂裡時,可曾想過,脾氣火爆的貝多芬,在為音樂時也常常偷借前人,有時是 Mozart,有時是 Haydn 的寫作風格。所以,貝先生的作品,有時都幾幽默。讓我們看看一例。


正文:

The opening of the sonata op. 14 no. 2 in G major always obsesses listeners for four measures are mistakenly inserted in a wrong place. This illusion largely lies in the use of a series of synopated motive, chopping the metrical accent of the time. The  right set of such witty effect by the melodic figure falling on the structural on-beat is attained in measure 5.

Any attempt by the performer to clear the matter up immediately by accentuating the first beats in the first four measures would be misguided. It would not only spoil Beethoven's jest, it would also ruin his intentionaly designed coda. Indeed Beethoven sets the witty rhythmic pattern of the main motive right straight in this cautious, yet elabortive, concluding passage to expressive.

Listeners are not only no longer puzzled by the beat, but also the expansive possibilities inherent in the motive. The original joke is in the style of Haydn, but the cantibile coda is of Beethoven's own. But one would see as if Beethoven is indebted to Mozart for the practice of using the coda to set right the previous eccentricities of the materials.

The first movment has a development section surprisingly long and elaborate for so modest a work, as long as the exposition. It also includes a Haydnean habit of false recapitulation which fools no one since it is in E Flat Major. The cadential theme of the exposition, marked 'dolce', has a memorably popular character and is supported by an intensely expressive bass line.


The Andante slow movement is a set of variations in an ostentatiously simple style that recalls many of the modest sets by Mozart. The ending is a joke in Haydnean style. It consists of a sudden crash of ff after pp chords with rests. This chicanery is seen in Haydn's sonata in G major Hob. XVI/40, where soft staccato single notes are interrupted, forte, by a brusque arpeggiated seven-note chord. Perhaps, Haydn's humor was so down to the earth on his day that Beethoven could easily adapt to mock the courty dilettantes silently.


The finale, a Scherzo marked 'Allegro assai', also opens by fooling the listeners as to the place of the mearure line. It is in pastoral, even rustic style, with drone bagpipe effects. Stylistically it is akin to some of the more humorous bagtelles that Beethvoen wrote both early and late in life.


Completed

David Leung (theorydavid)

2011-09-20 (published)

2011年9月17日 星期六

21st Century Ideas and Institution -- 論廿一紀的思想與制度

前言: 二十一世紀已經開始了,可是,人類的前途如何呢? 我們有很多尖端的科技,但人類如何才能借助他們的發明去造福人類本身。且看看以下十年前寫的一篇短文章。

正文:


21st Century Ideas and Institution



Undoubtedly, we are benefiting from the achievements of Western reason in the form of science and natural human rights. In our days, we are having basic freedom to vote, to choose religion, to live in a particular way. Also, we are appreciating in using the computers, the planes, and the electronic appliances. Actually, these are the products of the Western civilization. From Renaissance up to present, ideas and institutions of the freedom to think, to reason emerges as the exemplary civilization to the whole world. However, it is undeniable to assert that on one hand, we are now enjoying the prosperity and abundance from the improvement in material conditions and advanced technology, and at least, in most of the places of the world, we are having certain human freedoms that purse us the happiness that are came from the contribution of the freedom of thinking, but on the other hand, the domestic problems, social problems and political problems are still making our life more and more difficult. Wars and nations’ slaughter, racial discrimination, political unstable, social inequality, pollutions, crimes and conflicts between religions and different races are breaking the harmony and peace of the world, as well as the society. Therefore, we are benefiting from the achievements of Western reason in the forms of freedom and scientific technology, but at the same time, we are suffering from them.



In order to find out the effective solution to the problems of the mankind, it is very important to examine how the institutions and ideas that provide for freedom and advancement in material conditions came about and understand the nature and the limit of this ‘freedom’.



We can retrace to the Renaissance period, also called the Age of reason, in the Western history in which the formation of the idea of freedom reasoning first evoked and continued to shape the modern concepts of freedom in nowadays.



In the period of Renaissance, human became a valuable object again. Francis Bacon, 1561-1626, claimed a new way of thinking. This was the first step to let the mankind using his freedom of reasoning to recognize the world. He insisted on the inductive method and knowledge was gained from observation of what could be seen. Men then could learn from what they experienced, not only what they were told, especially by the Church as in the Middle Age.



Rene Descartes (1596-1650), on the other hand, advanced the principle of deductive method in his Discourse on Method. The trade mark, ‘I think, therefore I exist’, became the beginning of the unlimited freedom of reasoning in a rational world of mankind.



The unlimited thinking privilege not only contributed to the academic disciplines and institutions, but also brought a great impact on the scientific and political field.



The freedom of thinking made the chance for Hobbes to claim that absolute monarchy was essential to the people because human nature was not good. But on the other hand, John Locke preached a constitutional government, a government that was based on the consent of the governed. His two treatises of Government provided the basis for American revolutionary thinking a century later. He also claimed that human understanding was the result of the environment on the mind. Men and women were not limited by circumstances of their births, as proclaimed by Plato and Descartes. The mind could know anything and be taught to go in any direction by the environment, education, and experience. The day for the people to claim for their political, social and individual freedom was near.



In the scientific field, freedom of reasoning assisted Newton to discovery the laws of the physical world and this had shown the infinite capacity of the human mind, given it the key to the mastery of nature, and opened the possibility of solving social problems and creating a much better world.



Not more than a century’s time, from these basic assumptions Rousseau had come to the conclusion that all existing institutions under absolute monarchy of the ancient regime were against the laws of nature, hence should be removed. Montesquieu’s idea of separation of powers in government, and Thomas Jefferson’s American Declaration of Independence which announced the natural rights of people to choose their own government to maintain their life, the liberty and the happiness that brought to the western world were two important revolutions, the French revolution and the American Independent revolution. The first constitutional government was then born. The power of freedom of thinking, again, showed its influential power.



The effect of the Enlightenment intellectuals was obvious. In the 19th century, and idea of Romanticism arouse. Romanticism sought to preserve the freedom and dignity of the individual that the Reformation and the Enlightenment had started, the former on religious and the latter o scientific grounds. During the 2nd half of the 19th century, faith in the power of natural science spread to many people. Science was at the bottom of the entire movement of industrialization. Science was touching each individual life. There was the railroad, followed by the steamship, the telegraph, and the telephone. In medicine there was anaesthesia, and X-ray. Chemistry was giving such benefits as fertilizer, enabling and ensuring harvests. All these underlying changes were based on those of Newton’s ideas. The law of gravitation was not changed. The ultimate nature of the universe was thought to be regular orderly, predictable and harmonious. It was timeless, in the sense that unlike human development, the universe did not changed.



However, in the late 19th century, the unlimited reasoning rights, which formerly were the benefits, but brought a new hazard to the humankind. Darwin’s theory of evolution, although has no direct attack on Church, it denied the creation of God probably. Social Darwinism came into being as social scientists began to translate his idea of the survival to the fittest into the area of human behavior. This promoted the new imperialism in the worldwide, and the hierarchic conflict in the politics. Another example of abuse of freedom in thinking could be found in the ideas of Herder and Nietzche. The former proclaimed the racial superiority of the German nations and broke down the sense of human similarity which had been the characteristic of the Age of Enlightenment, as revealed in French and American doctrines of the ‘rights of man’, and again in the codes of Napoleon while the latter announced that the God had died and thus, demolished the modern order of politics and moral, abolished the issue of Jefferson and his colleagues that the political rights were the gift of God. All political, religious, moral restraints were removed in order to achieve the so-called ‘freedom’. This was the crisis of the whole human civilization.



Nowadays, the effect of the unrestraint freedom of the ideas and thinking are devastating. Confronting the mankind are the ceaselessly ethnic conflict and disunity. Movements, reformations and revolutions occur elsewhere. The consequences of the victory of the freedom of reason are enormously horrible. If all the religious and traditional moral values are removed, the freedom becomes unlimited and uncontrollable. Before the human’s self destruction occurs, it is the time for us to revalue the virtue of the traditional values. To the Chinese people, the Confucian ideas of love, and the five relationships lead us to a more harmonious and peaceful society. To the Western people, the charitable Christianity should be revalued. These are the real, valuable roots of the civilization of mankind. Only through these positive re-examinations, we can recognize the true nature of freedom, that is, it is relative, not absolute. It should be restrained. Then, human can fully benefit from the achievements of freedom in form of science and liberty, forever.


David Leung (theorydavid)

2011-09-17 (published)

2011年9月10日 星期六

10月份開辦的課程: 歌曲寫作入門

致各位同學和好友:

梁 sir 準備會在十月十日開辦一個新的作曲課程。

為了方便新同學開始學習作曲,梁 sir 開辦的新課程: 歌曲寫作入門。

課程內容如下:

1. Musical Structure and Components
2. Melodic Shape and Contour
3. Melody, Rhythm and Metrical Setting
4. Melody and Harmony
5. Simpe Song Form
6. Writing Introduction, Interlude and Ending
7. Setting Poem to Melody
8. Text-Painting Techniques
9. Pop Song versus Art Song
10. Imitate the Masters


如有興趣報讀,請 email 給梁 sir。

全期十二課,每課 1.5 小時
時間: 逢星期一晚: 6:30pm -- 8:00pm

日期: 十月十日


謝謝。


梁 sir。

2011-09-28

2011年9月3日 星期六

The Music I Love To Hate -- 我會討厭的音樂

前言: 這個題目很奇怪。這是我一直想寫的一個題目。但為了typing 方便,我還是選擇了寫英文。雖然我知道,讀者大都喜歡看中文。這個題目,其實是有點似小學生作文的題目 : 我的志願 。不過,我卻選擇了反面的寫作方向,就是選了我喜歡會去討厭的音樂 (按照英文直譯過來的意思)。是不是所有音樂都是藝術作品呢? 本人認為不是。有些音樂作品,在我的劃分裡,不算是藝術作品。究其原因,也離不開從其意義和功能去作參巧而定下來的。是不是這類音樂不算是藝術作品,還是請讀者自行作決定好了。

正文:



Topic: The Music I Love to Hate       

 

A proverb says, “one man’ s meat is another man’s poison’. It is very true that the taste of man is different from one another. This can happen in food, in fashion or even in music. However, if you like one piece of music, you may have some reasons for it. You may be attracted by its charming melody, its exciting rhythm, or some other non-musical reasons, such as, the underlying ideas of that piece of music. The music that you hate, likewise, may also have some reasons for it. To me, there is one kind of music that I really love to hate. This kind of music is the music that is written for political propaganda.

We all agree that an artwork usually possess certain ideas and thoughts concealed within. Sometimes, this is called motivation or the inspiration of the artist. Similarly in music, a composer often wants to express something, perhaps his ideas, personal affection, or even only his favorite musical sound through his music. His duty is to transform all these abstract ideas and feelings accurately into concrete musical sound in a logical and understandable way through the creative and artistic process. No matter what underlying idea that the music contains, this piece of music has its artistic value. But, it is greatly unsufferable if the music is only written for the purpose of promoting politics.

In my opinion, politics are dirty, hypocritical, greed and selfish. If an artwork connects with political purpose, unavoidably, it becomes spoiled. We should remember that the preciousness of art is valued by its genuineness, goodness and beauty. This is a common standard to evaluate an artwork. I regard music as an art. I can accept that the purpose of writing music is for making money. This is very common in the commercial world. I think, to some extend, the composers are concerned how to make their music more popular, and at least, they are doing something that is genuine to him, or to the audience. But the political music is totally different. They are only selling the so-called ‘perfect image’ of the government. The motivation behind is duplicitous. It is not strange to find that a politician boosts his plan to do everything for the people before the election but never moves one finger after officially elected. I cannot find any genuineness and goodness in this kind of music. The selfish purpose of the music makes its text, melody, and sound absolutely disgusting. I prefer the music written for advertisements to this kind of music though they seem to have the same motivation - promoting an object or idea. It is because the music of advertisements, at least, possesses some beauty. The product that the music promotes may be nice and lovely. But the product of the political music promoted is only nasty and unpleasing.

Owing to the above reasons, I consider the political music is not an art. It has no artistic and aesthetic value. The dirty underlying political ideas make the music nauseating. Undoubtedly, the political music, therefore, is the kind of music that I really love to hate.

全文完:

David Leung (theorydavid)

2011-09-03 (published)