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Style fights - silly, but productive

It occurs to me, when considering the history of music, that the endlessly recurring and often bitter fights over musical styles and trends have actually been quite productive, if only because they’ve acted as spurs for composers in supposedly opposing camps to produce their best work. And then, of course, it turns out that later generations usually have no trouble enjoying all the styles in question, and the old disputes, even though productive, just seem silly to them.

“I am obliged to admit,” wrote the composer Rossini, “that when I read big, ugly words such as Progress, Decadence, Future, Past, Present, Convention, etc., my stomach heaves with a motion I find extremely difficult to repress… and although I was an accomplished singer of Italian bel canto before becoming a composer…, I agree with the philosophy of the great poet who declares that… ‘All styles are good/Except the tedious style."

A Minute with Miles is a production of South Carolina Public Radio, made possible by the J.M. Smith Corporation.

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Miles Hoffman is the founder and violist of the American Chamber Players, with whom he regularly tours the United States, and the Virginia I. Norman Distinguished Visiting Professor of Chamber Music at the Schwob School of Music, in Columbus, Georgia. He has appeared as viola soloist with orchestras across the country, and his solo performances on YouTube have received well over 700,000 views.