Institutionalized Music

Samuel Lipman's pieces on music came out originally in magazines, chiefly in Commentary and The New Criterion. The obvious question arises. Are enough of these essays of sufficient interest and importance to justify republication? The answer is happily yes. Lipman's candor, taste, and intelligence as well as the wide range of his musical interests make him one of the most consistently interesting music critics in America.

What is especially worth noting is the stern assessment of performances given under the most august auspices. Too often after attending a celebrated display of astounding mediocrity one reads with amazement sober approval and commendation in the daily press. Lipman's ruthless honesty comes as a relief. Admittedly, almost all the events covered are confined to Lincoln Center, but—for good or ill—PBS, if not history, has conspired to make this narrow piece of Manhattan the musical center of our hemisphere.

The negative side of Lipman's criticism is nicely balanced by much that is positive as well as instructive. Notable here is the sympathetic and persuasive account of Glen Gould's strengths and idiosyncrasies as an interpreter. Impressive too are the acute observations on the different style of Lieder-singing in the 20's and the 30's compared to that of the decades following World War II. His piece on "Singing Wolf" should be read...

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