One recent morning I witnessed a rare sight; two children, almost certainly brother and sister, were riding their bikes to school. They wobbled along the sidewalk of a busy road. The boy pedaled ahead on his BMX while the girl’s bike was too big for her, its chain rusted to the point where, rather than shift gears, she walked the slightest rise. Commuters alone in their cars sped by on the way to work, their kids’ schools, gym or supermarket. This being outer Sydney, the street made not the slightest accommodation for the two kids and their healthy, intrepid mode of transportation.
For the fourth year Master Drawings New York will bring together a distinguished group of dealers from Europe and the United States to exhibit in Upper East Side galleries during “Old Master Week,” the period in late January when Sotheby’s and Christie’s hold their auctions of old master drawings, paintings, and sculpture. This is an heady occasion when collectors, curators, and dealers can gather to seek out discoveries at the auction houses, admire the dealers’ offerings, see exhibitions at the Met, the Frick, and the Morgan Library, as well as to catch up with friends and share insights and gossip. Last year the enterprise was a surprising success, given the dismal economic climate. If many things seem uncertain and there remain many reasons to be apprehensive, the climate in this rarified world should be more propitious this year. What’s more, in the old master world one is dealing with more-or-less known artists and works, and there is less speculation than in contemporary art. This is also—let’s not forget—an opportunity for newcomers to the small but very pleasant world of master drawings to become acquainted with these extremely knowledgeable experts and to view a sample of their taste on the walls.
I yearn for the day when a thoroughly sympathetic view of Schumann emerges, one supplanting the lingering idea, passed on from biographer to musician to music-lover and back, insinuating that his music, while selectively inspired, was hampered by enough contrapuntal inexperience, unevenness in motivic invention, formal insecurity, and outright incompetence in orchestration that it should not be considered in the same sphere with Chopin’s, Liszt’s, or even Brahms’s.
Season’s Greetings from the Berkshire Review for the Arts.
For most of its history music criticism has been almost as fleeting as music itself. If a person, for whatever odd reason, wanted to read a review of some past concert, it would have been necessary to consult a newspaper archive in a library, hardly a Herculean task, but an effort in comparison to the instantly-available databases we’ve become accustomed to in recent years. And, now that print journalism seems to be dying out, and publications like our own Berkshire Review for the Arts maintain permanent access to all published articles (and there is a readership for some of them long after the event they record) it is easier than ever.