Tom BueschBack To Performers
Tom Buesch wasn't impressed with Philip Glass' violin concerto, “The American Four Seasons,” which Buesch saw in its American premiere last week in Aspen. “To write new music just for the sake of being new …,” he said. Buesch wasn't dismissing just Glass' piece, but most of contemporary classical music. Though he has a fondness for Christopher Rouse, a longtime composer-in-residence with the Aspen Music Festival — “He plays on popular culture and what's going on with music. He's interested in all the parts of the orchestra. He's having fun,” he noted — Buesch acknowledges his narrow tastes.
“I'm not very eclectic. Everything starts and ends with Beethoven for me. I'm very boring,” he said. Buesch concludes his self-analysis by stating his affection for Stravinsky and Debussy, but in a way that makes it clear that the two composers, both born in the 18th century, are at the exotic end of his listening range.
But Buesch, as well as anyone, knows that musical tastes develop over time; that, with exposure and guidance, listeners can be turned onto new sounds. And that you should never give up on something just because the early experiences are not immediately rewarding.
Since the late ‘90s, Buesch has helped to expand appreciation for classical music by teaching the Listener's Master Class, a series offered by the Aspen Music Festival in conjunction with Colorado Mountain College. The course combines classroom lectures with Music Festival performances. The majority of the students are older, seasoned concertgoers, looking to gain insight into upcoming performances and to deepen their overall grasp of music. But a substantial minority of the class — about a third of this year's enrollment of 48 students — are young listeners with virtually no experience in concert halls.
“As far as I know, they have no knowledge of classical music whatsoever,” said Buesch, who this summer has taught such classes as The Enduring Elements: The Building Blocks of Music, and The Baroque Concerto, on Friday afternoons at the Crossroads Church. “But they go to the Tent or Harris Hall, and they get excited about seeing live music with these world-famous musicians. And they're blown away. It overwhelms them. And I hope it converts them.
“That's what I want to do — give them a better and earlier chance than I had. OK, I had a great chance. But I didn't take advantage of it.”