November 12, 2008

'Movie music' slur displays artistic elitism

In his review of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's concert featuring Leonard Slatkin's composition "The Raven," a musical representation of Edgar Allan Poe's poems, critic Tim Smith said: "Unfortunately, what underscores the poems is little more than innocuous, if artfully crafted, movie music" ("A propulsive reading of Sibelius' 2nd Symphony," Nov. 7).

This denigrating comment is not only incorrect but unfair; it smacks of the worst kind of artistic elitism.

American film music is a uniquely national art form and represents some of the greatest symphonic music composed in the last century. While many "serious" concert hall commissions languish on dusty shelves, American film music has witnessed a resurgence in popularity and a serious re-evaluation by knowledgeable conductors, prominent symphony orchestras and enthusiastic concert patrons the world over. Geniuses such as Max Steiner, Alfred Newman, Bernard Herrmann, Miklos Rozsa and John Williams, to name just a few, have created a wide range of exemplary symphonic music, rich in structure, melody and emotion.

Mr. Smith needs to get his elitist nose out of the air and embrace a magnificent heritage that should be honored, valued and cherished.

Dick Thompson, Baltimore

Why wheelchair access should concern everyone

Michael Dresser wrote about a hearing that the Maryland Transit Administration held in a building that was not accessible to people who use wheelchairs ("Transit hearing could be disabled," Nov. 10). He asked (rhetorically, I assume), "Why should we care, those of us who stride the earth on two feet?" His answer was that the Federal Transit Administration could order new hearings because of this violation of law and regulation, thus delaying the Red Line.

Another reason for caring is that any of us now moving on two legs is only one traumatic injury, one neurological disorder or one debilitating chronic condition away from needing a wheelchair for mobility ourselves. All of us are potentially barred from access to things that are important to us when buildings are inaccessible, so we who walk need to be concerned when even one person in a wheelchair is denied access.

Michael S. Franch, Baltimore

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