I am writing to you in a semi-official manner; "semi-official" in that I am writing to you in your capacity as Head of the university's School-of-Music Theory Division, but in that I consider this to be confidential, for the time being.
The Composition Forum last Thursday, October 10, was completely unacceptable. You and I had discussed shortly before the seminar the fact that neither of us, nor any of the other theory/comp faculty as far as we knew, had talked with students T---- C---- and J---- P---- concerning their assigned seminar topic : aesthetics and technology. In the future, it seems that one of us should ascertain the intentions and readiness of the presenters prior to their presentation, so as to avoid the insulting manner in which C---- and P---- conducted what was supposed to be, and was not, a highly intellectual and fascinating discussion.
Their grand conclusion, that the word "aesthetics" is essentially a synonym for "opinion," mocks the last several centuries of intense thinking on the part of incredibly intelligent philosophers, theorists, logicians, artists, musicians and thinkers in general. C---- and P---- had the gall to present their cassette tape of six supposedly varied music selections, and succeeded in insulting me almost further than I can find bearable. Besides the fact that they chose four offensive pieces of filthy rubbish, all of the same microspeck of commercial stylistic irrelevance, with which to assault the audience, they, by juxtaposition, desecrated one of the most cherished and revered compositions known to man: the monumental and awesome 9th Symphony of Ludwig Van Beethoven, made to endure association with illiterate trash. Artist Robert Maplethorpe could not have created a more sickening effect.
After Dr. C---- S---- mentioned, near the end of the seminar, the words of an acquaintance of his, that Freshman would best forget everything they knew upon entering college so as to start with a completely open mind and a totally clean slate, T---- C---- expressed his opposite view that he was starting to conclude that he would best forget everything he learned after his four years of college were over. These words reveal that T---- C---- is adamant in his refusal to learn, in his commitment to remain precisely with the same ideas, tastes and values as he had before attending this university. His words prove my assertion that people who listen to "rock and roll" (i.e., commercial music) are uneducateable, and are merely job-trainable. Put differently, they are completely brainwashed, and are incapable of "further brainwashing." (i.e., incapable of being taught.) T---- C---- should not be in college.
Concerning T---- C---- and J---- P----, with respect to last Thursday's Composition Forum, the only thing greater than their arrogance and their insolence is the obstinacy with which they cling to their ignorance. If they had pulled their little prank 50 years ago, they would have been expelled from any reputable college or university in the world. Apparently, in this day and age, I can not even expect to be given an apology.
I share these words with you only to create an outlet for built-up pressure within me. I expect no particular reply. I would like to suggest that, in the future, one of the theory/composition faculty be directly assigned to monitor student presentations at the composition forum. Thank you for listening.
Jody Nagel, D.M.A.
Assistant Professor of Music Theory and Composition
Dr. Jody Nagel
October 12, 1996