Courtiers of the Cutting Edge: Musical Amateurs and Amateurism in the Age of the Professional
Times Literary Supplement,(London), January 10, 2003
5 Pages Posted: 20 Jan 2020
This review essay from the Times Literary Supplement (London) examines what it means to be an amateur, looking at musical performance and composition, in a world in which performance has become increasingly professionalized. It points out that although we often think of 'amateur' in the sense that Wayne Booth, the literary critic, meant in his memoir (For the Love of It) of what it meant to be a passionate, yet amateur, cellist - the sense of someone who will never be as skilled as the professional who makes it his or her life work, there is in fact another meaning. There are non-professionals - musicians who do not make their livings by music -and hence, on Booth's definition, count as 'amateurs', who do so because their consumate dedication to their art, however esoteric and unmarketable it might be, precludes it from having a commercial audience. Charles Ives was one such composer, who made his living as an insurance executive, and refused to make any compromises in his atonal, modernist music. The essay considers, therefore, the effect of commodification on the making and composition of music and, by extension, the arts.
Keywords: Music, amateur, amateurism, Charles Ives, Wayne Booth, commodification, art, cello, profession, professionalism, commercial, commerce
JEL Classification: D11, D64, Z10
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation