Music Abhors a Vacuum

It has been recently argued that the smallest unit of humanity is a pair, not an individual. Music is such a proof of this, even if we go beyond the examples of songwriter pairs (Lennon/McCartney, Simon/Garfunkel, etc.).

What about pairing with people? Archduke Rudolph, son of Emperor Leopold II, was a friend and supporter of Beethoven. He gave him opportunities for his music to be heard by the right people and paid him handsomely for his work. The dedications made to Rudolph are numerous in Beethoven but the Archduke Trio in particular is a touching tribute to Beethoven’s cherished companion.

What about pairing with places? Would The Velvet Underground be The Velvet Underground without New York and its bustle of industry and culture? The city not only gave them subject matter but produced other people to pair with: Andy Warhol, who gave them a spot as his house band at The Factory and managed them.

What about pairing with periods of times? The beginning of the 20th century, with industrialism in full bloom, served as a hotbed for musicians striving for something that fit with the grandiose mechanics of the city life (the Futurists) or go against it (Debussy, Satie, etc.). Who knows if any of that music would exist at any other time?

These types of pairs overlap into a beautiful tapestry: places influence people who can in turn influence times who can in turn influence places and so on and so forth. The thing is that no strand is left floating in space, no lone genius or ivory tower composer lording over everyone.

Nature abhors a vacuum. So does music.

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