No Escape

At the concert which premiered Beethoven’s 5th Symphony, one attendee recalled, “There we continued, in the bitterest cold, too, from half past six to half past ten and experienced the truth that one can easily have too much of a good thing”.

When asked how Wagner’s Ring Cycle was at Bayreuth, Tchaikovsky could only say that it was lovely, like getting out of prison.

Boredom is a part of music. Nobody, not even Beethoven or Wagner, can escape it. In listening to music our minds straddle the line between interest and boredom. Some things keep our attention and others don’t.

What makes a music boring? Repetition can be a source of heightened attention or boredom. Pieces sounding similar can be a source of continuity or boredom. So is that to say that boredom is a subjective experience?

Perhaps…but while it could be up for grabs there is no denying its grasp on all of us. I’d even dare to declare that we even get bored with music we like. And yet this declaration is not even daring: we switch out artists we listen to all the time.

There is no escape from boredom.

1 comment
  1. I loved this! It feels so wrong to think that parts of Beethoven could be boring, but that is, after all, one of the reasons why composers change texture, dynamics, or give other cues to signal a new theme or something particularly “important.” Very interesting!


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