Milhaud is Tacky, So Says Krenek (On Furniture Taste)

His house, filled with old-fashioned furniture and family photographs by suburban photographers, is a kind of chamber of horrors, the exhibits being fantastic, tasteless objects from every chance country — particularly bottles, which Milhaud collects with a rare passion and success.  He is also madly in love with his old picture postcards showing highly varnished couples in front of twilit pools with flat backgrounds, or idiotically smirking pink ladies saying ‘Ne m’oubliez pas!’ and similar abominations from the lumber-room of the nineteenth century.  It is no love-hate that binds him to these things, no surrealistic feeling of horror at the deadness of this aesthetic world, but the primitive southerner’s honest fondness for the highly coloured, absurd clichés which give pleasure to simple-hearted sailors and housemaids.  A gin bottle shaped like and umbrella may be objectionable aesthetically… This throws a light back on Milhaud’s work, so far removed from all artiness, and always taking the most direct route to the heart of its subjects and so to the hearts of its listeners.  His music is always good, warm, sincere, like the man who created it, for which reason it has something — indeed a great deal — to say to us all today.

Krenek, E. (1966). Exploring music; essays. New York: October House. (33-34)

Bolding by me.  When I first read the beginning of this passage, I thought Krenek was going to use it as a take down on Milhaud, comparing the French composer’s home-design tastes to his music.  Alas, such a wish for some drama-queen like language did not manifest.

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