tone-poem saga of the Republic fromnits earliest years to the present and invokingnthe spirit (as it was dedicated tonthe memory) of Walt Whitman andnAbraham Lincoln, “America” is an unapologeticallynemotional tribute to what,nfor Bloch, was the essential greatnessnof a democratic nation. It closes withnan anthem, the theme of which is progressivelyndeveloped throughout thencourse of the work, which Bloch hopednmight replace the unsingable “Star-nSpangled Banner”: a paean of praisenfor the American dream and an outpouringnof love and devotion by thencommon man. For any haute couturenadvantages it had three things againstnit: (1) it was unabashed “program music”;n(2) it was patriotic; and, worst ofnall (3) it was intended to appeal not tona musical elite but to people.nBy “serious composers” this kind ofnthing simply wasn’t done. One didn’tn—least of all in terms of patriotism—nwrite for the unsophisticated “layman”:nit was a kind of gentleman’s agreement.nTo countermand such a policy—abovenall, so directly and with such passion—nwas to be guilty of a grandstand playnthat, in effect, contemptuously bypassednthe elite’s esthetic/ideologicalnrules and regulations. In short, to speaknto the ordinary man in terms he couldnunderstand was, esthetically, to commitn—amalgamated into one—the sevenndeadly sins. And when, in addition tonthis unseemly recognition of the lowernorders, one committed the furthernmusico-esthetic depravity of intentionaln”program music,” then one must, fornone’s wickedness, be cast into the outerndarkness. As subsequent history attests,nErnest Bloch—to an extraordinarynand incredible extent—was.nHave “times changed”.-* One may wellnask, has the “liberal culture” matured.-*nLet’s look back. If comparisons are invidious,nso be it. That was an age when,nin music and the other arts, “progress”nwas viewed as an idea to be pursued inna straight, undeviating path “forward”nregardless of where it led. In the musicalnorthodoxy of the day willful, witlessnS6inChronicles of Culturenand arbitrary indeterminism was thenway, the truth and the light—and nondeparture from that orthodoxy was tonbe countenanced by the foundations,nplayed by symphony orchestras or givennother than short shrift by critics, mostnof whom, as declamatory spokesmen ofnthe soi-disant “avant-garde,” were, byntheir allegiance to an orthodoxy, whatnthey excoriated in others: academic.nTypical of this ’30s/’40s establishment’sn”thinking” was a highly touted booknwritten by one of America’s foremostncomposers: it presumed to lay downnthe law as to how the serious composernwas to dedicate himself to “his time.”nThe message came through loud andnclear: the composer would (if he knewnwhat was good for him.-^) devote himself,nin mode of expression, to a totally “forwardnlook” (“sound”.-*), as the mouthpiecenof his immediate temporal circumambience.nWhich meant, in practicalnapplication, conforming to prescribednantidiatonic modalities, whether dodecaphonicnserialism, electronicism, thenaleatory peregrination or the kind ofnpseudonimity typified by John Cage.nAnd, it must be said, a staggering preponderancenof the “serious composers”nof the time—while they would not, ofncourse, have admitted it (thinking themselvesnrevolutionaries)—rushed to obeynthe authoritarian prescription. Howncould they, with all that pseudoinsurgentnardor, have known that they werendoomed to sound in our day like quaintnantiques.-* For when their “time” diednthe “expressors” of the “time” died withnit. Did anyone except themselves reallynthink they wouldn’t.-*nWhat of today.^ Having just comenthrough the Age of Boulez, we have,npossibly, a fresh perspective on thenmodernism of which that gentleman isnstill the high priest. In any event, followingnhis departure from the conductorshipnof the New York Philharmonic,nthe New York Times published annarticle signaling the decline, if not fall,nof the musical “avant-garde.” If this,npatently, did not mean that the deathngrip of music’s nihilists had been ap­nnnpreciably weakened, it could be interpretednas a sign that, with its 60-yearplusnindifference to boredom in sound,nthe public was in clear agreement thatnsuch nihilists were not, as had long beenntheir posture, “the wave of the future.”nThis could only signify that the publicnis now less disposed to continue itsnstance of hitherto polite and pseudorespectfulntoleration.nWhat of the future.-* The question isnunanswerable as long as composersnmeekly submit to, and therefore perpetuate,nthe tyranny of their pseudofuturistnmentors. “Dare to fail!” onenyearns to call out to these composers—n”You don’t,” in Bloch’s words to annapprentice tenant in the atonal straitjacket,n”have to compose like that, younhave talent!” For, surely, what some ofntoday’s composers lack is less abilitynthan true insurgency buttressed by intestinalnfortitude. But, it may be asked,nwhy should it be assumed that today’sncomposer wants to write otherwise thannso many do? To which there can be butnone reply. Pusillanimous play-it-safersnmany such composers ostensibly are;nstupid, tone-deaf and heartless not allncan be labeled. They, too, have watchednthe prolonged and continuing failurenof extreme modernism to win a supportivenpublic, the dismal record of conformistncomposers, past a first performance,nin earning a second; and thenhegemony of musical authorities innbanning music the educated and judiciousnlistener might welcome. Further,ntreacherous the professional musicalnscene may be; murky it is not: the powernelite has crystalline exposure. And composersnknow the score, both that of thenreigning oligarchy and that of the public’snrejection. And it would seem a fairnbet that someday soon a genuine andnvitally unregenerate nonconformistntalent will elect to leap the rapids andncome through to slake the thirst of anlong-parched public.nWhat can stiffen the backbone of thentrue rebel against this oligarchy.’* A betternunderstanding of the values involved?nPossibly. What does a vitaln