Were one to listen to today’s received intellectual opinion in music, one might very well think that the West was in the process of becoming a musical colony of the East. We have heard ad nauseam of the influence of the Orient on such avatars of the mainstream avant-garde as Philip Glass and Steve Reich; California composers have often shown every sign of looking across the Pacific rather than across their own continent for musical and (especially) philosophical tutelage. Since the 1960s, there has been a vogue among avant-garde musicians for Oriental chanting as a cure for the aesthetic and social debilities of Western life. Even such a respected Western musical figure as Yehudi Menuhin went through a phase (again, not surprisingly, in the 1960s) of joint quasi-Indian musical ventures with sitarist Ravi Shankar. And in the early part of the current New York season, we have seen Zubin Mehta and the New York...


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