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...


New to The New Criterion?

Subscribe for one year to receive ten print issues, and gain immediate access to our online archive spanning more than four decades of art and cultural criticism.

Popular Right Now