TIme to ditch Lassus Trombone

Redthunder
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Re: TIme to ditch Lassus Trombone

Post by Redthunder » Tue Jun 30, 2020 8:00 pm

BGuttman wrote:
Tue Jun 30, 2020 7:42 pm
Where I'm having trouble with this is how you define Lassus Trombone as racist.

No doubt the ad from 1915 has some really problematic descriptions. But absent the title and the description, what is racist?

"But absent all of the racism, what about this is racist?"

That is a dumb dumb question. That's like asking what would be racist about "Birth of a Nation" if you took out all of the Klansmen. That's not how it went down.
Is it the trombone smears? Stravinsky uses some in "Pulcinella".
No, it is absolutely and very obviously NOT the trombone smears.
If you had this piece with a different title, say, "Snowflakes Falling on a Red Field", would it still be racist?
I don't know, because that's not the title of the song or the suite. If "Snowflakes Falling on A Red Field" were meant to be a stereotypical and hateful depiction of a Black family, then yes, it absolutely would still be racist.
What next? White supremacists like the tune "Dixie" It was written by a Northerner, Dan Emmett, for a Minstrel show. And Abraham Lincoln was said to enjoy the tune.
Wow, do you think anybody here is going to take that bait? Who said northerners aren't racist? There are tons of them that are. Yes, Dixie, written for a minstrel show, is emphatically racist too. Abraham Lincoln liking it doesn't mean it's not racist, and nobody would ever make the fake argument you're alluding to.
Understand. I am horrified by cops taking it out o Blacks. I agree that there are barriers put in the path of Blacks by White owned businesses. There's lots of injustice out there. But is this where we have to draw the line?
If you have to ask "where do we draw the line in dealing with four hundred years of the dehumanization, enslavement, and marginalization of another race", I'm really questioning whether you actually care about the other, much larger issues at play. Especially when you refer to Black people as "blacks".
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Re: TIme to ditch Lassus Trombone

Post by Redthunder » Tue Jun 30, 2020 8:14 pm

brtnats wrote:
Tue Jun 30, 2020 7:55 pm

Paul, I have an immense amount of respect for you, but that’s the part you’re not hearing. The actual music doesn’t have any racist content. The titles used to. The marketing did. But in the intervening years, the titles were changed and the marketing materials dropped. I don’t think anybody here is saying that those elements weren’t racist. People are asking a totally valid question and getting chided like children: If we are to remove these 15 pieces from concerted repertoire because of how they were originally conceived, and pay no regard to what they have evolved to, why? People can throw a whataboutism fallacy all over the place, but if one removes the actual racist content from a piece of music, and still deems it racist because of original intent, that feels likely slippery ground, and some of us are asking about the theoretical limits. It seems absolutely pertinent to ask the question and get a straight answer without having accusations levied. It’s certainly how I thought we operated here.
The "marketing" was driven by Fillmore Music House. As in Henry Fillmore. You're gonna sit here and write about how it's the publisher's fault, and that Henry Fillmore had no role in it with a straight face. Bad argument.

Maybe I wouldn't be throwing "whataboutism all over the place" if you weren't using it as your only defense "all over the place".
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Re: TIme to ditch Lassus Trombone

Post by brtnats » Tue Jun 30, 2020 8:55 pm


The "marketing" was driven by Fillmore Music House. As in Henry Fillmore. You're gonna sit here and write about how it's the publisher's fault, and that Henry Fillmore had no role in it with a straight face. Bad argument.

Maybe I wouldn't be throwing "whataboutism all over the place" if you weren't using it as your only defense "all over the place".
Sigh. Ok man. I’ll bite.

I don’t think I said any of that. If you want to put words in my mouth, please listen to the ones I’m saying first.

The titles of the pieces are racist. They were changed.
The marketing was racist. It was dropped.
The actual content of the music? Crappy character pieces that are largely indistinguishable from hundreds of others.

I don’t care about Fillmore. Fillmore himself tells us nothing about the actual content of the music. If you want to keep hurling whataboutism like a Freshman philosophy major, then look up the biographical fallacy too.

Were these pieces, as presented in 1920, racist? Yes. Absolutely. Are they, as presented in 2020, racist? I honestly don’t know. If your kneejerk reaction is “Yes,” I want to know more about that. I’m not playing the piece as presented in 1920. I’m playing the piece as presented through a century of Bowdlerizing and coalescence around common practice that has clearly tried to edit out the racist components. So I genuinely don’t know if art that used to be overtly racist must always remain so. But that’s clearly the conversation some of us are trying to have, and you’re shouting WHATABOUT over everyone. Yes, what about!

If you think that the perception of art remains static once it’s created, as you seem to suggest, then that begs a lot of questions. People are asking some of those questions out loud, and you’re seeing that as a deflection. It’s not; it’s the next logical step in the conversation. I taught courses on reception history for several years, and tehre is a lot of precedent for thinking that perceptions of artworks change to reflect the society they’re in at any given moment. So I have a very hard time understanding why we shouldn’t see these pieces as having been evolved beyond their racist roots by societies who valued the artistic content but not their racist baggage. That’s the next step in the conversation, and when someone brings up other music, it’s to illustrate that what we do on this step matters to the next step.

Or, to put it another way, do you believe a person can grow beyond racist tendencies? If so, then can people collectively grow their understanding of an artwork to exclude the offensive material? Why or why not. Because...the rest of the canon is waiting.

(Edited to fix the html on the quote)
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Re: TIme to ditch Lassus Trombone

Post by Redthunder » Tue Jun 30, 2020 9:30 pm

brtnats wrote:
Tue Jun 30, 2020 8:55 pm
Sigh. Ok man. I’ll bite.

I don’t think I said any of that. If you want to put words in my mouth, please listen to the ones I’m saying first.

The titles of the pieces are racist. They were changed.
The marketing was racist. It was dropped.
The actual content of the music? Crappy character pieces that are largely indistinguishable from hundreds of others.

I don’t care about Fillmore. Fillmore himself tells us nothing about the actual content of the music. If you want to keep hurling whataboutism like a Freshman philosophy major, then look up the biographical fallacy too.

Were these pieces, as presented in 1920, racist? Yes. Absolutely. Are they, as presented in 2020, racist? I honestly don’t know. If your kneejerk reaction is “Yes,” I want to know more about that. I’m not playing the piece as presented in 1920. I’m playing the piece as presented through a century of Bowdlerizing and coalescence around common practice that has clearly tried to edit out the racist components. So I genuinely don’t know if art that used to be overtly racist must always remain so. But that’s clearly the conversation some of us are trying to have, and you’re shouting WHATABOUT over everyone. Yes, what about!

If you think that the perception of art remains static once it’s created, as you seem to suggest, then that begs a lot of questions. People are asking some of those questions out loud, and you’re seeing that as a deflection. It’s not; it’s the next logical step in the conversation. I taught courses on reception history for several years, and tehre is a lot of precedent for thinking that perceptions of artworks change to reflect the society they’re in at any given moment. So I have a very hard time understanding why we shouldn’t see these pieces as having been evolved beyond their racist roots by societies who valued the artistic content but not their racist baggage. That’s the next step in the conversation, and when someone brings up other music, it’s to illustrate that what we do on this step matters to the next step.

Or, to put it another way, do you believe a person can grow beyond racist tendencies? If so, then can people collectively grow their understanding of an artwork to exclude the offensive material? Why or why not. Because...the rest of the canon is waiting.

(Edited to fix the html on the quote)

If you are really trying to boil this down to the literal ink dots on the page, you are missing the forest for the trees. You are asking people to ignore that the music that was written, marketed, and sold, deliberately and repeatedly, as racist and mocking of a group of people who have historically been considered "less than" in society. I can't even begin to see how you can act like this will be possible for everyone as it is for you. Why was the racist advertising dropped? Because the racists changed their minds? No way. The history of the past 100 years since it was written shows that is hardly the case. Taking the slurs off of the ads doesn't change or make everybody forget the purpose behind its existence, even if you didn't know the history. If the history were really that far gone, Doug Yeo wouldn't have been able to dig up everything that he did.

Just like I said to Bruce, you are basically saying "If you take away all of the racism, what's racist about it!"

That's just not how it went down. I care about Henry Fillmore, and I care that he wrote a racist piece of music. Intent matters, even if it doesn't to you. This isn't about whether people can grow or not.

I think you are deeply underestimating the trauma and persecution that black people have faced in this country, and you are misplacing your efforts in trying to justify the continued performance of just one small but still important reminder of that trauma based around a very naive and lofty idea of how "art can change". This wasn't art. This was propaganda, minstrelsy, and hatred, bundled up together.

I don't want to see the memory of these things erased. I want it contextualized properly and remembered so white people can learn from it. And I don't believe this can be done in a concert setting, by white people. I have yet to see a convincing argument from anybody that shows otherwise.

Do you still think I'm arguing for censorship?
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Re: TIme to ditch Lassus Trombone

Post by brtnats » Tue Jun 30, 2020 9:39 pm

Redthunder wrote:
Tue Jun 30, 2020 9:30 pm
brtnats wrote:
Tue Jun 30, 2020 8:55 pm
Sigh. Ok man. I’ll bite.

I don’t think I said any of that. If you want to put words in my mouth, please listen to the ones I’m saying first.

The titles of the pieces are racist. They were changed.
The marketing was racist. It was dropped.
The actual content of the music? Crappy character pieces that are largely indistinguishable from hundreds of others.

I don’t care about Fillmore. Fillmore himself tells us nothing about the actual content of the music. If you want to keep hurling whataboutism like a Freshman philosophy major, then look up the biographical fallacy too.

Were these pieces, as presented in 1920, racist? Yes. Absolutely. Are they, as presented in 2020, racist? I honestly don’t know. If your kneejerk reaction is “Yes,” I want to know more about that. I’m not playing the piece as presented in 1920. I’m playing the piece as presented through a century of Bowdlerizing and coalescence around common practice that has clearly tried to edit out the racist components. So I genuinely don’t know if art that used to be overtly racist must always remain so. But that’s clearly the conversation some of us are trying to have, and you’re shouting WHATABOUT over everyone. Yes, what about!

If you think that the perception of art remains static once it’s created, as you seem to suggest, then that begs a lot of questions. People are asking some of those questions out loud, and you’re seeing that as a deflection. It’s not; it’s the next logical step in the conversation. I taught courses on reception history for several years, and tehre is a lot of precedent for thinking that perceptions of artworks change to reflect the society they’re in at any given moment. So I have a very hard time understanding why we shouldn’t see these pieces as having been evolved beyond their racist roots by societies who valued the artistic content but not their racist baggage. That’s the next step in the conversation, and when someone brings up other music, it’s to illustrate that what we do on this step matters to the next step.

Or, to put it another way, do you believe a person can grow beyond racist tendencies? If so, then can people collectively grow their understanding of an artwork to exclude the offensive material? Why or why not. Because...the rest of the canon is waiting.

(Edited to fix the html on the quote)

If you are really trying to boil this down to the literal ink dots on the page, you are missing the forest for the trees. You are asking people to ignore that the music that was written, marketed, and sold, deliberately and repeatedly, as racist and mocking of a group of people who have historically been considered "less than" in society. I can't even begin to see how you can act like this will be possible for everyone as it is for you. Why was the racist advertising dropped? Because the racists changed their minds? No way. The history of the past 80 years since it was written shows that is hardly the case. Taking the slurs off of the ads doesn't change or make everybody forget the purpose behind its existence, even if you didn't know the history. If the history were really that far gone, Doug Yeo wouldn't have been able to dig up everything that he did.

Just like I said to Bruce, you are basically saying "If you take away all of the racism, what's racist about it!"

That's just not how it went down. I care about Henry Fillmore, and I care that he wrote a racist piece of music. Intent matters, even if it doesn't to you. This isn't about whether people can grow or not.

I think you are deeply underestimating the trauma and persecution that black people have faced in this country, and you are misplacing your efforts in trying to justify the continued performance of just one small but still important reminder of that trauma based around a very naive and lofty idea of how "art can change". This wasn't art. This was propaganda, minstrelsy, and hatred, bundled up together.

I don't want to see the memory of these things erased. I want it contextualized properly and remembered so white people can learn from it. And I don't believe this can be done in a concert setting, by white people. I have yet to see a convincing argument from anybody that shows otherwise.

Do you still think I'm arguing for censorship?
Yeah, I do. I think you’re ready to take a sledgehammer to the Rape of the Sabines, because you feel qualified to speak for, and over, people without listening to them. Now I’m done with you.
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Re: TIme to ditch Lassus Trombone

Post by Burgerbob » Tue Jun 30, 2020 9:45 pm

brtnats wrote:
Tue Jun 30, 2020 9:39 pm

Yeah, I do. I think you’re ready to take a sledgehammer to the Rape of the Sabines, because you feel qualified to speak for, and over, people without listening to them. Now I’m done with you.
What?
Last edited by Burgerbob on Tue Jun 30, 2020 11:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: TIme to ditch Lassus Trombone

Post by Redthunder » Tue Jun 30, 2020 9:51 pm

Burgerbob wrote:
Tue Jun 30, 2020 9:45 pm
What? 0
Your guess is as good as mine.
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Re: TIme to ditch Lassus Trombone

Post by brassmedic » Wed Jul 01, 2020 12:17 am

brtnats wrote:
Tue Jun 30, 2020 8:55 pm

The titles of the pieces are racist. They were changed.
Huh? The original title was Lassus Trombone. What was it changed to? I thought it was still called that. Lassus is short for molasses. It's the way Fillmore thought a black person would say "molasses". He was making fun of black people. It's racist. Read the Br'er Rabbit stories or listen to Amos 'n' Andy if you don't know what I'm talking about. How is the same title magically not racist now?
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Re: TIme to ditch Lassus Trombone

Post by timothy42b » Wed Jul 01, 2020 9:34 am

Found this quote.

It doesn't come down on either side. It is just food for thought.
Lurking in the background is the arrogant presumption that what we know today is the correct view of history. To think that only today, after thousands of years of human history, that we are the chosen generation, should give us pause. We shouldn’t believe that we are the people with the absolute moral authority to look at generations past with a righteous judgment.
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Re: TIme to ditch Lassus Trombone

Post by BurckhardtS » Wed Jul 01, 2020 10:22 am

What is that quote and why should we give it any thought?

I don't think anyone is claiming to be a "chosen" generation. Every generation contributes in some way (positive and negatively) to society. I don't think anyone is claiming to know exactly what went on in history. If we don't base it off of what we already know and is recorded, what are we going to base it off of anyway?
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Re: TIme to ditch Lassus Trombone

Post by Bach5G » Wed Jul 01, 2020 10:27 am

I think, for example, that most of us would agree that pogroms and slavery are bad. This is not a judgment call.
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Re: TIme to ditch Lassus Trombone

Post by fsgazda » Wed Jul 01, 2020 10:44 am

I've been avoiding these discussions because I don't really know if I have anything original to add, but I'll just say this. I teach at a historically black university. My students are very well aware of minstrel shows, blackface, and the 10,000 little ways that black people are casually denigrated in this country every day. I have colleagues that went to segregated schools. I have made mistakes in my assumptions, and learned and grown enormously.

Is it really such a big deal to stop performing a piece of music that was conceived in and marketed to denigrate (not poke fun at in a well meaning way) a race of humans? It's not just the titles, it's the subtitles.

I haven't read anywhere that anyone has suggested dropping Fillmore's marches, just the racist novelty pieces. If Wagner had written an opera titled "Jews are Subhuman", I suspect that would have been dropped from the repertoire even if we still staged The Flying Dutchman.
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Re: TIme to ditch Lassus Trombone

Post by Bach5G » Wed Jul 01, 2020 12:09 pm

Othello. Shakespeare and/or Verdi.
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Re: TIme to ditch Lassus Trombone

Post by ngrinder » Wed Jul 01, 2020 12:21 pm

Bruce, brtnats et al: Doug Yeo is suggesting this is offensive to play this piece of music to black folks. He is correct. If that makes you invoke Nazi Germany then I really, really think you need to question your knowledge of racial history in this country. There is a lot more I could say to express my frustration and exasperation at your responses but I don't think the words I'd use would be fitting for a forum who's moderators attempt to achieve a certain level of decorum.

Fillmore wrote a piece both entrenched in and praising of racist, offensive stereotypes. These stereotypes were directly connected to the violence an entire culture of people experienced at the hands of our government through slavery and other horrid, horrid practices that unfortunately still occur today (did you know five black men were lynched just in the past 2 months?) These stereotypes dehumanized an entire people, and when you dehumanize people it gives much more cover and excuse for those who commit violence against them. Slavery and the violence experienced by black people was much, much closer to the horrors of the Holocaust than a retired bass trombonist suggesting we stop playing a certain piece of music. Is that so hard to see, Bruce? Racial stereotyping dehumanizes people and is heavily, heavily connected to the precursors of genocide, and was heavily connected to the violence black Americans have faced ever since this country's inception. Dehumanizing happened in Nazi Germany. It happened in the Rwandan genocide. It happened and still happens here in America. I am sorry you had family who suffered at the hands of the Nazis, Bruce. I too have distant family who suffered because they were Jewish, both in Russia and also in Germany, but I have a completely different take on this whole debate.

Slavery, Jim Crow, and the racial violence black Americans experienced is deeply connected to the images and music in Fillmore's the trombone family. The more a people are dehumanized the easier it is to treat them as less human. Is that something we want to perpetuate? Even if we play this piece without telling the audience what it's about, what happens when they listen to Kid Ory or King Oliver? How do we contextualize this piece with what (actually brilliant) black musicians were doing at the time? This music is a white washed, dumbed down interpretation of what many great black musicians were doing in the early 1900s. You all may enjoy it, but try listening to and transcribing some of that truly great, early black music! It's worth it.

Also, you know what? You can still play the piece! Many people might question that judgement, but Doug Yeo holds no political office! There's no law saying you'll be arrested if you do so. Even better, you can still listen to it and read about it. Stating the clear racism in a piece of art is not the same as the government banning it.

I'll leave you with this quote from Mr. Yeo's essay which I think is very prescient to some of the opinions expressed on this thread:
Yet in the face of all of this, some may protest. “But Fillmore was just a product of his time. Minstrelsy and blackface were socially acceptable and he was just playing to the market.” This kind of apology just won’t do. It is revisionist history, a fiction promulgated by white “scholars” and others who try to make a distinction between “good minstrelsy” and “bad minstrelsy,” between “good blackface” and “bad blackface.” The truth of the matter is that there never was good minstrelsy or good blackface. It has always been offensive. Always. And the use of the “n-word” by whites was always offensive. Always. It was offensive in the nineteenth century, it was offensive in the twentieth century, and it is offensive today. Minstrelsy did not originate in or reflect the true black experience and true black cultural practices. It was a racist caricature of black life that was based in racial ridicule. It was always offensive, it was always racist, and it was always wrong. Henry Fillmore’s The Trombone Family promoted the racial stereotypes promulgated by the minstrel show era, promoted white domination of blacks, and reinforced harmful, hurtful stereotypes that are still, regrettably, with us today.
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Re: TIme to ditch Lassus Trombone

Post by GBP » Wed Jul 01, 2020 2:38 pm

Thank you and Professor Gazda for your posts. They are courageous.
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Re: TIme to ditch Lassus Trombone

Post by brassmedic » Wed Jul 01, 2020 3:35 pm

timothy42b wrote:
Wed Jul 01, 2020 9:34 am
Found this quote.

It doesn't come down on either side. It is just food for thought.
Lurking in the background is the arrogant presumption that what we know today is the correct view of history. To think that only today, after thousands of years of human history, that we are the chosen generation, should give us pause. We shouldn’t believe that we are the people with the absolute moral authority to look at generations past with a righteous judgment.
I'll give you credit for posting the first argument that is not either blatant tu quoque, slippery slope, or strawman fallacy.

Problem is, it's an extremely weak argument. If I'm understanding the meaning, what he is saying is that since we are not qualified to judge past injustices, we shouldn't take action to try to rectify them.

So that leads me to ask you a simple question: If there were a Charles Manson High School, would you send your children there?

Food for thought.
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Re: TIme to ditch Lassus Trombone

Post by CalgaryTbone » Wed Jul 01, 2020 3:56 pm

The title "Lassus Trombone" (I've been told) is indeed a play on the word molasses, or more to the point, the old saying - "Slower than molasses". This was a saying that was meant to characterize a person as lazy, and it was often applied to black people to promote an insulting image of them.

The types of shows where this music was used initially would have also had comedic bits where there almost certainly were jokes that no one would feel comfortable repeating today. This music was intended for the same audience - the title alone shows distain and a lack of respect for an entire race of people. The music has lived on mostly because it is light and humorous - it fills a space on a program that can be hard to find material for. Unfortunately the humour is at the expense of others and contributes to the promotion of ugly stereotypes, so I'll be looking something else to fill that void. Others can make their own choices.

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Re: TIme to ditch Lassus Trombone

Post by Dennis » Wed Jul 01, 2020 4:10 pm

GBP wrote:
Tue Jun 30, 2020 1:18 pm
The term courageous conversation is used by minority affairs and human rights organizations. It refers to having the courage to point out racism in people and institutions when you see it. It does take courage. Courage to accept being dismissed, being labeled, being told that your cause doesn’t matter. There are examples in this thread. It is very difficult for people to admit that they have racist beliefs because those beliefs are so ingrained in American culture. I have have always wondered how many black trombonists are members of this site. When I first got on the site there was one who posted a lot. He hasn’t been in in years. There are things that have been posted that have made me wonder if this is a community I really want to be a part of. Sadly, I am so used to behavior like this from musicians, I am almost numb to it. Most of my playing and teaching career, I have been the only black person on staff. Music has along way to go. I applaud Doug for his courage. This might cost him opportunities. Yet he is willing to accept that. Doug and Kapp are my heroes.
I got "woke" in the mid-90s when I was doing some transcriptions for brass quintet. Someone in my quintet suggested that doing 'Lassus might be a good thing, because audiences love it. I countered, "Fillmore wrote a bunch of trombone rags, how about one of the others?"

"There are others?"

"Yes. One of them is called Teddy Trombone, another is Parson Trombone."

"Sure. Why not do one of those."

So I schlepped off to the library to find the music. I found early editions of 'Lassus, Teddy, and Sally. It was the first time I'd seen the full content of the pieces, including the cover art and advertising. I'd only played them in a band context before then. I was appalled. At the next rehearsal, I told my friends I wasn't going to be doing any trombone rags, and if we needed a trombone feature we could use Luther Henderson's Saint's Hallelujah (which was in our book already).

Life is loaded with coincidences. The next season the concert band I played in had 'Lassus scheduled for one of the concerts. I asked the director if I could speak to him after rehearsal. When we spoke, I told him that I didn't think much of 'Lassus as a piece of music, but that after learning the history of the piece I thought it was objectionable and I would prefer not to play it.

I got the "Yeah, I know that and you know that, but no one else in the band knows that. I'm the music director, and I pick the repertoire. Audiences like the piece, and it's playable by the section," response. I'd like to say that I sat that concert out. I cannot: I played, and I played 'Lassus Trombone with the rest of the section.

The next time I'm asked to play any of Fillmore's trombone rags, I'm going to print a bunch of copies of the advertising for the series and leave them on everyone's stand. Then we'll see if we play it or not.

GBP: Only you can make the decision about being a part of this community or not. I ask you to stay, but if you choose to go, I understand. Please do what is right for you.
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Re: TIme to ditch Lassus Trombone

Post by fsgazda » Wed Jul 01, 2020 6:46 pm

GBP wrote:
Wed Jul 01, 2020 2:38 pm
Thank you and Professor Gazda for your posts. They are courageous.
Thank you, but I am not courageous. My students who regularly get pulled over for driving while black are far braver than I ever will be.
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Re: TIme to ditch Lassus Trombone

Post by Posaunus » Wed Jul 01, 2020 7:49 pm

fsgazda wrote:
Wed Jul 01, 2020 6:46 pm
My students who regularly get pulled over for driving while black are far braver than I ever will be.
If any Chat members don't think this happens, they have their heads buried deep.

I've known about this for at least 50 years – even here in California. (We are NOT exceptional!)
It's depressed me since the first time I was told about it. :(
Now that I have family members who experience this, it hurts even more deeply.

We (all) need to change!
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Re: TIme to ditch Lassus Trombone

Post by BGuttman » Wed Jul 01, 2020 8:08 pm

Posaunus wrote:
Wed Jul 01, 2020 7:49 pm
fsgazda wrote:
Wed Jul 01, 2020 6:46 pm
My students who regularly get pulled over for driving while black are far braver than I ever will be.
If any Chat members don't think this happens, they have their heads buried deep.

I've known about this for at least 50 years – even here in California. (We are NOT exceptional!)
It's depressed me since the first time I was told about it. :(
Now that I have family members who experience this, it hurts even more deeply.

We (all) need to change!
Amen!

People of Color (a nice new term for various persecuted groups) are subject to all kinds of harassment. Apart from Floyd or Garner being killed by cops doing choke holds, we have the bird watcher who was threatened by a white woman walking an unleashed dog because he noted the leash law, and too many deaths to mention. Going back to lynchings and Emmett Till.

And the ridiculous demands by some cops who simultaneously insist you hand them your credentials while forbidding you to move must be eternally frustrating.
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Re: TIme to ditch Lassus Trombone

Post by brtnats » Wed Jul 01, 2020 8:28 pm

ngrinder wrote:
Wed Jul 01, 2020 12:21 pm
Bruce, brtnats et al: Doug Yeo is suggesting this is offensive to play this piece of music to black folks. He is correct. If that makes you invoke Nazi Germany then I really, really think you need to question your knowledge of racial history in this country. There is a lot more I could say to express my frustration and exasperation at your responses but I don't think the words I'd use would be fitting for a forum who's moderators attempt to achieve a certain level of decorum.
This is going to be my last post in this thread.

I don’t think I’ve said anything about Nazis. I don’t think we’re in Nazi territory. I do think we’re in reactionary territory. There’s a lot I could say to express my frustration and exasperation at some of the responses I’ve seen here, but like ngrinder, I’m going to maintain a level of decorum. But here’s what I see:

-Doug Yeo is suggesting it’s offensive to play this piece of music to Black folks, assuming everyone knows what the original editions looked like, know what the racist marketing materials looked like, and every bit of contextual history about this piece as it was originally published, that most of you didn’t know existed until a week ago. With that, I totally agree. I disagree that the next 100 years of editing and performance history are meaningless. I think the fact that subsequent editions intentionally removed overtly-racist materials matters. I think that publishers keeping the piece in circulation, while removing obviously racist content is an important part of the story. I get to think that. You (plural) get to disagree, but you don’t get to tell me that my assertion is false.

-Many here are not interested in hearing about that part. It’s a nice easy thing to be able to label an artwork as totally racist, forever, no questions asked, the end. Several of you have felt free to make major assumptions about me, my history, and my knowledge. Why do you feel entitled to do that? My academic credentials, which are just as good as Frank’s, wouldn’t matter. I could give you my thesis or my dissertation, written on musical appropriation and representation, but that wouldn’t matter. I could talk to you about my experience mentoring Black students in Title I schools or HBU affiliates, but that wouldn’t matter. Several of you have made up your minds that Doug Yeo gets to be the definitive voice here, and that’s the end of the conversation. When I want to ask how Doug’s logic is to be extended, I’m batted down as changing the topic. That tells me some people aren’t interested in talking, they’re interested in something else. Maybe it’s performative wokeness. Maybe it’s virtue signaling. Maybe it just feels good to talk down to someone because you disagree with them. I have a lot of questions about what removing music from common performance, on these grounds, means. This is supposed to be the proper forum to hash that out.

-@Brad: That quote is saying that no society is able to objectively judge its history, especially not on moral grounds, because we carry the baggage along with us. We feel free to declare with moral certitude that these pieces are endemically racist because previous generations that acted to remove the overt racism weren’t as morally pure as us. In other words, we know better than them because we’re better than them. Which is exactly the kind of conversation I’ve been trying to have and have been shut down.

-Regarding banning, I’m not convinced everyone read every word of Doug’s piece. He is clearly in favor of, and is advocating for, removing these pieces from the concerted repertoire. He’s not just talking about labeling them as racist, he’s saying they have no place in public performance. And he’s making a singular argument to you to sell you that goal. This is not academic writing, it’s persuasive writing. You don’t have to ban something to promote its silence. So it’s a relevant question to ask why we’re going to stop playing this overtly racist piece, but we’re going to continue play so many others. That’s discourse. That’s working through hard ideas together.

Do I care if we never play these pieces again? No. But if we’re going to label something as totally racist, we’re going to ignore half the history of the piece because we’re morally superior, and we’re going to argue to stop performing it publicly, I’m going to ask why. I don’t see these as black/white questions with easy, sound-bite answers. Bully to you if you do.

Representation matters. Appropriation matters. History matters. Reception matters. And you can’t articulate the complexity of those things with the hammers some of you are so clearly wielding.

So I’m done trying.




And you’re totally right Frank. Courage is our students who have to live it, not the people who get to argue about it on the internet.
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Re: TIme to ditch Lassus Trombone

Post by Burgerbob » Wed Jul 01, 2020 8:58 pm

That was certainly a lot of words.
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Re: TIme to ditch Lassus Trombone

Post by brassmedic » Wed Jul 01, 2020 9:50 pm

brtnats wrote:
Wed Jul 01, 2020 8:28 pm
-@Brad: That quote is saying that no society is able to objectively judge its history, especially not on moral grounds, because we carry the baggage along with us. We feel free to declare with moral certitude that these pieces are endemically racist because previous generations that acted to remove the overt racism weren’t as morally pure as us. In other words, we know better than them because we’re better than them. Which is exactly the kind of conversation I’ve been trying to have and have been shut down.
Whaaa??? The quote Timothy posted doesn't say anything about "previous generations that acted to remove the overt racism". You just made that up. Why don't you let him answer my question?
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Re: TIme to ditch Lassus Trombone

Post by brassmedic » Wed Jul 01, 2020 9:54 pm

Burgerbob wrote:
Wed Jul 01, 2020 8:58 pm
That was certainly a lot of words.
You mean this isn't a "most words" contest?
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Re: TIme to ditch Lassus Trombone

Post by Burgerbob » Wed Jul 01, 2020 10:05 pm

brassmedic wrote:
Wed Jul 01, 2020 9:54 pm
Burgerbob wrote:
Wed Jul 01, 2020 8:58 pm
That was certainly a lot of words.
You mean this isn't a "most words" contest?
No wonder I'm losing!!
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Re: TIme to ditch Lassus Trombone

Post by brassmedic » Wed Jul 01, 2020 11:30 pm

Burgerbob wrote:
Wed Jul 01, 2020 10:05 pm
brassmedic wrote:
Wed Jul 01, 2020 9:54 pm

You mean this isn't a "most words" contest?
No wonder I'm losing!!
Sadly, I think everyone is losing.
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Re: TIme to ditch Lassus Trombone

Post by LeTromboniste » Thu Jul 02, 2020 2:17 am

Ok seriously people need to stop with the "it's the marketing and the titles that are racist, not the music itself". The music is absolutely 100% inherently racist. It's a caricature of "black music" of the time meant to entertain racist audiences, playing on racist stereotypes. And there seems to be reluctance to admit it, but I'll say it: Yes, the trombone glisses in that piece are racist, absolutely, because of what they're depicting (and no, obviously not all trombone glisses in the repertoire are; context and intentions matter). Art has meaning, music is not just a random collection of notes and sounds.

You like your strawmans and whataboutism and absurd thought experiments. Here's one for you. Imagine Wagner had written a piece titled "Yid party on a happy Saturday" and the writing was a "humourous" caricature of Klezmer music, accompanied by subtitles using racist stereotypes against Jews. Now maybe the subtitles were deleted since, maybe the title was changed. Would that make the piece neutral enough that you would play it? (If yes, please explain)

Back to Lassus, no amount of whitewashing and deleting the marketing and subtitles and changing the titles (which by the way, wasn't done, the titles are still there and still racist) changes the fact that the music itself is racist. It's racist in the composer's intent (or have we completely forgotten that that's supposed to be something we value as performers and try to be faithful to?), it's racist in its function (entertaining white people, whether they know or not that they're laughing at the expense of another race), and it's racist down to the very writing. The whitewashing made it harder to know it was racist, maybe, but it didn't make it non-racist. No, that doesn't mean we were all monsters for playing it before. We didn't know. But now that you do know, you can't pretend like you don't, is the point. You can't pretend you don't know that someone in the audience or the band might also know. And you don't get to decide for oppressed people what should or shouldn't be offensive to them.

If you choose to perform it, it's your right, and nobody will arrest you. But you are concsiously making the decision that your convenience and the entertainment of your crowd matter more than the hurt it could cause to a black band member or concertgoer who does know about the intent of the piece.
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Re: TIme to ditch Lassus Trombone

Post by brassmedic » Thu Jul 02, 2020 2:27 am

Max, that was great. I wish I could have put it as well as you just did.
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Re: TIme to ditch Lassus Trombone

Post by 8parktoollover » Thu Jul 02, 2020 2:43 am

GBP wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 11:52 pm
BGuttman wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 11:21 pm
But burning things smacks of 1930s Germany.
I have a dear friend who played in one of the orchestras in Israel in the early 80 and maybe late seventies. I asked him recently if Wagner was performed when he was living there. He told me no, that musicians were banned from playing Wagner and List (I think). He told me that the National Orchestra attempted to. They gave the public advance notice, but there was an uprising. Many of the musicians refused to play. My friend told me a lot of the stage crew had numbers tattooed on their arms. My friend told me pain like that doesn’t really ever go away. All this talk about it being long ago and nobody knowing is crap. I have parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents who have told me of their hardships growing up. I know. I remember. I talk to my students about how it was. They know. They remember. These songs are a reminder that there was a time when the value of black people wasn’t much. Given, what has been going on (remember Rodney King?), we really don’t need to be playing music like that.
I think you are talking about Daniel Barenboin. He was litteraly shunned by the prime minister for that incident.
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Re: TIme to ditch Lassus Trombone

Post by Dennis » Thu Jul 02, 2020 10:03 am

brtnats wrote:
Wed Jul 01, 2020 8:28 pm

This is going to be my last post in this thread.

{snip}
-Doug Yeo is suggesting it’s offensive to play this piece of music to Black folks, assuming everyone knows what the original editions looked like, know what the racist marketing materials looked like, and every bit of contextual history about this piece as it was originally published, that most of you didn’t know existed until a week ago. With that, I totally agree. I disagree that the next 100 years of editing and performance history are meaningless. I think the fact that subsequent editions intentionally removed overtly-racist materials matters. I think that publishers keeping the piece in circulation, while removing obviously racist content is an important part of the story. I get to think that. You (plural) get to disagree, but you don’t get to tell me that my assertion is false.

-Many here are not interested in hearing about that part. It’s a nice easy thing to be able to label an artwork as totally racist, forever, no questions asked, the end. Several of you have felt free to make major assumptions about me, my history, and my knowledge. Why do you feel entitled to do that? My academic credentials, which are just as good as Frank’s, wouldn’t matter. I could give you my thesis or my dissertation, written on musical appropriation and representation, but that wouldn’t matter. I could talk to you about my experience mentoring Black students in Title I schools or HBU affiliates, but that wouldn’t matter. Several of you have made up your minds that Doug Yeo gets to be the definitive voice here, and that’s the end of the conversation. When I want to ask how Doug’s logic is to be extended, I’m batted down as changing the topic. That tells me some people aren’t interested in talking, they’re interested in something else. Maybe it’s performative wokeness. Maybe it’s virtue signaling. Maybe it just feels good to talk down to someone because you disagree with them. I have a lot of questions about what removing music from common performance, on these grounds, means. This is supposed to be the proper forum to hash that out.

{snip}

Representation matters. Appropriation matters. History matters. Reception matters. And you can’t articulate the complexity of those things with the hammers some of you are so clearly wielding.
(Emphasis added)

First off, thank you for your work in the HBUs and with underprivileged youth.

The only versions of 'Lassus I have personally seen are the parts handed out in various bands I've played in, and the early trombone + piano versions I saw in our university's library.

The parts obviously had no advertising copy attached, but those early versions did.

Has anyone seen later versions of the trombone + piano editions, or later part folders or scores -- basically, things that would have the advertising copy and drawings on it? Knowing what I do of the publishing business, I'd be surprised if much changed at all before the 1980s. New engraving was expensive then and publishers would be loath to change advertising copy without a really good reason. If Fillmore House or their heirs and assigns removed the offensive advertising material, I think that at least indicates some consciousness of what their earlier material was doing.

It won't change how I feel about the trombone rags: they are mediocre works and I don't care to ever play them again. Of the fifteen, Hallelujah Trombone at least has an amusing basis: had Fillmore stuck to his guns with the title it might be the one in the collection I'd feel differently about. But no, he changed the title to Shoutin' Liza Trombone, used the same racist ad copy, and grouped it with the others.

In the genre of marches and particularly the subgenre of screamers, Fillmore is an important composer. Given the importance of marches in the history of wind bands, I don't think Fillmore can be accurately called a third-rate composer. (Incidentally, Fillmore is the only composer I know of who has a march named for him, viz, Uncle Henry. Fillmore did *not* write that one.) We'd be poorer without Circus Bee, Americans We, and Rolling Thunder. I will resist any attempt to censor Fillmore's marches from the canon.
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Re: TIme to ditch Lassus Trombone

Post by Bach5G » Thu Jul 02, 2020 10:40 am

LeTromboniste wrote:
Thu Jul 02, 2020 2:17 am
Ok seriously people need to stop with the "it's the marketing and the titles that are racist, not the music itself". The music is absolutely 100% inherently racist. ...
Very well said, Max.

Although wrt your Wagner example, without a doubt there would be people who would insist on their “right” to perform it. No one is going to tell them what they can and can’t do.
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Re: TIme to ditch Lassus Trombone

Post by Schlitz » Thu Jul 02, 2020 2:24 pm

https://www.windrep.org/Lassus_Trombone_(arr_Schissel)

Read the program notes, and dig deeper into who Sarah was.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KgIqdX-cqrg

Might be a good time to look up this school. Fairly inclusive and talented trombonists.


https://youtu.be/tL7zfYAhoiE

FAMU 2002


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iwOdP3pKxpg

2011 edition


From my experiences, playing in bands with guest conductors, such as William P Foster, and Charles Sampson (Prof. Bing), they not only liked Fillmore's trombone smears, they incorporated them into their teaching methods.

https://www.marching100alumni.com/resou ... ituary.pdf

Here's a link to Prof Bing's funeral program. Skip to page 6, for the Order of Service.

What do they open with? Was Lassus Trombone his favorite?

This nonsense has to stop. The loud echo chamber here of uneducated opinion does nothing for the community and advocacy of the trombone. Doug Yeo has an opinion. I disagree based upon different experiences. I also believe that all three of the above are more accomplished than Doug. Certainly academically, and by the sheer numbers of young people they influenced. Wow.
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Re: TIme to ditch Lassus Trombone

Post by brassmedic » Thu Jul 02, 2020 2:42 pm

Oooh, guess he told us, huh?
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Re: TIme to ditch Lassus Trombone

Post by Redthunder » Thu Jul 02, 2020 3:06 pm

Schlitz wrote:
Thu Jul 02, 2020 2:24 pm
https://www.windrep.org/Lassus_Trombone_(arr_Schissel)

Read the program notes, and dig deeper into who Sarah was.

Wow, somehow this link made your defense of this tune even more fucked up.

Here’s a quote from the program notes tab that you think disproves the claim that the song is racist.
Fillmore’s trombone smears, beginning with Miss Trombone in 1908, often included subtitles which were in the minstrel-vaudeville idiom of the time. Paul Bierley writes that they were also influenced by his Grandmother McKrell’s former slave, Sarah, a jolly soul who sang catchy old spirituals while she worked and was always treated with respect and kindness in the Fillmore household.
So just to make sure that we’re clear on what you’re getting at, Henry Fillmore turned a healthy profit by ripping off the music sang by his grandmothers former slave, but that’s okay because the Fillmore Family claims that this woman was treated with dignity and respect?

And you believe that this somehow makes the song less racist and offensive to play?

Unbelievable.
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Re: TIme to ditch Lassus Trombone

Post by Bach5G » Thu Jul 02, 2020 3:22 pm

I think we’re going around in circles.
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Re: TIme to ditch Lassus Trombone

Post by dershem » Thu Jul 02, 2020 6:50 pm

BGuttman wrote:
Sun Jun 28, 2020 11:02 pm
Burgerbob wrote:
Sun Jun 28, 2020 9:21 pm
Bruce, go ahead and read the full article. I don't think there's any defending Fillmore or the piece.
This has come up time and again. Doug posted the same sentiments on The Trombone Forum. Sam Burtis has expressed the same feelings.

We have lots of second rate music out there. We play an awful lot of it during outdoor concert band performances. Fillmore's "Rags" are a way to feature the trombone section without making the audience have to endure a piece that bores them to tears. Personally I wouldn't miss "Instant Concert" if I never had to play it again, but audiences seem to like it.

There are a lot of things from before the "woke" generation that seem to insult Blacks. I know Rochester on the Jack Benny show is a stereotype. So are Amos 'n Andy. So are some of the "Blackie" scenes of Showboat. Read Huck Finn. We shouldn't ignore this heritage because someone claims to be an arbiter of taste. Instead we should explain the context and accept them for what they are. And then not be guilty of discrimination ourselves.

Or shall we go on a crusade and ban "Darktown Strutters' Ball" as well? After all, the title is just as offensive as the Fillmore Rags.
Well, that's throwing a lot of apples and oranges into one bag and claiming they are the same. Lassus Trombone can easily be classified with Amos 'n Andy and Most of Showboat - they are the equivalent of "Song of the South" or "Birth of a nation" sociologically speaking. Doing away with them would benefit society.

Eddie "Rochester" Anderson, on the other hand, was not making fun of people or demeaning people, and Huck Finn is very clearly a story of someone from a horrific background learning that Black people are PEOPLE. Polar opposites. Anderson was a major civil rights activist in his time and did a lot of good. Amos 'n Andy were white men making fun of [REDACTED]. Not comparable.
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Re: TIme to ditch Lassus Trombone

Post by Savio » Thu Jul 02, 2020 7:25 pm

I have not read the hole tread, but I read the the article from Douglas Yeo. Im glad he enlighten the story behind the composer and this songs. Im glad he share it and even told to share it on internet. I dont have much to add to the discussion. The only thing I can say is we cant change the sad history from the past, but we can learn. We can change history from this day and develop. We are all humans, we are all equal. "I have a dream"

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Re: TIme to ditch Lassus Trombone

Post by robcat2075 » Thu Jul 02, 2020 9:59 pm

If I read his argument right, "Lassus Trombone" and the ragtime trombone features like it have to go because they are born of minstrelsy and were promoted with racist imagery.

I presume his facts are correct.

But all ragtime will need to go. The whole genre is born of minstrelsy and racist caricature including the work by black composers...

Image

Ernest Hogan was the originator of the "coon" song:
Image


Sam Lucas, black minstrel, wrote this...
Image

But he didn't write the seriously racist lyrics to this. Oops, wait... "Wm. F. Quown" is just a pseudonym he used. He did write this...
Image


But they had to write these coon rags to make a buck, you say? Maybe.

But how does that make the genre any less born of minstrelsy and racism? When that is the test (Doug Yeo says that is the test), it all has to go.

Or is it just the trombone pieces that are the problem?
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Re: TIme to ditch Lassus Trombone

Post by BGuttman » Fri Jul 03, 2020 12:28 am

Rob, I think the issue might be that all of the pieces you show except the Joplin have (thankfully) passed out of favor. I know I'd have a real problem programming a piece called "De Coon Dat Had De Razor" for anything but a KKK rally.
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Re: TIme to ditch Lassus Trombone

Post by EdwardSolomon » Fri Jul 03, 2020 3:58 am

I have taken the time and trouble to read through four pages of (somewhat tedious) to-and-fro over racism in music. I have seen the same subject discussed on Facebook. If we are going to consider racism in music, then it must be all racism, not merely that expressed toward people with dark skin.

I am friendly with Micha Davis (bass trombone, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra), who writes:
Wagner to Fillmore
Fillmore? Who is this? Ask anyone who doesn't play trombone. Well, Fillmore was a composer of funny trombone clips, Dixieland-style glissandi stock and from that time (early 20th century US). All the trombonists grew up on these parts, some are fed up with them and some started playing trombone because of these parts. The Lassus Trombone thing was performed by and by Nir Erez in a great section at a youth concert at the Cultural Hall with Roni Porat. So what to the same Fillmore and the known composer Richard Wagner? It turns out that a few days ago a study was released on him in the United States, a study done by two known trombonists, a study that indicates his racist and offensive roots towards black skin, which reflects in these segments. So in the spirit of our period the petition of political correctness, when statues of past figures are cut off, here is also a call to boycott the same Henry Fillmore. In dramatic discussions in Facebook groups, trombonist musicians confessed that we played the same clips and even though there was no known about the composer's past they apologise from the bottom of their hearts and promise that from today on they will check the background of each composer before they play his works. I of course threw a few questions in the air: and what about Debussy's cakewalk clips? Also them to boycott? And maybe Strovinsky's Petrushka and Mozart's Magic Flute? Here in Israel are experts in such boycotts. And what about you, my friends of the American profession? Are you ready to boycott Wagner in the name of the same historical justice?
The subject of racism in music has a pedigree dating back to the 18th century. Was Mozart racist towards Turks in Die Entführung aus dem Serail or towards blacks in Die Zauberflöte? Perhaps, but only one composer stands head and shoulders above the others in his direct expression of racism - towards Jews. Richard Wagner.

Not just Wagner, either. Also Liszt and Pfitzner, to name but two other antisemitic composers; another interesting one was Chopin, also an antisemite, as well as the Mighty Handful circle around Mussorgsky, who were also apparently anti-Jewish. Pfitzner in particular was even worse than Wagner and that takes some doing. And Percy Grainger. Another died-in-the-wool antisemite. Plenty of them, unfortunately. Richard Wagner remains the kingpin, but Hans Pfitzner is far, far worse. A little judicious digging reveals that he hated Jews so much that he said after the Holocaust:
„Das Weltjudentum ist ein Problem & zwar ein Rassenproblem, aber nicht nur ein solches, & es wird noch einmal aufgegriffen werden, wobei man sich Hitlers erinnern wird & ihn anders sehen, als jetzt, wo man dem gescheiterten Belsazar den bekannten Eselstritt versetzt. Es war sein angeborenes Proletentum, welches ihn gegenüber dem schwierigsten aller Menschenprobleme den Standpunkt des Kammerjägers einnehmen liess, der zum Vertilgen einer bestimmten Insektensorte angefordert wird. Also nicht das ‚Warum‘ ist ihm vorzuwerfen, nicht, ‚dass er es getan‘, sondern nur das ‚wie‘ er die Aufgabe angefasst hat, die berserkerhafte Plumpheit, die ihn dann auch, im Verlauf der Ereignisse, zu den Grausamkeiten, die ihm vorgeworfen werden, führen musste.“
Not comfortable with this kind of racism, the Germans have taken to heart the business of Pfitzner's overt antisemitism and renamed streets and squares named after him across the entire country. Little wonder that it's only the orchestral music (the preludes to Palestrina Acts 1-3) that is usually performed. Pfitzner was a weirdo. A real head case. He even had a falling out with Cosima Wagner, that arch-antisemite herself, because he wanted recognition from the anti-Wagner composers, such as Johannes Brahms. And for him to say the things he did about Jews is simply unforgivable. Remember: he penned that stuff about the Jews in 1945, after the horrors of the Holocaust had come to light. Utterly abhorrent.

To reiterate, Pfitzner was utterly abhorrent. What he said was that the presence of Jews in the world is a problem, indeed a problem of race. He said that Hitler was right to have dealt with the problem. However, where people took issue, he says, is not with the 'why', nor even with the fact that Hitler did so, but with the 'how' - the methods used to solve the Jewish problem. He claims that Hitler had the attitude of a berserker, who was led inexorably through the course events to the atrocities that he is accused of leading.
In other words, in Pftizner's mind, the Jews were a problem to be solved and Hitler was the man for the job. The only issue people had was with how he solved the problem, but given the circumstances, he couldn't help himself, he had no agency and was led from one thing to another to the Holocaust of millions of souls.
As I said, in the wake of the revelations of the Holocaust, to say things like this reveals a really twisted mind. Pfitzner was a real POS.

Richard Wagner, though, is a case apart. He considered himself first and foremost a philosopher and no other composer went to the lengths he did. He penned a screed entitled Das Judentum in der Musik, a work in which he sets out his worldview and all other things aside in his artistic output, this one document should be sufficient to condemn him from ever being even so much as considered for performance ever again. Insofar as his music and philosophy were adopted wholeheartedly by Adolf Hitler, even though Wagner and his views were abhorrent, it is still unfair to judge him based on what the Nazis later did with his music, though that doesn’t give Wagner a free pass.

Let us be clear: of the composers I have named (and there are others besides), only one stands out when it comes to antisemitism - Richard Wagner. There were several other composers that I have named who were also antisemitic, but in comparative terms, only Wagner stands out from the pack because of that diatribe. Even his son Siegfried went to some lengths to back-pedal from his father’s overt antisemitism and reiterate that any Jew was welcome to play music, even that of his father. With Richard Wagner, there is no instrumental music to speak of (very little actual purely instrumental music of his exists). Almost everything performed is a bleeding chunk torn from one of his operas and should be considered in the full context of the opera from which it is drawn. Die Meistersinger and the Ring cycle are racist (Beckmesser, Alberich, Hagen, and Mime are all caricatures of Jews), yet some of the most popular orchestral music is drawn from these works.

I’m not suggesting erasing history. You cannot change what has happened. We Jews of all people know that. We have a collective memory dating back over 4,500 years. I also accept that antisemitism reached levels of popularity in the nineteenth century when it was almost impossible to escape and many composers expressed antisemitic views, including the popular Mighty Handful in Russia and even Tchaikovsky. That doesn’t excuse them or even Wagner. But we should know what has happened and the racism they espoused should be brought to the attention of the listener.

Only Wagner has been upheld as a shining example by the totalitarian government of a dictatorship, only Wagner's music has been performed continuously at a festival run by an antisemitic family with a known history of association with Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. Any comparison to any other composer is hideous in the extreme.
Last edited by EdwardSolomon on Sat Jul 04, 2020 9:22 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: TIme to ditch Lassus Trombone

Post by Redthunder » Fri Jul 03, 2020 5:04 am

robcat2075 wrote:
Thu Jul 02, 2020 9:59 pm
If I read his argument right, "Lassus Trombone" and the ragtime trombone features like it have to go because they are born of minstrelsy and were promoted with racist imagery.

I presume his facts are correct.

But all ragtime will need to go. The whole genre is born of minstrelsy and racist caricature including the work by black composers...

snip

But they had to write these coon rags to make a buck, you say? Maybe.

But how does that make the genre any less born of minstrelsy and racism? When that is the test (Doug Yeo says that is the test), it all has to go.

Or is it just the trombone pieces that are the problem?
Robert,

Your logic here conflates minstrelsy’s role in popularizing ragtime with a larger white audience with its development by African American musicians, including Scott Joplin. After all, the entire MO of minstrel shows was ripping off and mocking black culture that already existed.

Also, it is a disturbing justification to say the least to imply that because specific historical black Americans participated in a racist minstrel culture at a time when most were under the brutal yoke of Jim Crow and often had very little opportunity for success thanks to white people, that the racist music written by white people who copied them is somehow acceptable because of that. Which is what it seems like you’re getting at. And it’s just not true.
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Re: TIme to ditch Lassus Trombone

Post by timothy42b » Fri Jul 03, 2020 5:47 am

Edward says:
Only Wagner has been upheld as a shining example by the totalitarian government of a dictatorship, only Wagner's music has been performed continuously at a festival run by an antisemitic family with a known history of association with Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. Any comparison to any other composer is hideous in the extreme.
and supports his claim with unassailable logic and evidence.

The US has a huge array of institutionalized racism that does constant harm. Of that array music is a part; probably a very small part in most people's lives. Of music, wind ensemble is a very small genre. Of that, trombone gliss features become a near undetectable part. The actual harm done by this particular piece given how rarely it's played and how unlikely the audience is to understand the racist background is a small part of that! except of course in cases like Frank mentioned, by musically sophisticated students at an HBCU.

And yet that piece seems to be the ONLY one that arouses the indignation of the community here and Doug Yeo.
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Re: TIme to ditch Lassus Trombone

Post by Pre59 » Fri Jul 03, 2020 6:23 am

timothy42b wrote:
Fri Jul 03, 2020 5:47 am

And yet that piece seems to be the ONLY one that arouses the indignation of the community here and Doug Yeo.

A phrase that that springs to my mind is, "Bringing the Trombone into disrepute"..
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Re: TIme to ditch Lassus Trombone

Post by GabeLangfur » Fri Jul 03, 2020 8:07 am

Ed, we absolutely have to talk about Wagner, but he is not the subject of this discussion. That's not the house on fire.

The house on fire, at least in the US - and judging by the outpouring of support around the world, elsewhere too - is the fact of violence against Black people by police, housing policies, education policies, the (in)justice system, etc. etc.

Talking about Wagner in this context is what my students call "centering." And what they say is: "Stop centering. This isn't about you." They say it to me sometimes, and it stings, but they're right.

We might contend that a bunch of trombone players arguing about a dumb piece of gimmick music is so peripheral to the house on fire that it's completely inconsequential. And that might be true. But why not just stop playing the dumb piece of music because some among us find it hurtful? Why not? Is that so hard?

If you won't listen to me or anybody else on this forum, will you listen to one of the greatest trombonists of any generation?

https://wycliffegordon.com/2020/07/we-a ... bVcZXrWm3I

“Things are really rough and bad out here” is something that I have heard from my parents for as long as I can remember. “You’re supposed to act this way in public. You’re not supposed to do things that way around here.” Statements like these are what I heard as warnings throughout my childhood because of my parents’ relationship to dealing with racism in the south of the United States. My mother would say to me and my siblings “Y’all have it easy. You get to catch a bus to school. We had to walk for miles to go to school, and only got one pair of shoes a year.” We of course thought it was somewhat funny and well, “she’s just trying to make us feel bad for missing the bus.” Those chuckles bring us to today, because what our parents were trying to prepare us for are the things that we could not see as important and how they would affect us later in life. After all, we were the children they had to protect, but now we have our own children to look out for. But from a very different viewpoint now. Will Things Change THIS Time?

Within Our Gates (Oscar Micheaux, 1920) tells a wonderful story of love and tragedy throughout racist times in our great United States. Louis Armstrong spoke out about and against racism in the US in the mid to late 50’s and was ostracized quite a bit for simply stating the truth. He was considered unpatriotic by many, including his fellow African Americans for whom he was trying to help to get a fair shake at things. We are now in the year 2020 but the racist narrative somehow remains the same. We have figured out how to advance technology and benefit from it, but how we treat fellow human beings has somehow remained the same. “Why do you hate me?” Pops asked (someone once in Texas who was trying to start trouble). Trying to answer that question only defused the man, who was initially on a rant to hurt Pops, but then the man began to compliment Pops for being a good human being and a great musician. Will Things Change THIS Time?

As a trombonist I want to share an article written by my friend and master bass trombonist Doug Yeo that exposes some of the racist practices associated with a well known composer of works for our instrument. I’ve performed the piece Lassus Trombone by Henry Fillmore several times over the years as it was literature widely accepted, taught, and played in the schools of trombone all over the US and abroad. I must admit that while I was aware of many racist cartoons and caricatures used to brand and sell products, I was completely oblivious to the history associated with this piece and others in the “Trombone Family” created by Fillmore. My desire here is to share this (re) discovered bit of history brought to light by my brother Yeo, so we can do what I feel needs to be done to address all racists and racism issues. Let us all sit and talk about it. I already know there will be mixed feelings and reviews about history and the importance of preserving it. I have already had some of those conversations, but there needs to be a continuum so that all voices are heard and considered. Perhaps everyone should look at the images prior to speaking. Please read the article and take from it what you will. It is a piece of history and there is nothing that we can do to change what has happened in the past. Can we finally put racism in the past and leave it there? It has yet to happen.

Thanks to Doug Yeo for sharing this article about these works and for sharing a little bit of himself with us. Much love to you for that.

Trombone players: It’s time to bury Henry Fillmore’s “Lassus Trombone.”

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Re: TIme to ditch Lassus Trombone

Post by EdwardSolomon » Fri Jul 03, 2020 8:33 am

GabeLangfur wrote:
Fri Jul 03, 2020 8:07 am
Ed, we absolutely have to talk about Wagner, but he is not the subject of this discussion. That's not the house on fire.
I read and heard what was said. Our house has been on fire for centuries. Nobody gives a damn. Why? Simple: money. Who could give a rat's ass about Fillmore? His music doesn't monetise. But Wagner, well, that's a different story, isn't it? There are entire opera companies that make a fortune from his music-dramas, orchestras that programme his music and yet other ensembles that perform arrangements. Crikey, there's even an annual festival in Bayreuth that is exclusively dedicated to his music and has notorious ties to Hitler and the Nazis.

But let's talk about Fillmore and his really insignificant trombone pieces because that's so much more important than other racist composers' music raking in millions. Jeez, as trombonists, we even lionise Wagner and practise excerpts from his operas ad infinitum. How many people have stopped to think about what they're practising or performing? Why does Fillmore get everyone's attention now, but Wagner, about whom huge tomes have been written, gets a free pass?

Really? Seriously? Pull the other one, it's got bells on!
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Re: TIme to ditch Lassus Trombone

Post by GabeLangfur » Fri Jul 03, 2020 8:44 am

Ed, your arguments are solid; they are. And I started my comment by saying we absolutely have to talk about Wagner.

But you're centering. This conversation is about racism against Black people, not anti-Semitism.

Also, this Fillmore conversation should have been quick and easy so we could get on to more important things. I think you and I probably agree on that point.
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Re: TIme to ditch Lassus Trombone

Post by EdwardSolomon » Fri Jul 03, 2020 9:12 am

GabeLangfur wrote:
Fri Jul 03, 2020 8:44 am
Ed, your arguments are solid; they are. And I started my comment by saying we absolutely have to talk about Wagner.

But you're centering. This conversation is about racism against Black people, not anti-Semitism.

Also, this Fillmore conversation should have been quick and easy so we could get on to more important things. I think you and I probably agree on that point.
Totally agree, but I also think Fillmore is a soft target. He is relatively speaking a nobody. We are dancing around the elephant in the room. Big deal, Fillmore was a racist and his music can be quietly shelved for good. No great loss. neither man nor music. But someone with much more clout? A Wagner or a Chopin, even someone like Percy Grainger? Much harder.

If anything, the whole BLM affair should be making us question racism - all of it. And if we are doing it in music, then there are no excuses. Absolutely not a single one.
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Re: TIme to ditch Lassus Trombone

Post by brassmedic » Fri Jul 03, 2020 9:55 am

EdwardSolomon wrote:
Fri Jul 03, 2020 8:33 am

But let's talk about Fillmore and his really insignificant trombone pieces because that's so much more important than other racist composers' music raking in millions.
I can't believe we got this far in this thread, and this is still coming up. For about the hundredth time now, this is not about a racist composer, it is about a racist piece of music.

Also, if you want to boycott Wagner, then write your own damn article. Who's stopping you? It doesn't invalidate What Doug Yeo said.
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Re: TIme to ditch Lassus Trombone

Post by brassmedic » Fri Jul 03, 2020 10:01 am

You know, I'm really sick to death of people who have done nothing, criticizing a person who has at least done something, for not doing enough.
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