2015 Lecture: Roger Scruton, with Greil Marcus

The speaker at this fall’s Lloyd Old and Constance Old Lecture is philosopher Roger Scruton. Scruton’s lecture will be followed by a response and interview with music journalist and current visiting professor Greil Marcus.

“No time to rejoice for those who walk among noise and deny the voice”
Ash Wednesday
T. S. Eliot

Walking Among Noise

Tonality, Atonality, and Where We Go From Here

Friday, October 16, 2015, 7:30pm
Elebash Recital Hall
The Graduate Center, CUNY
365 Fifth Ave, New York NY 10016

Taking a cue from Eliot’s famous line, Walking among Noise:  Tonality, Atonality, and Where We Go from Here will discuss the exceptional role of beauty, art and music in our everyday experience.  The talk will address what tonality is and why it was declared a dead language.  It asks, what are the lessons learned from the avant-garde, how can composers of “serious” music reconnect to the concert-going audience, why are symphony audiences declining, and finally, how can composers today connect with popular culture and the music that appeals to the young?

The program will also feature a musical interlude by members of the Perspectives Ensemble, who will be performing selections from string quartets by Rochberg, Webern, and Tippett.

Admission is free, but reservations are required.



About our speakers:

Roger Scruton:

Prof. Scruton is a writer, philosopher and public commentator. He has specialized in aesthetics with particular attention to music and architecture. He engages in contemporary political and cultural debates from the standpoint of a conservative thinker and is well known as a powerful polemicist.  He has written widely in the press on political and cultural issues. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and a fellow of the British Academy.

Scruton graduated from Cambridge University in 1965, spent two years abroad and then pursued an academic career in philosophy, first in Cambridge, and then in London, until 1990 when he took a year’s leave of absence to work for an educational charity in Czechoslovakia. (This charity grew from the ‘underground university’ which colleagues and Scruton had established in the last decade of communism.  His contacts with the countries of the old Eastern Bloc remain strong.)  Scruton then taught part-time at Boston University Massachusetts until the end of 1994, while simultaneously building a public affairs consultancy in Eastern Europe. Since then Scruton has been a free-lance writer and consultant. He is currently senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C., where he is pursuing projects related to the need for a new urbanism and the cultural impact of neuroscience. In 1996, Scruton married his wife, Sophie, and they have two children, Sam, age 17, and Lucy, age 15.

“There are few more valuable thinkers in Britain – or indeed, the world – today. His vilification and rejection by the academic establishment is disgraceful. In comparison with him, most of his critics are intellectual pygmies. Both left and right should be grateful to have such a man to sharpen and define the issues. And philosophers should be grateful that he has placed their subject at the very centre of current affairs. Perhaps Scruton’s greatest contribution is his living demonstration of the truth that without philosophy we are nothing.” Bryan Appleyard, The Sunday Times

Greil Marcus:

Marcus is a noted music critic and journalist whose work focuses on American popular music and its place in society. He is the author of Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the 20th Century and The Old, Weird America: The World of Bob Dylan’s Basement Tapes, and he has written for Rolling StoneCreem, and The Village Voice. For the fall 2015 semester, he will be a visiting professor at the Graduate Center.