The philosopher Roger Scruton, an unwavering fount of conservative opinion on society and art, died today of cancer.
A worshipper of Wagner who found no fault with his human shortcomings, Scrutonn rejected most of musical modernism, albeit with a tolerant whimsicality.
He will be missed.
John Borstlap writes:
One does not have to agree with his various ideas about politics, wine or fox hunting, to experience the deeply intelligent and entirely accessible writings about any subject as a great stimulus to develop one’s own thoughts about the subject.
I had many stimulating exchanges with him about music, he wrote recommendations for my music, we discussed the music of his opera ‘Violet’ of which he gave me the full score. He wrote some truly beautiful songs. He came all the way from Wiltshire to the UK premiere of my piece ‘Psyche’ (elaboration of a Wagner sketch) about which he was very complimentary. In the beginning I found him quite intimidating, untill I discovered behind the impressive intellectual front a soft-hearted romantic, whose conservatism is a particular British kind going-back to 18C Edmond Burke, who warned for the abberations of the French Revolution and correctly predicted what disasters totalitarian idealism brings to the world of real, living people. We did not agree on Wagner, but who does? His ‘Aesthetics of Music’ has greatly helped me to develop my own musical philosophy of regeneration. Scruton saw through modernism, and his analysis – for instance, in ‘Modern Culture‘ – will convert every intelligent person to a better undnerstanding of art, music, architecture, literature, painting, poetry.
“I try out my thoughts on Parsifal before a crowded meeting of the Wagner Society. Through a wonderful artistic contrivance Wagner connects redemption and suffering, showing that our highest aspirations grow from our darkest griefs, and that the gate to fulfilment stands on the way of loss. The music says this, even if the words and the plot shroud it in mystery.” (https://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2020/01/roger-scruton-1944-2020/)