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Sunday, May 4, 2008

Ian Buruma on Tan Dun

I hope everybody is reading this NY Times Magazine piece, which manages to celebrate its subject without buying into the hype, and criticize him without buying into the backlash. The first sentence:

In Stockholm last fall, walking past a McDonald’s, Tan Dun turned to me and said: “Some 20 years ago, I was still planting rice in China. And now I’m conducting orchestras in all the great concert houses of the world: La Scala, the Met, the Berlin Philharmonic. I still can’t believe it.”

That might even be too neat—retelling Tan's brilliant success story, a rise from rice paddies to the Berlin Phil, while the Golden Arches lurk in the background. Can the musical sort of globalization have a double edge, too? The politics of Tan Dan's music are as complicated as his music is beautiful, and he deserves a profile this incisive and nuanced.

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