Tuning Up - Blog No 3 Balzac's Gambara: Martyrdom, magic, modernism and the music of other planets by Peter Davison Peter Davison writes:Much of my fascination for the music of George Lloyd stems from sympathy towards his struggle against modernist orthodoxy in the period after the Second World War, when his accessible and tuneful style fell badly out of fashion. It has long been a puzzle to me why, during the course of the twentieth century, so many composers became alienated from their audiences, and why melodious music was so thoughtlessly dismissed as hackneyed and out of date. In 2001, I even edited a collection of essays called Reviving the Muse, which explored this thorny subject in some detail. But could composers like George Lloyd have been badly misjudged? Could his middle-of-the-road aesthetics and traditional values become newly relevant in our own times? The question remains - what causes this continuing tension in our culture between old and new? I found some startling clues when I recently stumbled across Gambara, a story by the French writer Balzac. Its narrative accurately foreshadows many of the revolutionary developments in modern music and probes the moral, social and aesthetic controversies which have defined the modern era. My article below discusses Balzac’s prophetic tale of a composer whose idealism is slowly crushed by the cynical world that surrounds him, relating his experiences to our understanding of the true nature of genius and the continuing impact of Romanticism on our contemporary culture.