Autumn 1949 • Vol. XI No. 4 Nonfiction |

The Musician’s Commitment

It looks as if society and the arts were always at cross-purposes.1 For its part, society has never lacked champions ready to legislate on the arts and to impose directives on them. From Plato expelling the poets from the Republic, down through the Byzantine iconoclasts and Pope Pius IV—who, at the time of the Council of Trent, tried to forbid the practice of polyphonic music within the church to the recent pronouncements of the government of the U. S. S. R. on the quality and value of a certain number of Soviet writers and musicians, we see society, through its leaders, continually taking a stand on the question of art and the artist. This alone should be sufficient to show that art is not, has never been, and in all probability can never be that simple pastime—enjoyable or enjoyed, depending on the circumstances—that rather innocent, and, everything considered, inoffensive game, which so many people still take it to be. Similarly, the artist is by no means the "entertainer"

Already have an account? Login

Join KR for even more to read.

Register for a free account to read five free pieces a month from our current issue and digital archive.
Register for Free and Read This Piece

Or become a subscriber today and get complete, immediate access to our digital archives at every subscription level.

Read More


Your free registration with Kenyon review incudes access to exclusive content, early access to program registration, and more.


With your support, we’ll continue 
to cultivate talent and publish extraordinary literature from diverse voices around the world.