on complexity in art

One of the most common criticisms of new music is its alienating complexity. “I don't understand it.” “The composer is being purposefully alienating.” Or, to get it down to one word: “Cacophony.” Do these haters have a point? May I refer these haters to Gyorgy Ligeti: Music of the Imagination, by Richard Steinitz. Regarding the 'Kyrie' from Ligeti's Requiem he writes: 

“Is Ligeti's exacting yet inaudible detail misconceived? If the choral writing is impracticable should it not have been written differently? Judged as craft, the answer might be 'yes'. Judged as art, it could be that means and ends are linked: the effort required intensifies the sense of supplication, the integrity of each anonymous strand authenticates the whole. Judged as history, there is ample evidence for thinking that any accuracy unobtainable in 1965 will consequently be achieved. There are many examples of intellectual fantasy weaving webs that are not easily perceived. Consider Bach's puzzle canons in The Musical Offering and Schumann's cryptic ciphers. Consider how Gothic stonemasons carved sculptures so far aloft that few mortals could see them. The miracles of colour and pattern in the rose windows created by medieval glaziers contain iconography whose detail is overwhelmed by the glory of the whole, although fully to appreciate their pictorial symbolism you need binoculars – invented long after the glass was installed. Whether for the greater glory of God or the inner satisfaction of the artist, unseen craft strengthens the visible achievement.” (pg 149)


"Consider how Gothic stonemasons carved sculptures so far aloft that few mortals could see them." I'm sure there are other ways to discuss the it's too complex argument, and I'd love to hear them. But for me, this strikes a really strong (dodeca)chord.