Score-Reading at Concerts

I gave a little cheer this morning reading my friend Greg Sandow, confirming something I absolutely believe: What about serious musical scholars, who sit there [at concerts] reading scores? Now, I -- speaking now as a musician, though not all musicians would agree with me -- think that's one of the worst ways to listen to music. You notice the trees, not the forest. You police the composition (and, above all, the performance), but you don't truly hear it. You notice details, but you miss both the flow of the composition, and the sheer taste and … [Read more...]

In Passing

I took the quiz to see which New York Times columnist I am. Turns out, I'm Maureen Dowd. And by the way, I've been listening to Air America over the internet. It isn't anywhere near as hilarious as they promised, but neither is it as dull as the reviews I've read charge. It's just radio, sufficiently entertaining to keep on in the background, and often satisfying in the truths it reports. Maybe they shouldn't have raised false expectations by hyping up the funny side so much. … [Read more...]

Modern Prejudices

Picking up on my entry about Europe, Art Jarvinen tells an anecdote about the Dutch composer Joep Franssens: I met him at an E.A.R. Unit concert at the Icebreaker in Amsterdam, where we played that piece of mine you like so much, Murphy-Nights. Afterwards Joep said "That's the kind of piece a lot of us here would like to be writing, but we can't yet. The pressure is still too strong to do what's expected." Murphy-Nights, by the way, is a brilliant, jazzy piece in which three instruments play a crazily syncopated line in unison while the … [Read more...]

Tooting My Own

Well, I thought someone else would eventually say it, but no one has. The MPR American Mavericks radio series on American classical music that won the Peabody Award? It was based on scripts written by me, which were reworked slightly for radio, with interviews added, by Tom Voegeli. Tom did an excellent job, but the Minneapolis Star described him as "writer" of the series and omitted me, and subsequently I've been getting e-mails from friends saying, "But I thought you wrote the series." (Even the Arts Journal link, o unkindest cut of all, … [Read more...]