Mistakes Were Not Made

Daniel J. Wakin interviews James Levine, Charles Wuorinen, and John Harbison today in the Times, devilishly playing off, as the Times insists on doing, Wuorinen’s 12-tone beliefs against Harbison’s neoromanticism. There are some delightful little knots in the conversation, this one being the most delectable, I thought:

WAKIN: You wrote in your book, “Simple Composition” –

WUORINEN: Never write a book.

WAKIN: Of course it was a long time ago –

WUORINEN: It’s still in print. People use it.

WAKIN: It was written in 1979, and you wrote that the tonal system could be found only in backward-looking serious composers, is no longer used by serious mainstream composers, has been replaced and succeeded by the 12-tone system.

WUORINEN: Well, that’s a categorical statement which cannot be – of course, it had more to it then, although to some extent it is obsolete now. But it depends on what you mean by the tonal system.

LEVINE: That is spoken by a man who is tired of how difficult it is to make anything understood, in any of these distinctions.

Undoubtedly.

Related
Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on RedditEmail this to someone