Return of the Wild Composer

I’m late with this, having regressed through space and time (lifetime-wise) for a small home-town vacation in Dallas. But every Sunday, wherever I am, I click on the Times music section with a pessimistic sigh expressing the unlikelihood of their ever mentioning any music that might actually interest me. And this week I was encouraged by Daniel J. Wakin’s and John Schwartz’s article about composer Joseph Bertolozzi, who is writing a piece to be performed, percussively, on the Mid-Hudson Bridge in Poughkeepsie. This looks like the kind of crazy, creative, innovatively public new-music project that composers used to pursue in the halcyon days of the New Music America festival: electronic sounds on the subways, music in the form of a baseball game, singers and instrumentalists drifting on boats, and like that. I’m thrilled to see Mr. Bertolozzi (to refer to him Times-style) pursuing it, and I look forward to driving down to hear his piece. What’s less gratifying is that this kind of creativity has so receded from our musical life that the authors treat it as whackily out of the ordinary (“bizarre,” “quixotic,” actually playing the bridge). Back in the old days, before Reagan somehow made the entire world conservative, using a bridge as a musical instrument – however newsworthy – would have hardly raised eyebrows.

I also failed to bring timely attention to Dennis Bathory-Kitsz’s very impressive article in New Music Box about the hyperrealist music of Noah Creshevsky: hyperrealism being defined as “an electroacoustic musical language constructed from sounds that are found in our shared environment, handled in ways that are somehow exaggerated or excessive.” Dennis offers us a depth of aesthetic thought, about a very good composer, that we rarely encounter in any medium these days.


  1. says

    A little while ago Dan Wakin also wrote about Chris DeLaurenti’s “intermission music” record.
    KG replies: Well, I didn’t say it *never* happens. But the Times music section can easily go six weeks at a time on nothing but pop music, conventional opera, star conductors, and perhaps the occasional bone of approval thrown to a high modernist.

  2. Frank Bridge says

    Have you listened to any of the clips on Bertolozzi’s website? Serious evidence of a major new voice in the American avant-garde! I especially recommend “On the Wings of Eagles,” which I think might have been part of his Tribute to John Ashcroft.