Just as I’m on My Way There…

“I’m in the US mostly because it allows me to write the music I want. I feel the US are freer aesthetically, and also, politically (in music, that is).”

– from a note I received today from a European composer living in the U.S.


  1. says

    grass is always greener, eh?
    KG replies: Well,
    1. You can have a much better career as a composer in Europe than all but a very few composers have in the U.S.
    2. There’s more tolerance for a wide diversity of musical styles in the U.S. than in Europe.
    Those two assertions don’t contradict each other. And I’d add a third that’s relevant:
    3. Europeans are more tolerant of stylistic nonconformity when the composer is American, since they think we’re all crackpots anyway.
    In short, if THEY all moved over HERE, and WE all moved over THERE, maybe we’d all have greener grass (at least the ones who aren’t much appreciated at home).

  2. Samuel Vriezen says

    Indeed, (1) and (2) are not contradictory. Perhaps they’re in fact two sides of the same coin. You get tolerated because what you do isn’t considered important anyway. Some intolerance may be a healthy thing!
    KG replies: Touché, once again. As Harry Partch growled, these days, if someone doesn’t follow the rules, “we just ignore him to death.”

  3. says

    I’ve seen a lot of self-censorship among some young and student composers in Europe. Well, not so much censorship as restraint. They really want to deserve the public trust and cultural capital they might get and so strive to remain serious at all times.
    However, the Dutch seem to get to be very playful. I’ve seen Dutch students be very adventurous and get encouragement for it from teachers and others.
    I’m leaving the Netherlands shortly, but I hope to return. It’s a very nice environment for arts, imho.