Remembering Wiley

It's pretty far down in the comments now, so I didn't want it to get lost that Wiley Hitchcock's son Hugh has started a remarkably honest … [Read more...]

Sunken City, Finally

I finally got a recording of my piano concerto Sunken City - by recording it off of Dutch radio via the internet: Second movement: After (22:19) The recording is of the premiere in Rotterdam, which had a few more mistakes than the next evening's concert in Amsterdam, but the spirit of it is quite nice. The ensemble is the Orkest de Volharding, the crackerjack wind and brass ensemble founded by Louis Andriessen in 1972, conducted by the young but impressively expert Finnish conductor Jussi Jaatinen. The soloist is Geoffrey Douglas Madge, an … [Read more...]

Independent Confirmation

Peter Cherches has written, for NYU's Fales library, a blog on the subject. At the Voice I covered the "classical," more new-music side of the scene, but Cherches covers the jazz and punk rock areas as well. Got a problem with Downtown music? Take it up with Peter Cherches now. Go tell him there's no such thing. … [Read more...]

Cherokee Roots of My Crazy Music

I was in Washington, D.C., this week lecturing at Catholic University, and I spent a number of fruitful hours at the impressive National Museum of the American Indian. Among other things, I bought a book on Cherokee astrology: The Cherokee Sacred Calendar by Raven Hail, an elder in the tribe. It seems that Cherokee astrology - apparently based on or descended from the … [Read more...]

End of the Road

....In February 1913, Malevich assured Matiushin that "the only meaningful direction for painting was Cubo-Futurism." In 1922 the Dadaists celebrated the end of all art except the Maschine-kunst of Tatlin, and that same year the artists of Moscow declared that easel painting as such, abstract or figurative, belonged to an historically superceded society. "True art like true life takes a single road," Piet Mondrian wrote in 1937. Mondrian saw himself as on that road in life as in art, in life because in art. And he believed that other artists … [Read more...]

What This Country Needs Is a George Antheil Nickel

Europeans certainly do make a composer feel at home. No sooner had I stepped off the plane in Copenhagen than the Bureau d'Exchange handed me several pictures of Carl Nielsen: In Basel I turned in my Danish Kronens for pictures of Arthur Honegger: And the Swiss went the Danes one better: not only was their most famous composer on the front, but the reverse of the Swiss Franc sported an actual excerpt (a mere repeated dyad, admittedly, but all the more characteristic withal) from Pacific 231 (detail only): Somewhere around here I have an old, … [Read more...]

H. Wiley Hitchcock, 1923-2007

I'm out of town on a teaching gig, which is perhaps why the news eluded me that my friend and mentor Wiley Hitchcock passed away Wednesday. It seems terribly unfair that death could ever be associated with such a big, bluff, jovial, good-natured, generous, straight-shooting bear of a guy, as jaunty, masculine, and bullshit-deflecting as a sea captain. He was the dean of Americanist musicologists, and far more than a musicologist - he seemed a full-fledged denizen of the world of American composers, someone who walked among Ives, Thomson, Cowell … [Read more...]

Chance Encounters

I was pleased, at my November 20 lecture at Goldsmiths College in southeast London, to meet fellow blogger Tim Rutherford-Johnson, in attendance. He says I met him at a Goldsmiths appearance several years ago, but I hadn't remembered him from that time because he hadn't yet become a famous new-music blogger - in fact, no one had yet heard the word "blog." Tim flatteringly describes my talk in … [Read more...]

The New Celto-Dutch Aesthetic

OK, kiddies, gather around, it's time to reap the benefits of your uncle Kyle's globe-trotting. I'm back, having paid $50 US to carry an extra 10 kilos of new CDs onto the plane in my suitcase, not to mention the box of CDs that I paid good Euros to mail home from Dublin. I must now be considered southern Columbia County's leading expert on Dutch and Irish composers, and so I pass the expertise on to you via … [Read more...]

Courting Disaster

LONDON - I've heard a lot of music in Europe, but the concert I was most excited about, that I'd planned on hearing months in advance, was the premiere of my Dutch composer friend Renske Vrolijk's Charlie Charlie. To hear it, in fact, I had to leave England between lectures and fly, then train it, back to Den Bosch in The Netherlands (a town whose more official name is S' Hertogenbosch, and no one was quite able to explain why it has two names). Let it be some small window into the logistics of my journey that it was cheaper for me to fly back … [Read more...]

When Geniuses Collide

[Update below] DUBLIN - One of the best things I've done in Europe was spend 25 bracing hours with one of my composer heroes, Charlemagne Palestine. I'm astonished to have had the opportunity. I had heard stories of Palestine from the early '70s on, but never heard a note until 1994, when his old Shandar vinyl disc Strumming Music was finally released on CD. I had come to figure that he was a legend whose music was lost to history, but since 1994 more than a dozen Palestine recordings have appeared, some of them old archival recordings, others … [Read more...]

Last Stand

DUBLIN - Henry David Thoreau's wonderful dictum: My life has been the poem I would have writ, But I could not both live and utter it. will have to be modernized: My life has been the blog I would have writ, But I could not both live and update it. I've been living rather than blogging, but I can pause long enough to announce that I will be performing Custer and Sitting Bull - perhaps for the last time ever, if I have anything to say about it - tomorrow night at 8 in the Printing Room at Trinity College in Dublin. Ireland. Along with a couple of … [Read more...]