Tidbits

A few random notices:

I neglected to note that my profile of the composer Alvin Singleton is out in Chamber Music magazine this month (somewhat overshadowed by Frank Oteri’s long article on – uvallpeople – Charles Wuorinen). I’ve always been impressed by Singleton’s music, and I grew more and more so researching this article. I think calling him a Downtowner would be a stretch, but he’s certainly an imagist in the Messiaen-Shapey-Feldman vein, and his best music is accessible without being obvious, and soulful. I am informed of two gaffes I made: his piece Truth is based on Sojourner Truth, not Rosa Parks, and that was a total brain fart on my part. Also, apparently he lived for awhile in Austria, not Germany, but since he received an award from the city of Darmstadt, I just couldn’t quite keep it straight. 
(My favorite Wuorinen story: When I wrote my book American Music in the Twentieth Century, the publisher sent the manuscript out to four readers for evaluation. Two of them, no less, singled out for praise the fact that I omitted to mention Wuorinen. The guy’s made a lot of enemies. As have I.)
I learned from the internet that Sarah Cahill will be playing my Private Dances on July 18 at Old First Concerts in San Francisco. God bless her.
David Toub alerts me that the International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP) is back up and running, having overcome copyright difficulties. God bless it too. Although I haven’t found any really cool new offerings to bring to your attention. [UPDATE: In fact, I just clicked on a couple dozen scores and found every one blocked pending determination of copyright status.]
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Comments

  1. says

    Yeah, I was underwhelmed by the ‘Modern” offerings on the reborn IMSLP—essentially all of the “finds” I managed to view previously are no longer available for download, most likely because of their previous dispute with UE. As far as I can tell, they’re in the process of working these IP things through, but it’s pretty lame right now. I did post two recent works, though, and hopefully others will get their stuff up as well, so there’s reason to be optimistic.

  2. says

    Kyle,

    I don’t think that size overshadows anything. Whenever it has happened, I have been honored to have my words appear in print alongside yours! I thought it was actually strangely apt that pieces on Singleton and Wuorinen appear side-by-side since I learned earlier this year when I spoke to Alvin for NewMusicBox that he actually studied with CW and had some nice things to say about the experience.

    FJO

    P.S.: And for the record, as far as making enemies goes, if a book publisher ever gave me the opportunity to write a history of American music, I would include both of you ;)
    KG replies: Thanks, Frank. I want to be clear that openmindedness (which I know you like to take to olympic extremes) has, in my mind, nothing to do with it. I love a lot of music as complex and intricate as Wuorinen’s, but I just don’t think his is very good. His career has been widely ratified by lots of awards and honors that he actively sought, and I have never felt that it was my obligation as a musicologist, or historian, or a human being, to endorse the bad decisions of music organizations that give awards to composers with little regard for the actual quality of their music. An awful lot of people in the music world consider Wuorinen an incongruously visible minor composer, and I am among them. Who knows what motivates Singleton (an infinitely better composer) to speak well of him as a teacher?
    If some demiurge appeared to me and offered to bestow upon me a talent for not making enemies, I’d think long and hard before accepting. But you’re lucky you were born with it.

  3. mclaren says

    Always learn something from your articles. Haven’t heard the word “imagist” used in association with (modern) music before. I’m familiar with imagism as a literary movement, specifically as an early 20th-century successor to French symbolism…but not in modern music. In fact, the only reference I could find to imagism in music involves the sadly deceptive use of the term “music” to describe onomotapoeia in poetry.
    Is imagism in modern music a well-recognized category, like primitivism or serialism?
    KG replies: I don’t think it’s well recognized, but I’ve made an ongoing case for it over the years, to distnguish music that is low in syntactical connections and high in the repetition of recurring sound complexes.