The Relentless Resurgence of 1981

Many of you know that in the early 1980s magnetic recording tape was made via some kind of process that facilitated quick deterioration, and that you can reclaim tapes from that era by baking them. Eric Bruskin has kindly done that for some reel-to-reel tapes of my own early music and several early postminimalist pieces by Peter Gena, my grad school composition teacher and (since he was only eight years senior) close friend. I hadn’t heard any of these in many years. Peter’s pieces – Beethoven in Soho, Unchained Melodies, Stabiles – First Clone, Modular Fantasies, and 100 Fingers for ten pianists – are now all playing on PostClassic Radio. Beethoven in Soho, based on figurations from Beethoven’s Op. 54 Sonata extended to epic length, and performed by Peter and myself at Orchestra Hall in Chicago, was written to suggest that, were Beethoven alive in 1981, he would have been playing in Soho lofts like Reich and Glass rather than at Lincoln Center. In other words, Beethoven would have chosen the Downtown route.

In a related story, worthy of a Dickens novel, I’ve been frequenting a local diner ever since I came to Bard in 1997. I have a favorite waitress there, who knows my breakfast order by heart. One day I mentioned that a high-spirited crew at an adjoining table consisted of students of mine. “What do you teach?”, she asked. “Music,” I said. “Oh, I majored in music at Northwestern,” she said. I checked through some old papers. She sang on my doctoral recital in 1981.