Teaching, its Unexpected Rewards

From a student's music-history senior project about Japanese Noise artist Yamataka Eye comes what is surely one of the most magnificent understatements in the literature:  By destroying a club with a bulldozer, Eye, in a very direct way, called into question the way music is consumed by the public. … [Read more...]

Renske Descends Upon Annandale

The young Dutch composer Renske Vrolijk (young relative to me, anyway) is in New York this week, and she's making an appearance at Bard College this Thursday. She's the composer of the delightful cantata based on the wreck of the Hindenburg, titled Charlie, Charlie, which I wrote about from Amsterdam a couple of years ago. She'll play her music and show video examples at 4 PM in the Blum music building at Bard, room 217. She's a fabulous composer, somewhat at odds with the ironic, Stravinskian idiom that all Dutch composers are expected to … [Read more...]

Living Inside the Notes

Despite it being the busiest part of my school year and busier than usual, I have taken advantage of odd moments to complete my transcription of Harold Budd's 1982 piano solo Children on the Hill. A friend asks if I couldn't persuade Harold to transcribe his own damn solo, but that's beside the point: there is nothing, I think, more educational than transcribing or arranging a work of art you particularly admire. I could never have internalized the piece so deeply from playing through another person's transcription. And I do a lot of such work … [Read more...]

¿Donde esta la musica?

Here's a query that came up with a student the other day. Decades ago, in the early '80s, my wife and I attended the wedding in Chicago of a couple of Hispanic friends. The reception was marked by the most amazing music played by a huge mariachi band: over half a dozen brass players, multiple guitars, wild percussion. It was hot, rhythmically intricate stuff whose meters were difficult to parse, and whose melodies took several repetitions to pin down. Le Sacre's complexity paled before it. If it wasn't in meters like 13/8 or 17/16, I couldn't … [Read more...]

Billy Schuman Celebrated

My review of American Muse, Joseph Polisi's biography of William Schuman, is just out (after some delays) in Symphony magazine. The book is a solid and detailed summary of Schuman's life as administrator of Juilliard and Lincoln Center, but I found it a little lacking in appreciation of, and insight into, Schuman's career as a brilliant symphonist. A couple of week ago I noticed Lincoln Center had posters up advertising the book, so I'm glad he and it are getting some attention. Polisi, of course, is president of Juilliard and holds the post … [Read more...]