To Dance on Beethoven’s Grave

Friday morning I’m leaving for Vienna, where I will remain until the following Thursday. I’m speaking at the World New Music Days of the International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM). I’ll be giving my talk on the state of American music next Wednesday, Nov. 13, at 9:30 AM in the Leonie Rysanek-Saal of the Konservatorium Wien Privatuniversität, and then I’m on a panel at 11:30. I appear to be the only U.S. representative on the conference. Never been to Vienna before. I’m trying to revive a little bit of German, and it’s just as I remember it: the vocabulary is a cinch, the grammar impossible. Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to visiting the Zentralfriedhoff, the famous cemetery where all the composers are buried, and seeing all the monuments immortalized in Alex Ross’s blog. I have  a few choice words for Schoenberg’s ghost.



  1. says

    I recall an article I once saw in Stereo Review (you remember that magazine) called, “We Spit on the Dead” which, if I recall echoed in sympathy with the likes of Babbitt’s “Who Cares if You Listen?”. But you seem to take a gentler path. Or perhaps you just work in minimalist fashion. Do tell us if Mr. Schoenberg sends you any replies perhaps in the form of inspirations. Verstehen sie?

    KG replies: Ich verstehe. Ober Ich spreche nicht. You seem to have read my mind, but I was trying to be inoffensive.

  2. says

    Vienna has the best urban transport system in Europe, planned from the ground up. Enjoy your visit and have a good journey, it’s a beautiful city.

  3. Matthew Whittall says

    If the weather’s nice, the best grave pilgrimage in Vienna is to Mahler’s in Grinzinger Friedhof. You take the metro to Heiligenstadt (stop along the way at the Beethoven Testament house, and see his lock of hair), then walk up into the hills to the graveyard. Plenty of lovely places to stop for refreshment of one kind or another along the way. Enjoy your trip!

    KG replies: Thanks, Matthew!

  4. says

    Bon voyage! I do hope you make peace with Schoenberg’s ghost. I have a certain fondness for the older Schoenberg, alienating his fans by writing tonal pieces, and becoming a fan of Hopalong Cassidy. Anyway, have fun, and enjoy those pastries.

    KG replies: Actually, the best I could come up with was to leave a sheet on his grave reading, “Long live J.M. Hauer.”