From my minimalism seminar, I received analysis papers on Reich’s Double Sextet, Dan Becker’s Gridlock, Rzewski’s Coming Together, Pärt’s Tabula Rasa and Fratres, Laurie Spiegel, and Mikel Rouse’s Dennis Cleveland. My 20th/21st-century history class yielded papers on Ives; Laurie Anderson; Julius Eastman (an analysis of Evil Nigger); a comparison of Emeralds, Eliane Radigue, and La Monte Young as drone groups/composers; Steve Reich (by a kid who had sworn he had no interest in minimalism); Cage as postmodernist; Henry Flynt and Milton Babbitt compared (!); and text usage in Schoenberg, Berio, and Ashley. I have certainly taught my share of Beethoven, 19th-century, and Renaissance counterpoint classes, but I spent this semester doing what I spent my life training to do, which is an opportunity not to be sneezed at.
It is instructive and often gratifying to see what my students choose to write about, for I give them wide latitude. That their choices show evidence of my influence is rarely the correct assumption. When I started to bring up Becker’s Gridlock, the student who wrote that paper instantly begged me not to analyze the piece in class, because he had his heart set on writing his final paper about it. The violinist who wrote about Coming Together had played in it many times before taking my class. Henry Flynt was not someone I had thought of mentioning. Two students in the history class brought up Julius Eastman before I did, and regaled me with the story of how he took off a man’s clothes during a performance of Cage’s Songbooks; I enjoyed responding, “Yeah, I was there.” Some of them harbor their own obsessions with exactly the history of music I’m most involved with, and I can’t always tell how much they connect me with it. It is certainly reassuring, though, to see young people independently attaching tremendous importance to the same things that were important to me.Related