In C, in the Wall Street Journal

My Wall Street Journal piece on In C, that is — about the triumphant Carnegie Hall anniversary celebration. Which I loved. But beyond that, I found myself getting wistful, wishing that the ’60s had changed the classical music mainstream. Doesn’t matter, in the long run. Change is coming anyway.

The 1960s didn’t do much for classical music in America, or at least they didn’t change the major concert halls. Musicians didn’t grow long hair, and the same familiar masterworks went on being played.

But outside the mainstream, a classical-music counterculture did develop…

To read the rest of it, go here.

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  1. says

    Very nice piece. And, you got your own background color.


    Thanks! Now if only it was a background color that changed each time someone looked at it…

  2. Robert Berger says

    This concert certainly sounds like quite an experience. Curiously,i’ve never heard In C,although I’ve heard a fair amount of minimalist music,and I’ll have to get hands on a recording as soom as possible.

    But unfortunately, your article does a grave disservice to our mainstream orchestras and other groups. Sure, minimalist music like this is fine, but why did you make it sound as though our mainstream orchestras are such stodgy,hidebound institutions which do nothing but endlessly recycle the same old familiar pieces from the past?

    You completely ignored the enormous number of new works they have performed since the once chic counterculture 60s, but such great composers as Carter,Boulez,Henze,Tippett,Lutoslawski,Meissaen, Saariaho, Tan Dun, Takemitsu,Adams, Rorem,and so many other contemporary composers, and also minimalists such as Glass and Reich.

    So what if they perform music from the past? What are they supposed to do anyway, just play new music? The fact is that we need both new and old music. We can’t do without either.They are in no way mutually exclusive.

  3. says

    Before I heard “In C” I downloaded the score. It all looked a bit confusing and reading the notes for performance – players starting and stopping cells when they felt like it – I thought: “This can’t possibly work..”

    But I entered a few of the cells into my notation program and played them back and it was like a light bulb went on. So that’s how it works!

    “In C” really opened my eyes and ears to the possibilities of minimalism.

    Thanks for telling us about this, Paul. We should all be as curious and enterprising as you are. I doubt a piece like In C is easy to create. Riley had fabulous instincts, I think.

    If you ever listen to a recording, I’d be curious to know if the piece takes shape in ways you don’t expect, or if your test with your notation software told you all you need to know (quite possible).

  4. johnzero says

    But Greg… why did no one ever write “In F”?

    Somehow, thats the problem with classical music, and frankly, with composers. “In C” is wonderful, but the IDEA of “In C” didn’t take.

    Hey Greg… if you compose “In Bb”, I’ll play guitar at the premier. Deal?