an blog | AJBlog Central | Contact me | Advertise | Follow me:

An unassuming American masterpiece

In my past forays into contemporary American music, I never came across the composer William Duckworth, more’s the pity. He died this week, aged 69, and his friend Kyle Gann posted a beautiful reminiscence on ArtsJournal.

Even more beautiful is Duckworth’s strange masterpiece titled Time Curve Preludes. It dates from the 1970s but is both behind and ahead of its times. It points the way out of pointless minimalism by harking back to the anarchic ideas of John Cage and the infinite possibilities of sound.

Someone should programme the piece this month in Duckworth memory.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


  1. This is incredibly sad news. Duckworth was one of the unsung heroes of American minimalism, both as chronicler and composer. I introduced Katia and Marielle Labeque to his magical Time Curve Preludes last year. They loved the pieces so much we did excerpts in our 50 Years Of Minimalism festival at Kings Place. This was the first time in their career the sisters decided to play as soloists – a testament to the quality of these works. He was also just such a lovely man. Whenever we called him with musical queries, he was so modest and accommodating and encouraging.

    The Labeques are as we speak doing a recording of the Preludes. And they will perform a selection next year when the 50 Years Of Minimalism programme takes up residence at Cite de la Musique.

    What a loss.

  2. Unfortunately, I don’t have any scheduled concerts, but as it turns out my next performance (Oct), will include The Time Curve Preludes. I’ve had this program set for nearly a year, and it seems only fitting that it should be the first performance I give after his death.

  3. Sadly these Labeque performances were not good. Some sort of cultural misunderstanding perhaps?

an ArtsJournal blog