April 26, 2014 | Permalink
A denial-of-service attack on the good people of Typepad knocked my blog out of circulation for a few days, and so I have been unable to celebrate publicly the news that Steve Smith has been hired by the Boston Globe as an assistant arts editor, overseeing music and visual-arts coverage. It's a huge loss for the New York music world, not to mention the New York Times, but I'm tremendously happy for Steve. His successor at Time Out New York will be the excellent Seth Colter Walls.
April 22, 2014 | Permalink
In the Goings On About Town section of next week's New Yorker, I look ahead to David Lang's week-long festival collected stories. It's a feast of inventive programming that includes everything from Beowulf to Cage's 27'10.554"—or, at least, quite a few things between those far-flung stations. In the video above, Lang explains a program juxtaposing Arvo Pärt's Passio with Tuvan throat-singing. In another, he talks about Beowulf and Harry Partch. Other videos can be found here.
April 19, 2014 | Permalink
The Mexican-English composer has a website here. She is well served by a 2005 Mode disc, which features superb performances by the Arditti Quartet, Ian Pace, Ensemble Modern, and Neue Vokalsolisten Stuttgart. In 2012 she appeared in Miller Theatre's enduringly vital Composer Portraits series; needless to say, Steve Smith was there.
April 15, 2014 | Permalink
This year's Pulitzer Prize for Music has gone, most deservedly, to John Luther Adams, for Become Ocean. Here is my review of the premiere. I also deeply admired J. C. Adams's Gospel According to the Other Mary, cited as a finalist. I missed Christopher Cerrone's Invisible Cities, but reputable sources praised it strongly.... Louis Andriessen on pop: yes to the Supremes, early Janet Jackson, hip-hop, no to the Beatles.... Some very lively programming at this year's MATA Festival, starting tonight.... Annie Gosfield is back at the Stone on April 29, curating a week of concerts.... How did Steve Reich come to conquer the Big Ears Festival? Ben Ratliff and Chris Weingarten discuss... What possessed the Birgit Nilsson Foundation to give a million dollars to the Vienna Philharmonic? Neil Fisher of the London Times aptly calls the prize "ludicrous." ... A new blog, en français, by the superb Laurent Slaars.... Fiona Maddocks gives a remarkable report of the Abbado memorial in Lucerne. Andris Nelsons conducts; the rendition of the Mahler Third finale is overpowering indeed.... Ethan Iverson zeroes in on Ralph Shapey. I've long concurred with Kyle Gann in seeing Shapey as the great underrated modernist, the one who fulfilled William Billings's mission statement for New World music: "I think it best for every composer to be his own carver."
April 14, 2014 | Permalink
"Fifth Symphony tonight. Tomorrow Lohengrin. Friday Debussy. Saturday Schnitzler. Sunday Valkyries. Yesterday the Wild Duck. On Sunday I saw Ghosts for 6d: played as a farce. Mr. Wedekind turns out to be a music hall singer: & has coffee at the next table after lunch. No other news."
— Letter to James Strachey, 1911
April 13, 2014 | Permalink
“‘There’s no such thing as silence,’ [Mr. Erskine] said positively. ‘I can hear twenty different sounds on a night like this without counting your voices.’”
— Jacob’s Room
“Miss La Trobe stood there with her eye on her script. ‘After Vic,’ she had written, ‘try ten mins. of present time. Swallows, cows, etc.’ She wanted to expose them, as it were, to douche them, with present-time reality. But something was going wrong with the experiment. ‘Reality too strong,’ she muttered.”
— Between the Acts
An Internet search shows that Woolf's startling premonitions of Cage have already been noticed: David Toop quotes the Jacob's Room passage in his 2010 book Sinister Resonance, and the experimental dimensions of Miss La Trobe's pageant in Between the Acts have been explored by Patricia Laurence and Melby Cuddy-Keane, among others.
April 13, 2014 | Permalink
Analytic philosophy often spreads the atmosphere of denunciation and investigation by committee. The intellectual is called on the carpet. What do you mean when you say ...? Don't you conceal something? You talk a language which is suspect. You don't talk like the rest of us, like the man in the street, but rather like a foreigner who does not belong here. We have to cut you down to size, expose your tricks, purge you. We shall teach you to say what you have in mind, to “come clear,” to “put your cards on the table.” Of course, we do not impose on you and your freedom of thought and speech; you may think as you like. But once you speak, you have to communicate your thoughts to us—in our language or in yours. Certainly, you may speak your own language, but it must be translatable, and it will be translated. You may speak poetry—that is all right. We love poetry. But we want to understand your poetry, and we can do so only if we can interpret your symbols, metaphors, and images in terms of ordinary language.
— Herbert Marcuse, One-Dimensional Man
A similar paragraph could be written about neuroscientific approaches to the arts.
April 12, 2014 | Permalink
The Master Apartments, at 310 Riverside Drive, once housed a museum dedicated to the work of Russian painter and mystic Nicholas Roerich, who, among many other accomplishments, co-wrote the scenario for The Rite of Spring. The building was financed by the broker Louis Horch, one of Roerich's American followers. Sealed within the cornerstone, according to a 1929 Times story, is a four-hundred-year-old Rajput casket, "of hand-wrought iron with elaborate inlays of gold and silver," containing mementoes of Roerich's expeditions into Central Asia. The present-day Roerich Museum is in a brownstone four blocks north. The theatre at the Master building, which once belonged to the Equity Library Theatre, is now occupied by Zoe Ministries, a "worldwide provider of free prophecy readings and personal prophecy request services."
Previously: Henry Wallace.
April 09, 2014 | Permalink
The Solti Foundation U.S. states that its mission is "to assist talented young American musicians at the start of their professional careers." Since 2004, it has handed out thirty-nine conducting awards; all but one of these have gone to men. (The exception is Sara Jobin, in 2006.) The latest awardees, announced this week, are another all-male lineup.
Last month, at the request of El País, Peter Sellars wrote a tribute to the late Gerard Mortier. Here, courtesy of the author, is the English text.
Gerard Mortier was a mercurial operatic visionary who transformed the art form—not with a particular production or body of work, but with an attitude. Wherever Gerard was and whatever he was doing, you knew it would be exciting. His imprimatur guaranteed challenge, engagement, pleasure, and the kind of adventure informed and made possible by profound conviction and deep connoisseurship.
None of us who knew and worked with Gerard will ever be the same. His visionary, always practical, and constantly generous presence enlivened each conversation, each rehearsal, each project. Perhaps more amazingly, many of Gerard’s rivals, critics, and adversaries will never be the same either. They also did what they did and are doing what they are doing in response to Gerard’s vision, leadership, and permanent challenge. Gerard’s particular brilliance is to be equally vital and ultimately influential to his friends and to his enemies.
April 05, 2014 | Permalink
Kyle Gann, at work on a book about Ives's awesome Concord, has been blogging vigorously about the piece. Each post is worth reading and pondering. He's strongly in favor of the 1947 edition of the score, and very strongly opposed to the idea, first propagated by Elliott Carter, that Ives added dissonances in later years in order to cement his position as an innovator. "That Carter could concoct such a charge, I’ve always thought, says infinitely more about him than it does about Ives."
April 03, 2014 | Permalink