A. C. Douglas points to this exquisite post by pianist and latest Blogroll inductee Jeremy Denk.

Mr. Denk's post includes some telling analytical comments about the ending of Elliott Carter's Piano Sonata (1945-46). I've commented in the past about the value of analysis for performers and listeners alike, and I wonder what Mr. Douglas, who is less amenable to analytical commentary, thinks of Mr. Denk's analysis.

One more thing. I wonder how the piece of the score included (via photograph) in the post got that way. We're left with a mystery: Does the pedal ever get released?


Traditional Musician

The Boston Globe has an interesting article on pianist/composer Frederic Rzewski.

Note the tension between Mr. Rzewski's institutional acceptance (he's being feted by the New England Conservatory) and his wry attitude towards the state of such institutions. It's a good, if uncomfortable, position for an artist to be in. I think the way the artist handles it will go a long way towards determining the quality of the work after the acceptance. That is, does the artist get comfortable (or worse) or does s/he take it in stride and continue making the art they would have made without the institutional imprimatur?


Changes and Stuff

I've added Frederic Rzewski's The People United Will Never Be Defeated! to the 101 list. It replaces Rachmaninoff's Paganini Rhapsody.

I've added Alan Thiesen to the Blogroll. His post on Elliott Carter is a winner. Speaking of the Blogroll, has anybody heard anything from Mark Dancigers and/or Martin Suckling lately?

Alex Ross on film music in general and Philip Glass in particular.

Interesting article from the Chronicle of Higher Education on giving up an academic career not because you can't get a job, but because the students you train won't be able to get one.

Kyle Gann waxes eloquent on composers' politics and personality. The last sentence is very fine:

When we love the music and are disappointed in the musician, we can only tolerantly shake our heads and wonder at what fallible vessels the Spirit of Music embraces to express itself through.
Have you read Robert Penn Warren's All the King's Men? You should.


Ludwig van Narcissus

Dylan Evans, writing in the Guardian, tells us that Beethoven was a "narcissistic hooligan", concerned only about himself when he wrote his music of "morbid self-obsession ", that by the late quartets and the Ninth became "simply a vehicle for a self-indulgent display of bizarre mood swings and personal difficulties". Mr. Evans would have preferred the composer to recognize what his predecessors had, that "musical beauty was based on a mysterious connection between sound and mathematics, and that this provided music with an objective goal, something that transcended the individual composer's idiosyncrasies and aspired to the universal", and eschew the explorations that led to music that embodied an "inward-directed, narcissistic focus on the composer himself and his own tortured soul".

It was simply beyond the pale for Beethoven to believe that as a composer he should have written what he imagined, felt, and heard. Selfish bastard. He should have written for the sensibilities of Dylan Evans.



I was going to post a sarcastic response to Miles Hoffman's article here, but the piece doesn't deserve even that. It is full of inaccuracies, as the comments after the article indicate. The inaccuracies are so extensive that it is clear that Mr. Hoffman is either spectacularly unqualified to write on the subject or he is engaged in culture war propaganda. In either case, shame on him, and shame on the Wilson Quarterly for publishing it.