Today in History

1850 - The United States Congress outlaws flogging.

1892 - A football game was played in Mansfield, PA. The game, between Mansfield State Normal School and Wyoming Seminary, was the first one in the U.S. to be played at night.

1939 - The final broadcast of The Fleischmann Hour was heard on radio. The star of the show, Rudee Vallee, wrapped things up after a decade of entertaining radio. The Fleischmann Hour was sponsored by Fleischmann’s Yeast.

1944 - First TV Musical comedy (The Boys from Boise) .

1954 - George Harrison Shull dies. An American botanist, he is frequently called the 'father of hybrid corn.'

1955 - “The following program is brought to you in living color on NBC.” The World Series was seen in all its colorful glory for the first time this day. The New York Yankees beat the Brooklyn Dodgers in the first game, 6-5.

1963 - Giuseppe Cantarella roller-skates a record 41.5 kph for 440 yds.

1968 - Alberto Giolani of Italy roller skates record 23.133 miles in 1 hour. Naomi Watts born.

2002 - Edwina Currie reveals she had love affair with John Major.

2004 - listen. established.


I Am Spartacus!

Not Spartacus? Wozzeck? Oh.

[A tip of the fedora to Alex for the link.]

EDIT: I imagine a "Which Vivaldi Concerto are you?" quiz would be most entertaining.



Slate magazine has an article by Seth Stevenson on a TV commercial that features Paul McCartney (Did you guys know he was in a band before Wings?). I have no opinion one way or the other about pop stars selling their images and/or music to commercial interests for use in advertising campaigns. But this sentence from the article seems to me to directly address those of us in the concert music world who are concerned about the future of our art:

[C]an we really consider it selling out when what you crave above all else is to put your new art in front of your audience?

What should we be doing in this regard? What would be too much?



Here's my review of the opening concert of the Tallahassee (FL) Symphony Orchestra season.

Also, I've added Michael Kaulkin's composer's 'blog to the blogroll. As of this writing, his top post is about composing and sketching on computer.


Workshop (III)

I mentioned before that I was revising my brass quintet piece. It's a fairly substantial rewrite. I had already put the score into Finale, so I'm working from that "copy". It's interesting--this is the first time I've revised a piece (this much) that was already in Finale, and I've found myself actually composing directly into Finale. I know that many (most?) do that, but it's new for me. I don't know if I'll do that from scratch or for a piece for a larger ensemble (one where all the instruments don't fit on the screen at once), but I like doing it this way so far.


The 2005-2006 season of the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra opens this weekend with a concert of music by North and South American composers. This season will be an “audition season”: The Orchestra is seeking a new Music Director and the six concerts of the season will serve as auditions for the finalists.

I’ve been told by Board members that my reviews will be read as part of the process. This is a new responsibility, one that I don’t take lightly. Anybody have any suggestions on how to approach the season?


Because the Stakes Are So Small

In a couple of provocative posts, Kyle Gann discusses the state of composition teaching in present day America. I can't speak to the accuracy of his description, as I have no institutional affiliation, but I am reminded of the central point of art critic Dave Hickey's essay "The Heresy of the Zone Defense", in which he describes the inevitable process through which freedom becomes obligation. In other words, in the likely-pretty-near-future, young composers will seek out mentors and complain to them of being unable to write the kind of music they wish to write--and that music will be not be tonal. This kind of hegemony is, it would seem, unescapabale.

But what I really find interesting and valuable is this:

I’ll allow any kind of music I know how to criticize, and if I can’t criticize it, I’ll send them to someone else.

That strikes me as both artistically and educationally sound.

NOTE: I wish that this post had a included a page number from Silence. My memory is that the answer "To thicken the plot" is given to the question "Given that God is good, why did he put evil in the world?"


The List

My list of 101 essential pieces of 20th centruy concert music has undergone some changes since the last time I posted it. Here it is, in its current final state, subject, as always, to change:

Adams, John: Violin Concerto
Barber, Samuel: Knoxville: Summer of 1915
Barber, Samuel: Piano Sonata
Bartok, Bela: Concerto for Orchestra
Bartok, Bela: String Quartet 4
Berg, Alban: Violin Concerto
Berg, Alban: Wozzeck
Berio, Luciano: Sinfonia
Bernstein, Leonard: Suite from On the Waterfront
Bolcom, William: Songs of Innocence and Experience
Boulez, Pierre: Repons
Bridge, Frank: Piano Trio 2
Britten, Benjamin: Peter Grimes
Britten, Benjamin: War Requiem
Busoni, Ferrucio: Piano Concerto
Cage, John: 4'33"
Cage, John: Sonatas and Interludes
Carter, Elliott: String Quartet 5
Carter, Elliott: Symphonia: Sum Fluxae Pretium Spei
Copland, Aaron: Billy the Kid
Copland, Aaron: Piano Variations
Corigliano, John: Violin Sonata
Crawford, Ruth: Quartet
Crumb, George: Black Angels
Daugherty, Michael: Metropolis Symphony
Debussy, Claude: La Mer
Debussy, Claude: Sonata for flute, viola, and harp
Durufle, Maurice: Requiem
Elgar, Edward: Cello Concerto
de Falla, Manuel: Nights in the Gardens of Spain
Feldman, Morton: Rothko Chapel
Gershwin, George: Porgy and Bess
Gershwin, George: Rhapsody in Blue
Glass, Philip: Einstein on the Beach
Granados, Ernesto: Goyescas
Gubaidulina, Sofia: Offertorium
Harris, Roy: Symphony 3
Henze, Hans Werner: The Bassarids
Hindemith, Paul: Six Chansons
Hindemith, Paul: Symphonic Metamophoses on a Theme by Weber
Holst, Gustav: The Planets
Honneger, Arthur: Pacific 231
Hyla, Lee: We Speak Etruscan
Ives, Charles: The Unanswered Question
Janacek, Leos: The Makropulos Case
Janacek, Leos: Quartet 2
Korngold, Erich von: Violin Concerto
Ligeti, Gyorgy: Etudes
Ligeti, Gyorgy: Le Grand Macabre
Lutoslawski, Witold: Symphony 3
Mahler, Gustav: Das Lied von Der Erde
Mahler, Gustav: Symphony 6
Martin, Frank: Concerto for Seven Wind Instruments
Martinu, Bohuslav: Symphony 2
Menotti, Gian Carlo: The Medium
Messiaen, Olivier: Quatour pour la fin du temps
Messiaen, Olivier: Turangalilia-Symphonie
Milhaud, Darius: La Creation du Monde
Nielsen, Carl: Symphony 4
Orff, Carl: Carmina Burana
Part, Arvo: Passio Domini nostri Jesu Christi secundum Johannem
Penderecki, Krzysztof: Threnody
Poulenc, Francois: Dialogues du Carmelites
Prokofiev, Sergei: Sonata 7
Prokofiev, Sergei: Violin Concerto 2
Puccini, Giacomo: Madama Butterfly
Rachmaninoff, Sergei: Piano Concerto 2
Rautavaara, Einojuhani: Symphony 7
Ravel, Maurice: Bolero
Ravel, Maurice: Piano Concerto in G
Reich, Steve: Come Out
Respighi, Ottorino: Pines of Rome
Riley, Terry: In C
Rochberg, George: Quartet 3
Rodrigo, Joaquin: Concierto de Aranjuez
Rzewski, Frederic: The People United Will Never Be Defeated!
Saariaho, Kaija: Nymphea (Jardin secret III)
Satie, Erik: Parade
Schnittke, Alfred: Concerto Grosso 1
Schoenberg, Arnold: Pierrot Lunaire
Scriabin, Alexander: Poeme d'Ecstases
Scriabin, Alexander: Sonata 9
Shostakovich, Dmitri: String Quartet 8
Shostakovich, Dmitri: Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk
Sibelius, Jean: Symphony 4
Sibelius, Jean: Violin Concerto
Stockhausen, Karlheinz: Gesang der Junglinde
Strauss, Richard: Salome
Strauss, Richard: Four Last Songs
Stravinsky, Igor: Le Sacre du Printemps
Stravinsky, Igor: Symphony of Psalms
Szymanowski, Karol: King Roger
Thomson, Virgil: Four Saints in Three Acts
Tippett, Michael: King Priam
Varese, Edgard: Ionisation
Vaughan Williams, Ralph: Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis
Walton, William: Viola Concerto
Webern, Anton: Six Bagatelles, op. 9
Weill, Kurt: Seven Deadly Sins
Weir, Judith: A Night at the Chinese Opera
Xenakis, Iannis: Pithoprakta


Workshop (II)

I've been pondering several comments about A Certain Light, the piece for brass quintet I thought I had finished a few weeks ago. I'm doing extensive revisions, using the same material as before, only from a very different perspective. It will be recognizable as the same piece, only a few feet off the ground.

For what it's worth, I think Pervasive Zeppelins would make a fine title for a piece.


I've added Cathey Fuller's Fullermusic to the 'blogroll and deleted Mark Dancigers' and Martin Suckling's 'blog, which has fallen into desuetude. I'll replace it if they star posting again.

I've replaced Richard Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos with his Salome on the 101 list.