End of the Year

The High Hat year-in-review supplement is up. It contains the usual smart and funny writing on movies, music, television, and culture. After some thought on the year in music, I decided not submit a piece, because I thought it would largely be a repeition of the trends I noted last year. I'll have a couple of things to say about the year alittle later, though.


Stockhausen and The End

Tom Service of The Guardian has compiled memories of the late Karlheinz Stockhausen from people associated with the composer in one way or another. The last line of the article is from a reminiscence of Barbican artistic director Graham Sheffield: In a way, his death marks the end of 20th-century music.

That struck me as having a lot of truth in it. Now I see that it struck Alex Ross more or less the same way:

The last line of the piece is absolutely right: the twentieth century, the epoch of vastly ambitious, at times megalomaniac musical conceptions, which really began with the late works of Wagner, is indeed over. But its echoes reverberate all around us. What next?*

What next, indeed. To that question I would add this: If Stockhausen's death signals the end of 20th century music, when did (or when will) the 21st century start?

*NOTE: What next? is the title of Elliott Carter's only opera, which ended a succesful run in New York Tuesday, the composer's 99th birthday.


Carter at 99

I'm a big fan of the music of Elliott Carter, as regular readers of this blog surely know. Today is his 99th birthday, and in honor of this remarkable occasion, here's a list of 18 pieces (18 is the number of distinct attacks in a 7:6:5:4 cross-rhythm) that exemplify different qualities of the composer's art.

Sonata for Cello and Piano
Piano Sonata
String Quartet 1
String Quartet 5
Double Concerto for Harpsichord and Piano, with 2 Chamber Orchestras
Three Occasions for Orchestra
Concerto for Orchestra
A Mirror on Which to Dwell
Boston Concerto
Symphonia: sum fluxae pretium spei
What Next?
Duo for Violin and Piano
Clarinet Concerto
Au Quai
Enchanted Preludes
Oboe Quartet
Piano Quintet
In Sleep, In Thunder


Karlheinz Stockhausen, 1928-2007

As most of you who read concert music blogs probably know by now, German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen has died. He was the first important lving composer whose music I got to know and love during my formative years. I'll have more to say about him later. For now, I leave it to Alex Ross, who gets it:

At his greatest, in works such as Gruppen, Kontakte, and Momente, Stockhausen released sounds of mind-opening and mind-bending power. Exerting an influence that extended from the recondite circles of the postwar avant-garde to the Beatles and Björk he was, for all his bewildering eccentricities, a giant of late-twentieth-century music.


STOCKHAUSEN: Gruppen, Punkte. WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln/Peter Eötvös, Arturo Tamayo, Jacques Mercier, Wolfgang Lischke.


CD Review, Sequenza21.


Peter Lieberson

I want to echo Alex Ross' congratulations to Peter Lieberson on the occasion of his winning the University of Louisville's Grawemeyer Award in Music. He won the prestigious honor for his Neruda Songs, written for his wife, the late Lorraine Hunt Lieberson. I've listened to the piece several times, and I can say that it is fully deserving of the prize.