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340 W. 57th Street, 12B, New York, NY 10019

Jerry Bowles
(212) 582-3791

Managing Editor:
David Salvage

Contributing Editors:

Galen H. Brown
Evan Johnson
Ian Moss
Lanier Sammons
Deborah Kravetz
Eric C. Reda
Christian Hertzog
(San Diego)
Jerry Zinser
(Los Angeles)

Web & Wiki Master:
Jeff Harrington

Latest Posts

Love and Cow Bells
Sorceress of the New Piano
Well, That Was Fun
Naxos Dreaming
Reich@70: Let the Celebrations Begin
The Bi-Coastal Jefferson Friedman
Violins Invade Indianapolis
John Cage (born Los Angeles, 5 September 1912; died New York, 12 August 1992).
The People United Will Never Be Divided
Attention Sequenza21 Shoppers


Record companies, artists and publicists are invited to submit CDs to be considered for review. Send to: Jerry Bowles, Editor, Sequenza 21, 340 W. 57th Street, 12B, New York, NY 10019

Saturday, January 29, 2005
Heard the New Beethoven Yet?

Here's something you don't hear everyday. Andante reports that the adagio of a previously unknown piano concerto by Beethoven, discovered at the British Museum, will get its world premiere on February 1 in Rotterdam.

The 1789 piece found in the museum was no more than a rough outline of the themes, but Dutch musicologist Cees Nieuwenhuizen, a Beethoven expert, formed it into a eight-minute piece.

Meeting Murail

Last night I attended a forum given by Tristan Murail at the CUNY Graduate Center. Murail, who teaches at Columbia, is the world�s leading "spectralist" composer. He derives the harmonic material for his works from computer analyses of the overtone series. First he�ll record anything from a trombone�s low C, to himself hitting a glass with a spoon. Then, using the program "Open Music," he analyzes the wave-forms produced by the sound�s harmonics. By isolating some of these overtones, he builds harmonies. By distorting the harmonics of a given series, or by employing a non-harmonic overtone-series (like that produced by a piano), he creates dissonance and consonance.

It sounds technical, doesn�t it? While I�ve always been impressed by the spectralists, I�ve always found their musical results a bit pedantic. And, while this can be true of Murail�s and Grisey�s work, Murail�s presentation demonstrated that spectralism is no less intuitive a method of composition than any other; the "technical" stuff is just about reaching deep within a sound to mine it for everything it�s got. But once you�ve got it, it�s all up to the imagination.

There�s a great CD of Murail�s music currently available on Naive featuring the Orchestre National de France. Especially if you�re a fan of Var�se, you should check it out. Like Var�se, Murail's gestural pallette can seem a bit limited, but, also like Var�se, he produces color like it�s no one else�s business. The orchestra piece "Gondwana" is especially worth hearing: it�s like "La Mer" a hundred years later.

Henri Dutilleux Wins Ernst von Siemens Prize

French composer Henri Dutilleux has won the prestigious international Ernst von Siemens music prize this year, the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation announced today.

 height=Dutilleux, born in Angers in 1916, was one of the "great single individuals in contemporary French music," alongside compatriots and previous prizewinners Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992) and Pierre Boulez (born 1925), the prize jury said.

His "organic, filigree" music did not adhere to traditional forms and was characterised by its "poetic clarity". Throughout his career, Dutilleux had consistently steered clear from trends and fashions.
Wanted: A CD Reviewer or Two

So you write these great, insightful pithy reviews about new music over at Amazon but you had to buy the CDs yourself. Here's a opportunity. I get a lot of new music CDs for review. More than I can possibly write about. If you're good and agree to write at least three or four short reviews a week for us I'll send you some really weird stuff. No money but you keep the CDs. Take a look at my review of Michael Gordon's Trance as an example of what I have in mind. I'd really prefer someone who has tried their hand at this before and has a sample to show but even if you don't, send me an e-mail and tell me why you think you're the dude or dudette for the gig.
What's New Today?

Larry Bell is back from Rome and checks in with some thoughts about his teachers Roger Sessions and Vincent Persichetti...Lawrence Dillon talks about his new work and the value of having friends who don't always agree with you...and Brian Sacawa has a cautionary tale about what happens when artistic vision runs afoul of a political agenda.
In the Garden of Michael Gandolfi

 height=Terrific local boy makes good story in the Boston Globe, about composer Michael Gandolfi, 48, whose 20-minute work called "Impressions" from The Garden of Cosmic Speculation shared the program at the Boston Symphony last night with the somewhat better-known composers Bartok, and Mussorgsky. The program will be repeated today, tomorrow and next Tuesday.

Inspired by Charles Jencks�s illustrated book documenting the design of his modern garden in Dumfriesshire, Scotland, the 20-minute orchestral work is currently in four movements. These sections respond to Jencks�s radically new theories of aesthetics and design based on the new sciences of complexity and chaos theory. The movements are named: I. Introduction: the Zeroroom/II. Soliton Waves
III. Interlude: The Snail and the Poetics of Going Slow/IV. The Nonsense.

Gandolfi plans to compose several additional movements, perhaps as many as 15.

�The total timing will probably be about one hour, rendering it impractical for a typical orchestral program,� Gandolfi says. �Therefore, I will designate several plans or pathways through the garden, which will result in several program 'menus.' The BSO performance will represent one such menu.� The piece was commissioned by the Tanglewood Festival and debuted there last summer.
This Year at Tanglewood

Composer John Harbison will preside over Tangelwood's eight-concert Festival of Contemporary Music this year, from Aug. 4 to 8. Among the featured composers will be Stephen Stucky, Julian Phillips, and Lee Hyla. The new music ensemble eighth blackbird will perform works by Derek Bermel, David M. Gordon, and Frederic Rzewski.
Calling All Opera Buffos

So there you were in the shower this morning humming La donna � mobile and thinking that's not half bad; all I need is an orchestra and a copy of the words and next stop, the Met. Well, friends, now you too can be an opera singer. That's right; it's Karaoke Opera...140 of the world's most beloved arias available in both vocal and instrumental versions. A web site called CANTOLOPERA bills itself as the first virtual opera house, providing everything you need to sing the lead, accompanied by an orchestra made by over 130 musicians, singers and chorus. You can even record and then listen to your own interpretations (not to mention greatly amuse your friends). Ain't science grand?
Considering George Rochberg and John Dewey

Just crawled out from under a 15-20-page research paper I had to write in two weeks, and I thought, by way of de-briefing, I'd blog about it.

I wrote about the aesthetics of George Rochberg and John Dewey. The two men share some interesting connections. Both formulated their theories under the shadow of scientificist trends in their respective fields: modernist composition and analytic philosophy. Rochberg believed that composers (like Xenakis, though he doesn't name names) who based their compositions on scientific formulas and methods broke with the basic human impulses that had sustained western music history for centuries; these composers abandoned a connection with humanity for a music of groundless experimentation. Dewey, on the other hand, rejected the analysts' tendency to freeze concepts into abstract dichotomies. Specifically, he had no use for the division between aesthetic and real experience. A work of art, for Dewey, is what the "product of art does with and in experience." In other words, art, in order to function, requires the medium of personal, human experience. The "everyday" and "aesthetic" are endpoints on the same existential continuum: the more intense one's perception of form, the more "aesthetic" the experience; the more weak one's perception of form, the more "everyday" one's experience.

Anyhow, if you haven't read Dewey's "Art as Experience," drop everything and buy yourself a copy; for me it's been one of those books that changes the way you see most everything. And, if you want to read how serialism and aleatoric music prefigure nuclear holocaust and the end of civilization (I'm not kidding), go to the NYPL and check out Rochberg's "The Aesthetics of Survival: A Composer's View on Twentieth-Century Music." It comes with an introduction by none other than William Bolcom. -- David Salvage
The Cellist

 height=Today is the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the worst of the Nazi death camps. One of the survivors--Anita Lasker-Wallfisch, 79--was saved from the gas chambers by her ability to play the cello. Here�s a chilling excerpt from an interview she gave to SPIEGEL. Read the whole thing and make your kids read it so they don�t show up at parties wearing Nazi arm bands.
Lasker-Wallfisch: Of course. Someone asked me: "Will the war be over soon? What was it you used to do?" And what I said next probably saved my life. I said: "I play the cello." "Fantastic," was the person's response. I really didn't understand that at first. Here I am in Auschwitz and they need cellists? It seemed completely crazy to me.

SPIEGEL: How did the procedure continue?

Lasker-Wallfisch: Well, first they went away and I was left standing there, naked, bald and with a toothbrush in my hand. It wasn't until later that I understood what that meant. Naturally, the people in Auschwitz didn't get toothbrushes. That was the first privilege, a toothbrush. And then Alma Rose approached me...

SPIEGEL: ... the niece of Gustav Mahler and a renowned musician who directed the camp orchestra in Auschwitz...

Lasker-Wallfisch: ... exactly. And all she said was: "Wonderful, we need a cello. We don't have a cello here."

Have You Heard Greenberg's Fifth?

Jay Greenberg is working on his fifth symphony. He has about 150 fully orchestrated pieces on his computer hard drive and a further 300 completed works on manuscript paper. Did I mention that Jay Greenberg is thirteen-years-old and a student at Juilliard? The Financial Times reports that some of his professors believe he is the greatest composing talent in more than 200 years...More discussion of child prodigies over in the Composers Forum.

The Angel in Ms. DuPr�

 height=If she were still alive, today would have been the cellist Jacqueline du Pr�s 60th birthday. Those extraordinary recordings�especially the incomparable Elgar�were made when she was in her twenties, before multiple sclerosis ended her brief and meteoric career and led to her death at the age of 42.

BBC Radio 3 is marking the occasion with a special celebration tonight, beginning at 19:30 GMT (2:30 pm EST) and you can listen to it live here. BBC presenter Andrew McGregor has interviwed many people who heard her and worked with her - and the program will include some rare recordings, notably live performances of the three great cello concertos that formed the backbone of her career as a soloist--the Elgar, Dvorak and Schumann.

The Elgar comes from a tour she made with Sir John Barbirolli and the BBC Symphony Orchestra in 1967 and was recorded in Prague. The Schumann is a performance she gave in New York only about a month later, with Leonard Bernstein conducting the New York Philharmonic. The Dvorak is from a 1969 Prom with Sir Charles Groves and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic.

Was DuPr� really the overbearing, narcissistic, music-loathing monster she was portrayed as in the film Hillary and Jackie and her sister Hillary�s book, A Genius in the Family? Is it any of our business? Should we care? My answer is, put on the Elgar, close your eyes, sit quietly and listen. It is probably the closest most of us will ever come to hearing the voice of god.

What's New. How is the World Treating You?

Brian Sacawa has some thoughts about a real scary rich lady who doesn't like most new music so much that she's using her money to create music she can like...Over in the Composers Forum our resident composers are discussing when they first realized they were geniuses...Beth Anderson has a couple of concerts coming up.

And don't forget, we're still looking for a few good bloggers to join our unpaid staff. Send me an e-mail and maybe you too can be raging against the machine in your jammies.

Mein Pockets Jingle

 height=Two years ago, German composer Torsten Rausch (b. 1965) was living in Japan writing TV and film scores in relative obscurity. The 2003 premiere and subsequent Deutsche Gramophon release of his amazing orchestral song cycle Mein Herz brennt (read s/21's review of the cd), which became a surprise classical �hit,� changed all that. Suddenly, Rausch because a force in new music circles�a status confirmed by his signing with Faber Music a few days ago.

Rausch�s 65-minute song cycle takes its text and musical inspiration from existing songs by the popular German industrial metal band Rammstein, who hit the international rock scene in the mid-1990s and have since sold over 7 million albums worldwide. Despite its unlikely provenance, Rasch�s work is a lot closer in spirit to Mahler and Berg than Ozzie Osborne. In fact, there are almost no musical references to popular music at all; the only real connection between Rammstein and Mein Herz brennt are the lyrics themselves.

Mein Herz brennt was commissioned and premiered by the Dresdner Sinfoniker and John Carewe, and the solo parts sung by Ren� Pape in an operatic bass that will send chills down your spine. Actress Katharina Thalbach does the obligatory Lotte Lenya speaking part. Following the first performances in Dresden and Berlin, DG released the disc as part of its 20/21 series (which we can't seem to get review copies of around here...hint, hint.)
New Works by Tsontakis, Rodriquez for Dallas Symphony

Not a lot new on the Dallas Symphony's 2005-2006 schedule. Two world premieres, both DSO commissions; George Tsontakis's Piano Concerto, performed by Stephen Hough, and a work by Robert X. Rodriguez. The orchestra will also perform Jennifer Higdon's Percussion Concerto, co-commissioned with the Indianapolis Symphony and the Philadelphia Orchestra.
What's New Today

Brian Sacawa and his bike are back in chilly Ann Arbor after a week in Miami working on a performance with the composer H.K. Gruber and the New World Symphony...Speaking of chilly, the British classical grunge band Icebreaker has two new CDs out from Cantaloupe, including a re-issue of Michael Gordon's Trance...Lawrence Dillon has an idea on how to deal with pesky cell phones at concerts...And, the role of teachers continues to draw lively comment in our Composers Forum.
Mostly Mozart for Houston Symphony

The Houston Symphony has released its 2005-2006 schedule and--perhaps in keeping with the times--it's even more conservative than usual. Wall-to-wall Mozart is the major emphasis in celebration of the boy wonder's 250th birthday and the atrophied tastes of the orchestra's patrons. The premiere of John Harbison's Double Bass Concerto will be the only major work by a composer who is still living, although the season includes smaller works by Argentine Osvaldo Golijov, Canadian John Estacio and Frenchman Guillaume Connesson (the American premiere of his Adagio for orchestra).

So, New?

The blizzard of 2005 is less impressive than promised, at least, from my window onto 57th Street. No traffic though, except for the occasional snowplow; a perfect morning for Messiaen's Eclairs sur l'au-del� and maybe Frank Martin's Mass for Double Choir. Lots of good new stuff in the Composers Forum and we encourage you to leave comments. And don't forget to check Lawrence Dillon and Brian Sacawa's blogs.
Alan Hovhaness Museum Project Planned for Armenia

Ed Note: I received the following e-mail from the pianist Martin Berkofsky. It looks like a worthy project. JB

 height=Following the success of the 20th anniversary concert of Yerevan's Alan Hovhaness Chamber Orchestra (November 2004), there is an ambitious plan to build an Alan Hovhaness Museum here in Yerevan, Armenia -- land of Hovhaness's paternal ancestors. The city already has a magnificent Khachaturian museum. Hovhaness himself bequeathed scores to the State Museum of Literature and Art of Armenia when he visited us here in 1965.

In 1940 Hovhaness became organist at St. James Armenian Church in Watertown, Massachusetts, and began to thoroughly assimilate the spirit of Armenian liturgical music into his own works. Although this is well known with regard to his 1940s �Armenian period�, this influence never fully receded throughout the ensuing decades. The people of Yerevan have identified with this music and, as the recent concert success showed, revere him almost as one of their own.

This is a call to gather materials to send to Yerevan. The proposed museum will need photos, letters, concert programmes, posters, newspaper and magazine articles, CD recordings, LP recordings, concert recordings, scores, transcriptions of radio programmes, reminiscences -- in short, anything and everything possible having to do with Hovhaness.

In Armenia materials will be collected by Alexan Zakyan, the general manager of the "Alan Hovhaness" Chamber Orchestra and president of "Manana" Public Beneficial Organization. Contact: Alexan Zakyan/Co-ordinator, Hovhaness Museum Project/Halabian 11 /34/375038/Yerevan,Armenia
E-mail: + 374 1 39 54 67/Mobile: + 374 9 33 36 84

In the USA, materials will be collected by pianist and long-time Hovhaness champion Martin Berkofsky. Contact: Hovhaness Museum Project/The Cristofori Foundation/ Postbox 288/9206 Rogues Road/Casanova, Virginia, 20139-0288/USA
E-mail: +1-540-788-3356/Fax: +1-540-788-3358

Martin will pass materials to the Armenian Embassy in Washington to be sent on to Yerevan by secure diplomatic post. As some may be aware, Martin gave the first Armenian performance of Hovhaness's 'Lousadzak' in Yerevan in November 2004, as well as the world premiere of Hovhaness's Double Piano Concerto in Moscow earlier this year. He has been an ambassador for Hovhaness for over 30 years, previously working with the composer on the recordings of 'Concerto No.10', 'Khaldis' and 'Saturn'.

In Europe, Marco Shirodkar will collect materials to be sent on to Yerevan. Donations can be sent to: Hovhaness Museum Project/Postbox 16134/London/Great Britain/N12 7WB
E-mail: +44-870-458-1640

Marco administers the Hovhaness website which is where museum progress reports will be posted.


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