"There are no two points so distant from one another that they cannot be connected by a single straight line -- and an infinite number of curves."

Composer Lawrence Dillon has produced an extensive body of work, from brief solo pieces to a full-length opera. Three disks of his music are due out in 2010 on the Bridge, Albany and Naxos labels. In the past year, he has had commissions from the Emerson String Quartet, the Cassatt String Quartet, the Mansfield Symphony, the Boise Philharmonic, the Salt Lake City Symphony, the Ravinia Festival, the Daedalus String Quartet, the Kenan Institute for the Arts, the University of Utah and the Idyllwild Symphony Orchestra.

Although he lost 50% of his hearing in a childhood illness, Dillon began composing as soon as he started piano lessons at the age of seven. In 1985, he became the youngest composer to earn a doctorate at The Juilliard School, and was shortly thereafter appointed to the Juilliard faculty. Dillon is now Composer in Residence at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, where he has served as Music Director of the Contemporary Ensemble, Assistant Dean of Performance, and Interim Dean of the School of Music. He was the Featured American Composer in the February 2006 issue of Chamber Music magazine.

Visit Lawrence Dillon's Web Site

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Friday, April 21, 2006
ReListically Speaking

Thanks, everyone, for the comments on the list below. Even the grouchy responses are appropriate.

When I first brought this up last year, it was in reply to Russian composer Alexander Radvilovich’s question of what the most influential pieces have been since 1970. I told him that there were so many strands in new music over the last 35 years it would be impossible to make a coherent list.

Then I tried an experiment: I asked S21 readers what they thought the most influential pieces were. I tossed out a half dozen suggestions, and the responses poured in, resulting in the monumental list as it now stands. When I first posted it, I noted the fact that it ended up being something other than was intended – you can read my comments about influence in the original list here.

Clearly, we did not end up with an objective list of most influential works. However, we do have a list of pieces from the past 35 years that have all had profound impacts on somebody other than the composers. The size and variety of the list makes quite a statement about the diversity of our languages and the sheer number of ways to touch an audience, for those who question the communicative powers of new music.

And yet, as long as the list is, anyone at all familiar with new music could easily add a few equally deserving titles.

So, if we wanted a Most Influential list, we might start by hacking this one down to size. What if we decided to include only the works we all agreed were most influential? I suspect we would soon whittle the list down to zero. And that’s the answer, in effect, that I gave Radvilovich. Which is certainly no more coherent than this list.

But the subjective world I live in makes me want to keep adding pieces. I’d rather delete the title “most influential” and call the list something else, something like “music that mattered, 1970-2005.” As such, it would serve as a resource for the curious, the uninitiated, and even the well-informed – I find it hard to believe that anyone has heard everything here.

So, Ian, Evan, Tom, Glenn, Jacob, David, Anthony – if there is a next edition of this list, you will find your suggested amendments included. And Adam: check with Rodney Lister – I think he was the one who nominated Babbitt’s Triad.