Philip Glass is not the only composer who turned 70 this year. Among other newly-minted septuagenarians is David Del Tredici, a “maverick” composer in the great American tradition, and while his attainment of elder statesman status has attracted much less fuss than Glass and Steve Reich, there have been some small, quiet celebrations, one of which was reviewed in the NYT this morning by Alan Kozinn.
I have not heard a lot of Del Tredici’s music but what I have heard I have liked. I would be happier if it was presented with less explanation, not simply because his “subjects” sometimes make me a little squeamish (not homophobic, just squeamish, in the way that some of Robert Mapplethorpe’s pictures make me reflexively cringe), but simply because I think that money and sex are topics that people ought to keep pretty much to themselves. Call me an old-fashioned libertarian; I don’t believe there is “women’s music” and “gay music” or even “black music.” There is music.
I also have the feeling that while wordless music may “mean something” concrete to the composer, it is an abstraction to the listener. That’s why I find Peter Maxwell Davis’s lavish, prissy, poetic program notes to be laugh out-loud funny.
Well, that should be enough red meat to get us started.