"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 15, 2005
THE LIST: 111+ Influential Works, or Every Year Was a Good Year.

[thanks to great reader suggestions, this list has expanded tremendously since first posted -- up to 152 now -- so some of the comments I made at the bottom are no longer relevant or true.]

Here it is, Sequenza21ís list of most influential pieces since 1970. The list includes the pieces I originally came up with plus readersí suggestions, both those that were posted and those that were emailed to me. Iíve also added a few pieces I thought of after I published the initial lists. Iíve left out a handful of works I couldnít find dates for, but the rest are all here.

Itís an amazing, preposterous, fascinating, revealing, disorienting and provocative list of compositions. Take a look at it, and then I have a few questions and observations:

George Crumb: Ancient Voices of Children (1970)
John Cage: Songbooks (1970)
Gyorgi Ligeti: Chamber Concerto (1970)
George Crumb: Black Angels (1970)
Karlheinz Stockhausen: Mantra (1970)
Elliott Carter: String Quartet No. 3 (1971)
Tom Johnson: An Hour for Piano (1971)
George Crumb: Vox Balanae (1971)
Steve Reich: Drumming (1971)
Philip Glass: Music in Twelve Parts (1971-1974)
Morton Feldman: Rothko Chapel (1972)
Gyorgi Ligeti: Double Concerto (1972)
Charles Amirkhanian: Just (1972)
Andres Jolivet: Violin Concerto (1972)
Peter Maxwell Davies: Hymn to St. Magnus (1972)
George Rochberg: String Quartet No. 3 (1972)
Frederic Rzewski: Coming Together (1972)
Luciano Berio: Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra (1972-73)
Louis Andriessen: De Staat (1972-76)
Helmut Lachenmann: Gran Torso (1972-88)
Ben Johnston: String Quartet No. 4, ďAmazing GraceĒ (1973)
Leonard Bernstein: Mass (1973)
Per Norgard: Turn (1973)
Steve Reich: Music for Mallet instruments, Voices, and Organ (1973)
Gyorgi Ligeti: San Francisco Polyphony (1973-74)
Brian Ferneyhough: Unity Capsule (1973-76)
Luciano Berio: Points on the Curve to Find (1974)
Dmitri Shostakovich: String Quartet No. 15 (1974)
Peter Maxwell Davies: Ave Maris Stella (1975)
Per Norgard: Symphony No. 3 (1975)
Frederic Rzewski: The People United Will Never Be Defeated (1975)
Henri Dutilleux: Ainsi la nuit (1976)
David del Tredici: Final Alice (1976)
Philip Glass: Einstein on the Beach (1976)
John Williams: Star Wars (1977)
Henri Dutilleux: Timbres, espaces, mouvement (1977)
Peter Maxwell Davies: A Mirror of Whitening Light (1977)
Sofia Gubaidulina: Duo-Sonata (1977)
Joseph Schwantner: Aftertones of Infinity (1978)
John Adams: Shaker Loops (1978)
Morton Feldman: Why Patterns? (1978)
Tristan Murail: Treize couleurs du soleil couchant (1978)
Robert Ashley: Perfect Lives (1978)
William Duckworth: The Time Curve Preludes (1978-79)
Ellen Taaffe Zwilich: Chamber Symphony (1979)
Judith Weir: King Harald's Saga (1979)

Philip Glass: Satyagraha (1980)
Sofia Gubaidalina: Offetorium (1980)
James Sellars: Chanson Dada (1980)
Joan Tower: Petroushskates (1980)
James Dillon: Spleen (1980)
Harold Budd/Brian Eno: The Plateaux of Mirror (1980)
Conlon Nancarrow: Studies Nos. 40, 41, 47, 48 (1980s)
Laurie Anderson: O Superman (1981)
Ezra Sims: Phenomena (1981)
Jaco Pastorius: Word of Mouth (1981)
La Monte Young: The Well-Tuned Piano (1981)
Horatiu Radulescu: Iubiri (1981)
Judith Weir: Thread! (1981)
Peter Maxwell Davies: Image Reflection Shadow (1982)
Steve Reich: Tehillim (1982)
Michael Finnissy: Banumbirr (1982)
Anderzej Panufnik: Arbor Cosmica (1983)
Oliver Knussen: Where the Wild Things Are (1983)
Steve Reich: The Desert Music (1983)
Salvatore Sciarrino: Macbeth (1983)
Witold Lutoslawski: Symphony No. 3 (1983)
Magnus Lindberg: Kraft (1983-85)
Morton Feldman: For Philip Guston (1984)
Salvatore Sciarrino: Hermes (1984)
Peter Maxwell Davies: Symphony No. 3 (1984)
Harrison Birtwhistle: The Mask of Orpheus (1984)
Arvo Part: Te Deum (1984)
Louis Andriessen: De Stijl (1984-85)
Morton Feldman: Piano and String Quartet (1985)
Judith Weir: The Consolations of Scholarship (1985)
John Adams: Harmonielehre (1985)
Gyorgi Ligeti: Piano Concerto (1985-88)
Gyorgi Ligeti: Piano Etudes (1985-1990)
Daniel Lentz: The Crack in the Bell (1986)
Per Norgard: Lin (1986)
Laurie Anderson: Home of the Brave (1986)
Michael Finnissy: String Trio (1986)
Witold Lutoslawski: Chain 3 (1986)
Janice Giteck: Om Shanti (1986)
Harrison Birtwhistle: Earth Dances (1986)
Carl Stone: Shing Kee (1986)
Iannis Xenakis: Keqrops (1986)
Morton Feldman: For Samuel Beckett (1987)
Galina Ustvolskaya: Symphony No. 4 "Prayer" (1987)
Lois V Vierk: Simoon (1987)
Gyorgi Kurtag: Quasi una fantasia (1987)
Toru Takemitsu: Twill by Twilight (1988)
Wolfgang Rihm: Depart (1988)
Larry Polansky: Lonesome Road: The Crawford Variations (1988-89)
David Rakowski: Piano Etudes (1988-)
Bunita Marcus: Adam and Eve (1989)
Lee Hyla: String Quartet No. 3 (1989)
Art Jarvinen: Murphy-Nights (1989)

Gyorgi Ligeti: Violin Concerto (1990)
John Cage: Four2 (1990)
Iannis Xenakis: Knephas (1990)
Pauline Oliveros: Crone Music (1990)
Martin Bresnick: Opere della Musica Povera (1990-99)
Julia Wolfe: Four Marys (1991)
John Cage: Five3 (1991)
Robert Ashley: Improvement (1991)
Milton Babbitt: Mehr Du (1991)
John Adams: The Death of Klinghoffer (1991)
Meredith Monk: Atlas (1991)
Judith Weir: I Broke Off a Golden Branch (1991)
Frederic Rzewski: De Profundis (1991)
John Adams: Chamber Symphony (1992)
Magnus Lindberg: Clarinet Quintet (1992)
Conrad Cummings: Photo Op (1992)
John Cage: Fifty-Eight (1992)
David Lang: Cheating, Lying, Stealing (1993)
Milton Babbitt: String Quartet No. 6 (1993)
David First: Jade Screen Test Dreams of Renting Wings (1993)
Michael Daugherty: Metropolis Symphony (1993)
Elliott Carter: Symphonia (1993-96)
Magnus Lindberg: Aura (1994)
Olivier Messiaen: Eclairs sur l'Au-Dela (1994)
Milton Babbitt: Triad (1994)
Gyorgi Kurtag: Stele (1994)
Mikel Rouse: Failing Kansas (1995)
Michael Gordon: Trance (1995)
Eve Beglarian: Landscaping for Privacy (1995)
Mikel Rouse: Dennis Cleveland (1996)
Gerard Grisey: Vortex temporum (1996)
Tobias Picker: Emmeline (1996)
Esa-Pekka Salonen: LA Variations (1996)
Tan Dun: Marco Polo (1996)
Michael Finnissy: Seventeen Immortal Homosexual Poets (1997)
Thomas Ades: Powder Her Face (1997)
Sofia Gubaidulina: Canticle of the Sun (1997)
Michael Finnissy: Multiple Forms of Constraint (1997)
Pierre Boulez: Sur incises (1998)
John Luther Adams: In the White Silence (1998)
Beat Furrer: Still (1998)
Mark Adamo: Little Women (1998)
John Adams: Naive and Sentimental Music (1998-99)
Elodie Lauten: Waking in New York (1999)
Toshio Hosokawa: Koto-uta (1999)
Louis Andriessen: Writing to Vermeer (1999)
The Magnetic Fields (aka Stephin Merritt): 69 LOVE SONGS (the album) (1999)

Kaija Saariaho: Líamour de loin (2000)
Frederic Rzewski: Pocket Symphony (2000)
Osvaldo Golijov: La Pasiůn segķn San Marcos (2000)
Michael Gordon: Decasia (2001)
Michael Harrison: Revelation (2001)
Chocolate Genius (aka Marc Anthony Thompson): Godmusic (2001)
Peter Maxwell Davies: Naxos Quartets (2002-05)
John Luther Adams: The Mathematics of Resonant Bodies (2002)
John Corigliano: Circus Maximus (2004)

So there it is. Have you memorized them all? Now for some questions.

Are there too many pieces on this list? I donít think so. There are many, many composers out there doing wonderful work.

Is it possible we missed some? No question in my mind. Weíre doing a little better than the Pulitzer Prize, but this list just scratches the surface.

Is this list biased? You bet. I can think of a number of prominent people born in the 1930s in particular who have been left off. Anybody remember an interview a few weeks ago in the NYTimes with James Levine and a couple of composers? Wonít find their names here. Among established composers with prominent careers in 1970-2005, donít look for Mario Davidovsky, Alfred Schnittke, Lou Harrison, Iannis Xenakis, Sofia Gubaidalina, Toru Takemitsu or William Bolcom either.

Weíre also missing a lot of the composers who are getting the majority of orchestral commissions these days. And donít tell me they donít have any influence, because there are hundreds of other composers trying to imitate those career paths, even if they wonít admit it.

Do numbers matter? The most represented composer is Peter Maxwell Davies, with five entries. John Adams, John Cage, Morton Feldman, Gyorgi Ligeti, Steve Reich and Judith Weir have four each. All of these composers are very important, but Iím thinking these numbers are only of qualified interest -- they might be a bit skewed by individual enthusiasms to be really significant of the largest trends. But numbers are what they are.

Is there a connection between length and impact? I donít know all of the works on this list, but of the ones I know, very few are under 10 minutes, and many are over 30 minutes. Is length an appropriate measure of importance?

What is influence? I asked What new works changed the way composers thought about composing from 1970 to 2005. Several people answered with the pieces that had influenced them most. But there are two kinds of influence: there is the piece that changes how you think about music, and there is the piece that reinforces the viewpoint you already hold. No matter how conservative or progressive we may be, we all respond to both types of influence, and I believe that a lot of the pieces that ended up on this list -- both conservative and progressive -- fall into the latter category, even though I was specifically asking for the former.

Actually, there is a third kind of influence, which we all experience as well: the piece that has a negative impact on us, as in, Wow, I never want to write anything like that!

How many of these works have you heard? My score is 52, which is just over one-third. Gives me a great reason to go on living, just knowing that all those life-changing works are still out there for me to experience.

Whatís next? You tell me. Hope this list is of some use/interest to you.