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Monday, February 06, 2006

Sunday's All Things Considered had a long audio article on French composer Marc-Andre Dalbavie. The article makes the standard points about orchestras staying generally within the standards for financial reasons:
Commissioning and performing new music is a risky business for any classical orchestra. Creating the repertoire of the future is important, but with today's tight budgets, filling the seats of the concert hall often takes precedence.
Dalbavie, who I had never heard of, apparently is a rare exception, at least according to the piece - orchestras in Philly, Minneapolis, Cleveland and Chicago have played his work. Has anyone heard of Dalbavie or his work (supposedly very little of it has made it to recording)?

The damning word, of course, is "accessible." I was having dinner Saturday night with the professor who mentored my thesis. He is a fan of, if not a practioner of, Oulipo, and he's especially been urging me to read the American Oulipian Harry Mathews. I did read a Mathews novel, The Sinking of the Odradek Stadium, in anticipation of our dinner, and I liked it well enough, thought the conceit worked, saw the obvious intelligence at work, and I told my professor as much. Well, he said, I'm glad you liked it, but it is his most accessible. Well, excuse me. It seems to me, I said, that valuing difficulty as meritorious in itself rewards incomprehensibility, and it seems to me that priding oneself on a paucity of readers is a self-fulfilling prophesy easily achieved. Hmm, he said, and started bugging me to read Flann O'Brien. I'll be starting The Third Policeman next week.