Posted inHistory

The Smoldering Progressive

Pity Paul Dukas. For most listeners—even serious music lovers—his work is the mere soundtrack to the anthropomorphic avatars of the Disney corporation. Despite floating in the same fragrant creative broth of early 20th-century Paris as Igor Stravinsky and Claude Debussy he has been rather overshadowed by both, to say nothing of his twelve-tone contemporaries in […]

Posted inReport

Electric Guerillas

The history of Croatian electroacoustic music dates back to the middle of the 1950s. Almost like a foreshadowing of its future struggles, the first Croatian electroacoustic piece, Ivo Malec’s “Mavena” (1956-57), was actually created at the Groupe de Recherche de Musique Concrète in Paris. The creative and social French soil was nurturing of experimental ideas, […]

Posted inProfile

The Inner Mountain

I worked in a music library for some years. One of our regular visitors was an elderly Irish nun whose eyes twinkled with purpose. She was working on her book, she told me, about the Russian composer Galina Ustvolskaya. Ustvolskaya’s music was little known in the West when Sister Andre Dullaghan had first heard it, […]

Posted inOpinion

Adams 2.0

Thanks to John Adams, I am no longer a snob. When I was studying composition in graduate school, I was possessed by a young man’s certainty about his own knowledge and taste. Still, I was exposed to enough contradictory opinions and ideas that I began to— fortunately—entertain doubts. What if I didn’t know everything? One […]

Posted inInterview

A Conception of Time

An Interview with Frank Denyer By · Photography © Suhail Merchant · Date 7/26/2018 Frank Denyer’s works draw from many sources. In the 1970s, he did ethnomusicological fieldwork with the Pokot tribe in Kenya. Studying at Wesleyan, he encountered musical giants Morton Feldman and John Cage, with Harry Partch providing undoubted additional influence. Hand-made instruments […]

Posted inInterview

I Did That

Recently elected as a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters at the age of 92, Ben Johnston is taking some time to reflect on his life’s work. As a composer who radically pushed the expressive possibilities of non-tempered harmony for over six decades, Johnston holds an important position in 20th-century American music, […]

Posted inInterview

Degrees of Density

“99 percent of the day, we are in the thinking mode,” Peter Ablinger tells me across a table in the lobby of our hotel in Bergen. “And in opposition to that, if we decide now to be silent for a few seconds. Just…” His voice drifts off and he raises his eyebrows in anticipation. For […]

Posted inInterview

Hidden Theater

An Interview with Georges Aperghis By · Title Image © Xavier Lambours · Date 11/09/2017 “What I find interesting in Georges Aperghis’ works is his way of juggling elements that are all in some way chaotic as a way of writing music, his way of searching for possible creative focuses that assumes an absolute risk,” […]

Posted inEssay

Doom and Womb

Few pieces within the contemporary classical repertoire concern themselves solely with pregnancy, a fact of which I am all too aware as someone living a double life as a music writer and a reproductive rights activist. Examples of womb-centric compositions include chamber and orchestral works by Dai Fujikura, in which he appropriates and musicalizes his […]

Posted inInterview

I’m Not Hiding Anything

Over the last four years, I’ve heard about half a dozen concerts of music by the composer Alvin Lucier in New York City. I have often begun listening to a piece with skepticism and left astonished. On March 25, Alvin Lucier will perform two of his works, “I Am Sitting in a Room” and “Vespers,” […]