Song of the Earth

It’s probably no coincidence that the two most popular composers of the 20th Century, Shostakovich and Mahler, are also the two whose autobiographies are most intimately associated with their work. However, although their musical work may have been shaped in part by the external circumstances of their lives, it is also important to remember that […]

Read More

KTL2- So what do all those notes really mean?

Music, even vocal music, is ultimately an abstract art form. Musical ideas, even those attached to words, are inherently abstract. Nevertheless, we all find ourselves searching for the meaning of musical ideas. Wagner went so far as to assign meanings to themes through his technique of Leitmotif. He even expected his audiences to know who […]

Read More

Score Questioning- How the old school got to “how”

What then of someone like Furtwangler, who’s Beethoven tempi tend to be quite uninhibited by the metronome? Many leading modern Beethoven interpreters and commentators, including John Elliot Gardiner, Gunther Schuller and Benjamin Zander have all held up Furtwangler’s performance of the first movement of Beethoven 5 as an example of how not to do it […]

Read More

Dead horses, rotten vegetables and fine wine

I’ve been a bit surprised to find how totally polarizing the whole electroacoustic issue has been- it’s been more controversial than anything I’ve dealt with before. I have to admit I spent much of last weekend wishing I’d never thought of posting on it. Funnily enough, I feel like I came up with a metaphor […]

Read More

Felix Rocks

Almost all composers tend to get misrepresented by history in one way or another. The great modern example is the “debate” about Shostakovich, in which many American academics continue to promote a portrait of the man at odds with descriptions of him by all his children and colleagues. Of course, there was more to Mozart […]

Read More

We are the revolution

Every time I go to Portland, Oregon I learn something about music. One of my oldest friends, who I stay with when I’m there, is a recording engineer and producer. Since I walked away from rock n’ roll in 1991 when my last band broke up, I’ve largely stopped listening to it. Visiting Sean gives […]

Read More

Sibelius Symphony no. 5- first movement

It is well known that Sibelius’ approach to symphonic composition was intensely organic- in his mature music everything in a given piece grows from the same little bit of musical DNA. Perhaps only Brahms is equally rigorous in his constant development of motivic cells. However, where Brahms’ motivic development is always carefully ensconced in classical […]

Read More

Modernism Pt I

Note- This is the first of a projected two part series on modernism in music. Today’s piece is essentially about the argument against modernism, the next one is the argument for modernism. Stay tuned! KW Recently, the British composer Harrison Birtwistle made the news when he stood to collect the classical prize at the Novello […]

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Read More