by Anne Eisenberg
A big snowstorm brought much of New York City to a stop on February 9, but it didn’t deter the booted, scarved crowd drawn to Miller Theatre at Columbia University for the program Composer Portraits that featured the unconventional, powerful music of Sofia Gubaidulina, the 81-year-old Russian composer.
Gubaidulina’s music is known for its combination of the traditional and the avant guard – a striking blend of religious themes and atonality, microtonality and dissonant, episodic structure. This unusual compositional style was shown in all its scope and power in a varied program performed by the International Contemporary Ensemble that included a range of Gubaidulina’s music from Meditation on the Bach Chorale ‘Vor deinen Thron tret’ich hiermit’ for harpsichord and string quartet to Concerto for bassoon and low strings.
Continue reading ‘Sofia Gubaidulina at Miller’
by Ben Boretz
There is no question that the repetitive-pulse structures of minimalist composition make a powerful experiential point. The only question is whether they do not always make the same point, whose individual inflections are locked within an overbearing stylistic affective definition.
Continue reading ‘SOME RECENT CDs’
by Mark Shapiro
Serendipitously, as I was walking down Broadway pondering how to convey to readers of New Music Connoisseur the experience of watching 31‐year old Australian filmmaker Rohan Spong’s tenderly engaging 2011 documentary film All the Way through Evening, my attention was drawn to a fellow pedestrian coming up the avenue toward me. On his lapel – startlingly – was pinned a frayed and faded AIDS Awareness Ribbon. Those inverted twists of red satin once seemed ubiquitous, but it was ages since I had last noticed one. Later I read on a blog that in some circles they long ago came to be considered “unfashionable.” To a teenager or a twentysomething in America or Europe or Australia today, the once savagely omnipresent AIDS epidemic might seem as remote as the Vietnam, or for that matter the Peloponnesian War. In the film’s press kit, Spong observes that, although he is gay, “I come from a generation that came after the initial outbreak of AIDS. I didn’t know anyone who had died, and didn’t know anyone who knew anyone who had died as I was growing up.”
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The Music and Literature of Anthony Burgess by Paul Phillips.
Manchester University Press 2010. Distributed in the US by Palgrave Mcmillan.
By Mark N. Grant
“The obscurity created by the wrong kind of fame”– a wonderful phrase coined in 1955 by conductor Richard Franko Goldman to describe a pitfall suffered by some very successful artists. For example, Samuel F. B. Morse wanted to be memorialized as the accomplished painter he was, but history remembers him as the inventor of the telegraph. Arthur Sullivan thought he would be remembered for his serious concert works, but posterity knows him only as W. S. Gilbert’s collaborator. Even Shakespeare, some have argued, thought he would be remembered more for his sonnets and lyric poetry than his plays.
Continue reading ‘A Clockwork Counterpoint:’
Howard Pollack [Oxford University Press]
By Mark Zuckerman
Perhaps the greatest irony for American composer Marc Blitzstein (1905‐1964) – in a life and career laden with ironies – is that his biggest critical and monetary success came not from any of his many substantial original works, but from his Off‐Broadway adaptation of the 1929 Die Dreigroschenoper by German dramatist Bertolt Brecht and composer Kurt Weill. Indeed, The Threepenny Opera, which premiered in 1954, had many times more performances and generated many times more royalties for Blitzstein than all of his other works combined. Even though the underlying work is not his own, Blitzstein’s contribution to The Threepenny Opera exhibits qualities that distinguish his catalog of original work for the stage, comprising most of his surviving output: facility with language, fluency in a multitude of musical idioms, mastery of dramatic structure, and proclivity for social commentary.
Continue reading ‘Marc Blitzstein: His Life, His Work, His World’