It was almost exactly 33 1/3 years ago when I met Ted Szántó at the Ferienkurse für Neue Musik Darmstadt. A composer and also radio producer, he had a regular program on Dutch radio called Kollage van Alledaags en Zeldzaam (or Collage of the Everyday and Strange). In those days, the only way to listen to it was to actually be in Europe and near the Dutch point of origin—no online streaming in 1974. Still, I had a few chances in the years to come, and I was always impressed by the twisted range of music he presented—often extreme, always interesting. The fact that his program was on a Catholic radio station was a curious fun fact.
Nineteen seventy-four was a good year for Darmstadt, I think, and I was lucky to be present at lectures and workshops run by the likes of Christian Wolff, Gordon Mumma, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Mauricio Kagel, György Ligeti, Aloys Kontarsky, Christoph Caskel, and others. Ted and I hung out a fair bit in the off hours and often we’d be joined by Claude Vivier, the talented Canadian composer who died tragically a few years later.
One day on a walk Ted spoke about an idea he had for a radio program—I can’t remember if he had already made the broadcast or if it was still in the formulative stage. Anyway, the idea was that he would ask people to declare, and he would then broadcast, four pieces:
- One that you loved and respected
- One that you respected, but didn’t love
- One that you loved, but didn’t respect
- One that you neither loved nor respected
I had been musing about this idea somehow a few days ago while on a short vacation up in the Bay Area, and even mentioned it to pianist Sarah Cahill (who for all I know may be lurking somewhere around these pages, poised to give me a friendly hard time in the comments section).
A day or two later, while going through four months of accumlated postal mail that had been awaiting my return from Japan, lo and behold, I found a package from Ted. Ted! Bwaah! Ted, who I haven’t seen or heard from in more than fifteen years. A chap who, as far as I can tell, still doesn’t have email. He sent a DVD-R of his improvised electronic music, works from 1985 to 1996. Thanks Ted! I can’t wait to get to my DVD player and listen.
But anyway. Love and respect. I’d like to borrow Ted’s idea and ask those of you who would care to participate to chime in with what your four choices would be, and maybe a few words about why. Not for broadcast, just for fun in the comments section below. Don’t confine yourself to contemporary American music, or even American music. It doesn’t have to be the piece that you most love and respect, just one that satisfies the basic requirements. I’ll go first.
Love and Respect:
IVES: Hawthorne (from the Concord Sonata)
Love but Not Respect:
AQUA: Barbie Girl
Respect but Not Love:
HINDEMITH: Mathis der Maler
Neither Love nor Respect:
VIVALDI: Spring (from the Four Seasons)
Let’s hear from you. Me, I have to go and write a long thank you and catch-up letter to Ted Szántó.