Author Archives: Greg Sandow

View From the East: Abstract Atonality

Greg Sandow A while ago I annoyed some readers by comparing atonal music to abstract art. I’d thought that the comparison was a cliché in conversations about 20th-century culture, but the readers I annoyed didn’t see it that way. They thought I’d called atonal music a dirty name, as if I’d said atonal music was […]

View From the East: The Talented Donal Fox

Greg Sandow One night about a year ago, Donal Fox sat down at the piano in Merkin Hall and began to play “The Star-Spangled Banner.” This was the start of “Transformations, Variations, Improvisations,” a half-concert (someone else shared the program, I can’t remember who) on which Donal played some partly improvised compositions, none of them […]

View From the East: Music in a Time of War

Greg Sandow In the wake of our disaster, I want to ask why music moves us so much. “Music is the nutrition of the soul,” I heard Zarin Mehta say about a week after the events as he introduced a memorial performance of the Brahms Requiem by the New York Philharmonic. “Music is the soul […]

View From The East: Moving Music

Greg Sandow I was deeply moved when I heard the premiere of Ingram Marshall‘s Kingdom Come, played by the American Composers Orchestra in 1997, and I wasn’t alone. The piece got an ovation. I left the concert with two members of the ACO’s board. Both had been as touched as I was; one said he’d […]

View from the East: Kitschometer

Greg Sandow I’ve been listening to a splashy and not very wonderful (though in the end instructive) CD – The Music of Peter Boyer, a collection of orchestral works released this year by Koch. Boyer is an ambitious 31-year-old, who, his press kit says, is "fast becoming one of the most prominent young American composers." […]

View from the East: Enough Nostalgia?

Greg SandowPhoto by Melissa Richard It was such a New York night. There we were, “we” being an audience of several hundred, in the shadow, the valley, or, better, the notch between the two twin thrusts of the World Trade Center towers. And from the stage in front of us roared the music of Glenn […]

Boulez and Us

Greg SandowPhoto by Melissa Richard I For a long time, I’ve found Pierre Boulez’s music pretty. Not his earliest works, his Sonatine for flute and piano, his hard-edged first two piano sonatas, or his startling, rigid Structures for two pianos (which he himself no longer seems to like). But starting with his 1955 Le marteau […]