With his “The Music They Made” feature, the NYTimes Magazine editor Wm. Ferguson is using his position to shape his idea of the “mainstream” by adding a few names that only indie, rock, and punk devotees would recognize while, at the same time, protecting it by disavowing not only classical music but jazz and Broadway as well.
I almost missed Dan Joseph’s article last week decrying the absence of composers from his Gen X generation. Were we born at the “wrong” time? I think our generation has the unique luck to have connections to both the social turmoil of the 1960s/’70s as well as the changes in technology and social interaction of the 1990s/’00s.
We should be celebrating Michel van der Aa’s Grawemeyer win—a massive achievement—but we can use that celebration to reevaluate our own place in the world as well. If we’re really going to think about why the Grawemeyer does not have much recognition outside of the new music community, there are several questions that need to be raised.
Consistency in instrumentation is in many ways a good thing, since it simultaneously allows for ensembles to have a wide array of works to choose from as well as a strong number of similar ensembles by which composers may have their works performed. That same consistency, however, has created some unintended side effects.
I contacted a limited number of professional composers both here and in Europe and asked them if they could give me a list of ten composers from the 20th and 21st centuries that they would want to give to an undergraduate or graduate student composer to listen to in depth. What names would you include?