At a formative time of their lives, the generation of American composers born in or near the year 1938 lived through an era of profound challenges to general beliefs about music and society.
To be born in 1938 meant straddling the two crises of the mid twentieth century (the Great Depression of the 1930s and the oncoming Second World War of the 1940s), but most composers born at that time were too young in the War years to remember much about this era.
It’s a hyperreal world, according to composer Noah Creshevsky—and he’s got its sound sampled, cataloged, deconstructed, and remade.
Orchestras are frequently criticized for not playing enough new music. But less attention is focused on the cost of such “adventurous programming,” both from the viewpoint of orchestras renting new scores and the publishers and composers producing them.
The fact that live performance persists in the face of market pressures speaks to a basic human need that even Adam Smith’s invisible hand can’t slap away.
There still exist archetypal “American Composers” and “European Composers,” an archetypal “American Audience” and “European Audience,” with roots in decades-old artistic movements, historical contexts, and sets of priorities. However effectively pluralism may be taking over the world, these old national differences are still with us in fundamental ways.
Robert Ashley has been composing new kinds of opera exploring a vast range of techniques for over forty years, but the process of developing each Ashley opera is different.