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Music After Life: Guiding Lights

lighthouse

One side of the survivability equation is the caution-to-the-wind embrace of a personal vision, fearless of the consequences, no matter how impractical. The other side thinks outside of the individual and looks at the times.

When Do I Get to Stop Exposing Myself?

Photo of pages of theatrical script.

Some companies advertise the pieces we write for free as new commissions. I vote for an immediate end to this practice. By all means, call it a world premiere by the Next Important Composer of Our Time. Phrase it however you need to make it sound sexy and get butts in seats, but it is not a commission. It is unpaid labor from which others stand to gain.

Music After Life: Twists of Fate

"Morton Feldman 1976" by Rob Bogaerts Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 nl.

The reputations of certain composers seem to be actually growing with time, even though conventional wisdom earlier on would have predicted just the opposite. They present one possible answer to the question of how music becomes “survivable.”

Mister, Make Me a…Song?

Photo of a songwriter's workspace. A digital keyboard synthesizer on a tripod positioned by a window perpendicular to a desk; on the desk is a notebook, laptop, headphones, and glass of water.

Songs written for the stage are no longer the currency of mainstream musical engagement, yet “song” has become the default term for just about any piece of music under the sun. Is the word still meaningful to creators of new musical theater?

Music After Life: Posthumous Lessons

Xenakis, Shapey, Kramer and Rochberg

By now it’s more than a decade since Jonathan Kramer, George Rochberg, Ralph Shapey, and Iannis Xenakis have passed, so there is some time to assess where their art stands in their wake, even though it’s still very early in the eternity game.

It’s a Floor Wax and a Dessert Topping

The operatic war in N. Y., a lithographic print from the 1880s from the archives of the Boston Library, depicting a clash between the Academy of Music and the Metropolitan Opera, with Henry E. Abbey, opera singers, conductors, and orchestras; some of the identified figures include Marcella Sembrich, Sofia Scalchi, Galassi, Trebelli, Roberto Stagno, Mirabelli, Campanini, and Col. Mapleson.

I won’t rehash any discussions about the technical differences between musicals and operas, but I am interested in exploring preconceived notions held by those working in both genres and the effect they have on composing for the theater.

The Entrepreneurship of the Creative Moment

Southern California Federal Music Project, WPA, ca. 1937

How can artists serve the social good, create excellent work, and critique the system when it is the system which is actively eroding the social good and preventing them from accomplishing excellent work?

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