View from the East: Is New Music Thriving?

Greg Sandow I’d like to think new music is thriving. Certainly there are reasons for thinking it is. Last year I served on an awards panel for ASCAP; we looked at hundreds of applications from composers all over the country, all of whom were getting performances, many of them from local performing groups. We New […]

Losing Control: Indeterminacy and Improvisation in Music Since 1950

Sabine Randomized by Amanda MacBlane After the Second World War and a period of controlling more and more aspects of performance, many composers rediscovered an old phenomenon: improvisation. At first glance, the word “improvisation,” which has been used since the 14th century, seems to refer to a clear-cut concept—”to compose or simultaneously compose and perform […]

Take a Chance

recordstore

In preparation for an exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on surrealism, I am in the midst of re-reading André Breton’s first Surrealist Manifesto. I am always a little tickled by his vigorous academic defense—calling upon Freud, Proust, and Pascal—of the games he and his hand-picked disciples played. In a less pretentious, yet equally […]

Overcoming Preconceptions

Frank J. OteriPhoto by Melissa Richard I was lucky to have had two brief encounters with John Cage that were both defining moments though in very different ways. The first time I met John Cage was at a bookstore in Greenwich Village where he was autographing copies of his new book For The Birds. I […]

Is music just sounds? And what does it communicate?

In one of his three 1958 “Composition as Process” lectures at Darmstadt, John Cage recited a string of randomly assembled questions. One of the most poignant of these questions was: “Is music just sounds? And what does it communicate?” Rather than ask the obvious suspects to contribute comments, we decided it would be more appropriate […]

A Chance Encounter with Christian Wolff

Christian Wolff Friday, January 11, 2002—4:33 p.m. Greenwich House Music SchoolNew York, NY A Conversion to New Music Meeting Cage & the Genesis of Indeterminacy Interpreting Indeterminate Music Compositional Intent On Serialism & Complex Modernism On Neo-Romanticism & Politics Christian Wolff—Rock Star? The Orchestra Listening Music and A Career Sonic Gallery Complete Interview Transcript (160KB […]

OBITUARY: Composer and Pianist Leo Ornstein

Leo Ornstein Photo courtesy Severo M. Ornstein Russian born composer and pianist Leo Ornstein died peacefully on February 24 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. He was born in December of either 1892 or 1893, making him either 108 nor 109 years old. Ornstein was recognized as a piano prodigy at an early age. He studied at […]