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661  ARCHIVED TOPICS / Theory and tradition / Re: What is the most boring music ever written? on: November 03, 2011, 06:14:42 pm
Our suggestion: Gustav Mahler, Song of the Earth.
"Our" suggestion? Mon Dieu! The thought that just one person would suggest this as the most boring music ever written is quite horrifying and disspiriting enough; that more than one now does so borders on the unbearable!
662  ARCHIVED TOPICS / Theory and tradition / Re: What is the most boring music ever written? on: November 03, 2011, 06:13:21 pm
Absolutely anything by Eunoudi, his music is the same, the same chords, the same harmonies, the same tune. !!!
It's Einaudi, by the way - not that this minor fact makes the stuff any more acceptable, let alone appealing!

If Ludovico, then van Beethovenio, methinks...
663  ARCHIVED TOPICS / Theory and tradition / Re: Simpson Bach and Xenakis on: August 13, 2011, 05:58:17 pm
. . . I am no relation to the J. Hinton quoted therein as having coined the term "actualism" in c.1860 . . .
How about to Charles Howard Hinton the "Fourth-Dimension Man," about whose life and interesting publications you doubtless already know?
Not to him, either (although, since you mention him, I am relieved - whilst not being especially familiar with his works - to know that the various words that he apparently saw fit to invent did not include "tesseractualistically") - nor to the composer Arthur Hinton, since you (don't yet) ask...
664  ARCHIVED TOPICS / Theory and tradition / Re: Simpson Bach and Xenakis on: August 12, 2011, 11:09:52 am
Xenakis's term was, of course "stochastic", not "stochastical" . . .
Actualistically it were "stochastique."
Were it really?!

I might add firstly that it is as well that my edition of the OED contains no such word as "actualistically", secondly that I am no relation to the J. Hinton quoted therein as having coined the term "actualism" in c.1860 as a "parallel to idealism, materialism, positivism, etc." and which he claimed to have "adopted to express the idea that all existence is truly active or spritiual, as opposed to inert or dead" and lastly that it would seem beyond absurd to seek to forge some kind of meaningful and pertinent connection between even this "actualism" as posited by the said J Hinton and the stochastically-oriented work of our Iannis!
665  ARCHIVED TOPICS / Theory and tradition / Re: Simpson Bach and Xenakis on: August 12, 2011, 11:01:10 am
I'm rather relieved that I would not personally appear on the Grew rating scale...
Mr. H., if you would be good enough to post a link to somewhere on the Inter-Web where a selection of your productions might be sampled by the readers of this Forum (and indeed by listeners at large), we would be pleased to provide the appropriate rating.
Information and links to details about scores, recordings et al are to be found at http://www.sorabji-archive.co.uk/hinton/biography.php; please spare me the "rating", however - "appropriate" or otherwise...
666  ARCHIVED TOPICS / Theory and tradition / Re: Simpson Bach and Xenakis on: August 04, 2011, 09:43:48 pm
Xenakis set out to annoy his auditors
He actually told you that, did he? Or do you believe that you possess reliable and incontrovertible evidence to that effect from someone who knew him and work well over a long period of time?

he had no common sense
Thank God for that!
Let us at least set you straight on the Xenakis question. Our disdain of Xenakis's productions arises I think from two sources:

1) His description, in Musiques Formelles, of the sound of massed men's voices, followed by the chaos of machine-gun shots, the "whistle of bullets," "total disorder," etc. It leads on to his pursuit of "stochastical music" he says. But it stems from his own abnormal psychology and history, and certainly not from any musical impulse. That is one reason why we say he sets out to annoy his auditors, and why we give him a seven.

2) His deranged plans to illuminate the moon, and to generate artificial Northern Lights. This shows does it not what we mean by his lack of common sense.

Why should he not have written as he did in that work? Had he done otherwise, would you not accpt that he might either have been dishonest or economical or careless with the truth as he saw it? Whatever you might put forward as your assessment of Xenakis's "psychology and history", they were Xenakis's own and not to be so summarily, redely and inconsiderately dismissed by such you yourselves; Xenakis's term was, of course "stochastic", not "stochastical" and it is not for you (or I) to claim, as though incontrovertibly, particular kinds of impulse that may have given rise to Xenakis's works, stochastically oriented or otherwise.
667  ARCHIVED TOPICS / Theory and tradition / Re: Simpson Bach and Xenakis on: August 04, 2011, 09:38:19 pm
the work itself, as you seem to say, even, remains unaltered. It also very definitely remains in the ownership of the composer. For ever and ever it will remain his work and no one else's.
There I must beg to differ and, speaking as a composer myself, I believe myself to be entitled to do so. Once the score is complete and the work is performed and listened to, it's "for" anyone who wants to listen to it; I'm not, of course, seeking to undermine the composer's rôle in the proceedings but to put it into a more sensible and truer perspective, as the work is the composer's alone while he/she is writing it but takes on a whole new attire as soon as others can share in it.

The responses of various persons at various times to the work are the concern of those persons alone. But there can only be one correct response, and that is to understand what the composer was attempting to say
The first of these sentences is correct as far as it goes but the second makes little sense to me. There's no one "correct" way to write or perform a piece and there can certainly be no such thing as a "correct" response to one, since what a piece might say to one listener can never be identical to what it might say to another whose experiences and expectations are different.
. . .

We follow you Mr. H. for some distance but what we trip up over is that last sentence.
I cannot help that - for any of you...

Composers - as you will understand - expend much time and effort in choosing note A rather than note B. They want to get it absolutely right. Once a string quartette is complete, it would not do were some one not the composer to remove a page, or were some one not the composer to insert a page of any one else's quartette - that much must be evident.
I have never written a "string quartette" and I've only ever composed one string quartet but, whilst I have no other problem with what you write here, that does not of itelf mean that the composer is always right - if it did, that would in principle preclude the composer from revising his/her work.

Then - some woman might say "For me Bach's Mass always brings to mind the Malvern Hills". We doubt Bach ever heard of those Hills, and it was certainly not his intention to invoke them. The view of the woman in question may be dismissed and disregarded when we come to that Mass may it not. Bach's Mass as such is unaffected.

Another woman might say "For me Bach's Art of the Fugue always brings to mind the music of Xenakis." Again we may say, this time without the shadow of a doubt, that Bach never heard of Xenakis - or even of Wagner, despite the presence in his œuvre of a number of passages that prefigure the latter. Bach's intention was to write Bach's music, and the view of that second woman too is without interest or importance. Unless we understand Bach's own intention, and do our best to adhere to it, we are no better than those two above-mentioned wandering women are not we?
Why a woman or women in particular? I've never encountered anyone of any sex who has observed as you submit about Bach's (B minor) Mass or The Art of Fugue as you suggest, so I am in no position to comment about such bizarre notions.
668  ARCHIVED TOPICS / Theory and tradition / Re: Simpson Bach and Xenakis on: July 31, 2011, 07:14:53 pm
the work itself, as you seem to say, even, remains unaltered. It also very definitely remains in the ownership of the composer. For ever and ever it will remain his work and no one else's.
There I must beg to differ and, speaking as a composer myself, I believe myself to be entitled to do so. Once the score is complete and the work is performed and listened to, it's "for" anyone who wants to listen to it; I'm not, of course, seeking to undermine the composer's rôle in the proceedings but to put it into a more sensible and truer perspective, as the work is the composer's alone while he/she is writing it but takes on a whole new attire as soon as others can share in it.

The responses of various persons at various times to the work are the concern of those persons alone. But there can only be one correct response, and that is to understand what the composer was attempting to say
The first of these sentences is correct as far as it goes but the second makes little sense to me. There's no one "correct" way to write or perform a piece and there can certainly be no such thing as a "correct" response to one, since what a piece might say to one listener can never be identical to what it might say to another whose experiences and expectations are different.

So certainly we understand Bach's music to-day in precisely the same way in which a sensitive man of Bach's day - or Bach himself - understood it.
I don't see how that is, can be or indeed even should be possible.

Xenakis set out to annoy his auditors
He actually told you that, did he? Or do you believe that you possess reliable and incontrovertible evidence to that effect from someone who knew him and work well over a long period of time?

he had no common sense
Thank God for that!

Simpson's music is run of the mill, bland, ordinary, average, undistinguished - neither very inspiring nor particularly unpleasant
To you, perhaps, though on quite what grounds you do not say.

give him a four
I'd rather give him a due reprieve from your composer rating system.

Mahler offers some good bits - purple patches - mixed up with a lot of dreary and banal Viennese pop songs
Ah, so the Sixth and Ninth Symphonies offer some "good bits"; well, well! How fortunate you must consider yourself to be in your ability to sum up a composer of the order of Mahler in so garrulously simplistic a manner!

I'm rather relieved that I would not personally appear on the Grew rating scale...
669  ARCHIVED TOPICS / Theory and tradition / Re: Simpson Bach and Xenakis on: July 29, 2011, 06:00:21 pm
Quote from: ahinton
. . . what bothers me from time to time from certain HIPP quarters is firstly the notion that listeners can accordingly think themslves into the environment of the time in order to be able to listen to this work from a century ago as though their lives and musical experiences were those of a hundred years ago (or that the fact that they can't and they aren't is of no consequence) and secondly that The Composer Is Always Right. As to the first, I recall Robert Simpson once saying that one cannot listen and respond to Bach as Bach's contemporary audiences would have done because we have listened to Xenakis (and somehow I doubt that RS mentioned Xenakis all that often!) and, as to the second, not only do I know only too painfully well as a composer that The Composer Is Not Always Right but I am also aware that Mahler himself must have felt the same, otherwise why would have have made so fundamental a change to the original order of movements in his Sixth Symphony (misguidedly, in my view, but that's neither here nor there) during rehearsals for its première?

Let us attempt to allay your botheration Mr. H.
My "botheration", as you call it here, is anything but allayed by what you write, for reasons including but not limited to those i am about to provide.

Any true Work of Art must by definition be self-contained. Everything should be there in the Work. Its "environment" and the "musical experiences" of its auditors are indeed of no consequence.
Whilst the environment in which its auditors experience a performance of a musical work are not to be overstated, it is an absurdity to suggest that it is, or even could be, of "no consequence". How would it be possible for anyone with no previous experience of listening to any Western music to have an identical set of responses to a performance of a work of Bach to those of listeners well versed in listening to Western music including Bach? Indeed, to suggest that any such thing would be possible is to undermine the value of all listening experiences. It's the same thing as listening to a work for the first time; how can any response to listening to a work for the umpteenth time be identical to those following a first hearing of it? (even allowing for the unlikely possibility that one's listening experiences had all been to the same recording of it). That the work itself obviously remains unaltered by people's listenings to performances of it (as rightly identified in Selva Oscura's wry observation that Mahler's Ninth Symphony remains intact despite what anyone may have thought after hearing Norrington's performance of it at this year's Proms) does not alter the fact that, once the score of the work is complete and put into performance, "ownership" of it - in terms not of possessiveness but access - changes from being something that only the composer can experience to something that all listeners to his/her work can henceforward experience.

Simpson was wrong - all one needs to do to appreciate Bach's music is to listen and respond to it as BACH would have done. Neither Xenakis nor Simpson is in the slightest way relevant to the experience.
I'm sorry, but Simpson was not "wrong" nor, as it happens, was he asserting that he was dogmatically "right" in making his remark. Ears that have experienced much post-Bach music are not, nor can they be, the same as those that haven't or didn't, just as responses to Bach will be coloured (I do not say "influenced") by experiences of earlier and later music. The case of Bach, whom you so rightly respect as you do, is indeed one of the best illustations of this fact, since His music has affected so many composers since.

Bach was a first-rater, Simpson a fourth-rater, and Xenakis a seventh-rater. I never bother to listen to anything of Xenakis; I very occasionally listen to something of Simpson; and I listen to Bach at every opportunity.
Your dogmatically specific "rating" of composers in order of importance, ability or whatever else is an entirely personal one and must be read as such, no more, no less. I have no idea what is the highest number in your "rating system", nor am I particularly interested to know, frankly, but I cannot help noticing that the lower the rating that you allocate to a particular composer, the less you admit to having listened to his/her work, revealing that the lower the rating that you allocate, the less justified by listening experience it is, thereby undermining its value even to you, let alone to anyone else! If your rating number bottoms out at, say, ten, I imagine that I would fall somewhere between fourteen and fifteen...

This of course does not disguise the fact that both Bach and Mahler (a third-rater) made changes and improvements. Take a well-nigh perfect little Work "A" - bring to it some extraneous element "B" - and with care it is possible to produce a well-nigh perfect but rather larger and different Work "AB" is it not. Bach in particular did that a lot. He would have been just as bored by Simpson as we are, and he would have laughed at Xenakis's absurdities and lack of musical sense just as reasonable men of to-day do.
Leaving aside your first two sentences here, in the last one you fall over yourself falling over yourself, in that you contrive - within the mere space of the number of words equivalent to that of piano sonatas composed by Beethoven and symphonies composed by Brian - to speak for Bach by asserting (a) what his opinion of Simpson would have been and (b) that he would have laughed at Xenakis, to assert that Xenakis's work amounts to no more than a catalogue of "absurdities" and that it lack "musical sense" (without, of course, declaring by what metre-sticks you would account for such sense), to omit to reveal upon what grounds you would consider men to be "reasonable" in the present context, to ignore altogether the views of women in these matters and, of course, to insert one of your Grewsomely supererogatory hyphens into the word "today" where it has, of course, no place to be; I suppose that this isn't bad going for just one sentence.

From all of this, even you can probably see how what you've written here is likely to allay nothing whatsoever; from the fact that you regard Mahler as "a third-rater" it is evident that, rather than allay, you would seek to inflame. Let us not forget that Strauss considered himself to be a composer of the second rank; what a fortunate thing it was that he never encountered the Grew system of composer ranking!
670  MUSIC OF ALL ERAS / Individual composers / Re: Holst the daughter on: July 17, 2011, 08:11:42 am
What the eminent Mr. Lebrecht does not know about modern music is not worth knowing
Were that to be true (which fortunately it is anything but), a most appallingly enormous amount of information would be "not worth knowing"!

Several composer fathers have had composer sons; not so many composer fathers have had composer daughters. Bach the master had at least three composer sons, and a good many daughters, but I have never heard that any of the latter turned into composeresses. Does any one know?
Whilst I cannot immediately think of such cases, what of composer mothers having composer daughters, such as Maconchy and Lefanu, for example? I(ncidentally, the term "composeress" may once have possessed a passing whiff of aumsement to some (in the particular context to which http://www.webrarian.co.uk/reed/emily_butter.html refers), but it was surely never intended to be lifted from this very much of its time piece and employed elsewhere as you do now as though it had a legitimacy independent of that particular creation of long ago?
671  ARCHIVED TOPICS / Theory and tradition / Re: Good Sense about Gershovitz in the TLS on: July 13, 2011, 10:40:50 am
It has always been clear to us - it is a fact we have always known - that Jacob Gershovitz (or "Jacob Gershvin" as he chose to call himself) was not just a man with several ugly names, but in fact a writer of unspeakably bad music. Thus it was refreshing to see in the Times Literary Supplement of the twenty-first of January 2011 that we are by no means alone in that perception.

Paul Rosenfeld, the highly esteemed American critic, detected in this "Gershvin" we are there told "a weakness of spirit, possibly as a consequence of the circumstance that the new world attracted the less stable types."

The composer Virgil Thompson, reviewing the première of the Negrophilistic Porky and Blues in 1935, found it "crooked folklore and half-way opera."

As recently as 1980, a contributor to the New Grove Dictionary roundly and absolutely dismissed the aforementioned wretch "Gerschvin" as having "limited experience in developing structural material" and pointed out the fact, an elementary one really, that his "serious" productions "are structurally defective."

Needless to say all that (which we have drawn from the TLS) is obvious to a person of refined taste. Yet the plebeian Russian popularist Shoestopkavinch, upon seeing "Porky" in 1945, cried "magnificent" and compared "Gershvin" to Mussorgscy. Which only goes to show how right we are in our perception of Shoestopkavinch as well! A very clear case there of like attracting like is it not.

Of course now in a new impoverished orthodoxy - driven by greed - the degraded and infantile productions of "Gershvin," whose boyhood was unsurprisingly "marked by an interest in athletics and an indifference to school," are accorded the utmost respect, thrust down the throats of every one who will permit it, and have even become the subject of courses in educational establishments (to their lasting shame).

Thus we may conclude: orthodoxy - mere tradition even - is not enough. Without an informed æsthetic perception there can be no value.

That George Gershwin's music offers little evidence of organic development, whilst undeniable, does not of itself signify a lack of any substance; his music should be accepted on its own terms rather than on someone else's and, for those who do so, there is plenty of substance to admire; if composers as diverse as Ravel, Schönberg and Carter could speak as well of him as they did, I need hardly spring to his defence!

I'm not about to spring to the defence of your ever more absurd spellings of composers' names, either, but that's most certainly not because they require no defence...
672  MUSIC OF ALL ERAS / Individual composers / Re: The history of the Sorabji Archive on: June 30, 2011, 09:55:02 pm
"In 1988 the Sorabji Archive was founded in Bath by Alistair Hinton, Sorabji's residual legatee" - thus the Grove Dictionary. That sentence has long fascinated me - how we have always wondered did it all come to be? I hope I am not being impertinent when I remark that it is the personal aspect of this collaboration just as much as the musical that fascinates. I sense a story - how did the two meet; what drew them together: family ties, mutual friends, or musical interests alone? (Yet the musical styles of the two persons differ considerably do they not.) How did the acquaintance grow over the years to the point at which Sorabji the sensitive recluse was able to decide upon the terms of his testament?

If one day told the tale may even rival Fenby's I think!

Anyway it is good that little by little all those giant works are being performed and recorded. What is sad in a way though are 1) all the misprints and illegibilities we hear of and 2) the fact that the composer wrote so quickly. We wonder what kind of preliminary plan he prepared for those above-mentioned giant works. What sort of difference would a "wrong note" here or there actually make? Not the sort of difference it would make in Bach or Webern perhaps?

"He considered the acts of composition and performance intensely sacred," we are also told. Sacred in what sense? The mere word conveys next to nothing there. And then there is his essay "The Validity of the Aristocratic Principle" - is that obtainable? The title seems true.
OK, so let's unpack this one bit by bit.

1988 was the year of Sorabji's death but the archive was hatched well before that; indeed, had that not been the case during the composer's lifetime, it might never have been possible to hatch it at all.

It came about purely as a consequence of my concern that the legacy of Sorabji might die with him were appropriate actions not taken to ensure that this did not occur. Most of his scores were unavailable to the public during his lifetime and those few that were published (the most recently composed of which was Opus Clavicembalisticum, written in 1929-30 and published in 1931) gradually began to go out of print as public performances of his work began in the mid-1970s. Recordings began around 1980 and new editions of scores at the very end of the composer's life with Kevin Bowyer's handwritten one of Organ Symphony No. 2, a 9-hour-long three-movement work that reached its world première less than 13 months ago. Since those early days, there have been many new editions, performances, recordings, broadcasts, etc. and a book, Sorabji: A Critical Celebration, ed. Prof. Paul Rapoport (Scolar Press [now Ashgate Publishing], Aldershot, UK; 1992, repr. 1994, still available); a more detailed volume about his life and work will soon be published by one of the contributors to SCC, namely Prof, Marc-André Roberge. Details are to be found at www.sorabji-archive.co.uk. Those misprints are being ironed out in the new editions, of course.

I encountered his work by chance in 1969. I befriended him in 1972. The rest is history.

Thank you for your interest.



673  ARCHIVED TOPICS / Performance and technique / Re: Favorites on: August 12, 2010, 11:43:32 am
of the current generation:
Alina Ibragimova
I couldn't agree more - a splendid artist whose remarkable maturity well belies the fact that she's not quite completed her first quarter-century (although the advert that appears immediately below the post in which you refer to her is at the very least gravely unfortunate, methinks...)
674  MUSIC OF ALL ERAS / Individual composers / Re: That tweedy English crowd etc on: July 19, 2009, 11:09:56 pm
Why are they "tweedy".

The term somehow lacks the kind of intellectual rigour that might indicate a valid argument.

To say the very least.
Oh, indeed it does, but then it's remarkable how the kind of intellectual rigour that you might expect (particularly from those of musicological bent) can disappear off the radar when some people get going, even though those people are the kind from whom you'd anticipate encountering it in spades. Leaving aside "Tweedledum and Tweedledee", we are apparently being expected to consider a certain as yet unclearly defined type of person, genus "English eccentric", who might be regarded as identifiable as a consequence of wearing "tweeds". Now leaving aside the obvious fact that "tweeds" are by no means the exclusive province of the English - and that, although I do not know the composer John White especially well, I have never encountered him wearing tweeds - what is this supposed to tell us all? It would seem that tweedsmanship is supposedly being presented (for some reason or none) as symbolical of some kind of English eccentricity, whatever that may be - and that such eccentricity is in turn the province of people of non-left-wing inclination who have no relevance in the present-day world and whose political sympathies identify them as being outside the realms of those who have social concerns and care about humankind as a whole. It does not seem as though the "tweed" reference is supposed in this context to have anything to do with those living in close proximity to the English river of that name (how far is Hartlepool therefrom? - not so very far, methinks).

OK, so let us now depart from the Tweed to the following, which is the only other remark that at present I find worthy of rebuff:

That pastoralist mystique does hang over the left as well: that may be why, for example, the Conservative Party can use 'I vow to thee, my country', by Holst (a committed socialist) for a party political broadcast, as it is rooted in those traditions and 'vision of England'?

If that is really a question, my only honest answer (as a non-Englishman) is "who cares a *uc*?". The writer who mentions this "pastoralist mystique" is the same one who spend paragraphs seeking methodically to debunk the kinds of "mystique" that are often attached to discussions of the music of Skryabin and others, so does "mystique" acquire some kind of convenience status to the extent that one can pull it to shread when it suits one and seek to illustrate how it can, in another manifestation, affect those of both right and left wing sympathies? Methinks that someone protesteth too much. Of course I take the point about "I vow to thee, my country", except, of course, that, as this was no more a part of Holst's original intent in Jupiter than was "Land of Hope and Glory" part of Elgar's in the perhaps unfortunately titled Pomp & Circumstance March No. 1, what the British Conservative Party or any other of that country's political parties might want to do (or not) with or without either is surely of less than no real interest to those concerned about purely musical matters and is therefore perhaps of interest only to certain members of those parties (and possibly not to many of them, either) - or maybe only to the person who put forward the idea in the first place. Elliott Carter's frequently uttered advice to composers to write just how they want to write is surely what matters; of course, one has to have the courage and technique to be able to do so and do it well and meaningfully, but...

I'll get my coat (sorry, tweed jacket)...
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