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United States Music

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Author Topic: United States Music  (Read 29609 times)
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« Reply #45 on: December 06, 2012, 04:29:17 pm »

More on Frink

Words of composer Charles Frink
He sent these notes to the festival performing Songs for Travelers, and  I am reproducing the second half has his musings on music, including his interactions with Hindemeth.

Notes of my composition, Songs for Travelers, for its West Premiere by Festival Chorale Oregon on March 7, 2010

(II) Charles’ Music

Although I began creating music at the age of four – (I was unable to write it until age nine) – and have continued composing all my life, except for a hiatus of seven years from my late teens to mid-twenties, and although audiences have loved performances of my music since I was fifteen, my work has never been accepted by the music establishment. This is not due to inadequate quality, but to the fact that I have consistently refused to comply with the orthodoxy of the self-proclaimed avant-garde, enshrined by twentieth-century academia and the performance-licensing oligopoly.

I find it fascinating that Solveig has programmed Songs For Travelers with Hindemith’s In Praise of Music, for I concur with the basic premise of Hindemith’s conception that music theory is a branch of physics. This relationship was first perceived two-and-a-half millennia ago by Pythagoras, and emphatically confirmed by the nineteenth-century German physicist and physiologist Hermann Von Helmholtz, who demonstrated that harmony is rooted in the overtone series. The twentieth-century fads of serialism (Schönberg et al) and randomness (John Cage et al) violate nature – and human nature – and are understandably rejected by the majority of listeners. However, since these pseudo-theories result in complex, unintelligible networks of sound, they have been beloved by a dominant cadre of academicians for whom works of art are occasions for pseudo-analysis.

When, in spite of this discouraging environment, I resumed composing at age twenty-five, I wrote a love song with which I was immediately dissatisfied; I could not get the words right, so I tore it up. However, the melody survived in a submerged portion of my mind. When, at age thirty-five, I began writing Songs For Travelers, I realized that the melody expresses the soul’s ‘free flight into the wordless.’

I am delighted beyond words by Solveig’s recognition of the value of my work. I am confident that the performance will be a worthy experience for all (at least for most) concerned. I hope that you will be able to send me a tape. I am always fascinated by performance, and I welcome the divergence of the performers’ interpretation from what I hear in my head. Inevitable errors do not trouble me. What I seek in performance is expression of the spirit of the work, and I find that expression is rooted in dynamics and rubato. Close attention to, and forceful presentation of, dynamics is essential – far more important than note-by-note accuracy. And I regard rubato as the essence of rhythm. Rhythm must breathe. Metronomic regularity is not rhythm for me – it is mechanical death.

The foregoing is the closest I can come now to providing the information you request. If you have questions, please let me know.


Resurrección tells me that I should relate the following. Hindemith’s presence at Yale in the 1940’s was my reason for entering the Yale School of Music at age 17. He tested me for placement in music theory. He quickly concluded that I should pass over introductory theory and harmony, and be enrolled in counterpoint; my teacher there was H. L. Baumgarter, with whom I spent a fruitful year.

I did not study with Hindemith. I read his Craft of Musical Composition, and found therein confirmation and clarification of my instructive perceptions. I audited a few of his classes, and was quickly aware that his teaching was not for me. He imposed his style on students to such an extent that many became disciples.

Before the end of my first semester I had decided not to become a professional musician. I doubted that my individuality would allow me to gain tenure in academic music, and my experience with commercial music had convinced me that it was hopelessly trivial. I therefore set out on the hard road for composers who make their living outside of music – the road travelled by my predecessor at Yale, Charles Ives.

Charles Frink
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All download links I have posted are for works, that, to  my knowledge, have never been commercially released in digital form.  Should you find I've been in error, please notify myself or an Administrator.  Please IM me if I've made any errors that require attention, as I may not read replies.

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