Skip

RIP Milton Babbitt
January 31, 2011 3:35 PM   Subscribe

Milton Babbitt, the quintessential american academic composer, died Saturday. Whatever you think of his music, he was one of the most significant composers of new music in the second half of the twentieth century.

Over his long and influential academic career, Babbitt wrote a ton of very carefully engineered and complex serial music, seeking to achieve rational impact on his listeners even before a visceral connection. He was an advocate for using formal theory as the basis for musical composition.

There are those (myself among them) who would would say that one unintended consequence of his sometimes numbingly intellectual music was to save many young composers from pursuing academic "specialized music" as a career. Yet he certainly wrote beautiful and captivating music, and by all accounts, he had a great sense of humor. He will be remembered.
posted by MisterMo (23 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
Damn, a bad week for Miltons.
posted by chavenet at 3:50 PM on January 31, 2011


Perhaps some links to some of his actual music are in order here?

Lagniappe (for solo piano)

Composition for 12 Instruments

Now, here's what's fun: open them in 2 different windows, and play simultaneously. Works perfectly, sounds fabulous.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:52 PM on January 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oh, and RIP, Milton Babbitt.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:53 PM on January 31, 2011


He was also famously Stephen Sondheim's composition teacher.

Rest in manic, twelve tone peace Mr. Babbitt.
posted by Lutoslawski at 4:13 PM on January 31, 2011


.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 4:17 PM on January 31, 2011




All Set.
posted by kenko at 4:55 PM on January 31, 2011


.
posted by nonreflectiveobject at 4:57 PM on January 31, 2011


Strangely, he was never photographed with John Barry.
posted by klangklangston at 5:32 PM on January 31, 2011


.

(I've been waiting for someone to post a Babbitt obit thread and this is a fine one.)
posted by ob at 6:05 PM on January 31, 2011


I remember avidly listening to him in my college library, dazzled by the sheer complexity yet somehow light and crystalline structures. I'd never heard anything remotely like it in my life.

I was convinced I would eventually be able to pick up on some of the mathematical relationships just by listening. It never happened, but I certainly got a lot out of trying.

.
posted by treepour at 6:09 PM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Strangely, he was never photographed with John Barry.

Ultra-villain "Sonic", ensconced in his underground lair, to captive James Bond: "My dear mister Bond, at midnight, the Babbitron will be activated, and all the world's music will be atonal. Hahaha! Imagine the chaos, the fear, the horror!"

Bond, fingering the mini-death-laser in his pocket, disguised as a pitch pipe: "Yes, well, Sonic, I wouldn't be so quick to sing the praises of your dry, academic little machine... you know, in this game of musical chairs, you may be left standing, or... dying."

/cue Barry's characteristically bold, brash, 12-tone row, scored for brass, electric guitar and bongos
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:10 PM on January 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Philomel is pretty bleepy bloopy great.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 6:52 PM on January 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


This sucks! I'll miss Milton Babbitt. plus my money was on Elliott Carter.
posted by sleevener at 7:58 PM on January 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


.

(Metafilter, you surprise me!)
posted by Mael Oui at 8:58 PM on January 31, 2011


.
posted by clavdivs at 9:13 PM on January 31, 2011


A one hour documentary on Milton Babbitt has recently been posted on NPR.org. By Robert Hilferty and Laura Karpman
posted by boogiefunk at 9:52 PM on January 31, 2011


.
posted by quazichimp at 11:38 PM on January 31, 2011


.
posted by kuppajava at 7:14 AM on February 1, 2011


Two nice articles on Babbitt from New Music Box: 1) 2)
posted by ob at 9:28 AM on February 1, 2011


.
posted by Anatoly Pisarenko at 1:17 PM on February 1, 2011


.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:23 PM on February 1, 2011


.

I used time points in my final post-tonal theory assignment, and that's still the big concept I take away from Babbitt's music.
posted by sleepinglion at 2:10 PM on February 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


« Older Grow Cannon   |   Halo: Fandom Evolved Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post