Interesting American Music
September 28, 2007 10:15 AM   Subscribe

Friday Listening Fun! The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts sponsors some excellent concerts featuring members of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra. They are kind enough to put recordings of some--with commentary--online, as well: Steve Reich, Different Trains and George Crumb, Black Angels; or how about John Cage, Credo in US.

Some feature only (really interesting) commentary:

Stravinsky, Berio, and Boulez
Hindemith and Britten

Or, you could head over to Art of the States, a great place to hear contemporary American concert music. You can listen to Michael Morgan conduct John Adams' Chamber Symphony at Tanglewood, hear William Albright's delightfully askew Four Fancies, performed on harpsichord by the composer.

Or try some Ives, or a cool percussion piece by David Lang, or some fascinating and sometimes wild transcriptions of Conlon Nancarrow's Studies for Player Piano....or maybe do some deep listening with Pauline Oliveros playing just-intonation accordion, or even go Drumming with Steve Reich. (previously on MeFi here)

Or, head over to the fantastic American Mavericks website, where you can play Harry Partch's instruments, or check out their Listening Room for archived episodes of The Composer's Voice featuring composers like John Adams, John Corigliano, and Michael Daugherty, or listen to interviews with Aaron Copland, Elliott Carter, Steve Reich, Michael Torke, and whole bunch of other very interesting people. (previously here and here)
posted by LooseFilter (8 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Given all that talk about silence recently, I thought some cool sounds might be in order. Hope everyone enjoys!
posted by LooseFilter at 10:17 AM on September 28, 2007

Nice! Shame about the RealAudio though...
posted by Foosnark at 11:50 AM on September 28, 2007

Steve Reich is great. My introduction to the world of minimalist composers.
posted by Curry at 11:55 AM on September 28, 2007

Score! Thank you for the post. Relatedly, I would like to point out that if you sing Different Trains to yourself, you will sound like you are having a crazy person monologue/conversation. Or at least, that's how I interpreted the looks of concern that I recieved.

Also, does anyone else think that "Nineteen fourty, nineteen fourty-fourty" sounds hip hop?
posted by Benjamin Nushmutt at 12:01 PM on September 28, 2007

Oh, man! Great selection!!

Though I've seen Different Trains done a few times and I decided that I just don't like it. The whole idea of taking loops of people's speech and selecting pitches to match had already been done well before -- and Different Trains just has too much material, doesn't have any rhythm nor memorable themes.

Unfortunately, Reich, though an honest composer who keeps trying to do something new, peaked IMHO with Drumming; The Desert Music was his last great piece (it took me a while to really love it but it's one of the very few Reich pieces with real melodies in it, and they're beautiful...)

As a parenthetical note, I saw Brian Eno speak a couple of years ago... I was shocked at how I disagreed with almost everything he had to say (except the political stuff). In particular, he took several minutes to systematically slag Drumming as boring, pointless, conceptually lacking, etc. etc. I came pretty close to getting up and saying, "But Brian, people will still be listening to that piece when you're only remembered because there are so few composers whose name starts with E."
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:35 PM on September 28, 2007

Oh, and from working peripherally to the New York music scene for a long time, the scuttlebutt is...

Reich is a bit of a prick with a temper. Glass is one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet who spend a lot of time helping others. However, both of them are honest guys and extremely loyal to their musicians. Terry Riley is extremely sweet but shy, I've met him twice. I met Cage twice as well and he was distant and rather effeminate -- quite disappointing.

(And David Bowie is a mensch... my next door neighbor who's really not bright at all worked on renovating Bowie's apartment... Bowie had a party for the workmen(!) and sang for them(!!) and my neighbor had no idea that this was any sort of big deal! He was, however, speechless when it came to describing Iman descending the staircase in the apartment in a fancy dress...)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:41 PM on September 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the post. I have been a Reich Fan for a LONG LONG time, and a Glass fan since Another Look at Harmony. The interviews were wonderful. It really brings insight to what the players "go through" when playing the music.
posted by lonemantis at 6:22 PM on September 28, 2007

Wow! It's a Reich-fest on Metafilter the last two days.
posted by wittgenstein at 7:48 PM on September 28, 2007

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