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  Writing for posterity  David Bruce at 14:20 on 29 October 2007

from an Alex Ross article on Philip Glass

This is perhaps the most significant message that Glass delivers to the young composers whom he assists behind the scenes: stop dreaming of Beethoven and get your music played.

What do you think is more important? Following your 'inner urges' and writing the piece you 'want to write' even if there is no performance and maybe no audience; or to get involved in a more practical day-to-day way and write pieces that don't necessarily think about posterity?

  Re: Writing for posterity  mary at 22:02 on 30 October 2007

I read the Glass article and was struck by one line: "... marvellous things can happen when the composer’s attention is fully engaged." That engagement, or sincerity of purpose, is what has always, in my mind, distinguished art (music, painting, poetry, etc.) from things purporting to be art. Aiming to please is a bad policy in any sphere of human endeavor, and disastrous in art. Whatever a composer's vision--quirky, strident, melodic or anything else, I believe audiences can tell if it is a full,rounded vision drawn from the composer's self, or if it is merely pasted on. I could be very wrong about this, but I like to think work of fully engaged artists will find an audience--maybe small, but an audience nonetheless.

  Re: Writing for posterity  piargno at 04:15 on 31 October 2007

One of the biggest issues I have with a statement such as this is that it is rather impossible to live by this. As composers, we don't know the life that our pieces will take on. Was Cage composing for posterity when he composed 4'33"? or even the Sonatas and Interludes? Was Stockhausen composing for posterity when he wrote Gruppen? Yet, something like Gruppen is performed quite a bit for being such a terribly difficult piece! Likewise with the Boulez piano sonatas, any piece by Lucier, or even Cobra by Zorn. Furthermore, Bach probably didn't know that he would be so revered after he died. I really don't know how one can be a composer and make such a statement. Always compose for yourself first, then see what happens.

  Re: Writing for posterity  John Robertson at 07:48 on 31 October 2007

That's true but I think I know what Ross means - I think many composers allow themselves to switch off from any responsibility or consideration of society/audience on the basis that 'I'm ahead of my time, I will be understood one day' etc. But sure, as long as you don't complain all the time about lack of opportunities or the philistine nature of society, there is a certain fantastic 'f uck-you' sense of people like nancarrow who just go off and do their own thing without expecting anyone to appreciate them, even after they're dead!

  Re: Writing for posterity  piargno at 22:28 on 31 October 2007

And what's so wrong with that?

  Re: Writing for posterity  James McFadyen at 09:21 on 04 November 2007

You should always write the music you want to write, however, it does bode well to think about your target audience, whoever that may be.

Without a cult following (or at least a modest audience), the music we write is pointless.

  Re: Writing for posterity  David Bruce at 13:02 on 06 November 2007

a good article in the times follows up this debate:

  Re: Writing for posterity  Jim Tribble at 15:12 on 30 November 2007

Thats true, however for some of us (me)the prospect of other peoples criticism has been a barrier for years, and now that I am older and thicker skinned I am putting it about (as it were).

  Re: Writing for posterity  comeasyouare99 at 11:18 on 29 July 2008

Muss es sein? / Es muss sein!!

Posterity has a certain place in its heart for art - art music - written in pain and anger, not as inner urges but more like a duty to the unknown, to posterity. It is not enjoyable to create this music, nor does it wants to be created in the first place. Itīs simply set free, for people to listen to, glance at, admire or fear. The never-said.
It has become to comfortable to write music or do art of any kind. Nordic Luxury, - thatīs the titel of the next Nordic Days Festival. Nordic luxury.

Posterity seeks out those who dare, - it does not award prizes. Sometimes, it takes courage to BE your own art Insisting on your self and naturally deliver something that any person can relate to..., - it seldom happens and we never know when or where. Everlasting (timeless) art has qualities to it that often outrules the drama of its creater.

GaardGaard, - Danish Composer

  Re: Writing for posterity  Misuc at 22:14 on 29 July 2008

It is not widely known that the once world-famous virtual conspiracy of anti-Philistine freedom fighters still meets. Its members are, of necessity, as imaginary now as when the League of David was first founded. but the need for such an association is greater than ever.

Here follows an extract from the minutes of it latest meeting on 29th July 2008 at an unknown location cyberspace.

"..... Florestan stamped his fists on the table, shouting "yes, yes comesayouare99!, come, come as you are! We must enroll this manhim as a member!" Eusebius queried this: "Yes he does evidently support our constitutional position or stand for our values - "imitate the art of the future"- but I'm not sure about his denying the role of inner urges. Aren't inner urges the kernel of what music is trying to do? And what do we know about the second clause in our constitution: "by their works shall ye know them"? We have heard some of the words he utters I would love to hear some of the sounds which emanate from his being..." Dr Raro was acing as chairman and proposed nominating him for provisional membership pending a definitive decision when members had had a chance to hear some of his music. This was resolution was put to the vote unopposed and agreed unanimously....."

  Re: Writing for posterity  comeasyouare99 at 07:06 on 30 July 2008

... and Columbine whispered to Harleqin: "Why my Dear, why do you speak with these tongues?". So Harleqin cleared his voice and uttered:; " Because I seek the inner urges of my audience. And somehow, dearest Columbine, I do not yet know. of which kind my next performance will be." He paused. Upon turning around he said, with a calm and somehow comforting voice: "All I know is, that more often than sometimes, it hurts beyond words..."
The wind felt asleep.
And the silence was terrible as as he disapeared behind the curtins.

GaardGaard, Danish composer.