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This 92 message thread spans 7 pages:  < <   1   2   3  [4]  5   6   7  > >  
  Re: Boosey`s Emerging Composer Program  Ben Mueller-Heaslip at 19:01 on 13 June 2008


I'd appreciate it if you'd bother to explain how these composers' existence oppresses you enough to belittle them in this way?

The people you insist on insulting have worked for years to achieve what they have: a long and torturous process of convincing your "real world" audience, performers, artistic administrators, conductors, broadcasters, and publishers that their work has value.

The odds of them succeeding are negligible, they've all made very real sacrifices to get far enough in their careers to raise the hackles of jealous failures (e.g.?). And they have every right to be proud of what they've achieved.

To cut to the chase, your "poor oppressed me" mantra and hostile reaction to people who achieve even the most minor success isn't anything more than shallow and meaningless next to the years of Real work these people have put in. "Why are they succeeding when I'm not" is a very childish point-of-view, and I'm having trouble pulling anything other than that out of your posts.

And Misuc: I expected better than that from you. She's not the Capitalist Monster, and I don't think she's trying to "promote her clients". Her links were relevant to the topic and really should've been in the original post. Everyone new in the forum gets the third degree from you and you jump to conclusions: last month I was the Capitalist Monster, if you remember?

If, after reading the nonsense on this bulletin board, Sarah was willing to butt in and say "this is what these composers actually do" than I think she's a brave and decent sort. Most people cross the street when they see raving loonies like this.

I suggest that this debate seems to be much more about the reaction of abstract failure to abstract success than it is about any aesthetic concerns with the music. That's silly. The world is against you? Just close the lid on the dumpster, crack open some hard cider, and talk about conspiracy theories - it's easier to blame others.

  Re: Boosey`s Emerging Composer Program  James McFadyen at 19:36 on 13 June 2008

I have two high-profile premeires and a recording this year. I'm hardly jealous, mate, just very passionate and quite opinionated! Isn't every composer?!

  Re: Boosey`s Emerging Composer Program  Misuc at 19:44 on 13 June 2008

Ben: Of course she's not a capitalist monster. She's only doing her job. I welcome the chance to hear the work of the composers she is promoting.

In a composers' forum, as this is meant to be, a discussion on the music might be welcome, but I don't want to impose my views if we're not actually having such a discussion.

Incidentally, if we were having one, I would not think the question of how hard people work would be directly relevant. Nor do I think are partal mis-references and misrepresentations of an earlier dispute on a quite different subject. [You intervened very provocatively and one-sidedly on the side of commercialism in music. i never said or implied that you were a 'capitalist monster', but I did think you behaved very arrogantly and impatiently][However, I think we have both said all that needs to be said on that subject now].

  Re: Boosey`s Emerging Composer Program  Ben Mueller-Heaslip at 20:14 on 13 June 2008

Ok, James - let's play fair:

If you're willing to go to the Myspace sites of these three composers - including a personal friend of mine - and come back with absolute dismissals of their work, I'm more than willing to throw it in your face:

I love Google. It's a great resource for dealing with windbags: No dates for "high profile premieres" (I could find none for 2008/2009 in the entire google search) and one midi track of questionable value.

If you want to attack people whose music is different from yours: at least they have some. And their work is being performed, listened to, criticized, and degraded by close-minded jerks every day. "Midi-composer"? is that more insulting than "composer"? How do you like being treated the way you treat others? Not very much I expect, 'mate'.

Misuc: no, I did not come out on the pro-commercial side at any point of any debate. I'm 'anti-bad excuses', not 'pro-commercial', and these things are a bit different. And I disagree strongly with your "hard work isn't relevant" point... I think composers have coasted for too long on institutions built by others and that the work some people put into building up new ones is extremely relevant!

People contribute to composition in many ways - by creating music and by developing their art's cultural role. Yes, everything else is irrelevant without the creation of music, but composers have also been historically responsible for shaping the institutions for and cultural relevance of their work. And I respect very much composers who take that role seriously.

The idea of "impure composers" is a fallacy: the idea that composition happens in manner abstracted from practical concerns is an invention. Worse, it's an idea that people like James have adopted to their cause of presenting experimentalists as some sort of parasite on their "audience-friendly" music.

I don't think a debate between you and I on your perception of my "commercial tendencies" is appropriate to this topic. I suspect it'll bog things down like it always does when I argue with you. But if you think I'm ambiguous in my position in any way I'd welcome the chance to debate this with you via personal email?

  Re: Boosey`s Emerging Composer Program  Account Closed at 20:24 on 13 June 2008

I think it is such a pity that this thread has become so personal; surely that is not the intention of these forums? Lively debate, yes, but personal attacks, no.

My view is that all composers write pieces which are of value to the musical world. Yes, we might not like them all, but nevertheless, they are worthwhile. What I don't like, the next person loves.

Too often composers are dismissed for writing music which is either too conventional, or too innovative. I have often been accused in my writing of being too conventional or even too 'nice.' Quite frankly, I don't give two hoots. The fact that people buy, perform and enjoy the pieces I do write, is satisfaction enough for me. When I get appreciative e-mails, newspaper cuttings about performances, and recordings sent to me, they give me a great deal of enjoyment.


  Re: Boosey`s Emerging Composer Program  Misuc at 23:15 on 13 June 2008

Aside from the personal there were some issues in our previous tiff that composers might find relevant to this discussion [A little secret....Since then Ben and I have developed quite a respect for one another's work and attitude.]

The thread in which this took place is still all there for anyone to leaf through if they chose - that is to say, all except a few expunged swear words (not mine). You can read what the issues were and how they came up. It is the Forum entitled- "I look briefly for a topic like this but its about demos" - Musicman2202 at 06:21 on 26 April 2008

  Re: Boosey`s Emerging Composer Program  sbaird at 00:06 on 14 June 2008

Thanks for the welcome. I may be a "stranger" but I'm just a person, after all.

And Ben, you caught my intentions exactly. I posted at 1:30 am Denver time from a tiny laptop in my hotel room -- not because I had to but because I happen to love working with composers and discussing music.

The thread seemed to be going in two directions: 1. A discussion about the idea of the "emerging composers" music as opposed to the music itself and 2. A discussion about whether or not their music would be useful to certain members who needed material for programming

In both cases it seemed most expedient to give folks the opportunity to hear the music to decide for themselves! Hard to discuss a composer's music without ever hearing it and equally hard to know whether it suits ones programming needs, right?

I also wanted to extend an invitation to call us for programming assistance -- that's what we do.

  Re: Boosey`s Emerging Composer Program  Ben Mueller-Heaslip at 04:54 on 14 June 2008

Thanks Misuc! I think you're sincere about the mutual regard for each other's 'attitude'. I certainly am: we never do agree about anything at all, and we're both aware that we're coming from very different perspectives on most of these discussions. But I appreciate your commitment to your ideas and ideals very much.

I don't think you have to advertise any of our "tiffs", though... I think they're a pretty obvious source of uncomfortable entertainment for anyone who's followed these forums recently.

Um, Sarah... you're probably in a position to do some good by explaining why these particular composers were selected for this program. Want to?

  Re: Boosey`s Emerging Composer Program  Misuc at 14:10 on 14 June 2008

You are surely a person, Sarah. But in this case are you are taking part in the CT forum in a personal capacity? It is important to be open about this sort of thing.

Businesses always have their reps greet you with "Have a nice day" and they call you by your first name like long-lost friends within seconds of extracting the information out of you. But when you doubt something they are up to, they refuse to tell you what they think as individuals. They use the 'we' word, saying things like: "It is not our policy to....." or even "we don't do that.." If you were to dare to ask:"But would you personally not do that?" "Did you personally help decide this policy then?" this would just spoil the game: the little lies that oil the gross mechanism.

At the top of your posting you protest that you are a person, but you close with: "that's what WE do". I presume this WE refers to your boss's decision to select these composers for special funding and to employ you to help promote them. If I am right, there is no shame. It is doing no harm to inform a composers' forum about a stroke of good fortune for some of their rivals. If you are personally convinced about how much they deserve this, then you have every right to speak up on their behalf, so long as you have clearly declared that you have a professional interest in the case. Let's by all means talk about the music - although I find I am so completely unsympathetic to what I have heard of it that you needn't include me: my participation would not be helpful..

I am not sure about the meaning of your other request. I do not understand how or why any of us can [or should] help get performing organisations to put pieces by these composers on their programmes [if this is what you are asking for]. Most of us are struggling hard enough to get our own pieces performed/recognised. Maybe it would be more appropriate to be offering openings to some of us, if this is within your powers.

Well, if I am asking you to be 'upfront' I should be the same, so I will confess all.

1] I have acted as a paid CIA agent! I did this only once, and I was not aware of what I was doing at the time. I paid for my trip to the Darmstadt New Music course by playing in a concert there. [The famous Darmstadt course, it turns out, was set up by the CIA in their role as part of the occupying forces in Germany after World War II as a psy-op against the 'threat' of 'communism'.

2] My first practical insider contact with Boosey's was when a composer friend of mine, who was a refugee from Hungary. warned me against them. He told me that in order to continue his studies he had worked under near slave-labour conditions, doing proof-reading, copying etc. for Boosey & Hawkes who were taking advantage of the fact that firms in Stalinist countries don't have to take a cut of the profits and don't have labour unions to have to negotiate with.

3] I once stupidly sent the only copies of recordings of some of my music to a man at Boosey & Hawkes. He told me he was very impressed and told me he would certainly "do something or me" He explained: "arrange performances in Europe, get HH to wrote a special article..." Meanwhile would I help him out doing some translations, writing reviews etc. for their house magazine: 'Tempo' (something I went on doing for a long while even after CUP took over. Needless to say he didn't "do something" for me or the half dozen others he had hanging round his neck. When I wrote to him, he replied: "there are some things that should not be said.". He claimed never to have received my tapes. Later he reportedly ran away with the funds given to him on behalf of a Stephan Wolpe festival.

4] Another time I was working for a rival music publisher (Faber's: no better) and had to have dealings with Boosey's who were boasting that they had got 'their' conductor for the English National Opera together with deals about what repertoire they would perform (i.e. 'theirs').

This is the tiny glimpse that was afforded me into the ways of Boosey's at a time when it was still an independent music business (Much more has been revealed in a number of books: cf 'Selling Britten') and the rest of the classical music biz.

So, Sarah, as a person, what has your contact with Boosey's been like?

  Re: Boosey`s Emerging Composer Program  James McFadyen at 15:21 on 14 June 2008

I think in all fairness to Sarah she will not be able to comment too much on B&H, either personally or ina professional capacity. Even if she was asked to write about B&H in a personal context, it could only be in favour of the company. I doubt she wants to be out of a job.

Nice to 'see' someone from B&H on here, despite what department they work in and what their role is.

  Re: Boosey`s Emerging Composer Program  sbaird at 03:09 on 20 June 2008

Hi all,

Back home from Denver and recovering from the hectic schedule.

Since I work in the Composers & Repertoire Division of Boosey & Hawkes, I'll address the questions from the standpoint of the promotion department. Much of the criteria for selecting the "Emerging Composers" can be inferred from our press release: the fact that the composers have distinctive voices, they have developed their craft, they are interested in writing for traditional ensembles, and they are creatively charting new territory in non-traditional ensembles and media.

In addition to those factors, there are practical questions we ask ourselves. Are there enough existing works to successfully promote for performance? (If a composer hasn't completed many pieces, there is no "there" there.) Are the existing works strong enough to generate interest amongst the performers, programmers, choreographers currently in the music business? (If a composer hasn't reached a certain level of skill then we won't be successful in promoting them.) Is the composer able and available to accept and complete commissions? Do we have relationships with the kind of ensembles, performers, and programmers the composer's music is written for? (If a composer only wants to write for their own ensemble then they have no need of further promotion efforts. Or if a composer is only interested in writing for the kind of ensembles who do not set aside funds to commission new works then we can't be successful in negotiating commissions on their behalf!)

All of the above makes a good match. And of course it's subjective -- that's life. There's a whole section on our website on how to self-publish and/or how to find a good match for a publisher. Many people want to be published but don't really have need, reason, or any specific goals.

I have had a good experience with Boosey & Hawkes. If you're looking for insider gossip or conspiracy theories then just read our own history written by British journalist Helen Wallace. It was commissioned by B&H but the company certainly didn't try very hard to hide the dirt, in my opinion.

And with that, I'll leave you to your regular chatter.

All best,

PS - My offer for programming assistance was directed toward David, who expressed need for repertoire for his choir.

  Re: Boosey`s Emerging Composer Program  Misuc at 14:30 on 21 June 2008


Thankyou for coming clean about your role on our forum. Nothing personal, but we don't do chatter: we are not looking for more dirt about B & H nor publicity about its publications, nor more sales-hype about its promotion schemes. nor do you need to justify your business role to us. Obviously the Dutch Pension Fund managers have their own reasons for buying up companies - and with the companies go the people (like serfs go with the land). I am genuinely sorry about people who are trapped in a position where loyalty to their bosses prevents them from honest, sincere open dialogue with their fellow citizens [which is what this forum has to be about].

  Re: Boosey`s Emerging Composer Program  composer1981 at 14:02 on 23 June 2008

I suggest my fellow composers to simply ignore, rather than get annoyed at James. Anyone can be innovative? Really? Is this supposed to be sarcastic or is the person posting as stupid as he seems? Innovative musicians are a miniscule percentage of the total: the others may be competent, educated, intelligent, but innovative? Let us go back to the 1910s and truly check who has been innovated.

Let us, composers, get on with our lives and let everyone listen and or make business with whatever they want. There is place under the sun for everybody. And yes, I am composer, and yes, my music is difficult to play, and yes I am successful and am making a living.

In terms of choirs I used to live in the US. Accessible easy amateur music is published all the time. There are a zillion pieces out there well in the grasp of an amateur choir. In Europe too. It seems that by "our country" one of the writers means England, but if you look outside England you will find thousands of pieces specifically written for amateur choirs. I know anglophones usually don't learn another language, but may be with some effort they will be able to sing it. And sorry to break it to you, but publishers usually refuse to publish works that are anything harder than "low average", because they know they won't make a profit. I don't know how it is in England, but sure as hell around the world professional choirs work with composers and their agents directly. Publishing houses are publishing difficult choir pieces? I certainly don't believe this is true at all.
Respectfully Yours;

  Re: Boosey`s Emerging Composer Program  James McFadyen at 19:32 on 23 June 2008

My, my, this is certainly very interesting, isn't it!

So tell me, why is writing accesible music such a demeening thing? Did you ever stop to think that there are those (ME!!) who write accessible music which tries to challenge the audience.

Case in point, Satie's Three Gymnopedies which I arranged for Brass Band.

Have a listen, please and see where I'm going with the accessible but different.... (might take a minute or two to load each one)

Gymnopedie No.1 -

Gymnopedie No.2 -

Gymnopedie No.3 -

  Re: Boosey`s Emerging Composer Program  Ben Mueller-Heaslip at 19:49 on 23 June 2008

Hmm... Well:

1) Those pieces are really, really, really old (1880s I think?) and...

2) Are much less "challenging" to contemporary ears than the music of, say, William Byrd (1600?). The Gymnopédie have been pop-hits for decades. If they weren't, would you have even considered them?

3) These pieces were orchestrated by Debussy a century ago, and even then he saw it as a cash cow. I think they were re-orchestrated by Boulez... or maybe just slightly modified from Debussy's arrangements for a modern orchestra - someone will correct me on that, I'm sure. Main point: it's not a novel contribution. They've been arranged for orchestra, string quartet, brass quintet, brass band, voice and piano, etc. generations ago. And I'm sure someone is working on yet another version of the Gymnopédie as I'm writing this right now.

Maybe they think that there's some yet-undiscovered audience - on the continent of Atlantis, perhaps - which has yet to appreciate the Gymnopédie because it hasn't been presented in the right instumentation as yet. Well, it will be.

4) I'm hard-pressed to think of anything other than an arrangement of the Ode to Joy or Coldplay's last album which would be less challenging to an audience. In fact, brass band versions of "clocks" and "yellow" would be really fantastic! But you'd have to pay for those.... so...

5) Instead of doing something either a) new or b) different, or c) something which would require an investment of your own resources, you've done d) something old ---- again.

So if you really want to put the question forward in the way you have: no, you're not challenging the audience; you're manipulating readily-available and already familiar material to capitalize on base expectations.

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