Friday, June 29, 2007

Some light reading...and listening

John Tusa interviews one of my favorite composers, Louis Andriessen. A brief excerpt from the transcript,
All right, so why did you break away from serialism?

Because it was just one of those things I did. It's not, not, it wasn't, of course you had to have an answer because it was internationally acclaimed to be the, the stream, the mainstream. That is what in fact I didn't like at it. The Japanese twelve tone music sounded like the American, like the Icelandic, like the Spanish, sounded all the same, and I, and I didn't like it. I liked Leadwaben, of course we all loved Leadwaben, it was amazingly elegant music. I still find it very elegant, but I find it profoundly romantic, that's true. I find all the nuance and ... very vibrant, all sources, sources of, of very suffering ladies in long dresses you see, on chaise longues. That's what I hear in it, the decadent side.
Andriessen's De Staat, as I've said, is a modern work (well, modern-enough: 1976) that really operates beyond its contemporaries (i.e., contemporary works) - it's not serial, nor is it minimalist. It's its own thing. It's probably more explicitly political than a lot of contemporary art music (i.e., 1976-2007), and Andriessen doesn't seem to shy from politics or controversy.

Tusa interviews György Ligeti, too. Another one of the greatest modern composers, and one of the composers who did his own thing in a way that was unique. On Boulez,
Of course. So there's this extraordinary process of discovery for two to three years in and around Cologne and Darmstadt with Stockhausen, with Boulez, with all the other great names of the 20th century?

Yes.

And what did you learn there?

I learned that there is a total different music. This was the music of Messiaen, Boulez, Stockhausen and a couple of other composers. But I think that Boulez and Stockhausen were most important for me - that there is a way which is so different and I was influenced. However, not totally influenced, because I rejected this idea to write Serial music. I am a constructivist, but not a dogmatic person.

What was it about Serial music that you found alien to the sort of music you wanted to write?

I was extremely interested in a piece which is not orthodox serial which is Le Marteau Sans Maitre [sic], everybody was deeply impressed by this piece of Boulez. Today, I also think this is a masterpiece. And in Cologne I could see the score and I wanted to analyse it, but I couldn't understand how it's made. And then I chose Structures 1A, because this is very simple to understand and I made - I wonder whether this is known - I made a very, very deep-going analysis to describe everything - like police researcher who goes on criminal...

To the scene of a crime?

Yes, scene of a crime. So, in fact, I analysed everything. I didn't know Boulez at the time, I just knew the score and heard a piece. And Boulez was not happy, knowing about it.

What, that you had analysed it so deeply?

Yes, and I discovered some mistakes and Boulez didn't like that somebody see that he did some...

Errors?

Well, errors... in this kind of constructivity, you always have errors, because...

...who could be that consistent? Nobody can be that consistent, can they? Even within the terms of their own system.

Nobody, nobody.
If nothing else, two important - revolutionary, musically and otherwise - composers of the post-serialist and post-minimalist milieu discuss their choices. Interesting.

8 Comments:

At 9:12 AM, Anonymous Karl Henning said...

Ah, Louis!

. . . sources of, of very suffering ladies in long dresses you see, on chaise longues. That's what I hear in it, the decadent side.

That's right; let those ladies show a little ginger and pep.

Cheers,
~Karl

 
At 11:09 AM, Blogger Patrick J. Smith said...

I have a profound respect for anyone who can compare an echt-Romantic image like that to the serialists.

Of course, the author of De Staat gets a free pass with me.

 
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