Friday, October 25, 2013

The Invisibility of Living Composers

"The invisibility of living composers" is a profound statement.

Sadly, it is a true statement.

Sadly, it is not a new statement.

It was made by Ned Rorem who turned 90 years old on October 23, 2013.

There are a few festivities planned to celebrate his birthday. 

Rightly so.

However, these few festivities are nothing compared to the often yearlong celebrations of big anniversaries for birthdays and deaths of long dead composers.

This year alone there were world-wide celebrations for Giuseppe Verdi, Richard Wagner, and Benjamin Britten.


Why should Rorem's career be celebrated?

He is after all still alive.

He studied at Northwestern, the Curtis Institute, and Julliard.

Not bad.

He was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1976 for his "Air Music."

Not bad.

He has written over 500 art songs.
A feat comparable to the over 600 lieder of Franz Schubert.

Not bad.

I could go on, but this gives a brief idea of this prolific composer's contributions to music.

Some quotes of Rorem:

"I consciously said to myself that I wanted to write at least one of everything. And I've written for everything but tuba. I'm not a tuba thinker."

Tuba thinker.  That made me laugh. I imagine there are a few tuba players out there that would be honored to played a work by Rorem.

"I feel very, very deeply about music.... Why live if you don't feel deeply?"

True words. Reminds me of a recent blog about my "all consuming passion" - music.

"Writing music is a very serious affair, technically as well as emotionally."

Those outside the music world often do not understand the process of composition.  Yes, there is a technical aspect that is obvious; less obvious is the emotions that a composer embeds into his work.

Have you ever thought about what a composer was trying to express in a piece of music? 

Listen closely next time and you will learn.

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