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Great American experimenter James Tenney dies


"A link between American mavericks such as Varèse, Partch, Ruggles, and Cage (with whom he worked and studied) and today's downtown experimentalists, Tenney was a pioneer in electronic and computer music, though later in his career he turned to composing almost exclusively for acoustic instruments." NewMusicBox

"In a way he stands at the center of American music, a kind of focal point: he studied and worked with seminal figures such as Varèse, Partch, Ruggles, Cage, Kenneth Gaburo, and Lejaren Hiller; he performed in the ensembles of his contemporaries Philip Glass and Steve Reich; and he has taught some of the leading young composers, including John Luther Adams, Polansky, and Peter Garland. Though his music and interests put him squarely on the side of the experimentalists, he is the only such composer so admired by the academic establishment that an entire issue of the academic journal Perspectives of New Music was devoted to his music. No other composer is so revered by fellow composers, and so unknown to the public at large... "
American Music in the Twentieth Century

John Jacob Weinzweig, "dean" of Canadian music dies


John Jacob Weinzweig, composer and mentor to many of Canada's finest composers has died, aged 93.

The Canadian Music Center said "He profoundly influenced generations of composers and musicians who collectively shaped the character of contemporary music in Canada."
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Peters Edition signs Benjamin Wallfisch


Benjamin Wallfisch has signed an exclusive publishing agreement with Peters Edition Ltd. Wallfisch, born 1979 studied at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester and the Royal Academy in London. Teachers have included Anthony Gilbert, Michael Finnissy, James MacMillan and Robert Saxton

The first work published by Peters Edition is an orchestral piece, Escape Velocity, which is to be premièredon Saturday 2 September 2006 at the BBC Proms as part of the Proms Saturday Matinee series atCadogan Hall. The performance by the Orchestra of St John’s, with whom Wallfisch is AssociateComposer, will be conducted by Wallfisch himself.

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Weinzweig and Wildberger Pass Away


Canadian composer John Weinzweig and Swiss composer Jacques Wildberger have died at the ages of 93 and 84 respectively.

Weinzweig, who studied at the University of Toronto, Eastman School of Music and the Royal College, is often described as the 'Dean of Canadian classical composers' and has been credited with creating the profession of composing in Canada.

Wildberger, who studied with Wladimir Vogel, is credited as the most significant Swiss composer of the 2oth century. His style aimed to blend the style and technique of Schoenberg and the Second Viennese school and aspects of Boulez and modernsim. Wildberger taught at the music academy in Karlsruehe from 1959 to 1966 and then at the Basel conservatory until 1987.

MET Commissions Wynton Marsalis


New York's Metropolitan Opera house has recently announced that it is to commission an opera from trumpeter-composer Wynton Marsalis. This is the first of a series of commisions to artists that form part of the MET's MET/LCT Opera/Theter Commisions programme. Other artists to be commisioned include Adam Guettel, Jake Heggie, Michael Torke and Rufus Wainwright.

Marsalis, who is currently the Artistic Director of 'Jazz at the Lincoln Center', will write his opera to a libretto to John Guare. At this stage the work has no preliminary title and no time frame.

The MET also announced the commisioning of Argentinian composer Osvaldo Golijov's first large scale opera for the 2010-11 season as well as the staging of a revised version of John Adam's new opera Doctor Atomic during 2008-09.
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20th Century Underground


At the front end of the twenty first century the UK's Guardian newspaper has boldly attempted to plot the history of twentieth centry music.

The paper has used the now iconic London underground map and replaced each station with a composer, artist or band. Further, the traditional lines (Northern, Central, Jubilee etc.) have been replaced by genres and schools of music to attempt to bring some form of cohesion to the new map. The categories used are:

Soul, Reggae, Pop, Rock, British Folk, Electonica and Dance, Avant-Garde, Jazz, Hip-Hop, Blues and Country, Funk, DJ Shadow and RZA, Classical and Soundtracks.

The map sees 'avant-garde' composers John Cage and Karlheinz Stockhausen interchange via Pierre Boulez with classical composers Ligeti, Penderecki and Birtwistle. Elsewhere Beatles producer George Martin links the classical world with (of course) the Beatles and the Beach Boys and further down the line The Chemical Brothers and Bob Marley!

Follow the given link to see the map in full.
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'Composers have better things to do'


It was announced this week that two British composers have been offered artistic advisory roles at London's newly refurbished South Bank Centre. Those that have ever visited the centre will know that it lives on the banks of the Thames and comprises three varying size halls that play host to the Philharmonia orchestra, London Philharmonic, London Sinfonietta and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.

As a result of the refurbishment the powers that be at the South Bank are attempting to create a more integrated artistic environment to secure the centre's future and funding. Therefore it appears that internationally recognised composers/conductors George Benjamin and Oliver Knussen will be drafted in to facilitate such change.

Needless to say this has sparked concern from many quarters, most notably Norman LeBrecht (see his article using the above link). LeBrecht takes issue with the worth of such positions. Both Benjamin and Knussen are undoubtly gifted composers yet both have a limited output and LeBrecht blames this on their eagerness to accept honours and positions within the artistic establishement. LeBrecht says

'In the prime of life and apparent good health, the pair ought to be at the height of their fertility yet such is the English aptitude for seducing artists away from art - and the concomitant avidness of English artists to accept state honours and financial honoraria - that no-one, not even their loyal publisher, would aver that Knussen or Benjamin has come within a nautical mile of fulfilling a truly remarkable potential.'

It remains to be seen how Benjamin and Knussen will tackle their new roles. It seems simple to say that they can do more for contemporary music by composing but perhaps the, as yet, unknown generation of composers need figures like Benjamin and Knussen to prepare the ground for a more fruitful artistic environment. But perhaps LeBrecht is correct - 'composers have better things to do'.

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Water Music - 21st Century Style


To celebrate the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson's sail up the great river named after him American composer Joseph Bertolozzi intends to turn a bridge into a giant percussion instrument.

Bertolozzi hung 16 microphones from the suspension chords on the Mid-Hudson road bridge that pick up only vibrations, not traffic noise. The composer then intends to strike the bridge with a giant drumstick and record the resultant sound/vibrations. The anniversary does not happen until 2009 by which time Bertolozzi intends to have composed a piece by joining together the recordings.

New Music World Meets in Stuttgart


The new music world is currently meeting in Stuttgart for the International Society for Contemporary Music's 'World New Music Festival 2006'. The festival, which runs from 14th to 29th July, is held annualy in one of the society's 50 member states. This years festival takes 'grenzenlos' (without borders) as its theme which reflects the aim to question cultural borders in music. The organiser's describe the theme as referring to a 'thinking which provokes by aesthetical, technical or cultural commitment to develop a cultural explosive force.'

Alongside established composers 30 works were chosen from 581 open submissions by a panel including Wolfgang Rihm, George Benjamin, Unsuk Chin, Pascal Dusapin, Julio Estrada, Hans-Peter Jahn and Vladimir Tarnopolski.

Deatails of all 87 events in Stuttgart can be found at the festival's website.

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Ligeti Receives Standing Ovation at Funeral


The much loved and respected composer Gyorgy Ligeti who, as this site previously reported, died earlier this month was given a silent standing ovation at the end of his funeral service on Monday 26th June. The service took place at the Feuerhalle Slimmering in Vienna and was attended by the composer's wife and son as well as a number of friends, former students, performers and publishers.

Tributes came in the form of poetry and music. Ligeti's biographer, Paul Griffiths, wrote a poem which featured none of the letters from Ligeti's name (a poem without Ligeti), and Gyorgy and Marta Kurtag played Bach together at the piano.

There was an afternoon conert at Vienna's Konzerthaus Mozart Hall which featured a number of Ligeti's works. Pierre Laurent Aimard played movements from the Musica Ricercata as well as a number of the Etudes. Other works featured included Lux Aeterna (1966) and Poem Symphonique (1962).
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News Archive - records 161-170 of 315
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