By Robin Maconie
Gertrude Stein and thinker Alfred North Whitehead have been not likely buddies who spent such a lot in their mature lives in exile: Stein in France and Whitehead within the usa. Their friendship used to be in accordance with a mutual admiration for the philosophical pragmatism of William James and skepticism towards the ecu culture of highbrow abstraction extending way back to Plato and Aristotle. notwithstanding neither used to be musical, either have been top exponents of a brand new orientation towards time and data acquisition that may cross directly to effect succeeding generations of composers. via Virgil Thomson, Stein got here to steer John Cage and the recent York institution of summary song; via his educating within the usa, Whitehead’s philosophy of time and cognition got here to be obvious in the US and out of the country as a substitute to Newtonian neoclassicism, another sincerely stated within the metric modulations of Elliott Carter and Conlon Nancarrow in addition to the post-1950 overall serialism of Pierre Boulez and Karlheinz Stockhausen.
The possible not going effect of Stein and Whitehead on Thomson, Cage, Carter, and the minimalists tells a amazing tale of transmission inside and one of the arts and philosophy, person who Robin Maconie unravels via his sequence of essays in Avant Garde: An American Odyssey from Gertrude Stein to Pierre Boulez. Maconie explores, from Hollywood to Harvard, the best way song features as a kind of communique around the barriers of language, serving the motives of exchange and international relations via its illustration of nationwide id, emotional personality, honorable goal, and social self-discipline. The learn of tune as a language unavoidably grew to become the item of knowledge technology after global conflict II, yet, as Maconie notes, 60 years on, music’s refusal to yield to clinical elucidation has generated a circulate of anti-music propaganda by way of a robust collective of big name technology writers. In a series of associated essays, Stockhausen expert Robin Maconie reconsiders the position of track and track know-how via cautious exam of key sleek techniques with appreciate to time, lifestyles, identification, and courting as formulated via such thinkers as Einstein, Russell, Whitehead, and Stein, besides Freud, Schoenberg, Wittgenstein, and Marcel Duchamp.
This foray into paintings, song, technological know-how, and philosophy is ultimate for college kids and students of those disciplines, in addition to these trying to comprehend extra deeply the impression those members had on one another’s paintings and glossy music.
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Extra info for Avant Garde: An American Odyssey from Gertrude Stein to Pierre Boulez
It used to be a classic yr with Nono, Stockhausen, Pousseur, Madema, Cage lecturing, demonstrating, conversing approximately music.... while it grew to become recognized that I had performed the Berg Sonata in distant New Zealand i used to be mentioned as a question of ask yourself. directly to Donaueschingen to listen to Stockhausen’s Gruppen and quartets through Webern and Bartók. The neighborhood girls’ Guild got here at me with cups of tea, thrilled to listen to that I got here from New Zealand.... In Paris, Unesco was once operating a convention of East-West music.... One night, following Indian tune, got here works via Boulez, Le marteau sans maître and one of many Mallarmné Improvisations. i discovered myself moved to tears through the freshness and purity of this music.... After the live performance the gamers had vanished leaving Boulez at the degree, a lone determine, placing jointly the components of his rankings. I requested if i'd name on him. He was once stunned to listen to that we had the ratings of his buildings on our cabinets at Victoria. “Monsieur Boulez, i want to play your song again in New Zealand,” I stated to him. “I am a reasonably efficient pianist but if I opened your constructions the problems of studying it have been so bold I approximately fainted. ” “Monsieur,” he spoke back with a mix of seriousness and leisure, “vous commenÇez” (you simply make a start). the reply overjoyed me, yet I countered additional. “You write for guitar, marimba, bass flute, E flat clarinet, for abnormal tools. We haven’t received such gamers or tools within the kingdom: what then? ” “Monsieur, we too had those problems in Paris, we too had no avid gamers. yet we stumbled on them, proficient them, and also have a gaggle willing to play this track. ” confronted with this integrity my questions appeared flabby and feeble. 2 Fred web page again to Wellington loaded with ratings and bursting with self belief. In London, fellow New Zealander John Mansfield Thomson was once operating as an editor at Faber and Faber at the English version of the Stravinsky-Craft Conversations. jointly web page and Thomson hatched a daring plan to ask Stravinsky to New Zealand and he arrived to a hero’s welcome in November 1961. In his first publication of conversations the veteran composer is filled with compliment for the more youthful new release of Boulez and Stockhausen. To listeners within the sport-loving dominion, Stravinsky’s personal overdue works during which he embraces serialism, corresponding to the ballet Agon and the routine for piano and orchestra, seem to mix the fluidity of Boulez’s Le marteau with the power and physicality of the Silver Ferns, a most sensible nationwide netball crew. an incredible factor of musical continuity emerged within the Sixties. This used to be aleatoric or cellular shape. The time period cellular refers to a song composed in modules that may be rearranged in numerous orders. A fierce debate broke out after book within the overdue Fifties of Piano Piece XI by way of Stockhausen, and Piano Sonata three by means of Boulez, either by way of common variation. Piano Piece XI, which is available in a cardboard tube with a collapsible wood stand, created a sensation. the belief of taking part in segments of a section in any order, or even altering the pace and expression of segments from one order to the following, used to be unparalleled.