David Lamb <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>Sounds good up to that point. Why no living composers? There are a
>lot of us old guys who have been waiting in the wings for fifty or sixty
>years. You mean we have to die first? Well, whatever it takes. If I
>could be assured that Karl's young professionals would perform and record
>my orchestra works if only I were dead, I would take the poison pill
>tomorrow. But before I do that, I would like to see something in writing.
I too have scores gathering dust on the shelf. Why dead composers
only?..I have several reasons.
There are venues open to living composers...not many, but they are there.
You can pay to have your works recorded...not cheap, but at least there
When you are alive, you can push you music. But once a composer is dead,
who will push the music? These days publishers don't seem to do much
of a good job with stuff in their catalogs...in many instances they don't
even know what they own. I can site an example if you like.
Were it for living composers, I would fear that decisions as to what was
and what was not performed would be based on some of the reasons which
are used today...namely, who won this prize and who did not, who knew
the conductor, etc....in short, mostly the wrong reasons. As to the
living composers who are performed...sometimes a publisher will push,
you can shove your stuff under the nose of conductors, take them out to
Now that I have responded to your question, I will preach my sermon...
I am saddened that our music schools of today don't follow the lead of
Hanson and his Composer's Festivals. You can look through those old
programs and see hundreds of works that were performed...and recorded
I think of the contributions our University Orchestras could make.
One unrecorded work on each concert wouldn't hurt...and making those
performances available to music lovers and scholars.
How about the performing organizations of our military exploring our
musical heritage? Maybe some tax payer dollars could be used for a
series of recordings of forgotten American composers?
Sadly we existing resources we can't access. There are the performances
of the National Gallery Orchestra, the American Composers Orchestra,
and The Orchestra of America which remain locked up. The bulk of their
concerts contained unrecorded works by American Composers. I also think
of all of the performances given by our major American Orchestras over
the years. There is so much historic material of value. The other day
I put together two CDs of performancs of the Symphonies and the Folksong
suite of Daniel Gregory Mason. Sadly, it isn't, strictly speaking, legal
for me to have copies of those broadcasts, let alone make them available
to others. By the way, I think his Second Symphony is terrific.
I am also reminded of organizations like the American Recording Society
and the Society for the Preservation of the American Musical Heritage.
They made good faith efforts. I believe that was also true in the early
days of the CRI label. Later it seemed to degenerate into releasing
whatever was being funded. New World Records started out doing some
good, but it seemed to lose its way. Naxos has done some magnificent
things. There are conductors like John McLaughlin Williams who really
want to do more. Pity he doesn't have a regular conducting gig.
The market for this music will always be small. For me, it is a shame
that those few who would find value in hearing these things are being
denied access. I know I am in the minority for sure. I have spent many
hours looking over my copy of the catalog of the Fleisher Collection
of orchestra scores, the Claire Reis volumes on American Composers,
the lists of works performed by the Chicago Symphony when Stock was
the conductor, and the past repertoire of the Boston Symphony. I see
all of those titles of forgotten works by forgotten composers and wonder
if there is a reason they are forgotten. Sometimes when I do have the
chance to hear some of it I find that it might as well have been left
to oblivion, but then I encounter something that is a pure delight.
like that Mason Symphony.
I also think of the instructional value. An orchestra such as I describe
would give young musicians a wonderful opportunity to get professional
experience and a chance to develop their sight reading abilities. Get
them while they are young and before they start making house payments.
It is an idea not unlike the old National Training Orchestra, an orchestra
which fostered the likes of a Stanley Drucker.
Of course I am an idealist. I have no interest in supporting the arts
when it pays such outrageous fees to conductors and soloists. Such an
organization as I describe would need to have a strict set of operating
guidelines to keep the excesses and abuses of human nature from rearing
their ugly heads. So, if you know of some billionaire who can share
that vision and sense of purpose...feel free to pass along my email.
Tell them to hurry. I'm not getting any younger and there are still
plenty of works I would love to hear before I die.
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