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Oh. The composer in the world of today. The School of Music and the radio service of the University of Illinois invite you to listen to another program in the series. The composer in the world of today. Comment and illustrations on 20th century American music by an American composer. Conducting this series is Bernard Phillips Professor of Music at the University of Illinois and an internationally famed composer. The composer in the world of today is produced and recorded by WRAL. The University of Illinois radio service under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational rights.
Today Mr. Phillips will introduce two young American composers who will talk about their music. Now the composer in the world of today. And here is Beryl Phillips. Last week we had the pleasure of hearing from two young Americans who write music and one of them Mr. Kent of the Burra was given the opportunity of speaking about his own personal philosophy in music and was later joined in discussion by the other visitor Mr. Robert Wykes. Today Mr. Wykes will assume the role of speaker and later be put to the question after the manner of last week's program by Mr Bercow. Last week we heard a performance of kind of the world's string quartet 1956. Today the work performed will be the sextet for strings by Robert Weiss. Both of these two young men have had backgrounds of similar nature. Both are natives of the United States Mr. White's having been born in Pennsylvania Mr. Burr in New Jersey. The musical education of each man was interrupted by military service during World War Two and both resumed their studies at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester New York after the war
where each received a master's degree in composition. Mr wax is a flutist and Mr. Burr is a pianist. They are both in their very early thirties and have pursued somewhat similar careers after graduation. Mr White says a doctor of musical arts to grade from the University of Illinois which he completed in 1955. Mr. gumbo has been the recipient of a Fulbright grant in composition which took him to roll in 1954 55. Both these composers are at present members of university music school faculty as Mr. White except Washington University of St. Louis and Mr. Guber of the University of Illinois. Aside from a few other superficial similarities of a musical nature this is where the resemblance of each to the other ends. They have both composed an opera piece but they could hardly be a wider gulf separating two individuals than as evidenced by these two works. They have both written chamber music and it is from this category of music we have selected works to be heard on the two programs involving the two composers but not for any similarity between them. Mr. Burrell spoke last week about his attitude
toward music in general and his own in particular. Now it is Mr. White's his turn and I'm sure that what he has to say will be of interest to anyone who wants to know what it is like to be a young composer in the world of today. Mr. Wax Thank you Mr. Philips. I will approach the brief statement of my aesthetic which is to follow by first telling you that to me the art of music consists of the relationships between two groups of people and intermediary object. The first group is made up of composers and performers. They are concerned with the creative process that is with the organization of a series of musical events in time. They are the source of the object to be to be presented to the second group which consist of those people in a society who are interested in the unique kind of experience that music is. Therefore I believe the art of music to be a psychosocial phenomenon and not a metaphysical one.
It is concerned with the psychology of aural perception and those sociological factors which conditioned people to value music as a desirable experience. And further to judge it as good or bad music. This means that music in any given society can have a wide range of ends or goals which it affects in our own small unit of society. The United States the goal of music may range from that as serving as a noise damper. When we hear the offerings of music while shopping in the supermarket to that of providing an ascetic experience when you listen to music of the type you will hear on this broadcast. The music you are to hear on this broadcast requires that you give it your full concentration. It assumes that you are acquainted with contemporary music of a similar type produced as a part of a continuing tradition both here and in Europe. It further assumes that you do not expect to be
entertained in the popular sense of the word. Rather it assumes that you desire to experience a unique sense of time created by musical means. In other words it proposes that you involve your total self in a type of experience called by philosophers aesthetic. BI What devices or concepts then do I as a composer attempt to create for you this unique sense of time in the sextet for strings which you will hear. I believe the following concepts or if you wish aesthetic principles to be operative. First I conceive of the music as dividing and imagined continuum of silence. Large units of silence are broken into smaller units by pitches or tones. This is most evident as a device at the very beginning of the composition and at the end of the first section which is marked by a calculated long pause.
The next principle is that an imagined continuum of sound is divided into small units by a basic set of selected tones. In this composition there is a basic set of four tones from which almost all the tonal material of the composition is derives. This results in there being very little stepwise connection of tones which is an obvious difference between this music and much of the music of past traditions. The third principle observable in this composition is the marking off of the largest units of the piece. By contrast ing the speed of the basic pulse or tempo. There are four contrasting tempos in this work. Finally there isn't this composition a conscious attempt to have a minimum of redundancy while certain elements of the piece are heard more than once. No attempt is made to suggest to suggest a traditional rounded form.
I wish to emphasize in this my closing statement that the above principles do not represent a set of preconceptions or a method which I use for each composition I write. These principles represent rather a rationalisation of this particular finished composition. In the actual writing of music both the irrational and the intuitive play an important role for me. I consider the writing of music to be a non-verbal type of mental activity and therefore one is open to semantic confusion by attempting to construct abstractions about the act itself. If as I stated earlier the art of music is a psycho social phenomenon. What obligation has a composer who is concerned with writing music designed to provide listeners with an object for ascetic pleasure it is to write music that is adventuresome exciting intense
and personally concede he is not therefore concerned with the repetitions of saleable cliches but rather with his continual ability to organize what he hears into new patterns. Thank you Mr Robert Wykes. Perhaps Mr Gerbera would like to start a discussion by commenting on the phase of the remarks Mr Watts has made. Mr Gruber what would you like to speak about at this point. Well Mr. Philips the question of the psychological and social aspects of. Of creating music as seems to be rather a basis of operation for MC. Mr. Wykes doesn't interest me and I would like to ask Mr. Wykes exactly how the transition is made from conditions which exist outside of himself that is social and psychological conditions. How are these how are these things bridged to his own door arriving at his own beginning point say in the creation of work.
Well thank you for your question. I feel this that when I get ready to write a piece of music and this already begins to involve the question of stimulus of why I get ready to write a piece of music I have found through experience that I work it much better when I know the specific situation for which I am going to work and these specific people for whom I'm going to write. That is I like to know the performers. I like to know the audience and I will say this that in trying to remain loyal to the set of abstractions which I call my aesthetic I frequently find that I must find or am I am stimulated to find new ways of reaching an audience which perhaps may not be able to accept. My ideas as they would
possibly come out if I were operating with out taking into regard the advanced advancement of the audience's listening ability. We would say that if you were to write say this extend without consideration for any audience or for any specific group that the result of the sextet might be quite different than if you had written it for a specific group. Yes I would say that's perfectly true. And while this may appear on the surface to be a compromise I have no feeling of compromise in my own mind this particular work was written with a fairly sophisticated audience in mind and therefore I felt complete freedom in writing this work. On the other hand if as you say I was writing it for a different audience. I feel quite confident that the work would have turned out a different way. And yet it would have still confirmed
to my set of abstractions which I call an aesthetic. Well Lynn let me ask you how maybe specifically you could because it seems to me that the. That may be our basic difference is one of this kind where I sort of consider the composer aside from whatever social or psychological things happen to him to make him what he is as kind of the core. Out of which comes a creative creative result and then a sort of projected to the world. I mean after he's done his work well he no longer has any particular connection with it. On the other hand it seems that you start from the other way around where the situation whatever it happens to be as an as an external force he hits you and then you begin to create the piece of music with something specific in mind. Then I would like to ask how can you possibly arrive at. Such thing such things as abstract things such as the determination of a temple or the organized nation of four
notes in the service of the bases for peace and so forth how can you relate this particularly to an external stimuli. It works this way with me when I am asked to write music. I of course have an ascetic and I am as a composer I am concerned with my as you as I suppose one could call it my personal expression. Now I feel that my prayer much to satisfy my personal expression can take many directions and to be very specific for a moment and on a technical matter. One of the words which we haven't discussed previously but which I know that you use the word density. Now I have found that I if I am working on a piece of music which is going to be presented to a fairly unsophisticated audience or an audience which is not as advanced as I would like to have them that by decreasing the
density. I can then remain within my ascetic and still in a sense communicate with the audience so that another words this then Big comes a matter of alleviating the dissonance by decreasing the density of the pitches. I see. But the determining factor of course is still still this external force instead of maybe the other way around I don't know. I would like to ask maybe in order to get at the core of this of much more specific kind of question and I do it was a relationship to what we've been talking about that is should I put this. Do you do you suppose that you are right a piece. First of all to satisfy yourself or to satisfy some other external condition. I'll put it this my answer and I think this probably would be a good way of summing up
our discussion at least from my point of view. I feel that this is I feel very strongly that this is a re supercool relationship in other words the problem is not satisfying only myself but satisfying a Myself and the audience. And there has to be a reciprocal relationship between the two of us. Thank you Mr. Wykes and Mr. Berg. In order to be able to hear the music schedule for this program it is the duty of the moderator to cut the Ribble discussion at this point and let the music take over and speak for itself. The music in this case is a sextet for strings by Robert Weiss of present a member of the faculty of Washington University in St. Louis. Mr White has always spoken of his work and needs no further discussion. The performers today are violins. Homer Schmidt and Bernard Goodman Viola's John Garvey and Paul Rowan and cellos Robert Swenson and Peter Farrell. Here is a string sextet by Robert whites.
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Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. You have just heard a performance of the string sextet by Robert whites which brings to a close
a pair of programs given over to a discussion of points of view. My two young American composers Mr. Kenneth dobro and Mr. Robert Weiss. Last week we heard Mr. Burrell give his personal philosophy as a composer and then a discussion of that philosophy between him and Mr. Wykes. And in a performance of Mr. Burroughs string quartet 1956. Today the roles were reversed with Mr. White's being given the opportunity to speak up for his philosophy and then discussing it extensively with Mr. burro. These two young American composers do not in themselves mirror of course the whole facts of creative music in America today. But there are opposing viewpoints are shared by many of their contemporaries and also by some among an older generation in a very brief summary the viewpoint expressed by Mr. Brill and illustrated by his quartet incidentally is one quite prevalent among those composers of today who use a tone row technique or by those who drive toward abstraction in music. Some have called this total organization meaning that when one composes one leaves nothing
to chance but uses every possible intensification of technical mastery to bring about a fresh and powerful kind of music. Opposed to this is the aesthetic spoken of by Mr. Weiss which always takes into account the listener the audience the performer and even the sweep of the traditions of music as a whole. There are other viewpoints but perhaps these two opposing ones will show a little of what the young American composers of today are thinking about and doing in their art. You've just heard two young American composers talk about their music. Another program in the series the composer in the world of today conducting the series is Beryl Phillips Professor of Music at the University of Illinois and an internationally famed composer. We cordially invite you to join us again next week at this same time for the next program in the series the composer in the world of today.
Composer in the world of today
Composers discuss music, part two
Producing Organization
University of Illinois
WILL Illinois Public Media
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
Two young American composers, Robert Wykes and Kenneth Gaburo, discussing their music. "Sextet for Strings" by Robert Wykes is performed.
Other Description
How the composer of today sees the contemporary world around him. Interviews, commentary and musical illustration provide a better picture of the modern composer. The series is hosted by Burrill Phillips, composer and professor of music at the University of Illinois.
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Guest: Wykes, Robert
Guest: Gaburo, Kenneth
Host: Phillips, Burrill
Producer: Gouds, Moyra
Producing Organization: University of Illinois
Producing Organization: WILL Illinois Public Media
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 58-42-7 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:31
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Chicago: “Composer in the world of today; Composers discuss music, part two,” 1958-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed August 11, 2022,
MLA: “Composer in the world of today; Composers discuss music, part two.” 1958-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. August 11, 2022. <>.
APA: Composer in the world of today; Composers discuss music, part two. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from