Composer in the world of today; Composers discuss music, part one
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.
The composing a serious music in the United States as everywhere else is carried on by all ages and all conditions of man. There are scholar composers octogenarian composers businessmen composers composers in their teens composers who are performers and conductors fortunate composers and unfortunate ones mystics and philosophers well known young composers and obscure older composers radicals and conservatives. How obscure young composers and well-known older composers organized independent composers the many and the few. All ages and conditions of composers by some special dispensation of Providence we will be able today to hear from two of these composers the providential dispensation does not consist so much in our being able to get to young American composers in the studio at the same time. All of that did take some special luck and arrangements as it does consist in the fact that these two composers who represent an astonishing similarity in background and training but a set of viewpoints quite dissimilar and opposed. To
hear them talk about their purposes and their personal systems of aesthetics and to hear their music an illustration of these should enable us to form an idea of what a representative segment of American music is like from the composer's vantage point what it is to be an American composer at work in the world of today. The two young men who have so kindly consented to give their views and to be subjected to a mild Inquisition are Kenneth Bergeron of the faculty of the School of Music at the University of Illinois and Robert Reich's of the faculty of Washington University in St. Louis. They both are Native Americans Mr. Brown having been born in New Jersey and Mr. Wykes in Pennsylvania. Both are in their very early 30s to give birth as a pianist. Mr. Wykes flutist the musical education of both was interrupted by military service and World War Two and was resumed after the war at the Eastman School of Music where each received a master's degree in composition. So far they may seem some strange sort of musical twins but as things develop I think you will agree that this is only a superficial appearance. During this program and its
continuation next week we will hear from each of these men. We'll hear a discussion of their possibly conflicting views and we'll hear on each of the two programs to day's And next weeks a representative and recent piece of chamber music of each composer. We might well begin by hearing first from Mr. Kenneth Barone. Who will speak about his music what the writing of it means to him and the general aesthetics of his practice in the art. Mr. Barone Thank you Mr. Phillips. In presenting a discussion such as this about a personal a static one could begin by speaking in terms like economy of means clarity and presentation and organic unity. If one were to do so he would soon realize that these are things about which most composers speak. They represent a number of common terms which in some way seem to bind us all together. Of course one might question whether these principles really establish a common link among composers are they not relative. Do not the variety of
practices and diversity of results prove that such terms have different meanings for each of us. However if such an objection were raised wouldn't it simply be a confusion between the essential nature of such terms which do have common meaning and that of individual compositional expression. Perhaps it would be nearer the truth to suggest that each composer seeks his own manner of expression within the context of such generalities. Today concepts like organic unity and economy of means are a basic part of our vocabulary. They are so commonplace among composers and indeed among artists in general as to reflect a general state of affairs rather than a specific aesthetic premis. Therefore any a static would come into play in terms of specific procedure and practice. And after we presume this general state of affairs to be constant. For if an artist is a unified whole he is a static cannot be separated from his work. It is developed through a
gradual building process. It becomes synonymous with a belief and conviction about a great number of concepts Kasten an individual organization in terms of the world of sound. And if you will absence of sound. I might add at this point that when I speak of the world of sound I am speaking of an abstract that for there is little or no relationship between the sounds in the world and music. Unlike other art forms the composer has little to draw from in the real world as a basis for his expression. Nor can the listener expect to understand his work by attempting to find such a parallel. The musical world of sound is something which seems to take shape and significance only in the creative imagination of the artist. Each work then takes on a unique quality with little relation to the world of previous experience. Each work becomes a new and specific reality and must be understood for its own sake. I personally allow the condition of the creative imagination to take a full import in my work placing restrictions on it
only to the extent of some specific organization of materials. Perhaps there is something basic in house which impels us toward a particular mode of expression or causes us to consider a certain organizational procedures. My music has always leaned toward the chromatic and I feel completely at home expressing things in these surroundings. Once I consciously realized this is a strong tendency if not indeed a constant factor it became a matter of organizing sound within this framework. It seems logical that I would have eventually embraced a tone row techniques in my attempt at building a personal of this that IC. I hasten to remark that the original concepts of rote techniques have expanded considerably since inception and that it's wide practice today is conspicuous for its similarities as well as in it's the similarities to the earlier beginning its appeal to me. Aside from its organizational potential is in its stimulus to the creative imagination.
In my work I consider the initial organization of raw materials extremely important just as the major or minor system represents an initial high degree of organization so that a maximum of expression can be evoked. The organization of materials always with the idea of bringing about the greatest possible musical results is as much a part of the creative process as is the setting of the material in motion. To be more specific the role was always considered as a complete unit generally projected as a single line. It is a fixed constant body of sound constructed in such a way as to have inherent within it the elements of rhythm harmony melody dynamics rests to analyse the structure and form. However each of these factors in a particular composition is limited to only those latent in the originally organized organized constant in a manner of speaking the creative process is at work to produce such an organization in the first place. However the road as a
constructed starting point becomes an independent reality. Quite apart from the composer's consciousness it seems to assert its own personality. It sets up greater relationships which the composer through an even higher creative process must realize during the course of composing. Thus the act of creating continues and is by no means over once the original organization of the road becomes a known factor. In my work one can find such terms as projection displacement density and expansion. Strange bedfellows to counterpoint tension and texture but they serve to express in words what is happening technically. The String Quartet in one movement written in one thousand fifty six which you are about to hear is based altogether on a mistake which I have only briefly mentioned as a matter of structural organization there are four main sections marked Allegro Mata Rato andante Sawston OTO Allegretto and Allegro Marc Otto the many subdivisions and each helped to create smooth movements from one large
section to the next. Sounds an absence of sounds. The relations of dynamics and specific instrumental techniques such as pizza kado and soul plant the cello and so forth. Two notes rhythms and indeed sections are likewise extremely important conditions in creating a unified whole. Thank you Mr. Barone. Maybe we can engender a lively discussion by asking Robert whites to comment on any phase of Mr. government's position he wishes to. Mr. WATTS What would you like to speak about at this point. It seems to me Mr. Philips the first point Mr. bureaus acetic I wish to discuss is his concept of the creative imagination as I understand its function in his ascetic. It would seem to produce compositions of unique quality without relation to the world of previous experience. This seems to me a difficult position to maintain since we are all subject to
many conditioning factors in our lives and these prevent our creative imagination from functioning as a free agent. I wonder Mr. Bureau if you would care to comment further on the role of the creative imagination in your study. Well Mr. Wykes. The initial comment that I would like to make of course is that the part of speech which I brought in the idea of the creamy creative imagination in the first place was relative to compositional materials as they can be found or not found in the world about us and my personal feeling of course is that they there is no real basis for any experience outside of our own imagination at least as composers that we can look to in the real world and so that whatever happens really comes about as in in its initial conception from the composer's mind and imagination to begin with.
In other words what you you are taking then sort of an anti naturalist position in which the only the human imaginings upon itself are turning back upon itself is valid and the state simply receiving tones from nature or from the the our natural environment then would not be a stimulus to your imagination or would not be admitted to being too stimulating your imagination. Well I think that in general I would agree with that I might mention of course that I agree that all of the things that we experience in our life does have some effect on our personalities and obviously in the way we develop tastes and so forth. And this of course has its bearing in the results of a work of art but I find that these things are all sort of taken for granted or natural I mean is it like our own personalities it isn't anything that we have to really question so much.
If I were to begin composing a piece I couldn't do what an artist does for example he might be stimulated very much by the real treason and the real situations outside. And even if in turn he creates something that's quite abstract or an abstract to from these real things. He still gets a great deal of stimulation you say from the real world. You get the composer doesn't have this kind of thing as a as a foundation Well do not feel that the let's say the. I'm musical tradition or that is all previous music which we certainly are subjected to from the time we're children that this not have an influence or is it not a conditioning factor in the way our imagination works. My idea being that even though we imagine ourselves as being creative that possibly subconsciously or even consciously we are in a sense working with the kind of material that has been poured into us
and which we cannot and Scaife Well if this is so then of course we have to also realize that what we have been influenced by our works by other people who have exercised the creative imagination in a similar way on down the line you see historically so that I mean I would say the same thing of Beethoven as I would of my own practice. I mean the external influences are psychological but you know not any particular conscious way to his own creative effort. Well I would feel I would really have to disagree with that in this case because particularly it seems to me only in the 20th century that we are getting away from the idea of repeating an inherited set of of what I like to call a gestalt or a set of patterns which we inherit it's our age which in a sense has found if it exists this free magination that particularly with a composer like Beethoven he inherited a
very definite set of patterns upon which he operated. That is his imagination worked within the framework of those patterns. And it's and it would seem to me that we are in a sense trapped. You know I would I would agree quite definitely but you see this is what I meant before. This is what I meant before by making the statement that that whatever we start with as an organizing factor of course is it could be related to something like the major or minor key system or whatever in terms of motives or specific rhythms were inherited from other people there are these things which the composer in a sense either inherits or willfully imposes upon himself as a starting point. The whole issue simply arises from the fact that that as a matter of external stimuli the composer really has very little to draw from. You see in the real world so that in the final analysis the piece that he creates is a unique
thing exist in the world for the first time without any real parallel either in terms of his own previous works or in terms of the Spectator trying to play some of valuation on what he is experiencing. Well the only feeling I have further about this is that that to achieve this freedom of imagination or freedom of the creative imagination it is necessary to probe very deeply into one's own thinking and to sort out the surface things that we have learned. In other words get into probably the subconscious to arrive at a new freedom of the creative imagination I wonder if you would agree to that. We have to unlearn a great many things before we can achieve this type of creative imagination. Oh absolutely I do agree. Well for example something likely Albury base or some kind of an arpeggio form of this of this or
another genre would be maybe a typical example. And I think that this kind of weeding out process is one which which is done by constant introspection. And they build up of ideas as I've already expressed. And for me this weed out of any undesirable kinds of elements which at least I consider undesirable is done when the material is constructed in the first place. That part of the initial creative act in which I prepare my materials for the eventual act of composing as in all cases of this kind of this too bad to break up a discussion. But today the task is less unpleasant than usual in that the purpose in concluding the discussion is to enable us to hear the performance of some of the music spoken of. As has already been said the music of King of the burrows that we will hear today as a string quartet 1956. It is not performed for us by the Walden quartet of University of Illinois. The members of the Warren quartet are Homer Smith first violin Bernard Goodman second violin John Garvey Viola and Robert Swenson cello.
Here is a string quartet 1956 by can I ask you are you. The I. Don't want. To.
Yeah. Are. They. Will.
You. Know. You and You. You. Ye be a layer layer. Thank.
You. Thank you. And. They are. This has been the first of two programs featuring interviews with two young American
composers and has had remarks by Kenneth good bro as well as a discussion about his music between him and Mr. Robert whites. In addition Mr. Burrell string quartet 1956 has been played by the Walden quartet of the University of Illinois. Violins Homer Smith and Bernard Goodman the Ola John Garvey and cello Robert Swenson. Next week's program will feature further remarks by Robert whites and a discussion between him and Kenneth Bergeron. In addition Mr. Wykes a string sextet. Worked for two violins to Viola's and two cellos will be performed. They'll be listening to another program in the series the composer in the world of today. Ducting the series is Beryl Phillips Professor of Music at the University of Illinois and an internationally famed composer. And cordially invite you to join us again next week at this same time for the next program in the series the
- Producing Organization
- University of Illinois
- WILL Illinois Public Media
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
- AAPB ID
- Episode Description
- This program, the first of two parts, features two young American composers, Robert Wykes and Kenneth Gaburo, discuss their music.
- Series 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.
- Broadcast Date
- Media type
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: 58-42-6 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- Chicago: “Composer in the world of today; Composers discuss music, part one,” 1958-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed February 4, 2023, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-7940ws1r.
- MLA: “Composer in the world of today; Composers discuss music, part one.” 1958-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. February 4, 2023. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-7940ws1r>.
- APA: Composer in the world of today; Composers discuss music, part one. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-7940ws1r