Quotes from Grisey, Lutoslawski

I had meant to post about Grisey and Murail a month or so ago, but had gotten sidetracked and moved on to other musical interests. I thought I’d quote a couple passages from things I’ve read below.
I found this interview with Gerard Grisey a month or so ago and found alot in it, especially concerning the idea of extended time. This section came at an interesting time as I was busy contemplating the form in the first movement/section of the piece I’ve been working on and contemplating “what happens next”. I also enjoyed his thoughts on Feldman:

GG: Well, you know, I have very often been to juries for composition all around the world. When you look at the scores of young composers, very often you don’t have time to look at the scores completely. But the most important moment is the first change. The composer comes and establishes an idea that everybody understands. Everybody can have an idea. Everybody. The problem is to have a second one. This is a greater problem. And the major problem is to know where and when to bring in this second idea. And very often, you realize after a few pages that he is not a musician. He does the wrong thing. You have this feeling. And yet, you have composers as fascinating as Morton Feldman, for instance, who do the opposite. With Feldman, it’s absolutely extraordinary. It’s like anti-music in the sense that all expectation is constantly deluded. He puts down a pattern and you expect it’s going to go in that direction, and at that moment it doesn’t. Later, it changes at exactly the moment when you think, “That’s going to last.” He is constantly negating whatever you expect. For me, he is the true and the only Minimalist.

I just finished reading a book entitled “Lutoslawski”, edited by Ove Nordwall, which I had gotten from the San Francisco Public Library. It’s great as it came out in the middle of Lutoslawski’s career and covers a lot of ground in that very fruitful period. His thoughts on aleatoric counterpoint and it’s relationship to performers and how it allows a sense of naturalness and expressivity while still achieving a complex counterpoint effect really provoked a lot of thought as it was a very big issue to me (and still is!) in making music representative of what is intended: a problem I have long had with traditional notation and musical ideas existing in their own individual times.
In the the interview between Lutoslawski and Tadeusz Kaczynski on the Symphony No. 2, Lutoslawski ends with saying:

The point is that even if music can arouse in us associations with the rich world of human feelings, in different people these associations will be different. Hence a simple conclusion: it is unimportant whether the compoer writes his work under the influence of extra-musical impulses, whether it is related in his consciousness or subconsciousness to some cycle of events, or whether he himself plans to express something which could be said in words. All this belongs to the field of sources of musical inspiration, but for me it never becomes the ultimate goal. And that is why, just like so many other compoers, I could not answer enquiry about the concrete meaning of my music. Just as I could not say what is the meaning of Debussy’s preludes or Bach’s partitas. But isn’t it part of the great attraction of music that what is says cannot be expressed in any other way?


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