04 June 2009

Revisiting old work

In a sack in an organ loft, where I had entirely forgotten that I might have left aught belonging to myself, was some music of mine. The sack was recently restored to me, and the most prominent object in the sack, something I had not seen (nor even much thought of) for several years, was a bound copy of my doctoral dissertation. It is a multi-movement work for three soli voices and symphonic band; it has never been performed (there was never any remote possibility of its being performed, even when I was still at Buffalo); it would not be practical for me to try to lobby for any prospective performance. I have sometimes wondered if I should ‘plunder’ its material for other projects, or maybe re-score the entire thing as a symphony. Invariably, when such thoughts cross my mind, I am shamed by any potential accusation of laziness, and I feel (sincerely) that I should prefer to just write fresh music.

The other thing is, I am not musically embarrassed by Uncondyssion’d Ayres. I’ve written a great deal since, and my art has improved. But nor do I mean that for disloyalty to this score; because, as I realize afresh scanning through its 154 MS. pages, I learned a great deal of craft through the process of conceiving, planning, composing, and manually inscribing the final draught of the music. And, even apart from its scale, it contains some of the finest music I had composed to date.

The page with the final double-bar is dated 16.ii.1997. In a big way, I am astonished at how distant that seems, in terms of all the music I’ve written since. I really don't think I should ‘touch’ it, but just leave it as is. Chances are, it will never be performed in my lifetime (goodness knows, I’ve many another piece written more recently, which has yet to be performed, for whose performance I am far more eager).

Fifty years after I am laid to my earthy rest, mayhap it will be performed. There is nice stuff in there; no, but I mean it . . . .

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