16 August 2018

Nor is the quiver yet empty

"Now had the Dutchmen snatched a huge repast," and finding themselves wonderfully encouraged and animated thereby, prepared to take the field.  Expectation, says the writer of the Stuyvesant manuscript, expectation now stood on stilts.  The world forgot to turn round, or rather stood still, that it might witness the affray, like a round-bellied alderman watching the combat of two chivalrous flies upon his jerkin.
– Washington Irving, Knickerbocker's History of New York

Concerning the pumpkin.  This berry is a favorite with the natives of the interior of New England, who prefer it to the gooseberry for the making of fruit-cake, and who likewise give it the preference over the raspberry for feeding cows, as being more filling and fully as satisfying.  The pumpkin is the only esculent of the orange family that will thrive in the North, except the gourd and one or two varieties of the squash.  But the custom of planting it in the front yard with the shrubbery is fast going out of vogue, for it is now generally conceded that, the pumpkin as a shade tree is a failure.
– Mark Twain, "How I Edited an Agricultural Paper"

In the spirit of lighting a candle rather than cursing the darkness (for there will always be a lot of darkness), I managed to find three calls to which to send scores–including a choral score to a group right here in southern New England.  Also, the Denial of Symmetry diptych (the fl/pf adaptation of two movements from the Sonata for Clarinet & Piano, Op.136) and a slightly tweaked Intermezzo I from White Nights–the instrumentation for the call would not allow for harp, but did allow for another percussionist, so I reallocated the harp figures, which alternate with marimba anyway, to vibraphone . . . all in all, a gratifyingly musical solution to the 'problem.'

I even sent The Nerves to a fourth, although the chances are very high–let's peg it conservatively at 98.5%–that my submission will be rejected out of hand:  in addition to the score, they ask for a sound-file, but will not accept a MIDI realization.  I think I know what is going on there, and we can give it a name:  the reliable axiom in the musical world, that Them What Has Already Got, Gets Some More.  This was clear on the merits, and was only corroborated by a later, cursory glance through the list of previous awards.  But–what if The Nerves should in fact be the best composition of 2018 for symphonic band?  What if it should be, and it is passed over for recognition, on an inbreeding technicality?

Well, ain't nobody going to care much, is my guess.

The good news is:  I can report that, as I revisit old(er) scores such as the Op.75 № 6, I still find them music worth listening to.  I believe that if real musicians should play them in concert, there is an audience which may just agree.

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