03 July 2021

Resting and Listening

I typed “Widor Toccata,” but my wiseacre phone decided I really wanted the Wider Toccata.
Porridger’s Almanack (Breakfast of Ganglions)

A cat can crawl into the oven to have her kittens, but that don't make ’em muffins.

— Maine proverb

One of my weekly rituals is First-Listen Fridays, and my listening list today included Sergei Taneyev’s 1911 Violin Sonata in A, and Op.20 Piano Quartet, Amy Marcy Cheney Beach’s Piano Trio in a minor, Op. 150 (when I was an undergrad she was still referred to as “Mrs H.H.A. Beach” and (what seems to me mildly strange as an inaugural listen) Schubert’s Adagio and Rondo concertante in F, D. 487.

this is how First-Listen Fridays came about: A prominent and successful composer was serving as Composer-in-Residence for a major US orchestra, and a friend introduced the two of us in hopes that that the p. and s. composer might be able to help me (an unknown and obscure composer) by perhaps promoting my work. This was gracious, kindly and thoughtful of my friend—also, more than a little sanguine, as it turned out. So, I sent my Overture to White Nights to the p. and s. composer, as a finished composition of which I was rather proud, and a piece which will certainly require a professional orchestra.

What is probably not any surprise: nothing came of it. The money line from the response sent to me by the p. and s. composer? The suggestion that I listen to more new music. Of course, my new listening today would not have met with the p. and s. composer’s approval, for the implication was that if I listened to ‘the right music,’ i.e. the approved new music, (as if I do not, mind you) I would necessarily write music in a style more to the liking of the p. and s. composer.  I had already learnt this lesson from the time I served at the University at Buffalo: There is no snob quite like a New Musicoid snob.

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