Music and Vision homepage


Editorial Musings with Basil Ramsey

One thing after another - Vanquishing peril



A frequent practice in - mostly - professional musicmaking is commissioning music from established composers. A smaller percentage is in taking a larger risk and placing commissions with young and promising composers, partly as an attempt at shrewd selection from emerging talent.

There are those who feel diffident about such commissions, partly from the fact that results are sometimes under par. Without question a sizeable risk is inherent in asking any composer to write music to a given specification by a specific date. On the whole results are satisfactory, although one knows from a simple survey that there is now a lengthy list of works worldwide that received their statutory performance(s) and were then dropped like a stone into the abyss reserved for unwanted and unsuitable music. Publishers' shelves groan under the weight of abandoned orchestral material.

Is there, I hear you ask, a more efficient way of getting composers to write music that fits a commission like a glove and has the likelihood of further performance? The only reasonable way for composers to write high quality music is to find that they have done so when a variety of considerations have induced the right ambience. Many will deride that statement, but I as a music publisher have witnessed this occasionally, yet significantly enough to leave no shadow of doubt when it happens. Outside pressure (as with a commission) will get notes on paper, often with only the slimmest chance of music powerful enough to justify the exercise.

That is not an arbitrary judgement. In this world, and in anything that man does, there is always a possibility that an astonishing result will come upon us unexpectedly to miraculously uplift endeavour. For that single reason, any spur to motivate a creative spirit is worth its weight in gold.

Copyright © 22 January 2000 by Basil Ramsey, Eastwood, Essex, UK



 << Music & Vision homepage               Basil Ramsey on Trevor Hold >>