Geographical Gilbert and Surreal Sullivan
with JENNIFER PAULL
Until I went to live in the United States, every time I took a trans-Atlantic
flight, like every other tourist, I was obliged to complete a 'Visa
Waiver' form. The title amused me.
I have always felt frustrated by the man-made borders and boundaries
with which we dissect our planet; our import and export formalities and
regulations, and their duties and pertaining inconvenience. One can argue
for the necessity of such things, but how wonderful it has been to see walls
and frontiers crumble over the last dozen or so years!
The job of the composer is surely the most difficult in the musical world.
How do they start? Where do they begin? 'Send us a recording with your score'.
How many times must they hear that from a publisher, or an orchestra? The
list of requirements, stipulations and barriers appears endless. Most of
them will know years of refusal. Even in the case of important national
figures such as Charles Ives, decades of rejection can lie ahead of their
Unlike a painting or a sculpture that can be photographed, a play or
a book that can be read, the composer is dependent upon the capacities of
the person to whom he sends his work. All artists must rely upon the knowledge
of those to whom they are promoting themselves. However, the composer more
than any other artist, remains mute and unknown without either the active
(as in performance), or the passive (as in listening or reading) participation
of others. Having to pay musicians to record your work so that you can provide
its illustration is not within the means of many.
Composers start out as the product of their town or city. With time and
success, the scale becomes regional, and if they are lucky, national. Even
then, are we to suppose that a household name in one country is as well
known in another? Sadly, we cannot. At which point does a composer receive
his visa waver? When does he cease to be a 'national' composer
and earn his right to be classified as 'international'?
Copyright © 15 February 2002
Jennifer Paull, Vouvry, Switzerland
JENNIFER PAULL'S AMORIS INTERNATIONAL
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