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Boulez destroyed ... but is it art?

Karl-Heinz Stockhausen's deplorable unguarded comments (following the 11 September 2001 tragedy) about international terrorism being the greatest art -- perhaps a quick gut reaction, and ever-so quickly withdrawn -- set me thinking about the dangers of terrorism, media and art, and my discomfort with the rather frightening prospect of 'terrorism art' -- a kind of vying between different groups of terrorists to capture the attention of the world by killing ever increasing numbers of people in more horrific ways. This worrying vision of the future, in which we're all turned into TV voyeurs and in which our supposed freedom of thought, speech and action is gradually eroded, is certainly not my happiest.

But we're stuck with this world we live in -- with its good, bad, and everything in between, and it's up to us to make sense of it -- a task becoming ever more daunting as the amount of information available, the difficulty of life's decisions and choices, the gap between rich and poor, and the uncertainness of life, all increase.

In art and music, the 'cutting edge' is continually under pressure to push itself (and the artist's career and visibility in the media) just that bit further, provoking us to continue to ask those cliché questions: 'is it art?' and 'is it music?'

My reaction to a news item received here at M&V describing a project to collect -- and then destroy -- copies of the works of the veteran French composer and conductor Pierre Boulez (born 1925) is no -- not art, certainly not music, and not even a new or original idea, but just sick sensationalism. The comments Boulez made in his youth about destroying older music do seem to have come back to haunt him during the later years of his life, however. Some of these early Boulez comments inspired Jeff Talman's wicked 2000 eMuse feature here at M&V -- Boulez is Dead (and please note the capital D!).

They do say, though, that there's no such thing as bad publicity ...

IRCAM -- the Boulez stronghold

Boulez alive at Sony Classical

A Boulez biography at the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra

The Karlheinz Stockhausen website

Jeff Talman's Boulez feature at M&V

News item about Stockhausen's unfortunate comments

The suspect Boulez project


In the USA, 2002-03 is the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra's farewell season to its rather active Music Director Kirk Trevor, who has been in the post since 1985. Trevor is also Music Director and Principal Conductor of the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra and, in the Czech Republic, Chief Conductor of the Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic of Zlin.

Born in England, Trevor studied cello and conducting at London's Guildhall School of Music, and was a conducting student of Adrian Boult and Vilem Tausky. He has become one of the leading teachers of conducting, as co-founder and Artistic Director of the International Workshop for Conductors, held annually in the Czech Republic.

As Principal Guest Conductor of the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra in Bratislava, in a relationship beginning in 2000, Trevor has begun making recordings of American music (one of which was reviewed here recently).

You'll find information about Kirk Trevor at both the orchestra sites below.

Kirk Trevor at the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra

The Knoxville Symphony Orchestra


Another (presumably) self-exiled Englishman is the composer Ronald Senator, a pupil of Egon Wellesz at Oxford University in the 1940s, who lives in the USA with his American pianist wife Miriam Brickman. I had the good fortune to meet them both just over a year ago, and they're very good company.

The Senator and Brickman 'his and hers' websites, announced just recently, are very plain and not particularly exciting to look at, but the information here is portrayed very clearly, loads instantly, and although often brief, is rather interesting, especially the information about the Holocaust Requiem (1990), Senator's educational project Musicolor and a wide range of photographs on the Brickman site. No music samples here yet, which is a pity. We await more!

Ronald Senator's website

Miriam Brickman's website

Miriam Brickman plays East European music in London was formed at the beginning of 2002, with bases in Vienna and London, as a service to help the careers of self-promoting musicians. This is a slick, modern flash-enabled site with sound, and is promoting something called the 'calling card' as a solution for artists wishing to promote their music online.


Finally today, a bit of fun with a site which, although not specifically about music, can be used to find out what the world's web designers and publishers think about your favourite music and musicians. Ask it about people, things, places and dates, and get an instant (and often hilarious) answer.

Click on the link below, and you'll see a selection of answers to the question 'who is Stockhausen?', drawn from websites around the world, as indexed by the Google search engine, but filtered using software developed by an Australian web company. In time, I'm sure this kind of tool will become more common, as the web becomes a repository for yet more information about everyone and everything.

Googlism -- who is Stockhausen?

Googlism -- who is Boulez?

Googlism -- who is Mozart?

Copyright © 12 December 2002 Keith Bramich, London, UK


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