Considering the commissioning of composers
Seemingly, the world has more composers per square
mile than at any previous time. As you may expect, no
such statistic is available, and we really do not want to
squander time in calculating for the sake of it. Even if
a number was available, updated regularly, it would mean
What does stir my thoughts occasionally is of that unknown
quantity divided between performed and unperformed
music. Before I go further with these thoughts, there are
still music lovers who assume that composers of today
only write to commission. That supposition is far from
true, and could be seen as a retrograde step.
Composers need stimulus, which comes from
virtually anywhere, but ideally incorporates features that
may spur fruitful response.
Controversy often enters the ring when there's discussion
about the desirability of commissioning a composer for a
specific occasion. Some people are convinced that such a
way runs the risk of dull or contrived music in return. I was
of that persuasion for years, until I looked for evidence.
There's just as much dull music written on spec as against
Involving a composer in almost any situation where music
may add a new dimension to a specific event is a spur to their
creativity. That in itself projects new life, so good for the
community and good for the composer. Look up publishers'
lists of composers and note the diversity of music written
in response to commissions. This act of faith by a
commissioning body has a power and influence that usually
spreads much wider than expected.
Copyright © 14 February 2003 Basil Ramsey,
Eastwood, Essex, UK