Ed's talk: Aug 11, 2008

Monday, August 11, 2008

My Comment in the New York Times (edited)

In terms of one composer stealing from another, it might also be said that greater artists give back but lesser ones do not. But they all "steal" or "borrow".

For example, Leonard Bernstein seems to have borrowed early Stravinsky, the end of "Firebird", for the end of "Candide" ("Make Our Garden Grow"). And in "Somewhere" from "West Side Story" he may also have crossed the slow movement of Beethoven's Emperor Concerto with Richard Strauss' "Burleska for Piano and Orchestra". But nevertheless he made these his own by the sheer force of his personality.

In contrast, another well-known composer of musicals, whose name I won't mention, never made anything his own as far as I could hear.

As a composer myself, in the classical style, I have often used, for example, the noble plagal cadence that many have used before as well as many familiar melodic formulas but I hope that, by putting them into different contexts, I have produced some work worth listening to.

Around the turn of the last century, atonality and the twelve-tone technique sprang up, I suppose, in an effort to escape the clichés of tonal music, but it soon became evident that it only produced bigger clichés: (With some exceptions of course.) the same unsingable "melodies" and the same sound effects.

And they are still writing the same stuff!