Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Franz Waxwan's score for Billy Wilder's Sunset Boulevard won an Academy Award in 1950 for best film score. This "classic black comedy/drama is one of the darkest film-noir stories about 'behind the scenes' Hollywood, self-deceit, spiritual and spatial emptiness, and the price of fame, greed, narcissism and ambition" (Tim Dirks, AMC filmsite). Waxman's genius can be heard in the final scene from the movie - one of this week's New Music Videos.

This week's Featured Recording highlights two works by Morton Feldman: Rothko Chapel (1971) and Why Patterns? (1978). Regarding Rothko Chapel, Dániel Péter Biró writes:
"Morton Feldman composed Rothko Chapel as a tribute to his friend, the American painter, Mark Rothko. In 1971, at the request of the Menil Foundation of Houston, Texas, Rothko created an environment in which his 14 monumental paintings played a central role. These paintings act as objects on which all visitors to the Chapel, religious or non-religious, could use for meditation. The life and work of Morton Feldman was very similar to that of Mark Rothko. Both were of eastern European Jewish heritage; both were involved in creating a new form of abstract art; and both were motivated to discover the mystery of perception within art." Hear an excerpt from Rothko Chapel at Pytheas.

For those of you who haven't stumbled upon it, Pytheas has a Contemporary Music Concepts and Ideas Page, with information helpful to the understanding of contemporary composers and their music.

Here's an example of what you'll find there . . .
Experimental Music - A term introduced by composer John Cage in 1955. According to Cage "an experimental action is one the outcome of which is unforeseen" and he was specifically interested in completed works that performed an unpredictable action. In a broader sense, it has come to mean any music that challenges the commonly accepted notions of what music is. There is an overlap here with "avant-garde" music. David Cope describes experimental music as that, "which represents a refusal to accept the status quo."

And lastly, FROM THE PYTHEAS ARCHIVES brings us an excerpt from the dance work Amelia (2002) with music by David Lang and choreography by Édouard Lock. Lock says the piece is simply “about” pure dance; and indeed, it is a showcase for his distinctly individual choreographic style.

Explore, Listen and Enjoy!
Vinny Fuerst
Pytheas Center for Contemporary Music

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