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Re: GG: 12 Tone Fans

At 02:37 8/7/1996 EDT, Mary Jo Watts wrote:

>I wonder if I could take a little poll about how many list members are
>interested in atonal, or 12 tone music, and what draws you to it (if
>you are!)  Also, what is your reaction to GG's performances of
>Schoenberg, Berg, et al?
>If you do have an interest in atonal music-- what brought you to it--
>music training? a certain piece caught your attention?

Interesting to see this topic crop up right now. I've just had a short (but
detailed) exchange with a member of another list where (in part) i defended
the rights of modern composers to be "derivative" - then broke off the chain
of argument to thank him for information on a forthcoming cycle of
symphonies by the British serialist, Humphrey Searle, which i'm waiting to

(I never claimed to be consistent)

One of the real problems with the question is that there are _so_ many
different schools of 12 tone &/or serialist music it's kind of hard to know
where to begin (using the term "atonal" is even worse... technically, the
genial American mystic Alan Hovhaness could be described as an atonal
composer because his music is normally organised modally or chromatically
rather than tonally. 

(Speaking of Hovhaness - i really can't imagine a creative figure who seems
_less_ likely to appeal to GG than AH; which means i'm perversely curious to
know what - if anything - GG actually did make of his music. Does anyone know?)

While the starker excesses of a composer like Anton von Webern immediately
springs into mind when terms like _12 tone_ & _serialist_ are mentioned; the
serialism of other composers - Schoenberg & Berg, most notably; as well as
lesser known figures such as Searle & Benjamin Frankel - need be no more
intimidating than late Mahler if played properly. Unfortunately, it seldom

(Can't help you in explaining why i'm interested in serialism, though. Like
everyone, without realising it i grew up with the sound of dissonance
through film & television soundtracks; so when some _tough_ musical sounds
were hived off as serialist, it didn't really concern me)

What i like about GG's performances of Schoenberg in particular is that he
plays the music as though there was nothing particularly special about the
composer or his mode of musical construction... frankly, he plays the music
as though it was by a younger contemporary of Richard Strauss (which it
was); & not from another planet. He may not be the _whole picture_ of
Schoenberg (whatever _that_ is); but i've happily recommended GG's
recordings (with those of von Dohnanyi for the orchestral works) as the best
introductions to the composer i know.

All the best,

Robert Clements