Morton Feldman (1926-1987) was convinced that he was a major 20th century composer. That point of view put him in the minority. Now, 26 years after his untimely death, people are starting to agree. Classical music-lovers, numb from all of the brutal, post-war contemporary music, are intrigued by this unusually intuitive composer and his tender, obsessive music.
Feldman's "late" works are the most remarkable. Often spanning hours in length, he transformed the concert into a ritual. "Is music an art form?" he liked to ask. In other words, is music more than just entertainment? His answer was clearly: "Yes".
Feldman's works are not just listened to, they are experienced. They are a mixture of music, performance art, and philosophy. Unlike John Cage, his close friend and mentor, Feldman was not interested in Zen philosophy. But listening to Feldman’s music leads to a heightened state of mind, a kind of musical enlightenment.
I just recorded two of Feldman's greatest works for solo piano: "Palais de Mari" (1986, 23') and "For Bunita Marcus" (1985, 67'). 15 minutes ago, I would've put the probability of seeing an article about Feldman on Hacker News at zero. Bravo.
Feldman's "Rothko Chapel" is a great way to get into his music (written following the suicide of painter Mark Rothko).
I suspect that the high concept musicians of our era will not be the ones that are remembered. John Williams or (shudder) Andrew Lloyd Weber perhaps will, and they dodn't need to die to receive recognition. Those unacknowledged geniuses composing difficult music will be obscure footnotes.