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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).

Here is part one:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qxSt_w2ODaQ

The story of the Rothko Chapel is well worth reading if you like abstract expressionist artwork (de Kooning, Rothko, Kline, Pollock, etc).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rothko_Chapel

Also, I recommend listening to the conversations between John Cage and Morton Feldman:

http://archive.org/details/CageFeldmanConversation1

They talk, drink, smoke in the radio studio. It's all very 1960's but the insight into the lives of great composers is priceless.




Palais de Mari is a great piece of music, very accessible considering the style.

is the recording available online, either youtube or for sale?

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> 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.

It's Béla Bartók all over again. I wonder if there's an unwritten rule in nature that truly creative composers have to die before people recognize the value of their work?

A counterexample to this pattern is Philip Glass, who is receiving some recognition, but by virtue of being recognized in his own lifetime, may undercut his own reputation.

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Wouldn't Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart be obvious counterexamples?

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I was thinking of modern times, "modern" in the sense that thoughtful music is rare.

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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.

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