Friday, November 02, 2007

So bye-bye Miss American pie


'With a few obvious exceptions (John Adams springs to mind, as do Elliott Carter and Steve Reich), Britain is not conspicuously friendly territory for recent American music' writes Steven Stucky in a very well-argued article in today's Guardian.

You are right Steven. The problem lies with our broadcasters and concert planners. They suffer from the American pie synodrome. If a composer's music shows any sign of audience acceptance we are fed such large portions of that composer's particular pie by the BBC and the Barbican Centre (which are now, effectively, one and the same) that we run screaming back to our own Thomas Ad├Ęs and Malcolm Arnold. As reported here, it has happened recently with John Adams, Philip Glass, Elliott Carter, Steve Reich, and Osvaldo Golijov.

We'd love to hear more of the many other fine contemporary American composers. Just tell the BBC and Barbican that a healthy diet is a varied one.

When did the BBC last broadcast 'America's greatest symphony'?
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5 comments:

Pliable said...

Email received

The same problem applies for Canadian music (or American/British modern music of any popular sort not being performed in Canada).Now, allow me to shamefully plug a new CD by my dear composer-friend Michael Horwood, a Canadian of American origins (and I wrote the programme notes, as well. ANOTHER lost art along with LP covers). ALBANY RECORDS has for the first time issued a Canadian composer on their label, albeit one of American extraction. Four works are included performed by Joseph Kubera, Sinfonian Varsiovia, Ian Hobson conducting. The works are : National Parks Suite, Symphony No. 1, Intravariations for piano and orchestra and Amusement Park Suite.

The problem is, and always has been for Michael: His music is too accessible. And, even though I'm biased, NO ONE CAN CONVINCE ME that the two Suites are less of a substantial and important contribution to potential War Horse repertoire as are similar suites of Respighi.

Cheers

David Cavlovic

Pliable said...

Thanks for that David.

Here's another interesting Albany Records release that I featured here last year:

http://theovergrownpath.blogspot.com/2006/11/this-requiem-is-real-discovery.html

Henry Holland said...

Well, weren't the American soldiers in World War II told they were "overpaid, overfed, oversexed and over here"? :-)

The British gave and continue to give us their glorious rock bands, that's what matters to me!

Frankly, until Robert Simpson's incredible symphonies are standard rep, the Yanks can wait their turn.

Pliable said...

Henry, here is a link to a very early Overgrown Path that may interest you.

The Hethel airbase is about a mile from our house, where I type these words.

http://theovergrownpath.blogspot.com/2005/01/memories-of-usaaf-389th-bomb-group-at.html

Pliable said...

Henry, I should also have said that in a neat example of synchronicity I have been looking at the Robert Simpson symphonies in the last few days to see if I can programme one in my radio programme.

The problem is that their length makes them difficult to fit into the time slot that I have. But I'm working on it.