Saturday, January 17, 2015
The quiet in the land
With the William Schuman Award following on from a Pulitzer Prize, John Luther Adams is receiving the attention he deserves. His music is rich in linkages, and two of the more arcane deserve to be explored. In an essay Adams acknowledges what he calls "the remarkable book" The Tuning of the World by the Canadian composer R. Murray Schafer. The two composers have much in common, notably a passion for the wilderness areas of North America and the signature sounds - or lack of sounds - of those wildernesses. John Luther Adams' first string quartet The Wind in High Places has just been recorded, and at the core of Murray Schafer's output are twelve string quartets which, although recorded, are unjustly neglected. The quiet in the land is a leitmotif of Adams' music, and it is also the title of one of the programmes in Glenn Gould's Solitude Trilogy. These three radio documentaries were made for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) between 1967 and 1977. Despite being primarily voice compositions, Gould considered his contrapuntal radio experiments to be music, and even gave them opus numbers. The Solitude Trilogy is a bold experiment that challenges preconceptions about the nature of music. The trilogy can be bought on iTunes, but you unlikely to hear the the programmes broadcast again for the reason explained here.
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