Culturally, humanity is presently living through an extremely important transitional period. A process is in motion which slowly but surely is bringing together the different cultures of the world to find one terrestrial culture. It seems that this movement is headed more towards an impoverishment than an enrichment. More and more the non-Western cultures are literally being drowned by Western culture without any exchange of culture which would have been desirable for human thought. What we want is the conscious man, who carries with him all the traditions that the earth has brought us. We want a human being who by his/her uniqueness can truly unify the rest of humanity. The future of music cannot be seen without the essential contribution of other cultures. The human spirit can only be cosmic when implementing the whole of its cultural heritage.I offer that wisdom on the day when Hubert Parry's inspired setting of William Blake will once again be torn out of its context at the Last Night of the Proms. The quotation comes from Claude Vivier (1948-1983) who is seen above, and is taken from his 1977 article in Musicanada titled 'Letter from Bali: Islands of Dreams for Composers'. Vivier's orchestral work Siddhartha was written before the composer's extended visit to Asia. But in his monograph 'Claude Vivier, Siddhartha, Karlheinz Stockhausen, la nouvelle simplicité et le râga' composer and musicologist Jean Lesage draws attention to the similarities between the use of melodic cells in Siddhartha and the raga form of Indian music. It is a sign of encroaching cultural impoverishment that Claude Vivier's music has only had one Proms performance and is all but absent from the current CD catalogue - the excellent 2006 Kairos recording of Siddhartha and other orchestral works is now deleted.
This post draws on the invaluable Claude Vivier: A Composer's Life by the late Bob Gilmore. Any copyrighted material is included as "fair use" for critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). No review samples used in the post. Also on Facebook and Twitter.