In search of contemporaries

The push to the end is now ON!

The first part of my study planning is being dedicated to scheduling into each week a set of new composers to explore, as many as I can get my ears stuck into, and for this very reason, I did a google search to get some inspiration. I found this article:

The Guardian’s weekly classical music critic Tom Service compiled a list of his most worthy contemporary composers back in 2013. I figured, although 3yrs old, this wasn’t a bad place to start, and although 5 names looked familiar, the rest didn’t. Daunting – and exciting – stuff!

Therefore, my new ‘hit list’ for my Listening Log (and all reviews will be documented in this blog post as before) are as follows. I have not chosen EVERY composer to listen to, because I’m running out of time, but I have selected these:

Karlheinz Stockhausen
Alfred Schnittke
Iannis Xenakis
Magnus Lindberg
Galina Ustvolskaya
La Monte Young
Gerard Grisey
John Tavener
Toru Takemitsu
James Dillon
Terry Riley
Henry Dutilleaux
Gerald Barry
Cornelius Cardew
Luciano Berio
Philip Glass
Morton Feldman
Hans Werner Henze
Steve Reich
Louis Andriessen
Jorg Widmann
Thomas Ades

For these composers, I intend to cherry pick a single track, perhaps two, from each of them and just listen. I have been really keen to study the scores up until now, but I want to appreciate these composers with my ears and record they make me feel.  I’ve come such a long way with my own composition and I really benefitted from simply listening to it; gaining the visceral effect it had on me really helped me understand it more and I think it’s an extremely valuable way of appreciating the composers work.

This is what I want to gain a sense of as I move towards the completion and submission of this course. I want to acknowledge the contemporary composers around me today and I want to record how each of them makes me feel and why.

As you may have worked out by now, I am a traditionalist when it comes to classical music. I adore the lush, rich diatonic harmonies that sound right, sound gorgeous, and move me. I really struggle to listen to more avant grade, atonal, ‘odd’ compositions. I shy away/steer clear of them as they leave me cold. But I know that my journey through this degree will have been in vain if I didn’t acknowledge and embrace those composers around me today and their music, whether diatonic or atonal.

I’m looking forward to undertaking lots of listening and you’ll find all the details – and my feedback –  in my Listening Log as usual.


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