Saturday, October 20, 2007


This, slightly edited to read, from a good BBC radio interview by John Tusa. One inspiration on another (very different one), from my point of view. Read the whole thing here. It's about Birtwistle's formation, his journey in music, his approach to it, and the often confused controversy that has followed him. The idea that he writes atonally, for example, which, as he says, is "far from the truth".

[H]ow things are introduced, how things gather... that moment is extraordinary. And Messiaen to me is rather like that. The first Messiaen that I heard, I thought, there is another way of writing music. And he sort of explained it. I think that I performed in the first performance of the Quartet for the End of Time... but at the beginning of the Quartet for the End of Time, is that little chart about rhythm... And that was pretty moving because I thought , it gives you courage... somebody else is doing it, maybe there is something there. To talk to him about it, to listen to him talking, you'd think that he was in [that] tradition of music from the beginning of time, but he really did invent a sort of music in one go and he was still doing the same thing at the end of his life. I mean he managed to shuffle the cards in different ways ... but you know, the melodies he invented at the beginning were the same melodies at the end.

[Pic: Olivier Messiaen]

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