With the twenty-first century only a few years away, it is sobering to realize that what most of us call "modern music" is so very old: Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, still shocking to many, is nearly eighty, while Debussy's Afternoon of a Faun, with which, according to the arch-modernist Pierre Boulez, "modern music awakened," is now closer to Papa Haydn's time than to our own. Yet controversies still rage, with composers quarrelling over aesthetic issues that go back decades and performers committing themselves with political zeal to one camp or another, while large segments of the concert audience vote with their feet.
Trackings is a unique attempt to make sense of this ferment. In conversations of remarkable breadth and intimacy, it captures the thoughts and personalities of twenty-six of the world's leading composers, revealing sharp disagreements, unexpected interrelationships, and a depth and delicacy of feeling that belies their reputation for dogged rationalism. We meet a surprisingly pragmatic Boulez ("We do the best we can to be attractive"), a meek Karlheinz Stockhausen praying for inspiration ("If one is not moved, one should wait"), and a militantly asystematic Gyorgy Ligeti ("I hate all these pseudo-philosophical over-simplifications....I write music as it sounds, very concretely"). Dufallo elicits compelling self-portraits of nearly every leading composer of our time, casting new light on familiar figures (Aaron Copland, Ned Rorem, John Cage Lukas Foss), deepening our understanding of recent celebrities (David del Tredici, Aribert Reimann, Peter Schat), and giving us direct, personal insights into such towering figures as Elliott Carter, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, and Sir Michael Tippett, whose works are universally acclaimed but whose essence has hitherto eluded the general public.
Offering both detailed accounts of many of the cornerstones of the modern repertoire and a uniquely direct statement of the composers' human concerns, Trackings will be of great interest to musicians, listeners, and anyone else who cares about the course of contemporary culture.show more