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Tuesday, March 1, 2005 

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In the 2nd Person : The World Trade Center Tragedy and New Music

Frank J. Oteri, Editor and PublisherIn these completely surreal and horrific times, I count myself among the lucky who have not lost any family, friends or colleagues in the horrible tragedies that occurred at New York City's World Trade Center, at the Pentagon in Washington DC, and 80 miles outside Pittsburgh. Thankfully, the same is true for all of us here at the American Music Center. Although the AMC is less than three miles away from this still unbelievable nightmare in lower Manhattan, on some levels, it seems much further away. An important component to overcoming this sadness and regaining our strength is to reflect on what this loss represents for all of us who care about new music.

I've lived in New York City my entire life and remember the World Trade Center being built when I was a child. And throughout my life, I have walked there and back. But, the things I will remember most about the Twin Towers are the many remarkable concerts that I attended there.

Attending the world premiere of Wendy Mae Chambers' One World Percussion, an hour-long tour-de-force for 50 percussionists performing on 500 instruments in between the Towers and reverberating well beyond them is an experience that made me forever an apostle of new music. I will never forget John Schaeffer's wonderful series of New Sounds concerts in the Winter Garden atrium of the World Financial Center, whose personal recent highlights included the Hildergurls, Robert Fripp's solo soundscapes and Stephen Scott's Bowed Piano Ensemble. I remember being mesmerized by the Philip Glass Ensemble, staring up at the seemingly infinite floors of the Towers and finding slight variations in visual patterns as I heard their analogous variations in the gradually shifting melodic cells of Glass's music.

Most recently, I remember braving the rain for the X-ecutioners, a group of experimental turntable artists, and the majesty of the world premiere of Glenn Branca's new Symphony #11, Hallucination City, reportedly for 100 electric guitars and described better than I ever could in a column Greg Sandow contributed to NewMusicBox. What strange and awful new meanings are conjured up by the name of the group of DJs and the title of Branca's new symphony, both of which brought such vibrant life to the Plaza of the World Trade Center!

It is the "bringing to life" that new music represents that should comfort us and move us beyond these tragic events. New music is a beacon for our hopes and our future.

Frank J. Oteri

Frank J. Oteri
Posted: 9/17/2001


Articles and commentary posted on NewMusicBox reflect the viewpoint of their individual authors; their appearance on NewMusicBox does not imply official endorsement by the American Music Center.

Reader Comments:

Posting Service Barry Drogin
9/17/2001@10:16:24 PM
Posting Service: At my urging, and because NewMusicBox was barely semi-functional for a week, Kyle Gann has set up a posting service for downtown NYC new music composers, performers and other denizens, to let those around the country and the world know that they are all right. Although many of us have been highly traumatized by these events, and will be living with changes that the world can and cannot see, it appears that our community has not suffered any direct losses. We can all be grateful for that.

Please keep in mind that the guestbook I am to mention is not for posting your opinion of the pending war, or for expressing your relief that a friend is all right. It is to post information about people who have not yet had information posted about them, telling all visitors that the person is alive, maybe some info on whether they are difficult to contact because of loss of telephone or e-mail service, practical info like that.

Kyle Gann's website is To post to the guestbook, go to To view the posts (i.e., if you are worried about someone), go to

I have received concerned telephone calls and e-mails from around the country and the world. My joke is that you know things are serious when your wife's friend from Kosovo calls to see if you are all right. Because it is difficult to relive the experience every time, I have posted a brief description of my experience at

As I have been talking with people around town, I have come to the conclusion that, in addition to the 5,000 missing and presumed dead, some quarter of a milliion people have been directly traumatized (not by watching television, but by directly seeing, hearing and feeling, up close, some portion of this tragedy), and, as survivors, their after-stories are not being heard by the media. My plea to the world is for some amount of sensitivity to this, as various people go through various stages of their grief and recovery. This is a process that will take weeks and months.

The new music community is not necessarily a rich community, but it is a very caring one, and I expect to see its best side come out in surprising and wonderfully unexpected ways.

Barry Drogin
Not Nice Music
Stockhausen Comment garth trinkl
9/19/2001@4:41:11 PM
Readers of this forum should be made aware of K.H. Stockhausen's unfortunate and unguarded comments on the WTC inhumanity. From the AP:

German Composer Stockhausen Apologizes

The Associated Press Wednesday, September 19, 2001; 1:27 PM

HAMBURG, Germany –– German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen apologized for calling last week's attacks on the United States a "work of art" – words that prompted the cancelation of four concerts in this northern city.

The 73-year-old Stockhausen, one of Germany's best-known postwar composers, had described the attacks as "the greatest work of art one can imagine."

"That minds accomplish in one act something that we in music can't dream of, that people rehearse like mad for 10 years – totally fanatically – for a concert and then die – that's the greatest work of art there is in the entire cosmos," he said Sunday.

Organizers of a music festival in Hamburg promptly canceled four concerts of Stockhausen's music.

The composer has since apologized for the comments, which he made Sunday during a press conference, Hamburg's top culture official Christina Weiss said Tuesday.

Stockhausen told Hamburg officials he meant to compare the attacks to "a production of the devil, Lucifer's work of art," said culture department spokesman Ingo Mix.

"If anyone feels hurt by what I said at the press conference, I ask their forgiveness, because I have never felt or thought what was read into my words," the composer said, according to Weiss.

However, festival organizers still consider staging Stockhausen's music inappropriate in view of his "unconsidered verbal gaffes," Weiss said. The music festival itself will continue.

Stockhausen gained fame through his avant-garde works in the 1960s and 70s. He later moved to huge music theater and other projects, some involving military equipment, that have been less popular.

© 2001 The Associated Press
Call for music, additional forum Dennis Bathory-Kitsz
9/19/2001@5:09:36 PM
If you've created a composition related to this week's tragic events, we would like to broadcast it on Kalvos & Damian and add it to our page at

Please upload it in mp3 format to You can also email a short commentary to be read along with it.

Compositions will be broadcast this Saturday, October 13, and November 10.

This is an open invitation, so please pass this message along.

There are other forums for communication, but ours is also available at (in the section "General Discussion about the New Music Bazaar"

stockhausen chad wozniak
9/22/2001@12:44:18 AM
Having heard rather too many of the king of dadaism's "compositions," I can't say I'm surprised that he would say something like that.
Music in Difficult Times garth trinkl
9/25/2001@5:58:12 PM
Mr. Smith, thank you for your exceptionally thoughtful essay. I would like to make a few very brief comments in response.

It is true that American orchestras are adjusting their programs in light of the national tragedy. For example, the National Symphony Orchestra, in Washington, D.C., has postponed this week's scheduled performances of Thomas Ades' Asyla. On the other hand, that orchestra's participation in the special "Concert for America", to be broadcast on PBS this Friday, did include James Galway playing William Bolcom's Flute Concerto slow movement, entitled "Memory". To me, more than Barber's Adagio for Strings or the Finale to Mahler's Symphony #2, that haunting, quasi-atonal movement seemed to capture the nation's mood of grief and uncertainty. The work was warmly applauded by the specially invited audience.

I also feel that Leon Botstein's comment that "There hasn't been great music evoking the Holocaust" is questionable. While five decades of classical music - from Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Britten, and Shostokovich to Reich, Ran, and several others - have touched upon that horror, it still remains a central concern to scores of composers on all continents. Peter Ruzicka and Peter Mussbach's opera, Paul Celan, premiered last year in Dresden, brings us even closer to the horror. Furthermore, I believe that works tangential to the Holocaust, such as Penderecki's Threnody and the second movement of Gorecki's Symphony of Sorrowful Songs, should not be neglected.

Finally, the essay notes the postponement of several U.S. operatic premieres. While creativity will most likely be repressed here in the U.S. in the short-term, let us remember that Europe is forging ahead in the orchestral and operatic realms. For example, the Frankfurt Opera alone, this coming year, plans to stage a season of eight operas by living European composers - two by Henze, two by Rihm, one by Berio, one by Sciarrino, one by Haas, and one by Eggert (the last a children's opera). In my view, such support for creativity is a healthy response of a society's facing uncertainty.
Additional information... Molly Sheridan
9/27/2001@10:53:26 AM
A survey of fifteen works written in response to the Holocaust is posted at as part of an online curriculum resource for teachers. As acknowledged on the site, the works add another dimension to our understanding of tragedies that cannot be fully expressed in words.

Molly Sheridan
Associate Editor
Holocaust Music Perry Townsend
9/27/2001@5:04:25 PM
Thank you Garth for your comments and Mollie for the teacher's guide link. I would add just a couple pieces that come to mind, Sam Adler's chilling Krystallnacht oratorio, and a 1994 musical play by two friends of mine, Jim Crew and the late Hal Hudson, called "As Butterflies" and based upon the same material as Davidson's "I Never Saw Another Butterfly". I eventually found a mention of Messiaen's "Quatuor pour le Fin du Temps" in the teacher's guide, but in my book that piece belongs front and center! Difficult to imagine its initial reception, and its possible current resonance is a rather unsettling thought as well... Finally, the corpus of "Entartete Muzik", to use the Nazis' own offensive term, cannot be ignored. An excellent section on this appears in the teacher's guide, and Sony's recent CD set of "entartete" composers is well worth exploring.
ooops, <Molly> Perry Townsend
9/27/2001@5:07:27 PM
(sheepish grin)
An Afterthought... garth trinkl
9/27/2001@5:21:55 PM
Ms. Sheridan, thank you for providing the helpful reference.

It occurred to me later that I should have mentioned two exceptionally powerful, recent song-cycles on Holocaust related themes by Grawemeyer Award winning composers Simon Bainbridge and Sir Harrison Birtwistle: respectively, Ad Ora Incerta (At an Uncertain Hour), Four Orchestral Songs from Primo Levi; and Pulse Shadows, Meditations on Poems of Paul Celan.

The first, 30 minutes long, is available on the British new music label, NMC, and published by Schirmer/Novello; while the latter, an hour long, is forthcoming on Teldec, and is published by Boosey & Hawkes.

I personally believe that each of these cycles fulfills any reasonable criteria of "greatness".
corrections akimbo Perry Townsend
9/27/2001@5:51:07 PM
Next time I'll research before posting..... The "Entartete Musik" series is on Decca.

American Music post WTC Keith
10/1/2001@4:31:59 PM
This is the first time I have written and tried to express my thoughts about music since the Sept 11th tragedy. I have noticed that many composers are writing, works in reaction to what has happened.
I cannot do that
I don't think the events of 9/11 are a source of inspiration. However, these events have changed the world and my life, and thus I feel my music.
I don't think I can go on writing and thinking about music the same way, and can any of us. By the time this is all over, where will we be as artists, as a country, as a world.
I see a future of musical change, a new epoch, gone is the cynicism and irony of the last 30 years. WWII changed music and art forever, will the terror of WTC not do the same?

This past weekend my wife and I flew out to see the world premier of Elliot Carter's Cello Concerto in Chicago. Elliot Carter was in attendance and participated in a pre-concert lecture, he commented breifly on seeing the WTC horror from his apartment window, and that he could never get it out of his mind. He went on to express what he thought was American about his music. That his is a music of different voices and personalities that contribute in their own way to make up a work, an idea that he thinks is what is best about America.
An hour later Yo-yo Ma was on the stage the hairs of his bow were snapping as he flew through the many thorny passages of the work. Sweat poured off of him as he played the work, expressing passion and emotion that would not let one forget the WTC disaster. The work was written well before but prepared after, and can these incidents not have effected this first performance?
Everything is different now, everything relates back to that dark day in September and what meaning can anything now have except in relation ship to that?
I still have not started writing music again. It may be a little while more before I do. But when I do my music will be new and I will be new, how could I not be? How could I stay the same? As the world has changed and come together, can things be any different with music?
I think not.
For the first time in my life I think of myself not just as a composer but as an American Composer. Many of my generation never had a way or a desire to feel patriotic, but that now too has changed. We are proud to be American, but there is a struggle in that as well. What does it mean to be an American now, and what does it mean to be an American composer.
I never asked these questions before, or even imagined I would. Now I struggle to find an answer.

Keith Corbin
My web site
Violence, Healing and Music Chris Mohr
10/3/2001@5:56:35 PM
Last March, my music drama, From The Realm Of The Shadow, was released (Naxos 8.559089-90, 2 CDs, $13, visit deals with the horror and trauma of gang rape, and moves from there into emotional and spiritual healing. The work took me 20 years to complete, largely because it reflected my own slow process of healing. The people who have responded most strongly to this work have been people who themselves are working through the trauma of violence. Now, the whole country, and especially New York City, is reeling from the September 11 attack. I hope that this journey from violence into deep healing may offer something of value to people today, even as my own heart breaks yet again from this last terrible round of violence in our back yard.
Silence Barry Drogin
10/4/2001@4:34:06 AM
Keith, like you, I have been reluctant to return to composition, knowing that I have changed and that my music will change, too. I have heard only one piece composed since the event, at a fundraising, a piece started before and finished after. The two sections were unimpressive - what started out as banal written before became even more banal written after.

What has to be most striking to us as composers is that the most effective sonic response to this tragedy is silence. In our houses of worship, we have the ritual repetitions, and then, as we remember, mourn and grieve, long silence. Similarly, as I visited Ground Zero, shocking silence was the only appropriate reaction.

I have found that sometimes we compose our happiest music when times are rough, and our saddest when our lives are most joyous. As I face the overwhelming despair that has enveloped my family's life, I am considering setting texts that relate to hope. The act of creation is an interesting phenomena. I've been looking at works of the early 40's - Copland's Americana, Rodgers' "Oklahoma!" - in a new light. I suggest others do the same.


Barry Drogin
Not Nice Music
Remember the Children Barry Drogin
10/4/2001@7:47:34 PM
I wanted to add to Tod Machover's words about his children some sad reflections from nearer to Ground Zero. My 4-year-old, Max, has been seriously affected by the initial events and other circumstances that followed. His school is just around the corner from St. Vincent's, with a clear view of the towers. When I pulled him from school on September 11, he saw the towers billowing smoke. When the whole family got home, we were concerned to be able to hear any emergency broadcasts, so he was unfortunately exposed to the media's constant repetition of the horrible images, which made him curl up into a fetal position before we realized what was going on and switched to radio. He is suddenly afraid of the dark, upset by things that didn't use to upset him, plays and makes drawings of the towers, and continues to speak about how sad he is that they are gone. At one time, he pointed uptown to some haze, believing it was the smoke that billowed for days from the wreckage.

He is constantly exposed to reminders of the tragedy. The students displaced from PS234 are in his school, with posters welcoming them everywhere. He cannot go to school without passing countless posters of the missing, including a large shrine on the corner of the block his school is on. Politicians like the Governor and the First Lady visit his school for their photo ops.

Max's trauma is nothing compared to the PS234 kids who, initially evacuated to the basement, were rushed screaming through the streets by firemen when the first collapse occurred. And then, of course, there are the thousands of children who have lost a parent. The massive ceremony of that company that lost over 700 employees is sad beyond comprehension.

I lost my mother to cancer when I was six, and it has always set me apart from the world. For example, throughout my childhood, Yizkor and Yom Kippur, not apples, honey and Rosh Hashanah, were what was important. Beyond the difficulties of an older person losing a child, and the immense burden of becoming a widow or widower, these thousands of children of various ages stripped of parents is an enormous tragedy that most people cannot begin to comprehend.

The most important thing that society can do for these children is to start collecting stories from their relatives, friends and colleagues about their missing parent. The traumatized widow or widower may have difficulty talking about their missing loved one, may remarry and get on with their lives. When these children are ten, or twenty, or thirty, they will need to revisit these lost memories, perhaps without their remaining parent's involvement. This must go beyond the short portraits I've seen in some newspapers. Let people write or record things as short or long as they want. These memories should be accessible from the Internet so that the children can access them whenever they want to, or are ready to.

Like the children of Holocaust survivors, these children of the WTC victims, including (and perhaps especially) those too young to speak up for themselves now, need this memorial started NOW, and need it to be permanent. If you attend a memorial for anyone lost in this tragedy, make sure a book of memories by attendees is created for these dear children, who may not be brought to the funeral if they are very young.

There is an excellent memoir, "Of Time and Memory," which is by an author whose mother died a few days after he was born. Decades later, he got up the strength to re-create his mother's life. Not everyone may have that author's skills and determination.

I am slowly recovering, but my first thoughts are with Max. Many AMC members may remember Max, the judge of "The Lullaby Project." At a recent WTC fundraiser, I sang "Sleep," my contribution. An a cappella lullaby would be a comforting musical contribution, rather than some banal war-like piece full of bombast and bravado. "The Lullaby Project" is now a call for scores, and Max would be thrilled to receive additional submissions. You can find details at and
journal of responses Eve Beglarian
10/5/2001@8:18:51 AM
hello everyone,

I thought I'd let you know that I have put up a journal of personal responses to 9.11 (my own and others).

I think it's turning into a very healing thing, and I invite you to visit, to read, and to contribute your own responses.

all best,

eve beglarian

An American requiem? Ingram Marshall
10/7/2001@12:42:05 PM
Some months ago a composer friend of mine suggested that there was a need for an "American Requiem," somewhat modelled after the Brahms "Ein Deutsches Requiem," wherein appropriate texts from American aurthors dealing with loss and mourning might be set. I hadn't thought much about his idea until a few days after Sept 11 when the NY Philharmonic scheduled a memorial concert featuring the Brahms Requiem, and other requia began to show up--Faure, Mozart, Verdi, Britten, even Berlioz-- all in commemoration. Even the Mahler "Resurection Symphony" was brought out to do duty. The only American music which seemed to find a place in the musical memorials was the Barber Adagio. Where is a good American Requiem now that we need it? Ingram Marshall
American Requiem Tom Myron
10/7/2001@2:19:40 PM
Charles Fussell's Specimen Days for Baritone Solo, Chorus and Orchestra settings of texts from the poetry and prose writings of Walt Whitman.

It's available on Koch International Classics (3-7338-2-H1) with David Hoose conducting the Cantata Singers and orchestra with Sanford Sylvan, baritone soloist.
American Requiems garth trinkl
10/8/2001@1:51:59 PM
Mr. Myron, thanks for the Charles Fussell recommendation. I look forward to investigating it.

I personally am surprised that Roger Session's "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd" is not more widely performed as a memorial work. It was written as a memorial to Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy. While it's musical language and orchestration is slightly dense for a public memorial work, I find it at all times very poignant and the settings of the Walt Whitman poems quite clear and musically poetic.

While I did hear the world premiere as an impressionable high school student 30 years ago, I do not believe that it is sentimentality which has brought me back repeatedly to this work. As many readers probably know, a 1976-77 recording is available on the New World Recordings label. I would certainly welcome additional recordings of this work.
Charles Fussell Tom Myron
10/8/2001@2:28:48 PM
Mr. Trinkl, you're more than welcome. The Koch recording is from 1997 and is getting a little hard to find. If you cannot get your hands on a copy please drop me a note.
Re-evaluating "art" Rebecca
10/8/2001@9:50:04 PM
After reading several of the articles in the special edition on NewMusic Box, I must say that I am so proud to be part of the new music community (even if from the musicological side). Although, like Stockhausen, I know there will be those "artists" who choose to capitalize on the 'trauma breeds art' idea, most of the reactions thus far seem thoughtful, genuine, and without the haste that marks the outward need to "make a statement." No doubt that some graduate seminar in musicology far from now will focus on "Pieces in Response to the American Tragedy," but I am gratified to know that most of these pieces will not be written with this end in mind. Hopefully music has found new truth. Respectfully yours, Rebecca Giacosie
Re-evaluating American Requiems garth trinkl
10/9/2001@12:25:05 PM
Ms. Giacosie, I agree with you that Mr. Oteri and Ms. Sheridan have done a superb job of writing and assembling an extremely helpful set of essay responses in the wake of September 11.

I would like again to follow-up briefly to Mr. Marshall's call for consideration of an appropriate form of American Requiem.

I have experienced live performances of Penderecki's Polish Requiem and James DeMars's American Requiem, and have studied at some length Vyacheslav Artyomov's Requiem (To the Victims of Stalinist Terror). While all are very deeply sincere and well-crafted large-scale works, I personally don't think that any of them has the human, ecumenical, or healing appeal of Brahms's German Requiem (or Britten's War Requiem).

Shorter, and more intensely personal, are Andrew Imbrie's Requiem, occasioned by the passing of his adolescent son, and Ingram Marshall's own extraordinarily moving Kingdom Come, again occasioned by an intensely personal loss. The Imbrie harks back to Herbert Howells's beautiful memorial works in memory of both his son and John F. Kennedy. Of the three, the Howells works are probably the most successful in bridging the civic and the personal, in the manner achieved by Brahms.

Also available for investigation are Richard Wernick's Kaddish-Requiem, which I believe was dedicated to the victims of the Vietnam War; and the Thomas Beveridge Yizkor Requiem, which attempts reconciliation of the Christian and Jewish religious traditions.
Re: American Requiems Frank J. Oteri
10/10/2001@11:02:41 AM
For me, oddly enough, the greatest American requiem is Paul Hindemith's When Lilacs Last In The Dooryard Bloomed (a.k.a. A Requiem for Those We Love), a setting of the great Walt Whitman Civil War-era poem which predates the settings by Charles Fussell and Roger Sessions cited in previous posts on this forum.

A piece by a German composer might seem an odd choice as greatest American requiem, but let's not forget that at the time of its composition, 1946, Hindemith lived in the United States and the work was commissioned by and premiered by Americans. Initially conceived as a memorial to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who died in office in 1945, the work morphed into a memorial to all the victims of the Second World War.

The fact that this remarkable composition, which I think contains some of the best text setting of American English by any composer, was the work of an émigré makes it an even more significant work to revive in these present difficult times because it is yet another proof that our diversity and multi-culturalism is our greatest strength at a time when we are being terrorized by zealots whose view of the world is myopic and uni-cultural.

There was an excellent LP recording of this work issued by Columbia/Odyssey with Hindemith conducting the New York Philharmonic featuring some amazing singing by contralto Louise Parker. Unfortunately that recording is currently out-of-print, but now seems like the perfect time for it to be re-issued as well as for new live performances of it to happen all over this country!

Sonic Monument Barry Drogin
10/11/2001@2:04:36 PM
NPR Sonic Monument: There is a photography expedition, a democratic display of images of the tragedy. And of course, there have been tons of words, stories appearing in every medium. As composers, what about sound? If you go to the CNN web site, you can see and hear the video of the second plane crash (although you cannot save it). I was thinking about how I wanted there to be a collection of all of the sounds related to this tragedy.

Well, this is a big country, and good ideas don't appear alone. Davia Nelson and Nikki Silva, California-based producers of "Lost and Found Sound" on NPR, are collaborating with Verizon to build a Sonic Monument of sounds from dictation tapes, tourist videos, voice mails - anything that relates to the life and history of the World Trade Center or to the events of Sept. 11. Call (202) 408-0300 if you have anything to contribute.

A Musique Concrete memorial, assembled from their archives? Considering the way I flinch every time I hear a helicopter or airplane overhead, I think that would be effective Music Therapy, both for the composer and the audience (if done sincerely).

Barry Drogin
Not Nice Music
Text-Setting American Requiems garth trinkl
10/11/2001@4:07:19 PM
Mr. Oteri, you are right to propose Paul Hindemith's expansive When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd (Requiem for Those We Loved), from 1946, as a great American example of the Requiem genre. Your statement for including it in the American canon is very eloquent.

I had myself thought of listing it along with the three deeply felt, very large-scale Requiems which I did mention, but I hesitated to do so since I had not listened to it in some time.

Having now reacquainted myself with it, I must both join you in praising its general beauty, but also disagree with your statement that Hindemith's text-setting of the Walt Whitman poem reflects exemplary setting of American English. While it is a musically very traditional and often powerful treatment of the full Whitman poem, I must agree with Michael Steinberg and Andrew Porter who have each pointed to shortcomings in Hindemith's setting of Whitman's American English: Steinberg, in the notes to the New World Records recording of Roger Sessions's shorter, but more visionary treatment of the same Walt Whitman poem (1977), and Porter in his Music of Three Seasons, 1974-77 (Chatto and Windus, 1979).

While Steinberg points out that Hindemith often "straitlaces" Whitman's "sometimes inflated...large-breathed, quasi-Biblical rhythms and inversions," Porter points to numerous examples of improper scansion of Whitman's American English, and takes special exception to Hindemith's fugal treatment of Whitman's twelfth stanza ("Mighty Manhatten with spires...") noting its "insensitive forcing of the lines into a jiggling 12/8 meter."

I am raising these critical reservations in the hope that when readers listen to the Hindemith Requiem, they will be alert to both its tonal beauty and architectural power, but also instances of clearly unnatural forcing of Walt Whitman's expansive, visionary American text. One of the reasons that Brahms's "Ein Deutsches Requiem" is beloved around the world is the naturalness of the text-setting of the German translation of the Biblical texts.

On the other hand, Handel's great English language oratorios have themselves survived some infelicities of English language text-setting, and maybe, in the larger scheme of things, Hindemith's not always natural setting of the American language will too.
Mr. Machover's Comments Sean Hickey
10/12/2001@9:51:15 PM
Dear Tod: Thank you for your moving sentiments in the aftermath of the disaster of September 11. I await what the future holds for your music. As a composer, I share your humanistic thoughts quite thoroughly.
Holocaust echoes gt
11/5/2001@9:22:18 AM
I think Grigori Frid's hour-long mono-opera "The Diary of Anne Frank", from 1969, should be included among the great musical works evoking the Holocaust. The 86-year old Russian composer dedicated this past weekend's performance in the United States to the memory of the victims of September 11. An English language, chamber version is now available.
A View from New Mexico William Dunning
11/5/2001@12:55:09 PM
Before the dust had settled in New York and Virginia September 11, wise and cool heads were reminding us that we must not let anonymous cowards cripple our normal lives. Clearly, Americans will, as we did 60 years ago after Pearl Harbor, knuckle down and deal with this terrorist infamy. We will make sacrifices, just as we did during World War II, the last time we were, as the President put it then, "suddenly and deliberately attacked."

But it is very important that we not allow barbarians to drag us down to their cultural level. If anything, the best of our music, art and literature must be a beacon for civilized life when it is under attack. When the night is darkest, we need, more than ever, to keep our eyes on the stars.

Our orchestras, our chamber groups, our instrumental soloists, can mobilize the power of music to kindle patriotism when it must burn. At the same time magnificent music sets our blood pumping, though, it also reminds us that we are noble souls who inhabit the bodies that must work, sweat and hurt to accomplish our goals. It can remind us, in times of crisis, that we don't have time for second-rate stuff: only the best will do. As you listen to the stirring music of Chopin, Beethoven, Hovhaness, or Sousa, you resolve to give more ---- time, blood, money, whatever it takes ---- to the cause that you regard as just.

Popular music and folk music (that undefined broad category of human musical achievement) are valuable, too. You have only to recall Glenn Miller and his contemporaries to understand that. Whether today's popular musicians can rise to the challenge is something most of us will have to wait and see about, but if the circumstances demand it, Americans will probably come through the way they always have.

As many have pointed out, this will not be your grandfather's war, not even your father's, in terms of tactics and techniques. People will do things that you and I would never have thought possible. Wars are always uncivilized affairs, but we fight them to preserve civilization. If the people fighting it ever forget that motivation, however, then the enemy, who wants to destroy our civilization, automatically wins. We cannot let that happen, and music ---- in the halls, in the streets, on the air ---- will help us keep the real goal in mind.

Cultural Imperialism Barry Drogin
11/6/2001@7:56:52 AM
Your strange use of "cultural level" and "civilized life" give me an excellent chance to quote a recent e-mail from Eric Salzman, to wit:

"What I am objecting to is ... the attitude towards art and artists which is directly connected to fascism and totalitarian ways of thinking about culture. The example of the Italian Futurists is perfectly correct; in fact, I had them in mind along with Wagnerism (Wagnerianism?) and the Nazis. The great irony is that these views derive from German idealistic (or Platonic) philosophy which elevates music to the highest form of the arts because it is the purist and most perfect art and because it represents some kind of transcendent condition that speaks of the essence of things. "Great" works of art (the concept of "Great Art" and "Masterpiece" is an essential part of this view) therefore must challenge and eliminate other kinds of art and the job of the artist is to create these perfected essences and archetypes. This essentially Germanic view, mystical and cultist, has come to dominate classical music everywhere in western culture. It is a view that, like organized religion, promotes dogma, a priesthood and a certain kind of near fanaticism that opposes anything that challenges its authority. It also leads to an idealization of essences (mystical states, death, sacrifice, terror) as well as to hierachies and domination. It particularly opposes what we might call the Aristotelian view that idealized essences made in heaven do not exist and that real artistic culture is the ongoing sum of all the works and experiences that go to make up culture. It violently opposes non-idealistic art as dirty and unworthy."

We are fighting people who oppress half of their population, spout virulent anti-semitism and murder civilians to achieve dubious political ends. This has nothing to do with claiming that our music is superior to their music. I'm sure their music is quite beautiful.

Barry Drogin
Not Nice Music

Writings on September 11 at
Classical Art garth trinkl
11/14/2001@1:08:51 PM
Challenge, possibly. Eliminate, no. Also, there is nothing essentially Germanic about concepts and ideals of classical art. Dante Alighieri had no interest in, or intent of, eliminating the poems of Jalal-al-Din Rumi, the novel of Murasaki Shikibu (Genji-monogatari), Vergil's Aenead, or the folk poetry of central and northeastern Italy.
Ideals Tom Myron
11/14/2001@1:57:54 PM
If I thought there was an art-form with which I could BETTER attempt to "represent some kind of transcendent condition that speaks to the essence of things" than music I'd certainly take a crack at it. I know painters and documentary cinematographers who feel the same way about their crafts.

Are we ALL imperialist fascist totalitarians?

What on Earth is "non-idealistic art"?
Assumers assume all Barry Drogin
11/15/2001@6:38:17 AM
Tom, you assume that because you are fully devoted to the non-Aristotelian pursuit of transcendence, whereupon notes and sequences and combinations "speak to the soul" (as I've heard so many NewMusicBox writers say) in a mystical way, that therefore ALL creators and listeners to music have these same fantastical notions.

I don't think there can be any doubt that there are music fanatics (and, unprofessionally, some composers), whose appreciation of music goes beyond the realistic and towards the pseudo-religious. For many, high culture "art for art's sake" music is the only music worth listening to - they have lost all capability of enjoying a folk song, or a hot piece of jazz, or a catchy pop tune, or a piece of music-theatre, or any set of tones which does not "aspire to greatness" through the continuous "revelation" of new combinations never heard before. The miilions of people who listen to and enjoy this music, the unwashed masses, as it were, must learn to aspire to higher ideals, by this way of thinking. That's my quick, on-line attempt at insight into what the ever-more-articulate Eric Salzman is referring to as "non-idealistic art."

Barry Drogin
Not Nice Music
Assumptions Tom Myron
11/15/2001@11:26:26 AM
Barry, you assume too much. Transcendence is where you find it. I believe that art can speak to the soul, I just don't happen to think that there's anything mystical about it.
11/30/2001@10:46:40 AM
"In an apparent move to show they are still in control of the city, the Taliban were (reportedly) burning music cassettes and CDs in a Kandahar sports stadium." (CNN)
Sonic Memorial Barry Drogin
12/28/2001@8:52:33 AM
Sonic Memorial - now has website:

Here's a jump to a second window.
Changed Title Barry Drogin
3/2/2003@8:27:58 AM
I've left the URL, created less than a week after September 11, alone, but changed the title, from "My Personal War Page" to "My Personal September 11 Page".

I have many identities and belong to many communities. Aside from the postings on this NewMusicBox page, those of interest to the new music community are "Silence", "New Forms", "Happy Endings in Narrative Forms", and, on a broader cultural context, "Anti-New York Fantasies". There's also a quite uncharacteristic (for me) pop song, "After", adapted from the opening lines of a poem I managed to write. Perhaps this will be one of many versions.

Barry Drogin
Not Nice Music
Fallout Barry Drogin
11/4/2004@1:18:29 PM
Since I have young children (or the children have me, what an expression), I know families. I know families who left New York City since September 11. I know a family that left and came back. And I know a family that fell apart. Mine.

It was impossible for me to return to work, to return to normal, or at least to use what was previously normal as an escape, because I had the dumb luck of taking a job in emergency management and security enhancement three years prior to September 11, and so I returned to a job where September 11 was all I could think of, all I was required to think of. I didn't burn out, but the importance of September 11 did make the politics, which is all about where the money and attention is, that much more intense. Before September 11, I had to fight to convince others that what I was working on was important. After September 11, I had to fight off others who were convinced that what I was working on was too important.

I resigned into the worst economy that New York City had seen during my working life. I couldn't find full-time employment, and have since given up looking. When my marriage broke up and I lost custody of my children, freelance work gave me the flexibility to accommodate visitation. Visitation has also made it impossible for me to consider moving, or to take a job that involves too much travel. My children are simply too important to me. And I hope that my children think that I am too important to them, as well.

After September 11, I wasn't sure whether I would ever compose again. I did find that music, and by that I must admit to meaning music that I already loved, was an escape and a comfort to me. I've discovered the work of some composer-performers that I've fallen in love with, too. I did compose again, as part of the trial-by-fire that is David Rodwin and Patrick Mellen's Raw Impressions Music Theatre. The last thing I wrote for them became the musical source material for the fourth and final "September 11 Song."

I premiered the first "September 11 Song" live on Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar, a week after my resignation. The joy of that appearance gave me the strength to complete the second. The third still awaits completion, as self-imposed deadlines pass. After the divorce, I did write a song, which I could perform along with the four "September 11 Songs," assuming I ever complete them, which I hope I do, as I also hope that I have the emotional strength to perform them.

At the end of the month after my resignation, I got sick of the constant harrassment on the NewMusicBox Forum. Richard Kessler vowed to establish what he called a "Terms of Service," but it was months before it was implemented. The only posting I have made to NewMusicBox since June 2003 was a brief update to my April 2001 hyper-history of American music theatre. Due to the new format, it is banished to a separate page.

I found safe haven for a spell on MPR's American Mavericks chat pages, and, of course, within the moderated C-Opera listserv and my own website. I continue to promote, and to attend, NewOp. I write regularly for New Music Connoisseur now, was even honored at their recent gala and in the current issue, and have been concentrating on my book, and on using Finale, which I had purchased around the time of my resignation. But I was mainly concentrating on finding income to pay my bills, and on the divorce, and on surviving in its aftermath. Using the Jewish or academic year, which is also the concert season and anniversary of September 11, last year was really bad in about every way one could possibly imagine.

I haven't really been reading NewMusicBox much; I'm sure I have missed several entire issues. I kept my private life a secret from most of my music colleagues, even as I attended meetings, parties, and concerts. I talked to my lawyer, probably too much at one point, which ran up my bill considerably. She had a baby, she's a family in my neighborhood now, and we have remained friends, although I am grateful to be off the clock.

In this day and age, we are a patchwork quilt of multiple identities, and just about every single one of mine has gone through a traumatic shift. I'm laughing out loud again, but when I encounter anything that makes me cry, I turn it off. I cry enough on my own, thank you.

I don't blame September 11. I certainly don't mean to imply that it's an excuse. There have been plenty of other contributors - did the Great Blackout of August 2003 have to occur on my 9th wedding anniversary? But September 11 has been, and continues to be, a backdrop for my life, and not a pleasant one. According to my computer, I actually started on my book, which is quite optimistic and looks to the future, three months prior to September 11, 2001. I estimate that the first draft is about 95% complete, and I just started making the rounds of literary agents.

The final "September 11 Song" is titled "Hope." I worry about myself, I worry about my children. And I continue to think a lot about hope.

Barry Drogin
Not Nice Music

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