Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Neither Too Depressed Nor Too Conflicted Not To Wish Mr Elliott Carter A Happy 99th Birthday ... Happy Birthday, EC!

From 1939 to 1941, EC taught courses in physics, mathematics and classical Greek, in addition to music ...

"When John Ashbery and I decided to collaborate on a musical work (for which we applied and received a Composer-Librettist Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts) I studied various texts he wrote for this project and chose his poem Syringa. This attracted me because of its fascinating, distant, quiet treatment of a familiar, many-sided, affecting subject: Orpheus and the power of music. The idea of accompanying the singer of Ashbery's text with another singer whose part would express the subliminal background that might be evoked in the mind of a reader, very soon suggested itself. Indeed, lines near the poem's end: 'In whose tale are hidden syllables/ Of what happened so long before that' led to the idea that the second singer could have a text that reflects some of the sounds, ideas, and feelings of the Ashbery poem in 'hidden syllables'-the 'hidden syllables' of classical Greek, since the poem is about a classical myth. The well-known story of Orpheus as referred to in the Ashbery poem ends in a kind of apotheosis, so the entire work is set in the frame of the Orphic cult that grew up around the musician when, after his dismemberment, his head, still singing, floated across the Aegean Sea from Greece to Asia Minor, and its burial place became a shrine." ...

Photo credit: (c) www.classical.net.


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