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Classical Notes

Classical Notes: February 24, 2006 Archive

Film music--a strong maybe

Posted at 10:04 AM on February 24, 2006 by John Zech
Filed under: Musical philosophy

I listened to Andy Trudeau's excellent piece on Oscar-nominated composers Alberto Iglesias and John Williams, (see Don Lee's previous entry) and I was struck at what excellent music it was--for the movies!

I kept missing the pictures, though. The textures and sounds and the wistful waltz by Williams were nice, but I didn't feel like they said much, as music, on their own. We have quite a number of film score albums in the library, and it's pretty hard to even find excerpts from a lot of movies that actually hold their own if you haven't seen the movie.

Some of the exotic instruments and textures used so well by Iglesias in his score for "The Constant Gardener" would probably fit better on "The Current" than on a classical format.

So let me ask this: Should the home for New Music and new composers be on "The Current?" A lot of people would say it already is, and that the new music coming out of the many bands they feature is really as thoughtful and important as anything coming out of the American Composers Forum.

Are the two equal? Is a composition by Libby Larsen commissioned by a symphony orchestra of any greater intrinsic value than something by, say, Iggy Pop or Fifty Cent? Depends on the piece, I suppose, but I would say it is.

"Current" Classical

Posted at 5:41 PM on February 24, 2006 by Don Lee

One of John Zech's comments in today's earlier post raises another interesting question. John, you suggest that the "exotic instruments and textures" in The Constant Gardener soundtrack would not fit so well in a classical radio format. And you wonder if New Music (I assume by that you mean new "classical" music) belongs on a different radio station. So what does fit in a classical format? Western European art music that has a Romantic or Pre-Romantic sound? From a radio programming standpoint, that would make sense. If Kool 108 can limit its playlist to "Super 60s and 70s," why shouldn't Classical Minnesota Public Radio stop the clock (stylistically) at 1900? Lots of people would be happy with that approach. But if you do that, how do you connect what we play to what's going on today in "classical" music? I know you were writing about movie music, John, and I'm not saying I disagree with you about Alberto Iglesias. But I'd also be interested to know where you think Alberto Ginastera belongs.

Postscript: Along these same lines, I just noticed this opinion piece in London's Daily Telegraph.