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University at Buffalo Libraries

Music Library

Morton Feldman Lectures, Post-Concert Discussions, and Introductory Remarks

Given 1972-1985 at the University at Buffalo, The State University of New York


Slee Lecture November 20, 1972
Slee Lecture Tape SLR 315
Duration:
ca. 10 min.
Transcription by Nicola Walker-Smith; edited by John Bewley, Feb. 2001.
Accompanied by audio file.

Audio File (MP3) | Transcription (PDF)

Summary:

Feldman is introduced by Lejaren Hiller. Feldman then discusses the contemporary music scene that he grew up in, during the 1940s when there was a distinct absence of experimental music being presented. He also talks about the genesis of works to be performed at that evening's concert, Two Pianos (1957), False relationships and the Extended Ending (1968), and Swallows of Salangan (1961). In this context he talks about his use of graphic notation and the problems he encountered regarding the control of rhythm.


Post-Concert Discussion November 20, 1972
Slee Lecture Recital Tape SLR 319
Duration: ca. 35 min.

Audio File (MP3)

Summary:

Discussion period following performance of Morton Feldman's Two Pianos (1957), False relationships and the extended ending (1968), and Swallows of Salangan (1961).

Feldman provides some explanatory notes regarding False Relationships. He then answers audience member questions on topics that include the influence of painters on his work, the characteristics of sound, and a comparison between John Cage and himself ("Cage leaves open the door; I leave open the window").


Slee Lecture February 2, 1973
Slee Lecture Tape SLR 320
Duration: ca. 10 min.
Transcription by Nicola Walker-Smith; edited by John Bewley, Feb. 2001.
Accompanied by audio file.

Audio File (MP3) | Transcription (PDF)

Summary:

Feldman begins by summarizing some of his comments from his previous lecture. He then describes how he returned to writing precisely notated music in 1970. He provides some explanatory remarks about his composition, Madame Press Died Last week at Ninety, including some programmatic elements of the piece (how the harmonic language echoes his own musical development and how the falling third motive is stated 87 times, close to the number of years Madame Press lived).

The lecture resumes after a tape of Madame Press is played. Feldman talks about "making peace with measured time." He also talks about turning to writing longer, larger compositions and having "abandoned the illusion of feeling for the illusion of art."


Post-Concert Discussion February 2, 1973
Slee Lecture Recital Tape SLR 325
Duration: ca. 29 min.

Audio File (MP3)

Summary:

Discussion following performances of Morton Feldman's Madame Press Died Last Week at Ninety (1971) and The Viola in My Life I, II, and III.

Feldman answers questions, primarily concerning The Viola in My Life. These include questions regarding the type of virtuosity involved in the performance of his music, what he had to reject from his musical language, the influence of painters on his music (especially Barnett Newman, Philip Guston, and Mark Rothko), and his compositional process. Of the painters he remarks that "they know how to let something breathe". Of his own compositions he states that it is instrumentally "idiomatic to a fault" and that he worries that this characteristic limits him compositionally.


Slee Lecture April 15, 1973
Slee Lecture Tape SLR 326
Duration: ca. 9 min.
Transcription by Nicola Walker-Smith; edited by John Bewley, Feb. 2001.
Accompanied by audio file.

Audio File (MP3). | Transcription (PDF)

Summary:

Morton Feldman's introductory remarks to a concert featuring the music of Christian Wolff. Feldman discusses the setting in 1950 New York in which he first met Wolff. Feldman also talks about Wolff's influence on contemporary music, especially that of John Cage and himself. He states that he considers Christian Wolff to be his artistic conscience. "Christian Wolff has ruined my life but saved my art."


Morton Feldman in Conversation with Harrison Birtwistle, March 23, 1975
Slee Lecture Recital Tape SLR 346
Duration: ca. 1 hour

Summary:

Feldman asks Birtwistle to comment upon what he perceives as a lack of a tradition of experimental music in England. The two proceed to discuss issues regarding differences in how composers work and live in the United States and England.

After the first hour Birtwistle provides some explanatory remarks for the playing of a tape of his The Triumph of Time.


Morton Feldman Introduction to Performance of Philip Guston, April 21, 1985
North American New Music Festival Tape NAF 189
Duration: ca. 5 minutes
Transcription by Sam Mirelman.

Audio File (MP3). | Transcription (PDF)

Summary:

Feldman provides brief introductory remarks to the world première performance of Philip Guston.


See also: Morton Feldman Papers, 1950-1999 Finding Aid