Skip to Content
ublogo print

University at Buffalo Libraries

Music Library

Slee Lecture Recitals, 1957-1976: Summaries

There are 72 taped lectures in the Slee Lecture/Recital Series held at the University at Buffalo, The State University of New York. Summaries, and in some cases transcriptions, of the lectures are being created and will be added to this list as they are c ompleted. Lectures in other series will receive similar treatment. The tapes may not be copied. Researchers interested in listening to the lectures must do so at the Music Library.


Slee Lecturers
(Links are to the first of the person's lectures. Please scroll down after connecting to the link to view the remainder.)

István Anhalt Alexei Haieff: 1962 , 1964 Daniel Pinkham
Luciano Berio Lejaren Hiller Henri Pousseur
Harrison Birtwistle Betsy Jolas George Rochberg
Carlos Chávez Mauricio Kagel Ned Rorem
Aaron Copland Leon Kirchner Allen Sapp: 1961, 1962, 1965
David Diamond: 1961, 1963 Nicolas Nabokov Leo Smit
Morton Feldman Luis de Pablo Virgil Thomson

OCTOBER 10, 1957
SLR 1
Lecture: Introduction to the contemporary idiom
Lecturer: Aaron Copland
Duration: ca. 60:00

Audio quality is poor to fair. It is sometimes difficult to hear words, especially through audience noise, but the majority of the lecture is audible and intelligible.

Summary:
Copland begins with introductory remarks in which he thanks the University, Mr. Baird, and the faculty for the honor of being the first Slee lecturer and provides an outline of his four lectures. In the current lecture he discusses the idiom of conte mporary music in terms of its problems and challenges, focusing on the period 1870-1918. Within this context Copland covers different topics, including the pitfalls of the popular "masterwork" approach to musical appreciation, comparisons of contemporary

music to the other arts, the concert hall as museum, how the lay listener can approach listening to new music, how musical elements of melody, harmony, rhythm, and form have changed in the contemporary idiom, and the nature of music as an expressive art.

Copland continues with a discussion of the five composers he feels are most responsible for breaking the hold that German, and especially Wagnerian, concepts had on music at the end of the 19th century. Copland begins by talking about the contribution s of Modeste Mussorgsky. Copland discusses Mussorgsky's use of Russian elements of folk melody, harmony, and rhythm. He also plays at the piano the Promenade opening passage of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, providing analytical comments along the way.

Copland next talks about Claude Debussy, beginning with Debussy's early knowledge of Russian music and the importance of Wagner's influence. He compares passages from Debussy's Pelleas and Melisande to Wagner's Tristan und Isolde. He als o talks about Debussy's liberty of form and his decision to use his ears as the sole judge of the "correctness" of his harmonies, rather than relying upon academic rules.

Copland discusses Arnold Schoenberg's strong roots in the traditions of the 19th century and his early expressionistic music. Many of Copland's comments are directed towards Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire. Copland also discusses the music of Igo r Stravinsky: his Russian roots, his reaction against impressionism, and innovative approach to rhythm. At the piano, Copland demonstrates by playing an excerpt from Stravinsky's Rite of Spring. Béla Bartók is the last composer that Copland talks about in this lecture. He refers to Bartók's use of bitonality, the influence of Hungarian folk music on Bartók, and the rhythmic drive of his music.

A brief question and answer period follows the lecture.


NOVEMBER 14, 1957
SLR 6

Lecture: Music of the twenties
Lecturer: Aaron Copland
Duration: ca. 45:00

Audio quality is poor to fair. It is sometimes difficult to hear words, especially through audience noise, but the majority of the lecture is audible and intelligible.

Summary:

Copland provides an eyewitness account of the 1920's, through which he traces trends in contemporary music back to the events and trends in the twenties. He notes that it was a decade during which artists sensed they could try anything and above all else strove for originality. It was a decade during which many composers came to public attention, including De Falla, Bloch, Szymanowski, Weill, Roy Harris, Sessions, Chávez, Villa Lobos, Berg, Webern, Castella, Malipiero, Vaughan Williams, Kren ek, Martinu, and Shostakovich. It was also a decade during which both Stravinsky and Schoenberg gained wider audience recognition.

Copland discusses several developments that occurred during the decade, including Stravinsky's new neo-classical style, Schoenberg's twelve-tone method, the interest in mechanical instruments (noting Antheil's Ballet mécanique), including the pl ayer piano, experiments by Hába and Carrillo in microtonality, attempts to develop new methods of notating music, uses of new combinations of instruments that were less dependent upon string sonority (noting Stravinsky's Les Noces), Varèse's use of percussion instruments, uses of tone clusters by Cowell and Ornstein, and the rise of an American school of composition.

Copland discusses the French group of composers, Les Six, notes the French interest in jazz, the grotesque, and satire, and the influences of Satie, Cocteau, and Diaghilev. In regard to German music, Copland talks about Hindemith's concept of gebrauch musik and the new concept of opera fostered by Weill, Berg, and Krenek.


DECEMBER 5, 1957
SLR 12

Lecture: Current trends in European music
Lecturer: Aaron Copland
Duration: ca. 60:00

Audio quality is poor to fair. It is sometimes difficult to hear words, especially through audience noise, but the majority of the lecture is audible and intelligible.

Summary:

Copland begins by noting the dangers of commenting upon current trends, without the perspective that time allows. He also notes the importance of government support for the arts in Europe and radio as a force to foster music there. Copland provides an analysis of Schoenberg's twelve-tone method and its influence, playing examples at the piano. He makes a comparison between tonality and the face of a clock to demonstrate how tonal relationships grew more distant during the 19th century and notes the re lationship of tonality to formal structure. He continues by discussing how the system has been put o varied uses by other composers, including Webern, Nono, Stockhausen, Boulez, Wolpe, Searle, Dallapiccola, and Frank Martin. He notes the increased interes t in Webern's music after 1945.

Copland also discusses the experimental realm of music composition, especially the development of musique concrète and electronic music. He plays an exerpt from a piece by Pierre Schaeffer as an example. Also noted composers Eimer, Berio, and Ma derna. In regards to conventionally-related music, Copland talks about the music of Britten, Walton, and Vaughan Williams, and Hindemith's opposition to the twelve-tone method. He discusses the work of Stockhausen, Henze, and Boulez, playing an excerpt from Boulez's Le Marteau sans Maître.


JANUARY 16, 1958
SLR 16

Lecture: The American composer today
Lecturer: Aaron Copland
Duration: ca. 55:00

Summary:

Copland begins by talking about the reasons that music as an art was slow to develop in America, including the need for a superstructure. He notes that were was a sense of new beginning after World War I, with more funding available, new patrons of th e arts, more composers, improved criticism, and the rise of composers' guilds like the International Composers Guild and the League of Composers.

Copland notes that the generation of composers working in the 1920's had little connection to the music of their American predecessors, including MacDowell, Chadwick, Loeffler, and Porter. The composers in the 1920's were preoccupied with making an Ame rican-sounding music. Copland discusses some of the attempts to use American source materials, including Dvorak's influence on Gilbert and Farwell, John Powell's use of Anglo-Saxon materials, and the importance of jazz in defining American musical charact eristics. Copland also notes how field recordings of American folk materials changed composers' perceptions of this music, from something of European heritage to something re-made with American values and concepts.

Copland also discusses some of the general characteristics he feels are common to much American music of the 1920's, including its sense of optimism, contrapuntal nature, and large scope. He discusses the work of several American composers, including Ives, Harris, Schuman, Sessions, Piston, Barber, Diamond, Fine, Berger, Shapero, Bernstein, Foss, Mennin, Bergsma, Persichetti, Kirchner, Cage, and Brant.


MARCH 6, 1958
SLR 22

Lecture: Introduction to Latin American music
Lecturer: Carlos Chávez
Duration: ca. 30:00 Audio quality is marred by loud coughing directly into the microphone.

Summary:

Chávez provides historical and sociological background of the development of Latin American art music.


APRIL 17, 1958
SLR 27

Lecture: Latin American music
Lecturer: Carlos Chávez
Duration: ca. 40:00

There is some bad interference on the tape towards the end of side 1.

Summary:

Chávez posits that great art is achieved by individual efforts rather than nationalistic ones. He also discusses the role of musical education in the development of musical culture and briefly describes the characteristics of music education i n Latin American conservatories. Chávez also talks about efforts to improve music education in Chile and Argentina. In this context he mentions the work of Domingo Santa Cruz in Chile and the Argentinian composers, Alberto Ginastera and Roberto C aamaño.


MAY 1, 1958
SLR 31

Lecture: Nationalistic influences in Latin American music
Lecturer: Carlos Chávez

Summary:
NA

MAY 29, 1958
SLR 35

Lecture: [Untitled lecture]
Lecturer: Carlos Chávez
Duration: ca. 30:00

The first part of the cassette tape is unusable due to hum. It sounds as if this is part of the original recording set-up and so returning to the original tape probably won't provide a solution.

Summary:

The first part of the lecture seems to be about music appreciation. Chávez then uses his composition, Soli, as an example by having the instrumentalists play themes from the work separately and in combination.


MARCH 23, 1959
SLR 40

Lecture: Materials of musical composition
Lecturer: Leon Kirchner
Performer(s): Pamela Gearhart, violin; Livingston Gearhart, piano; Herbert Beattie, bass baritone; Janice Menel, Joyce Ismert, Ann Holblinger, Elaine Merritt, Elizabeth Winkler, Dorcas DeMunn, voices Summary:

This lecture is analytical and educational. Kirchner discusses phrase structures in Gregorian Chant, Orlando di Lasso, Bach, Beethoven and Bartok, playing examples on the piano. Kirchner asks why modern composers do not write like Bach, Schubert or Haydn. Kirchner claims that modern music uses a new language, but its phraseology remains essentially the same.


APRIL 13, 1959
SLR 41

Lecture: Materials of musical composition
Lecturer: Leon Kirchner

NB: Tape lacking


MAY 22, 1959
SLR 48

Lecture: [Untitled lecture]
Lecturer: Leon Kirchner

Summary:
NA

Very poor sound quality. DECEMBER 3, 1959
SLR 54

Lecture: [Untitled lecture]
Lecturer: Ned Rorem Very poor sound quality.

Summary:

Rorem introduces his series of lectures and concerts. The practical problems facing composers, such as obtaining performances and making a living, are discussed. This is followed by a discussion of problems concerning notation and performance, such as phrasing, tempo and conductors etc.


JANUARY 26, 1960
SLR 73

Lecture: Four questions answered
Lecturer: Ned Rorem

Summary:

Rorem discusses the process of composing, including the roles of the conscious and unconscious mind. The four main subjects addressed are 'classical vs. popular', 'writing at the piano or not', 'how composers make a living', and 'inspiration'.


FEBRUARY 25, 1960
SLR 80

Lecture: Writing songs
Lecturer Ned Rorem

Summary:

This lecture deals with writing songs and the problems involved, such as the relationship between words and music.


APRIL 7, 1960
SLR 85

Lecture: Pictures and pieces - Painters and composers
Lecturer: Ned Rorem

Summary:
NA

MAY 17, 1960
SLR 93

Lecture: Listening and hearing
Lecturer: Ned Rorem

Summary:
NA

NOVEMBER 10, 1960
SLR 95

Lecture: What's new in music?
Lecturer: Ned Rorem

Summary:
NA

DECEMBER 15, 1960
SLR 98

Lecture: Random notes on song and singer
Lecturer: Ned Rorem

Summary:
NA

JANUARY 26, 1961
SLR 104

Lecture: More questions answered
Lecturer: Ned Rorem

Summary:
NA
MARCH 28, 1961

SLR 109
Lecture: Integrity and integration in contemporary music
Lecturer: David Diamond Summary:
NA Transcription:


Available in The Alice and Frederick Slee Lectures, ML60.D53


APRIL 26, 1961
SLR 113

Lecture: The Babel of 20th century music
Lecturer: David Diamond

Summary:
NA Transcription:

Available in The Alice and Frederick Slee Lectures, ML60.D53


MAY 16, 1961
SLR 117

Lecture: Beethoven and the 20th century
Lecturer: David Diamond

Summary:
NA Transcription:

Available in The Alice and Frederick Slee Lectures, ML60.D53


OCTOBER 19, 1961
SLR 120

Lecture: The personal gesture
Lecturer: Allen Sapp Summary:
NA

NOVEMBER 30, 1961
SLR 124

Lecture: The lyric impulse
Lecturer: Allen Sapp

Summary:
NA

FEBRUARY 5, 1962
SLR 127

Lecture: The corporate experience
Lecturer: Allen Sapp NB: Tape incomplete


FEBRUARY 28, 1962
SLR 131

Lecture: Thoughts for a young composer
Lecturer: Alexei Haieff Summary:
NA

APRIL 19, 1962
SLR 137

Lecture: Observations on the musical scene today
Lecturer: Alexei Haieff

Summary:
NA
MAY 10, 1962
SLR 145

Lecture: Conversations on the composer's business
Lecturers: Alexei Haieff, Allen Sapp Summary:
NA
OCTOBER 5, 1962
SLR 150

Lecture: Narrative, thoughts and digressions (Part I)
Lecturer: Leo Smit Summary:
NA

DECEMBER 12, 1962
SLR 158

Lecture: The masters write jazz
Lecturer: Leo Smit

Summary:
NA

JANUARY 18, 1963
SLR 165

Lecture: Narrative, thoughts and digressions (Part II)
Lecturer: Leo Smit

Summary:
NA
FEBRUARY 14, 1963
SLR 174

Lecture: Humour in music
Lecturer: Virgil Thomson Summary:
NA

MARCH 20, 1963
SLR 178

Lecture: American musical style
Lecturer: Virgil Thomson

Summary:
NA

APRIL 25, 1963
SLR 182

Lecture: Words and music
Lecturer: Virgil Thomson

Summary:
NA
OCTOBER 10, 1963
SLR 195

Lecture: Four facets of musical participation, First facet: The creative - the composer
Lecturer: David Diamond Summary:
NA
NOVEMBER 7, 1963
SLR 216

Lecture: Four facets of musical participation, Second facet: The interpretive - the Performer(s)
Lecturer: David Diamond

Summary:
NA
DECEMBER 5, 1963
SLR 220

Lecture: Four facets of musical participation, Third facet: The evaluative - the critic
Lecturer: David Diamond

Summary:
NA

DECEMBER 12, 1963
SLR 223

Lecture: Four facets of musical participation, Fourth facet: the public
Lecturer: David Diamond

Summary:
NA

FEBRUARY 14, 1964
SLR 224
Lecture: The new image of music
Lecturer: George Rochberg Summary:
NA


MARCH 20, 1964
SLR 227

Lecture: Direction in Music
Lecturer: George Rochberg

Summary:

The subject of Rochberg's lecture is 'direction in new music'. The composer discusses tonality, metre and periodicity. Excerpts from Beethoven's Symphony no.7 are played to illustrate points about phrase structures. The dissolution of tonali ty, and the gradual abandonment of 'periodicity' towards 'non-directional' music is discussed. Rochberg analyses and plays excerpts from works by Mahler, Schoenberg, Berg, Webern and Boulez. Rochberg ends the lecture by stressing the need for direction (as well as non-direction) in new music.


APRIL 16, 1964
SLR 230

Lecture: The computer, the brain and music
Lecturer: George Rochberg

Summary:

This lecture discusses neurology, and its parallels with music. The talk is based on Rochberg's reading of The Computer and the Brain, by John Von Neumann (1903-1957). Rochberg argues for the importance of physical, neurological consideration s in the composition of music. Thus, a claim is made for 'coherent melodic continuity', 'memory functions' and 'logical, goal -guided relations' in new music.


NOVEMBER 16, 1964
SLR 236
Lecture: Musical education and the new musical styles (a speculation)
Lecturer: Alexei Haieff Summary:

Haieff discusses the importance of training in the formation of young musicians. Harmony and counterpoint, and orchestration are two subjects which Haieff considers essential for composers. Haieff's personal experiences with teaching, and the inadeq uacies of students, are discussed. Four dominant trends in new music are identified, concerning which Haieff expresses doubts . They are the 'pseudo-scientific' verbal explanations about music, electronic music which is 'too exotic and superficial', imp rovisation pieces which have 'dangers', and happenings. Finally, Haieff introduces the composer Poulenc, and his own Sonata for Cello and Piano (1963), which was written in memory of Poulenc.


DECEMBER 18, 1964
SLR 243

Lecture: Dangerous disparities
Lecturer: Alexei Haieff

Summary:
NA
FEBRUARY 22, 1965
SLR 249

Lecture: On new electronic and instrumental music
Lecturer: Mauricio Kagel Summary:

In this lecture, Kagel discusses his own Transition 1 and Sonant. In Transition 1, Kagel is concerned with sine-tones, white noise and electronic impulse sounds. The 'general transition principle' in the piece is influenced by i nstrumental music. The structural transformations within the piece are based on 'translation' and 'rotation'. Some explanations of technical detail are included. The issues and problems involved with loudspeakers are also discussed. A brief introductio n to Sonant is given. Kagel is concerned here with the performers' freedom of interpretation, calling for a 'constant renewal of the score'. Kagel asserts that 'Freedom to shift notes within a measure invites listening to other parts and, accordi ngly, makes possible the flexible formation of one's own part'.


MARCH 24, 1965
SLR 252

Lecture: About certain relationships between language and musical composition
Lecturer: Mauricio Kagel

Summary:

This lecture is a detailed and analytical discussion of Kagel's own Anagrama. The work is based on a Latin palindrome which is subjected to various transformations. These are exact translation, inexact translation, inexactitude through poetic license in translation, and 'acoustic' translation. The organization of notes is closely related to the resultant phonetic structures. The text and words are derived from German, French, Italian and Spanish, using only letters from the palindrome and th eir phonetic interpretations. Kagel also discusses writing for the voice, dealing with vocal technique, notation, and the 'state of torpidity' that vocal choirs have fallen into.


APRIL 3, 1965
SLR 257

Lecture: About the musical theatre
Lecturer: Mauricio Kagel

Summary:

Firstly, Kagel reviews the main points about his theoretical work on 'instrumental theatre'. Kagel is critical of 'the fact that musicians are not actors'. Among the reasons for Kagel's initial interest in working with musicians who are actors, was an interest in movable sound-sources. There follows a discussion of an example of instrumental theatre-Kagel's own Antithèse. Kagel explains how the electronic version of this work is composed. The theatrical aspects of the work, which in cludes the use of a 'composed public', results in what Kagel describes as a kind of 'illusion music-theatre'.


OCTOBER 11, 1965
SLR 261

Lecture: Music and language
Lecturer: Alan Sapp Summary:
NA
DECEMBER 13, 1965
SLR 262

Lecture: A few aspects of vocal music
Lecturer: Luciano Berio Summary:

Berio discusses vocal music, both generally and in his own works. Berio identifies three possible approaches to the treatment of words and music. Words can be subservient to music, vice versa, or both can be equal. Subjects discussed include Montev erdi, Palestrina, Thirteenth-Century Motets, Chant, Bel Canto and Stravinsky's Les Noces. Berio suggests that linguistic signs are a result of the duality between concept and sound image. The composer also claims that the relationship betw een sign and meaning is cultural, and thus arbritrary. Berio's Circles and Laborintus II are discussed. In Laborintus II, there is a 'baroque superimposition of elements'. Berio suggests that musicians should react to vocal sounds in their daily life, stating 'The problems of vocal music are insoluble, because vocal music is our daily life and inseparable from that'.


DECEMBER 16, 1965
SLR 265

Lecture: A twelve-tone approach to tonal vocal music
Lecturer: Daniel Pinkham NB: Second part of lecture missing (not recorded? /erased?)


FEBRUARY 28, 1966
SLR 270

Lecture: Calculation and imagination in electronic music
Lecturer: Henri Pousseur Summary:

Three origins or causes for the emergence of electronic music are identified. Firstly, the enrichment of sound qualities available to composers. Secondly, the 'aggressive' quality of the medium. Thirdly, a concern for the rigorous control of every aspect of sound. An account is given of problems facing the first composers of electronic music, such as the attempt to make 'pure' electronic music in Stockhausen's Studies. Here, there is an attempt to control every aspect of the physical quali ties of sound, such as sine waves, frequency and amplitude. This approach to electronic music generally gives way to a concern with the qualitative aspects of sound, such as 'metallic' or 'soft'. Pousseur's Seismogramme is played, where sine tone material is used as a recognizable instrument, such as a vibraphone or organ. Pousseur calls Stockhausen's Gesang der Junglinge the first great work of electronic music. The success of this work is attributed to the acceptance of the element of indeterminacy in the control of the material. This tendency is confirmed by Pousseur's own Scambi, which uses overtly indeterminate methods in its composition. This is followed by a discussion of Pousseur's other works which employ electronic mea ns, such as Rimes, Electre and Trois Visages de Liege. Stockhausen's Kontakte is also mentioned in the context of tape-loop techniques.


MARCH 14, 1966
SLR 275

Lecture: Harmony, a renewed question
Lecturer: Henri Pousseur
Performer(s): Frederic Rzewski, piano

Summary:

Pousseur speculates on the meaning of harmony in new music. The word 'harmonia' as used in Ancient Greece means a tool to hold pieces of wood together. In this lecture, harmony is taken to mean all pitch relations. In much modern music, harmony has been neglected or neutralized. Pousseur proposes the use of harmony as colour; a rising frequency has increasing brightness, whereas deep notes have a 'heavy' character. A brief account of the history of harmony is made. The 'optimistic' Webern is con trasted with the 'nostalgic' Schoenberg. Pousseur recounts his own concern with harmony, which is characterized at this time by an exploration of consonances. In this respect, Michel Butor is mentioned as a great influence (Butor was a professor at the University at Buffalo in 1962). A brief discussion of Votre Faust, which was written in collaboration with Butor, follows.


MAY 2, 1966
SLR 277

Lecture: Webern and silence
Lecturer: Henri Pousseur

Summary:

Firstly, Pousseur places Webern's music in the context of the 'cultural crisis' of the early Twentieth Century. Webern's music is interpreted as a symptom of the disintegration of a dominant classical ideology. Pousseur contrasts the 'Romanticism' o f Schoenberg, where this sense of crisis becomes a nostalgic and thus pessimistic critique of tonal order, with Webern. Pousseur reads from Alain Robbe Grillet, and concludes that 'In Schoenberg, when you listen, you feel "I am not God, so there is no God, but I try to organize things, and I regret these things"'. Early Webern is also nostalgic, but it is like the remains of music after the extinction of Classical order. The music says 'I am not God, but what does this mean?' Pousseur says ' The silence of early Webern is charged with mystery, a stifling, quite decadent silence, full of old smells'. A recording of Webern's Five Pieces Op.5 is played. Pousseur discusses 'silence' in Webern's music from many angles. For example, chrom aticism generates a 'silence' between sounds, as each one is relativised. Secondly, the residues of expressionism generate a 'structural silence'. A recording of Webern's Bagatelles Op.9 is played. Three Pieces Op.11 is described as the e xtreme point reached towards the expression of silence itself, but also the beginning of something new and optimistic. The emergence of 'constellations' in Webern's music, which are in effect groups of elements with empty spaces in between, are called 'r eal silence', as opposed to implied silence. Pousseur reads from Claudel and Heidegger. The issue of form or order in Webern's later music is discussed. Webern's use of traditional schemes such as Sonata or Theme and Variations is related to the issue of 'general periodicity'. Pousseur recalls giving a lecture on this topic in Darmstadt, where Stockhausen questioned the validity of binary thinking. An extended digression on this problem follows, with the conclusion that Webern 'overcomes the dualism of Classicism'. Webern's Quartet Op.28 is analysed with live demonstrations of passages from the quartet, followed by a complete live performance.


OCTOBER 15, 1966
SLR 281

Lecture: Chance in new music [part I]
Lecturer: Henri Pousseur

Summary:

Pousseur introduces his series of lectures on the subject of chance, giving a brief description of their format.

In this lecture, Pousseur considers chance in general. Chance music is related to more general artistic currents in the United States, such as happenings and pop art. A discussion of the history of Western music attempts to place chance in context. Pousseur follows a gradual decline in the strong determinism and 'logic' of Classical music, and the changes in cultural sensibility implied. Pousseur reads from the Marxist philosopher Ernst Bloch. Use of chance is considered one among many experimenta l trends in contemporary music. The varied meanings of the word 'chance' in English and French, are considered. Cathy Berberian performs Cage's Aria with Fontana Mix. Pousseur says this piece says 'I am many things', as it is very open in terms of both content and style. Bussotti's Letture di Braibanti is discussed. The stronger sense of European form and rhetoric in Bussotti is contrasted with Cage. Pousseur discusses chance as an 'opening into a field of multiplicity', and he reads f rom Claudel. Berberian performs Berio's Sequenza III and her own Stripsody.


NOVEMBER 21, 1966
SLR 286

Lecture: Chance in new music [part II]
Lecturer: Henri Pousseur

Summary:

This lecture is a more theoretical consideration of chance. The gradual trend in music towards greater dissonance, irregular rhythms, asymmetric forms and a multiplicity of characters and forms, is described as a disintegration of 'logic' which leads to the concept of chance. Pousseur claims that Cage merely radicalized this tendency, firstly by introducing more 'noisy' sounds such as the prepared piano, and then by applying the principle of chance to composition itself. Comparisons are made betwee n Boulez' Structures and chance. An attempt is made to relate the phenomenon of chance to cultural history. The rationalism of early Greek music gives way to choral monody or chant in the early Christian era, which embodies an obedience to the Ch urch and the feudal system. The growing individualism of the Middle Ages, which coincides with growing commerce and the emergence of urban centres, is represented by polyphony. However, there are strict rules governing dissonance, and the cantus firmus represents a fixed aspect which embodies the word of God. The development of melody and accompaniment, or polyphony played by a single person (on a keyboard), along with tonality, reflects the growing individualism of Western culture. Tonality says 'you are the centre', as the listener equates himself with the tonic. Thus, chance is placed within the context of a wider breakdown of 'Classical order' and 'determinism' in cultural history. This historical survey is followed by a discussion of thermodyna mics and Gestalt psychology, and comparisons of these subjects with music. The question of 'banal disorder' versus 'rich disorder' is addressed. Pousseur closes the lecture stating that 'the function of chance in new music can be to open us to discovery '.


DECEMBER 18, 1966
SLR 288

Lecture: Chance in new music [part III]
Lecturer: Henri Pousseur

Summary:

This lecture is a co-presentation, which also involves Gordon Mumma, David Behrman, Robert Ashley and Alvin Lucier. These invited musicians give a performance using live electronics, including instruments made by themselves. This is followed by a di scussion between Pousseur and Mumma about Cage; Mumma rejects Pousseur's suggestion that his work is similar to Cage, as Mumma insists that he has a very particular sound in mind. All participants discuss Cage and his influence. Pousseur describes the p henomenon of chance as a reaction against the 'totalitarian rationality' of the European mind. The 'Devil's Hole State Park' in Niagara Falls, New York, is used as an example of this; on this site, the Seneca Indians were punished for killing the British invaders by the confiscation of their land. Mumma responds to this philosophical tone by suggesting that his work is not concerned with the dichotomy between the controlled and indeterminate, but simply composition and sound itself.


JANUARY 23, 1967
SLR 293

Lecture: Chance in new music [part IV]
Lecturer: Henri Pousseur

Summary:
In this lecture Pousseur discusses aspects of chance in European music. The positive meaning of the word 'chance', versus the negative 'Hasard' (French) is recalled. The more integrated approach to chance in European music, and the less radical brea k with history, is remarked upon. The trend towards 'statistical' thinking in works such as Stockhausen's Gruppen and Xenakis' Achorripsis is discussed. Pousseur claims that Xenakis radicalizes this approach with Stochastic methods. Accor ding to Pousseur, the problem with Xenakis' approach is firstly the application of Poisson's theory. Secondly, the most important aspects of the music, such as average density, instruments, instrumental techniques, musical figures, and the sudden cut off of textural blocks, are unrelated to the theories employed. There exists a strange contradiction in Xenakis' music, where crucial elements are 'irrational' whereas everything which is normally irrational is rationalized. This is followed by a considera tion of pieces which suggest an element of freedom in their interpretation by performers. These works are Stockhausen's Zeitmasze and Berio's Tempi Concertati. In the Berio, which is dedicated to Pousseur, it is remarked that the sections of the score which are written exactly sound free, whereas passages which are rhythmically freer sound more periodic.


MARCH 13, 1967
SLR 294

Lecture: Chance in new music [part V]
Lecturer: Henri Pousseur
Performer(s): Carlos Alsino, piano

Summary:
The European trend towards 'mobile form' is the subject of this lecture. It is suggested that the origins of this phenomenon are in serialism, from where the principle of permutation and groups is derived. The physical characteristics of scores such as Stockhausen's Piano Piece XI and Boulez' Piano Sonata No.3 are examined. Detailed analyses of Pousseur's own Caracteres and Apostrophe et Six Reflections follow. Carlos Alsina gives live demonstrations of passages from Caracteres.


APRIL 10, 1967
SLR 295

Lecture: Chance in new music [part VI]
Lecturer: Henri Pousseur

Summary:
The main subject of this lecture is Pousseur's own Votre Faust. At this date, only parts of the work had been performed. Pousseur's Rimes, Repons and Electre are also mentioned as precursors to Votre Faust. Pousse ur remarks on the genesis of the work, involving the writer Michel Butor. A general account of the Faustian plot follows, of which the protagonist is 'Henri'. The introduction of stylistic pluralism in Pousseur's music is discussed with recorded example s from Votre Faust. Compositional methods used in the work are briefly mentioned, and quotations from composers such as Boulez, Stockhausen and Stravinsky, are revealed. A discussion of Miroirs de Votre Faust, which is derived from Votre Faust, follows. The lecture is concluded with the following remark: 'With such a work we try to learn through the theatre (like Brecht) to change our world, to change the condition we are in today...'


OCTOBER 11, 1968
SLR 298
Lecture: The composer's uses of modern technology, part I
Lecturer: Lejaren Hiller Summary:
NA

NOVEMBER 12, 1968
SLR 301

Lecture: The composer's uses of modern technology, part II
Lecturer: Lejaren Hiller

Summary:
NA

FEBRUARY 7, 1969
SLR 302

Lecture: The composer's uses of modern technology, part III
Lecturer: Lejaren Hiller

Summary:
NA

MARCH 3, 1969
SLR 308

Lecture: The composer's uses of modern technology, part V
Lecturer: Lejaren Hiller

Summary:
NA

DECEMBER 9, 1969
SLR 309

Lecture: Your voice, my voice, her voice, their voices...Vo(I)...
Lecturer: István Anhalt Summary:
NA


NOVEMBER 11, 1970
SLR 311
Lecture: Rasputin, myth, mystery, history, music
Lecturer: Nicolas Nabokov

Summary:
Nabakov's opera The Holy Devil (later revised as Der Tod des Grigorij Rasputin) is the focus of this lecture. Nabakov approaches this work in the context of a wider concern with myths, history and mystery. Rasputin is approached as a m ythical figure, and a symbol of the end of the Russian Imperial world. The genesis of the work, including the collaboration involving Stephen Spender, is discussed. Problems with the work's first production, and its subsequent revision, are recounted. Nabakov plays passages from the work on the piano, discussing briefly its incorporation of Russian chant, and its serial structure.


DECEMBER 2, 1970
SLR 313

Lecture: Symbolism in music
Lecturer: Nicolas Nabokov

Summary:
This lecture is discursive in nature. It deals with the subject of symbolism in music, including its' changing roles and meanings throughout history. Topics which are discussed include Indian Classical music, Bach, Mozart and Berg. For example, Nab akov calls attention to the reference to Wagner's Tristan and Isolde in Berg's Lyric Suite. Nabakov discusses his own work Christian Symbols in detail, including its genesis. References to early Christianity, such as the sun, dove, and the use of early Christian monodic chant styles, are expanded upon.


NOVEMBER 20, 1972
SLR 315
Lecture: [Untitled lecture]
Lecturer: Morton Feldman
Duration: ca. 10 min.

Audio quality is acceptable.

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 regardin g the control of rhythm.


NOVEMBER 20, 1972
SLR 319

Discussion period following performance of Morton Feldman's Two Pianos (1957), False relationships and the extended ending (1968), and Swallows of Salangan (1961).
Lecturer: Morton Feldman
Duration: ca. 35 min.

Audio quality acceptable.

Summary:
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").


FEBRUARY 2, 1973
SLR 320

Lecture: [Untitled lecture]
Lecturer: Morton Feldman
Duration: ca. 10 min.

Audio quality acceptable.

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 n inety, including some programmatic elements of the piece (how the harmonic language echoes his own musical development and how the falling 3rd 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."


FEBRUARY 2, 1973
SLR 325

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.
Lecturer: Morton Feldman
Duration: ca. 29 min.

Audio quality acceptable; questions from audience members mostly inaudible.

Summary:
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.


APRIL 15, 1973
SLR 326

Lecture: Christian Wolff
Lecturer: Morton Feldman
Duration: ca. 9 min.

Audio quality acceptable.

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."


SEPTEMBER 29, 1973
SLR 333
Lecture: [Untitled lecture]
Lecturers: Morton Feldman, Luis De Pablo

Summary:
Feldman introduces De Pablo, but this is a lecture by De Pablo.

De Pablo is introduced by Morton Feldman. De Pablo gives brief introductions to four of his own works, which date from 1963-1970. These works are Imaginario 2, Yo Lo Vi, Quasi Una Fantasia and Reciproco.


DECEMBER 14, 1973
SLR 339

Lecture: [Untitled lecture]
Lecturer: Luis De Pablo

Summary:
De Pablo gives brief introductions to three works from 1954 to 1971. These are Symphonias, Soledad Interrumpida and Por Diversos Motivos.


FEBRUARY 19, 1975
SLR 343
Lecture: [Untitled lecture]
Lecturer: Harrison Birtwistle

Summary:
Birtwistle states at the beginning of his lecture that what he has to say is entirely subjective and personal. A short biography is given, describing subjects such as the landscape of his childhood and the influence of the pianist John Ogdon. Birtwistle discusses his work Refrains and Choruses. A concern with line is attributed to Birtwistle's own experience as a clarinet player. The influence of the artist Paul Klee is also discussed, in relation to Refrains and Choruses. Birtwistle talks about Greek Tragedy, theatre and repetition in his work Tragoedia. Verses for Ensembles marks the 'end of the road' in the development of concerns which characterise previous work. After Verses for Ensembles, Birtwistle is interested in blocks which are not static, but overlap. The Triumph of Time takes its title from a work by Breughel, which contains visual symbols of time and repetition. Finally, Birtwistle's La Plage is discussed, a work which the composer considers important despite its 'unfinished' state.


MARCH 23, 1975
SLR 346

Lecture: [Untitled lecture]
Lecturers: Harrison Birtwistle, Morton Feldman
Duration: ca. 1 hour

Audio quality acceptable.

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 then provides some explanatory remarks for the playing of a tape of his The Triumph of Time.


OCTOBER 14, 1975
SLR 348
Lecture: The voice and its function
Lecturer: Betsy Jolas

Summary:
The subject of this lecture is the human voice, and the possibilities and problems involved in composition for voice. Jolas claims that all music is related to the voice. She gives an account of sounds heard during her childhood to illustrate