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Sunday 4 September 2011

*Morton Feldman's For John Cage - At The Pianola Museum. 16:00*
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Sunday 4 September 2011

DNK's new season is about to start. September will see a highly varied first month, beginning on Sunday afternoon with another of Morton Feldman's dedication pieces. At the end of last season you may have been lucky enough to hear Dante Boon play For Bunita Marcus at the highly unlikely Magna Plaza. This Sunday's concert takes place at another unlikely concert venue, Amsterdam's Pianola Museum. N.B: The concert starts at 16:00. Cage and Feldman were great friends and the cementing of their early relationship is nicely illustrated by this anecdote.

In early 1950 Feldman went to hear the New York Philharmonic give a performance of Anton Webern's Symphony, op. 21. After this work, the orchestra was going to perform a piece by Sergei Rachmaninoff, and Feldman left immediately before that, overwhelmed by Webern's work. In the lobby he met John Cage, who too attended the concert and was leaving for precisely the same reason. The two composers quickly became good friends, with Feldman moving into the apartment on the second floor of the building Cage lived in. Sourced from Wikipedia

Morton Feldman For John Cage (1982)

Andrew McIntosh - violin
Dante Boon - Piano

'But there is still the problem of how you got from the very short to the very long. It's all very well to say that the world doesn't need another 20 minute piece (John recently told me that he is the composer of the 30 minute piece) but how does one develop the sense of what should be beyond that 20 minutes? How did you scale up?

I think that the answer may lie in your interest in the visual. Everyone knows that painting influenced your early work-was inseparable from it. Now you are influenced by RUGS-handmade nomadic rugs. If that now is as influential as painting was for the early works, how could this be discussed?

I can tell you that when playing your recent music I feel very close to those rug-makers working away first the border, the same stitch so many times, now a different strand, fewer times, now we start a pattern, it's finished, a background, etc. Certainly the feeling is very different from that of other music, where I walk from room to room, each one with certain proportions, order, and progression. Also the rug-making explanation helps account for the tiny variations you play within timing and intonation the equivalent of the irregularities in a hand-sewn rug.

Anyway, because of this difference in how the music appears to be structured, I usually give a very short speech before starting this piece, saying that it is approximately 75 minutes long, very quiet, calm; it will take as long as it is going to take; relax, let it happen, and if you can't put up with that idea, leave now. And almost no-one leaves.'

Excerpt of a letter of the violinist Paul Zukofsky to Morton Feldman used as liner notes in the CD release of his recording of 'For John Cage'. Full text here.

Pianola Museum
Westerstraat 106
1015 MN Amsterdam
Time: 16:00
Entrance: 7.50 Euro