Author Topic: Morton Feldman's treatment of Bunita Marcus  (Read 1214 times)

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Offline milk

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Re: Morton Feldman's treatment of Bunita Marcus
« Reply #20 on: February 15, 2018, 04:16:31 PM »
Your bald assertion he is hostile to the idea she might be telling the truth is disturbing, for he said nothing of the sort.  He does seem hostile to unquestionably believing very late accusations when the accused is dead. That is not the same. Further, it is clear that the “pathetic attempt” David is referring to is the “he got all his ideas from me, before me his music was boring” stuff, for that is the only claim that would elevate her.

The choice is not pathological liar versus impeccable font of truth. There is another possibility: she might have distorted memories after all this time, and is being both honest and mistaken. That is not uncommon. On what basis can anyone dismiss it?
I'm not sure I should have posted this to begin with. That said, I think there are some problems with this story that make me agnostic about it. Number one, she's coupled her claims of abuse with absurd assertions about the origin and value of his musical legacy. Number two, her comments about abuse are vague and indistinct and she hasn't seemed willing to clarify them. Three, we can only evaluate her experience from an interview (where she doesn't spell out what exactly happened) and somewhat cryptic comments in a forum on a webpage that some people find dubious or tabloid-ish. Another point that worries me is the lack of ability to authenticate what we see on the web generally. I have no idea if the commenter on that website is really her. More and more on social media, everything can be faked or simulated and we increasingly have less reasons to credulously accept even the identities of those with whom we come into contact. It's not going to be hard to make "people" up. But, if this person has a serious claim of abuse that she wants the public to consider, then she has every right to make her case and she should be taken seriously then, which is different than "believed". I think there's a big danger to "guilty because accused." But that's not the same thing as saying we should dismiss people who make accusations. We should take them seriously as there is an obvious and real problem with men, power and abuse. If men in power, in the musical world, have been abusing their students it is an issue to address seriously. 
« Last Edit: February 15, 2018, 04:34:10 PM by milk »

Offline San Antone

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Re: Morton Feldman's treatment of Bunita Marcus
« Reply #21 on: February 16, 2018, 10:12:04 AM »
I removed my earlier post since I did not want to see this thread when I checked for new posts, and I had felt that my post had been unfairly characterized.  However, I read a long interview on NewMusicBox by Frank J. Oteri in which Marcus speaks only positively and lovingly about Morton Feldman, as well as, discussing her sexual abuse from childhood.  Recovered memories appeared shortly after Feldman's death of her father raping her.  I wonder if the Italian interviewer got it mixed up?

There is a second article on NewMusicBox more specifically about her sexual abuse and the work which Marcus wrote as a result of her recovered memories, her string quartet The Rugmaker.

WHO IS BUNITA MARCUS?
By Frank J. Oteri in Conversations on 08/01/2010 (For some reason it will open a dialog box to save a movie - just close it and the article can be read.  You have to scroll down the screen, however,)

HEARING AND REMEMBERING TRAUMA IN BUNITA MARCUS'S THE RUGMAKER
By Jenny Olivia Johnson

After reading these I am now 99.9% sure that the website and purported Italian interview are outliers, and possibly even entirely fraudulent.

Offline milk

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Re: Morton Feldman's treatment of Bunita Marcus
« Reply #22 on: February 16, 2018, 04:47:16 PM »
I removed my earlier post since I did not want to see this thread when I checked for new posts, and I had felt that my post had been unfairly characterized.  However, I read a long interview on NewMusicBox by Frank J. Oteri in which Marcus speaks only positively and lovingly about Morton Feldman, as well as, discussing her sexual abuse from childhood.  Recovered memories appeared shortly after Feldman's death of her father raping her.  I wonder if the Italian interviewer got it mixed up?

There is a second article on NewMusicBox more specifically about her sexual abuse and the work which Marcus wrote as a result of her recovered memories, her string quartet The Rugmaker.

WHO IS BUNITA MARCUS?
By Frank J. Oteri in Conversations on 08/01/2010 (For some reason it will open a dialog box to save a movie - just close it and the article can be read.  You have to scroll down the screen, however,)

HEARING AND REMEMBERING TRAUMA IN BUNITA MARCUS'S THE RUGMAKER
By Jenny Olivia Johnson

After reading these I am now 99.9% sure that the website and purported Italian interview are outliers, and possibly even entirely fraudulent.
It struck me as strange that the comment section of that weird website would be where she chose to directly air claims. I don't know the truth but I find it increasingly scary how easy it is to fake identity. Anyway, Feldman was a great composer whatever anyone says. The rest I don't know.

Offline San Antone

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Re: Morton Feldman's treatment of Bunita Marcus
« Reply #23 on: February 17, 2018, 05:00:26 PM »
It struck me as strange that the comment section of that weird website would be where she chose to directly air claims. I don't know the truth but I find it increasingly scary how easy it is to fake identity. Anyway, Feldman was a great composer whatever anyone says. The rest I don't know.

I contacted contacted Bunita Marcus for an interview and she got back to me in the affirmative.  I had sent her my standard set of questions (I've interviewed over 75 composers during the last few years), which she said she wanted to address, but I made no mention of this site and allegations.  She indicated she would prefer a phone interview.  I will try calling her tomorrow and begin by going through the interview questions and then at the end I might ask her about this issue (although I doubt the veracity of any of that site's content).  She does not appear to be very experienced with the Internet, and may not even be aware of its existence.
« Last Edit: February 17, 2018, 05:20:57 PM by San Antone »

Offline milk

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Re: Morton Feldman's treatment of Bunita Marcus
« Reply #24 on: February 17, 2018, 05:10:55 PM »
I contacted contacted Bunita Marcus for an interview and she got back to me in the affirmative.  I had sent her my standard set of questions (I've interviewed over 75 composers during the few years), which she said she wanted to address, but I made no mention of this site and allegations.  She indicated she would prefer a phone interview.  I will try calling her tomorrow and begin by going through the interview questions and then at the end I might ask her about this issue (although I doubt the veracity of any of that site's content).  She does not appear to be very experienced with the Internet, and may not even be aware of its existence.
Fascinating!!! Please keep us updated! Thanks a lot!

Offline San Antone

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Re: Morton Feldman's treatment of Bunita Marcus
« Reply #25 on: February 20, 2018, 02:26:51 PM »
I spent about 45 minutes today talking with Bunita Marcus.  We first went over the standard group of questions I ask all the composers I interview in about 30-35 minutes, and then at the end I brought up the article and Italian interview.

Okay, there was no confusion, she did feel that Feldman crossed the boundary from mentor/colleague into inappropriate and unwanted romantic advances.  But what I got from her description was that it wasn't "sexual abuse" so much as his desire to have a relationship that she did not want, and him not desisting when she repeatedly asked him to.  In fact, several other musicians also asked him to back off as well.  She is very bitter because it caused trouble in her marriage, which ended in divorce.  I can't help but feel that there is more to the story, but I did not press her since the whole thing felt sordid.

The business about him appropriating her music and passing it off as his own, was a bit more complicated.  She does feel that she was not credited with her creative work, and because he was the "star" on the NY scene it was assumed that she could not have influenced him.  She described a complex set of emotions leading to his "stealing" as part of his romantic obsession, i.e. him trying to "woo" her with music and part of that writing music which he thought would appeal to her, including some rather crude artistic thievery.  An example of the "highest form of flattery" ... that went too far.

It is an unfortunate set of events - and I do feel that the article sensationalized the facts - but there they are.  I did not ask about the specific comments posted under her name. 

I feel I must apologize to the forum since I took such a firm stance of doubting the facts. 

None of this will appear in my interview/profile of Marcus when I publish our conversation.

The real tragedy is that her music was overlooked and a big part of her motivation for telling this story is about  getting credit for her work.

Offline Brian

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Re: Morton Feldman's treatment of Bunita Marcus
« Reply #26 on: February 20, 2018, 02:34:23 PM »
Thanks so much for taking that time today and for sharing the results with us. Predictably, the truth (as felt by Ms. Marcus) is more nuanced and more human than the suppositions by both sides. I think I should also apologize to you for casting aspersions on your motives, which aspersions your subsequent diligence has clearly shown false.

I hope Marcus is able to find some kind of peace or contentment about her legacy. Your last sentence is especially telling - that often a personal situation like this can so overshadow someone's life work. It's very sad.

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Re: Morton Feldman's treatment of Bunita Marcus
« Reply #27 on: February 20, 2018, 02:49:00 PM »
Thanks for sharing and for your admission that your initial denial of the facts didn't turn out to be justified.

Easy for me to be detached, since to my knowledge I have never heard a note of either composer.

Offline milk

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Re: Morton Feldman's treatment of Bunita Marcus
« Reply #28 on: February 20, 2018, 04:08:29 PM »
I spent about 45 minutes today talking with Bunita Marcus.  We first went over the standard group of questions I ask all the composers I interview in about 30-35 minutes, and then at the end I brought up the article and Italian interview.

Okay, there was no confusion, she did feel that Feldman crossed the boundary from mentor/colleague into inappropriate and unwanted romantic advances.  But what I got from her description was that it wasn't "sexual abuse" so much as his desire to have a relationship that she did not want, and him not desisting when she repeatedly asked him to.  In fact, several other musicians also asked him to back off as well.  She is very bitter because it caused trouble in her marriage, which ended in divorce.  I can't help but feel that there is more to the story, but I did not press her since the whole thing felt sordid.

The business about him appropriating her music and passing it off as his own, was a bit more complicated.  She does feel that she was not credited with her creative work, and because he was the "star" on the NY scene it was assumed that she could not have influenced him.  She described a complex set of emotions leading to his "stealing" as part of his romantic obsession, i.e. him trying to "woo" her with music and part of that writing music which he thought would appeal to her, including some rather crude artistic thievery.  An example of the "highest form of flattery" ... that went too far.

It is an unfortunate set of events - and I do feel that the article sensationalized the facts - but there they are.  I did not ask about the specific comments posted under her name. 

I feel I must apologize to the forum since I took such a firm stance of doubting the facts. 

None of this will appear in my interview/profile of Marcus when I publish our conversation.

The real tragedy is that her music was overlooked and a big part of her motivation for telling this story is about  getting credit for her work.
Thank you for updating us and for your work on this. I think everyone really appreciates it. 
« Last Edit: February 20, 2018, 04:53:12 PM by milk »

Offline Mahlerian

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Re: Morton Feldman's treatment of Bunita Marcus
« Reply #29 on: February 20, 2018, 04:14:03 PM »
I spent about 45 minutes today talking with Bunita Marcus.  We first went over the standard group of questions I ask all the composers I interview in about 30-35 minutes, and then at the end I brought up the article and Italian interview.

Okay, there was no confusion, she did feel that Feldman crossed the boundary from mentor/colleague into inappropriate and unwanted romantic advances.  But what I got from her description was that it wasn't "sexual abuse" so much as his desire to have a relationship that she did not want, and him not desisting when she repeatedly asked him to.  In fact, several other musicians also asked him to back off as well.  She is very bitter because it caused trouble in her marriage, which ended in divorce.  I can't help but feel that there is more to the story, but I did not press her since the whole thing felt sordid.

The business about him appropriating her music and passing it off as his own, was a bit more complicated.  She does feel that she was not credited with her creative work, and because he was the "star" on the NY scene it was assumed that she could not have influenced him.  She described a complex set of emotions leading to his "stealing" as part of his romantic obsession, i.e. him trying to "woo" her with music and part of that writing music which he thought would appeal to her, including some rather crude artistic thievery.  An example of the "highest form of flattery" ... that went too far.

It is an unfortunate set of events - and I do feel that the article sensationalized the facts - but there they are.  I did not ask about the specific comments posted under her name. 

I feel I must apologize to the forum since I took such a firm stance of doubting the facts. 

None of this will appear in my interview/profile of Marcus when I publish our conversation.

The real tragedy is that her music was overlooked and a big part of her motivation for telling this story is about  getting credit for her work.

Thanks for your honesty and tact in the interview.  The clarification is much appreciated.
"l do not consider my music as atonal, but rather as non-tonal. I feel the unity of all keys. Atonal music by modern composers admits of no key at all, no feeling of any definite center." - Arnold Schoenberg

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Morton Feldman's treatment of Bunita Marcus
« Reply #30 on: February 20, 2018, 04:15:49 PM »
Thank you, David.

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