Author Topic: Morton Feldman's treatment of Bunita Marcus  (Read 1289 times)

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Offline milk

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Morton Feldman's treatment of Bunita Marcus
« on: February 13, 2018, 06:23:53 PM »
So, did he abuse her? I wish these kinds of things didn't impinge on my enjoyment of the music. I guess that's the pleasure in listening to early music: no way to know if these people were jerks or saints.
Anyway, this article
http://slippedisc.com/2014/12/us-composer-accuses-another-of-sexual-violence/

makes allegations and below in the comments someone purporting to be Marcus responds. Strange case.
Also, what's this website all about...slipped disc?

Offline Daverz

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Re: Morton Feldman's treatment of Bunita Marcus
« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2018, 07:17:14 PM »
So, did he abuse her? I wish these kinds of things didn't impinge on my enjoyment of the music. I guess that's the pleasure in listening to early music: no way to know if these people were jerks or saints.
Anyway, this article
http://slippedisc.com/2014/12/us-composer-accuses-another-of-sexual-violence/

makes allegations and below in the comments someone purporting to be Marcus responds. Strange case.
Also, what's this website all about...slipped disc?

Wow, the mansplaining on that thread is off the charts.

Offline Mahlerian

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Re: Morton Feldman's treatment of Bunita Marcus
« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2018, 07:55:31 PM »
So, did he abuse her? I wish these kinds of things didn't impinge on my enjoyment of the music.

Probably?  I don't see a reason to doubt it, but as with the other stories in recent days, my stance is that one can separate the art and the one who creates it without justifying the latter by the former.

I guess that's the pleasure in listening to early music: no way to know if these people were jerks or saints.

Well, except for Gombert, I suppose.

Also, what's this website all about...slipped disc?

A tabloidy (digital) rag focusing on classical music stars, scandals, and other things that drive clicks.
"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 amw

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Re: Morton Feldman's treatment of Bunita Marcus
« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2018, 08:04:10 PM »
Read the original interview; don't give Norman Lebrecht any clicks or web traffic.

https://sentireascoltare.com/articoli/bunita-marcus-intervista-2014/

I see no reason to doubt any of her claims (including the claims that he plagiarised from her work; I haven't heard the compositions in question side by side, but that's been a known issue in academic and artistic circles involving many more famous teachers and less famous students that has unfortunately been going on for a very long time).

You can hear some of her music here: https://bunitamarcus.bandcamp.com/album/favorite-works-from-the-1980s

Offline milk

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Re: Morton Feldman's treatment of Bunita Marcus
« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2018, 09:38:07 PM »
Read the original interview; don't give Norman Lebrecht any clicks or web traffic.

https://sentireascoltare.com/articoli/bunita-marcus-intervista-2014/

I see no reason to doubt any of her claims (including the claims that he plagiarised from her work; I haven't heard the compositions in question side by side, but that's been a known issue in academic and artistic circles involving many more famous teachers and less famous students that has unfortunately been going on for a very long time).

You can hear some of her music here: https://bunitamarcus.bandcamp.com/album/favorite-works-from-the-1980s
The only thing I was questioning was whether that's really her commenting. If it is then...wow.

Offline milk

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Re: Morton Feldman's treatment of Bunita Marcus
« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2018, 09:39:21 PM »
Read the original interview; don't give Norman Lebrecht any clicks or web traffic.

https://sentireascoltare.com/articoli/bunita-marcus-intervista-2014/

I see no reason to doubt any of her claims (including the claims that he plagiarised from her work; I haven't heard the compositions in question side by side, but that's been a known issue in academic and artistic circles involving many more famous teachers and less famous students that has unfortunately been going on for a very long time).

You can hear some of her music here: https://bunitamarcus.bandcamp.com/album/favorite-works-from-the-1980s
I take it this "publisher" is less than scrupulous. I shall look to the original then. On the comments the person claiming to be her said that she was "soooo glad he died." Wow.

Offline milk

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Re: Morton Feldman's treatment of Bunita Marcus
« Reply #6 on: February 13, 2018, 09:44:07 PM »
Probably?  I don't see a reason to doubt it, but as with the other stories in recent days, my stance is that one can separate the art and the one who creates it without justifying the latter by the former.
I agree with you as a matter of principle but it's not always easy. I love Feldman's music. I wish it were easier to tune out their lives; sometimes it's not so easy. I've never read about Picasso's life but I just assume at this point that he was probably a total asshole. 

Offline milk

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Re: Morton Feldman's treatment of Bunita Marcus
« Reply #7 on: February 13, 2018, 10:04:26 PM »
Read the original interview; don't give Norman Lebrecht any clicks or web traffic.

https://sentireascoltare.com/articoli/bunita-marcus-intervista-2014/

I see no reason to doubt any of her claims (including the claims that he plagiarised from her work; I haven't heard the compositions in question side by side, but that's been a known issue in academic and artistic circles involving many more famous teachers and less famous students that has unfortunately been going on for a very long time).

You can hear some of her music here: https://bunitamarcus.bandcamp.com/album/favorite-works-from-the-1980s
I read a translation of the interview (which made it a little hard to understand) and found it very disturbing. Yeah: I'm kind of speechless. I will try to listen to her work. It's very hard to evaluate her claims that his work was boring before meeting her and that his later work is all borrowing from her. I've no idea what to think. I admit I feel pretty sad and a little disturbed reading about what she says was severe abuse. I don't know why it should be that someone I am so abstractly connected to, as a personality, should impact me emotionally when I know again and again that many great artists throughout history are assholes and when that person only affects me through art.   

Offline milk

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Re: Morton Feldman's treatment of Bunita Marcus
« Reply #8 on: February 13, 2018, 10:09:46 PM »
Wow, the mansplaining on that thread is off the charts.
I'm not a huge fan of that term but I guess it kind of fits here. One more thing I wanted to say that I think is amazingly sad and terrible is that whenever you search anywhere for her you inevitably and always come up with his name because of his work titled for her. She doesn't mention this in the interview but if I were her I would feel very bitter about this.

Offline Ken B

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Re: Morton Feldman's treatment of Bunita Marcus
« Reply #9 on: February 13, 2018, 10:18:20 PM »
I read a translation of the interview (which made it a little hard to understand) and found it very disturbing. Yeah: I'm kind of speechless. I will try to listen to her work. It's very hard to evaluate her claims that his work was boring before meeting her and that his later work is all borrowing from her. I've no idea what to think. I admit I feel pretty sad and a little disturbed reading about what she says was severe abuse. I don't know why it should be that someone I am so abstractly connected to, as a personality, should impact me emotionally when I know again and again that many great artists throughout history are assholes and when that person only affects me through art.

It's not remotely hard to evaluate her claim his music was boring before he met her. He met her in 1976, when he was 50. His music from before 1976 is not boring. It's an absurd claim.
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Offline Ken B

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Re: Morton Feldman's treatment of Bunita Marcus
« Reply #10 on: February 13, 2018, 10:23:37 PM »
Probably?  I don't see a reason to doubt it, but as with the other stories in recent days, my stance is that one can separate the art and the one who creates it without justifying the latter by the former.

Well, except for Gombert, I suppose.

A tabloidy (digital) rag focusing on classical music stars, scandals, and other things that drive clicks.

What about Gombert?
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Offline milk

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Re: Morton Feldman's treatment of Bunita Marcus
« Reply #11 on: February 13, 2018, 10:38:31 PM »
It's not remotely hard to evaluate her claim his music was boring before he met her. He met her in 1976, when he was 50. His music from before 1976 is not boring. It's an absurd claim.
I see. I admit I haven't listened to much of his early work. I've spent hours and hours with his later stuff. Um...yeah...I've listened to some of her stuff and it sounds interesting but it's kind of hard to accept her belief in her responsibility for his greatness. I'm disturbed by her claims but confused by them too. They're not super clear. She said some things that are hard to understand by a translation from Italian and then some cryptic comments on the tabloid page. I don't know what exactly I'm disturbed about except someone saying he was a horrible cruel abusive person. Without details it's up to the imagination.
« Last Edit: February 13, 2018, 10:42:33 PM by milk »

Offline amw

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Re: Morton Feldman's treatment of Bunita Marcus
« Reply #12 on: February 13, 2018, 11:26:31 PM »
It's not remotely hard to evaluate her claim his music was boring before he met her. He met her in 1976, when he was 50. His music from before 1976 is not boring. It's an absurd claim.
Fairly typical composer aesthetic judgment tho lol. Like Debussy’s diaries & letters complaining about everyone else’s music.

I personally enjoy Feldman’s early work more than his later work, and have enjoyed what I’ve heard of Marcus’s work, and she clearly diverged pretty significantly from her teacher’s aesthetic within a few years and that’s pretty normal imo.

Also several other people have claimed Feldman was not a very nice person (eg Cage) so this isn’t really news. Beethoven, Wagner, Stravinsky and plenty of others were also not great to hang out with and that’s not why we listen to their work either

Offline milk

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Re: Morton Feldman's treatment of Bunita Marcus
« Reply #13 on: February 14, 2018, 12:11:40 AM »
Fairly typical composer aesthetic judgment tho lol. Like Debussy’s diaries & letters complaining about everyone else’s music.

I personally enjoy Feldman’s early work more than his later work, and have enjoyed what I’ve heard of Marcus’s work, and she clearly diverged pretty significantly from her teacher’s aesthetic within a few years and that’s pretty normal imo.

Also several other people have claimed Feldman was not a very nice person (eg Cage) so this isn’t really news. Beethoven, Wagner, Stravinsky and plenty of others were also not great to hang out with and that’s not why we listen to their work either
That's a good perspective. I don't know why I get emotional about it when it's pretty normal for people to be jerks, especially when they gain a lot of respect and power. Was Dostoyevsky a nice guy? Should I care? Probably not. I wonder what Barbara Monk's story is and how her life fits into this - having married him. Or maybe I shouldn't bother wondering. I like Feldman's late work a lot. What early pieces do you like and why? 

Offline Mahlerian

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Re: Morton Feldman's treatment of Bunita Marcus
« Reply #14 on: February 14, 2018, 08:57:16 AM »
What about Gombert?

He apparently molested at least one choirboy and was punished for it.
"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 milk

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Re: Morton Feldman's treatment of Bunita Marcus
« Reply #15 on: February 14, 2018, 10:28:15 AM »
I couldn't care less.  Accusations coming so late, after he's dead and cannot repsond, and after she lived with him so long ... even the link was from 2014 - not news. Maybe not even factual; certainly not meaningful information.  (What provoked you to bring it up here?  I would appreciate it if people would resist the temptation in the future to repeat or post these kinds of unconfirmed quasi "me too" accounts.)

Pure bullshit, imo. 

What I know: The name "Bunita Marcus" would mean nothing to me except for his work, and I doubt whether her compositions would be known at all if he had not memorialized her in his work.  Who's to say that she didn't copy him instead of the other way around?  I am so tired of disgruntled minor composers claiming they were ripped off by greater men.

I also know that his music has provided me with countless hours of enjoyment and inspiration.  Her name is now linked to a tawdry story that will forever remain unconfirmed, and a pathetic attempt to smear his name while elevating hers. 

I really wish I had not opened this thread.
I understand the way you feel. Perhaps I shouldn't have posted it at all. I also love Feldman's work. I don't know what to make of this and maybe it's unproductive to ponder it.

Offline Brian

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Re: Morton Feldman's treatment of Bunita Marcus
« Reply #16 on: February 15, 2018, 01:23:45 PM »
I couldn't care less.  Accusations coming so late, after he's dead and cannot repsond, and after she lived with him so long ... even the link was from 2014 - not news. Maybe not even factual; certainly not meaningful information.  (What provoked you to bring it up here?  I would appreciate it if people would resist the temptation in the future to repeat or post these kinds of unconfirmed quasi "me too" accounts.)

What I know: The name "Bunita Marcus" would mean nothing to me except for his work, and I doubt whether her compositions would be known at all if he had not memorialized her in his work.  Who's to say that she didn't copy him instead of the other way around?  I am so tired of disgruntled minor composers claiming they were ripped off by greater men.

I also know that his music has provided me with countless hours of enjoyment and inspiration.  Her name is now linked to a tawdry story that will forever remain unconfirmed, and a pathetic attempt to smear his name while elevating hers. 

I really wish I had not opened this thread.
Your aggressive hostility to the idea that she might be telling the truth, and that her memories might be worth sharing, is disturbing. The automatic assumption that she is making a "pathetic attempt to smear his name" suggests a worldview so cynical that I don't know how you would ever trust anyone.

Of course, I do not know Bunita Marcus. Perhaps she has a history as a pathological liar. But nobody else in the thread has said so.

Offline Daverz

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Re: Morton Feldman's treatment of Bunita Marcus
« Reply #17 on: February 15, 2018, 01:47:10 PM »
Your aggressive hostility to the idea that she might be telling the truth, and that her memories might be worth sharing, is disturbing. The automatic assumption that she is making a "pathetic attempt to smear his name" suggests a worldview so cynical that I don't know how you would ever trust anyone.

Of course, I do not know Bunita Marcus. Perhaps she has a history as a pathological liar. But nobody else in the thread has said so.

I was trying to come up with something more intelligent to add besides "Well said!", but, uh, well said!

Offline Ken B

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Re: Morton Feldman's treatment of Bunita Marcus
« Reply #18 on: February 15, 2018, 01:58:53 PM »
Your aggressive hostility to the idea that she might be telling the truth, and that her memories might be worth sharing, is disturbing. The automatic assumption that she is making a "pathetic attempt to smear his name" suggests a worldview so cynical that I don't know how you would ever trust anyone.

Of course, I do not know Bunita Marcus. Perhaps she has a history as a pathological liar. But nobody else in the thread has said so.

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?
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Offline Ken B

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Re: Morton Feldman's treatment of Bunita Marcus
« Reply #19 on: February 15, 2018, 02:01:06 PM »
He apparently molested at least one choirboy and was punished for it.
Ah. Thanks, I had not read that.
Give a man a fire and he is warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he is warm for life.