Author Topic: Samuel Beckett in Music.  (Read 4242 times)

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Offline Mandryka

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Samuel Beckett in Music.
« on: September 05, 2020, 12:51:36 AM »
A new thread because I have an intuition that it's a big and unexplored area -- I personally expect to contribute to it only intermittently, as new ideas crop up.
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Samuel Beckett in Music.
« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2020, 12:51:46 AM »


This is hard to find but widely available. You have to type into the search engine Holliger: Come And Go - What Where -- and then it shows up on amazon, spotify and qobuz. First impression is that anyone who liked Scardanelli will want to hear it.

Come and Go looks good

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/VZP2_sROsYA" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/VZP2_sROsYA</a>

And What Where looks similar

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/cOMg3b-y-Bg" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/cOMg3b-y-Bg</a>
« Last Edit: September 05, 2020, 01:09:13 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Samuel Beckett in Music.
« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2020, 12:58:53 AM »


There's a book on the subject which so far I've managed to resist -- too expensive. But amazingly I've just managed to find the research which led to the book

https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/27d2/7150bcf06b150865cf2b847fadc821276c59.pdf
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Offline CRCulver

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Re: Samuel Beckett in Music.
« Reply #3 on: September 05, 2020, 04:19:44 AM »
The cynic in me has wondered if composers like Dusapin and Saunders have tied their works to Beckett in recent years not just because they like the author, but because claiming this connection automatically lends some additional prestige to what they’re doing. Were that the case, it would be rather parasitical on Beckett’s reputation. Sort of what a number of mid-century avant-gardists did with Finnegans Wake.

(I had the same uncomfortable feeling about a recentish piece by Michael Hersh that the composer claimed is based on Robert Lowell's poetry, but in an interview Hersch revealed that he didn’t actually know much about Lowell's work and couldn't really point to any firm connections between what he wrote and the poems.)

Offline T. D.

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Re: Samuel Beckett in Music.
« Reply #4 on: September 05, 2020, 04:27:45 AM »
The cynic in me has wondered if composers like Dusapin and Saunders have tied their works to Beckett in recent years not just because they like the author, but because claiming this connection automatically lends some additional prestige to what they’re doing. Were that the case, it would be rather parasitical on Beckett’s reputation. Sort of what a number of mid-century avant-gardists did with Finnegans Wake.

(I had the same uncomfortable feeling about a recentish piece by Michael Hersh that the composer claimed is based on Robert Lowell's poetry, but in an interview Hersch revealed that he didn’t actually know much about Lowell's work and couldn't really point to any firm connections between what he wrote and the poems.)

I have the same feeling about various composers and Paul Celan. Honestly (granted I'm a bit of a cynic) by now I groan whenever I encounter a new avant-garde composition based on / claiming inspiration from either Beckett or Celan. It's gotten to be practically an avant-garde cliche.

On a more constructive note, Feldman's Neither, Words and Music and For Samuel Beckett come to mind, but the OP is surely aware of them.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2020, 04:32:18 AM by T. D. »

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Samuel Beckett in Music.
« Reply #5 on: September 05, 2020, 04:36:04 AM »
I have the same feeling about various composers and Paul Celan. Honestly (granted I'm a bit of a cynic) by now I groan whenever I encounter a new avant-garde composition based on / claiming inspiration from either Beckett or Celan. It's gotten to be practically an avant-garde cliche.

On a more constructive note, Feldman's Neither, Words and Music and For Samuel Beckett come to mind, but the OP is surely aware of them.
The cynic in me has wondered if composers like Dusapin and Saunders have tied their works to Beckett in recent years not just because they like the author, but because claiming this connection automatically lends some additional prestige to what they’re doing. Were that the case, it would be rather parasitical on Beckett’s reputation. Sort of what a number of mid-century avant-gardists did with Finnegans Wake.

(I had the same uncomfortable feeling about a recentish piece by Michael Hersh that the composer claimed is based on Robert Lowell's poetry, but in an interview Hersch revealed that he didn’t actually know much about Lowell's work and couldn't really point to any firm connections between what he wrote and the poems.)

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/14njUwJUg1I" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/14njUwJUg1I</a>
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Offline springrite

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Re: Samuel Beckett in Music.
« Reply #6 on: September 05, 2020, 04:42:46 AM »
The first that comes to mind is For Samuel Beckett by Morton Feldman.
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Offline some guy

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Re: Samuel Beckett in Music.
« Reply #7 on: September 05, 2020, 09:28:53 AM »
My own cynicism is directed almost entirely at cynics.

Lots of artists have been fascinated by the works of other artists. Musicians and painters and poets and such do often hang out with each other and spur each other on. The only ones I know of first hand are all of them people who are genuinely fascinated and inspired by the works of other artists.* And most of the ones I know of second or third hand are equally genuine.

That is, there are exceptions, but they are exceptions, I'd argue, and not the rule.

*For example, a composer I know has turned a novel of mine into an opera, has commissioned several libretti from me, and has performed in several text pieces of mine. He cannot have done any of this in order to cash in on any fame of mine. I don't have any fame. He just likes my stuff is all. Indeed, what little fame I have is almost entirely owing to him. (He likes Beckett, too, by the way, but he really admires Stein.)

Offline Scion7

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Re: Samuel Beckett in Music.
« Reply #8 on: September 05, 2020, 11:33:58 AM »
The Germans, who make doctrines out of everything, deal with music learnedly; the Italians, being voluptuous, seek in it lively, though fleeting, sensations; the French, more vain than perceptive, manage to speak of it wittily; and the English pay for it . . . - Stendhal

Online ritter

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Re: Samuel Beckett in Music.
« Reply #9 on: September 05, 2020, 11:41:32 AM »
György Kurtág’s Fin de partie was premiered to great acclaim at La Scala in Milan in 2018 (IIRC, our fellow GMGers GioCar and king ubu attended one of the performances).

And then, of course, there were the rumours of Pierre Boulez setting En attendant Godot as an opera (also for La Scala). But that, alas, was not to be.... 
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Online vers la flamme

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Re: Samuel Beckett in Music.
« Reply #10 on: September 05, 2020, 01:51:37 PM »
My own cynicism is directed almost entirely at cynics.

Lots of artists have been fascinated by the works of other artists. Musicians and painters and poets and such do often hang out with each other and spur each other on. The only ones I know of first hand are all of them people who are genuinely fascinated and inspired by the works of other artists.* And most of the ones I know of second or third hand are equally genuine.

That is, there are exceptions, but they are exceptions, I'd argue, and not the rule.

*For example, a composer I know has turned a novel of mine into an opera, has commissioned several libretti from me, and has performed in several text pieces of mine. He cannot have done any of this in order to cash in on any fame of mine. I don't have any fame. He just likes my stuff is all. Indeed, what little fame I have is almost entirely owing to him. (He likes Beckett, too, by the way, but he really admires Stein.)

I think the personal anecdote you've shared has nothing to do with the idea that composers are cashing in on Beckett's achievements, for obvious reasons; ie. that you're not Beckett.

Having gotten that out of the way, I've had similar thoughts about contemporary composers being drawn to Beckett for "avant-garde street-cred", though I suspect it's probably not true. 

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Samuel Beckett in Music.
« Reply #11 on: September 05, 2020, 09:46:26 PM »

Having gotten that out of the way, I've had similar thoughts about contemporary composers being drawn to Beckett for "avant-garde street-cred", though I suspect it's probably not true.

It’s a bit like saying that Schubert set Goethe for street cred, or De Rore set Petrarch to look cool. I mean it may be true, I can imagine the doctorate about the idea, but without the doctorate it’s just uninteresting speculation at best, or a justification for a smug and lazy dismissal of the “Beckett phenomenon” at worst.


« Last Edit: September 05, 2020, 09:52:37 PM by Mandryka »
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Online ritter

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Re: Samuel Beckett in Music.
« Reply #12 on: September 07, 2020, 12:00:25 AM »
And then there's Luciano Berio's use of excerpts from The Unnameable in the famous third movement, "In ruhig fliessender Bewegung", of his Sinfonia.
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Samuel Beckett in Music.
« Reply #13 on: September 23, 2020, 07:56:38 AM »
And then there's Luciano Berio's use of excerpts from The Unnameable in the famous third movement, "In ruhig fliessender Bewegung", of his Sinfonia.

Paper on this here

https://www.naun.org/multimedia/NAUN/ijmmas/20-711.pdf
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Samuel Beckett in Music.
« Reply #14 on: September 27, 2020, 02:53:12 AM »
Catherine Laws lecture here, focussing on contemporary responses in music to Beckett.

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/Wi23g9lxH28&amp;ab_channel=SchAdvStudy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/Wi23g9lxH28&amp;ab_channel=SchAdvStudy</a>
« Last Edit: September 27, 2020, 03:01:38 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Samuel Beckett in Music.
« Reply #15 on: October 19, 2020, 07:40:03 AM »
<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/cqheSUY5TNQ" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/cqheSUY5TNQ</a>

A little trombone concerto by Dusapin, the score contains a quote from Beckett’s novel Watt

Quote
For Watt now found himself in the midst of things which, had they consented to be named, did so as it were with reluctance. And the state in which Watt found himself resisted formulation in a way no state had ever done, in which Watt had ever found himself; and Watt had found himself in a great many states, in his day

Make of it what you can.

The music goes all cosmic half way through, about 8 minutes in, a sort of central slow movement - worth hearing. Not sure about the outer movements!

« Last Edit: October 19, 2020, 07:49:59 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Old San Antone

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Re: Samuel Beckett in Music.
« Reply #16 on: October 19, 2020, 07:45:39 AM »
<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/ep9k_lsVRLs" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/ep9k_lsVRLs</a>

György Kurtág: Opera "Fin de partie (Endgame)" (2010-2017)

Samuel Beckett: Endgame. Scenes and monologues. Opera in one act (2010-2017)

Nagg: Leonardo Cortellazzi (tenor buffo)
Nell: Hilary Summers (mezzo-soprano)
Hamm: Frode Olsen (bass-baritone)
Clov: Leigh Melrose (baritone)

Orchestra of the Teatro alla Scala, conducted by Markus Stenz

recording of the first performance (Milan, Teatro alla Scala, November 15, 2018)

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Samuel Beckett in Music.
« Reply #17 on: October 19, 2020, 07:47:37 AM »
<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/ep9k_lsVRLs" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/ep9k_lsVRLs</a>

György Kurtág: Opera "Fin de partie (Endgame)" (2010-2017)

Samuel Beckett: Endgame. Scenes and monologues. Opera in one act (2010-2017)

Nagg: Leonardo Cortellazzi (tenor buffo)
Nell: Hilary Summers (mezzo-soprano)
Hamm: Frode Olsen (bass-baritone)
Clov: Leigh Melrose (baritone)

Orchestra of the Teatro alla Scala, conducted by Markus Stenz

recording of the first performance (Milan, Teatro alla Scala, November 15, 2018)

I just cannot listen to it, I know the play well enough and normally I like Kurtag well enough but somehow making this of all plays into an opera has got my back up!
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Offline Old San Antone

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Re: Samuel Beckett in Music.
« Reply #18 on: October 19, 2020, 09:53:40 AM »
I just cannot listen to it, I know the play well enough and normally I like Kurtag well enough but somehow making this of all plays into an opera has got my back up!

Oh, I found the work to be very listenable.   ;)

Online vers la flamme

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Re: Samuel Beckett in Music.
« Reply #19 on: October 19, 2020, 04:14:49 PM »
Apparently, Boulez wanted to adapt En attendant Godot into an opera, but never got around to it. Is it just me, or does this seem like a huge mismatch of styles and themes? I can't picture that working out in the slightest. Actually, I can't picture any Beckett working as opera. Perhaps I am being closed-minded.