Julius Eastman (1940-1990)

Started by Brewski, September 20, 2020, 08:46:24 AM

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Brewski

What better way to inaugurate a thread on Julius Eastman than with a livestreamed concert, coming up in about an hour. New music group Apartment House will perform Femenine and Joy Boy. (Archived concert will be available for 30 days after.)

https://wigmore-hall.org.uk/whats-on/apartment-house-202009201930

--Bruce
"I set down a beautiful chord on paper—and suddenly it rusts."

- Alfred Schnittke

Twitter: @BruceHodgesNY

Scion7

never heard of him, but looking at some of his 'titles' I think I'll pass
(Bruckner's) is the career of a poor village boy ... The one and only really surprising thing about him was that after completing his career as an organist he suddenly began to compose music with a range of vision which in such a man would appear quite incongruous.

Brewski

Here's an excellent introduction to Eastman from 2017 by Alex Ross of The New Yorker:

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/01/23/julius-eastmans-guerrilla-minimalism

--Bruce
"I set down a beautiful chord on paper—and suddenly it rusts."

- Alfred Schnittke

Twitter: @BruceHodgesNY

Mandryka

#3
Quote from: Brewski on September 20, 2020, 08:46:24 AM
What better way to inaugurate a thread on Julius Eastman than with a livestreamed concert, coming up in about an hour. New music group Apartment House will perform Femenine and Joy Boy. (Archived concert will be available for 30 days after.)

https://wigmore-hall.org.uk/whats-on/apartment-house-202009201930

--Bruce

There's a thread I created on queer music where he comes up quite a bit. It's ironic to see him being played at The Wigmore Hall, which is one of the most gay and the least queer place in London. I first got to know him at a big retrospective at Cafe Oto a few years ago. Some of his music has a sort of heartfelt honesty which makes it sound a bit special.
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Brewski

Quote from: Mandryka on September 20, 2020, 11:12:26 AM
There's a thread I created on queer music where he comes up quite a bit. It's ironic to see him being played at The Wigmore Hall, which is one of the most gay and the least queer place in London. I first got to know him at a big retrospective at Cafe Oto a few years ago. Some of his music has a sort of heartfelt honesty which makes it sound a bit special.

Yes, did see that other thread and the mentions! Based on the few works I have heard, he deserves wide exposure. (I'm a little late to this party.)

This afternoon was epic. Also my first encounter with the new music ensemble Apartment House, and they were formidable. Simon Limbrick, the percussionist, was the anchor in Femenine (1974), with a vibraphone motif repeated, Bolero-like, for 72 minutes.

The concert will be available for 30 days on the Wigmore Hall site:

https://wigmore-hall.org.uk/whats-on/apartment-house-202009201930

--Bruce
"I set down a beautiful chord on paper—and suddenly it rusts."

- Alfred Schnittke

Twitter: @BruceHodgesNY

Brewski

Another Eastman work, Macle (1971) is enormously entertaining, as done by the virtuoso vocal ensemble, ekmeles. It's available for a week on the group's website, below, and comes at the end of this most enjoyable concert.

Kaija SaariahoFrom the Grammar of Dreams (1988)
John CageLitany for the Whale (1980)
Agata ZubelAlphabet of the Ars Brevis (2016)
Julius EastmanMacle (1970-71)

http://ekmeles.com/stream.html

--Bruce
"I set down a beautiful chord on paper—and suddenly it rusts."

- Alfred Schnittke

Twitter: @BruceHodgesNY

schnittkease

The Holy Presence of Joan d'Arc for 10 cellos is an amazing piece. Kudos to cellist Clarice Jensen, because it would never be performed had she not transcribed the whole thing for publication from an archival recording.

Brewski

Quote from: schnittkease on October 17, 2020, 11:17:14 PM
The Holy Presence of Joan d'Arc for 10 cellos is an amazing piece. Kudos to cellist Clarice Jensen, because it would never be performed had she not transcribed the whole thing for publication from an archival recording.

Thanks, glad to know about this! (I have only begun to explore Eastman's output.)

--Bruce
"I set down a beautiful chord on paper—and suddenly it rusts."

- Alfred Schnittke

Twitter: @BruceHodgesNY

not edward

The Unjust Malaise 3CD set is definitely the canonical place to start, and includes both Joan d'Arc pieces as well as the big trilogy of pieces that are usually played with 4 pianos.
"I don't at all mind actively disliking a piece of contemporary music, but in order to feel happy about it I must consciously understand why I dislike it. Otherwise it remains in my mind as unfinished business."
-- Aaron Copland, The Pleasures of Music

Brewski

Quote from: edward on November 06, 2020, 06:28:14 PM
The Unjust Malaise 3CD set is definitely the canonical place to start, and includes both Joan d'Arc pieces as well as the big trilogy of pieces that are usually played with 4 pianos.

Thanks, edward, for this rec. Much appreciated.

--Bruce
"I set down a beautiful chord on paper—and suddenly it rusts."

- Alfred Schnittke

Twitter: @BruceHodgesNY

DaveF

Those of us who were alive and listening to weird stuff in the 1970s will remember him as the baritone soloist on the recording of Davies' Eight Songs for a Mad King.
"All the world is birthday cake" - George Harrison

Mandryka

Quote from: DaveF on November 10, 2020, 04:15:07 AM
Those of us who were alive and listening to weird stuff in the 1970s will remember him as the baritone soloist on the recording of Davies' Eight Songs for a Mad King.

Yes he had a promising start in his career in the modern music establishment before he lost it to drugs and militant queerness and probably all sorts of mental health troubles.
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Brewski

Quote from: DaveF on November 10, 2020, 04:15:07 AM
Those of us who were alive and listening to weird stuff in the 1970s will remember him as the baritone soloist on the recording of Davies' Eight Songs for a Mad King.

And wow, what I might give for a video of THAT.

Quote from: Mandryka on November 10, 2020, 04:44:31 AM
Yes he had a promising start in his career in the modern music establishment before he lost it to drugs and militant queerness and probably all sorts of mental health troubles.

A shame all around, given his talents. But then, the 1970s seem like eons ago, in terms of mental health awareness, gay life, and other things.

--Bruce
"I set down a beautiful chord on paper—and suddenly it rusts."

- Alfred Schnittke

Twitter: @BruceHodgesNY

not edward

Quote from: Mandryka on November 10, 2020, 04:44:31 AM
Yes he had a promising start in his career in the modern music establishment before he lost it to drugs and militant queerness and probably all sorts of mental health troubles.
To be fair, the militant queerness also informed some of his best work. The drugs... not so much.
"I don't at all mind actively disliking a piece of contemporary music, but in order to feel happy about it I must consciously understand why I dislike it. Otherwise it remains in my mind as unfinished business."
-- Aaron Copland, The Pleasures of Music

Mandryka

#14
Quote from: edward on November 23, 2020, 06:56:27 AM
To be fair, the militant queerness also informed some of his best work. The drugs... not so much.

Yes this is probably true. There's also his black identity, Crazy Nigger. I wonder what Cage and Feldman and Wolf thought about a title like that.

By the way, the video I'd like to see (it doesn't exist) is not Maxwell Davies, but the performance of Cage's Song Book  with Peter Eotvos, a performance which was so outrageous it made Cage lose his rag big time and blame Eotvos for not keeping Eastman under control. Apparently what Eastman did was aggressively sexual, I've got a book about Eastman somewhere which talks about this, I'll try to find it.
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Artem


Mandryka

Gay Guerrilla: Julius Eastman and His Music (Eastman Studies in Music) Hardcover – Illustrated, 15 Dec. 2015
by Renée Levine Packer (Author, Editor), Mary Jane Leach (Author, Editor)

Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

T. D.

#17
Quote from: Mandryka on November 23, 2020, 08:46:40 AM
Yes this is probably true. There's also his black identity, Crazy Nigger. I wonder what Cage and Feldman and Wolf thought about a title like that.

By the way, the video I'd like to see (it doesn't exist) is not Maxwell Davies, but the performance of Cage's Song Book  with Peter Eotvos, a performance which was so outrageous it made Cage lose his rag big time and blame Eotvos for not keeping Eastman under control. Apparently what Eastman did was aggressively sexual, I've got a book about Eastman somewhere which talks about this, I'll try to find it.

[Emphasis added]
I have a different book which briefly mentions Cage's displeasure at an Eastman performance (yes, sexuality was involved), but I expect the matter would be treated in more detail in Gay Guerrilla. I'll try to find it when I get home from work. Best guess right now is Rob Haskins's Cage bio.
[Added]

Found it. Haskins, pp. 119-120:

A year earlier, in the summer of 1975, he famously lashed out following a performance of Song Books at the University of Buffalo in what has become one of the most legendary and hotly contested anecdotes in Cage's biography. In the words of composer Peter Gena, who described others' recollections of the event,

During the performance, Julius [Eastman] had extended his interpretation to slowly undressing his boyfriend on stage. Then, he approached his (Julius's) sister and attempted to do the same thing. His sister responded 'No Julius, no!". Julius moved on to something else. The next day during a plenary session John pounded his fist on the desk and shouted 'I'm tired of people who think that they could do whatever they want with my music!' Everyone has witnessed pieces where performers or composers make fools of themselves, etc., under the 'aegis of Cage'. Too many mistakenly thought that John cheerfully accepted such abuses.

In all likelihood it will never be possible to learn exactly what happened during the performance, never mind what triggered his fierce reaction. Gena alluded to the possibility that Cage was offended by the open expression of homosexuality; at the time, he wrote, Cage 'became furious over the most oblique references to homosexuality. He felt that his own personal life was "no one's goddamn business."'

Mandryka

Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

not edward

New Eastman recording just dropped. Nothing new content-wise, but very good performances (and Patricia Martin making her second recording of the pieces 40 years after the first).

[asin]B08CW9LVR8[/asin]

For those who're OK with downloads, 7digital has it for around $2.
"I don't at all mind actively disliking a piece of contemporary music, but in order to feel happy about it I must consciously understand why I dislike it. Otherwise it remains in my mind as unfinished business."
-- Aaron Copland, The Pleasures of Music