Author Topic: Dachau Dithyramb  (Read 11178 times)

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Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Dachau Dithyramb
« Reply #20 on: January 06, 2014, 05:29:24 PM »
Viz. the Scelsi . . . but it's four different notes from piece to piece of the Quattro pezzi . . . .
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Offline petrarch

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Re: Dachau Dithyramb
« Reply #21 on: January 06, 2014, 08:23:13 PM »
Viz. the Scelsi . . . but it's four different notes from piece to piece of the Quattro pezzi . . . .

See, I lazily elided a word that is present in the subtitle of the recording I have on CD:

Quattro pezzi per orchestra, ciascuno su una nota sola

So, indeed, four pieces, each for a single note.
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Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Dachau Dithyramb
« Reply #22 on: January 07, 2014, 02:54:31 AM »
 :)

I think, though, that that clarifying subtitle for the disc was driven by an ambiguity in the piece's actual title . . . so you are free of the charge of laziness, amico.  (In all events, a great piece!)
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
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[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Offline Madiel

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Re: Dachau Dithyramb
« Reply #23 on: January 07, 2014, 04:55:49 AM »
And for the reference to the Pauline Oliveros work based on a single note, I found this:

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

It appears to be based on a single note being missed microtonally by several of the singers.

Although later on, some of them miss it by so much that I think it MUST be deliberate.  Whatever it is, the result is not so much a piece of music as a recreation of the vuvuzelas at the 2010 World Cup.

PS I really, really want to see the sheet music. Just so I know how it's done.
« Last Edit: January 07, 2014, 05:01:16 AM by orfeo »
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Offline petrarch

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Re: Dachau Dithyramb
« Reply #24 on: February 05, 2014, 05:56:32 AM »
:)

I think, though, that that clarifying subtitle for the disc was driven by an ambiguity in the piece's actual title . . . so you are free of the charge of laziness, amico.  (In all events, a great piece!)

:) Looking at the score, it does have the elided word in there, matching the title of the recording. Nonetheless, it could have been added later by the publisher or even by the composer.
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Offline Cato

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Re: Dachau Dithyramb
« Reply #25 on: January 20, 2018, 05:13:09 PM »
From Is Classical Music Culturally Relevant?


Anyways all a composer needs to do to be culturally relevant is to title their work in line with some cause du jour. it’s easy, after ignoring the past 100 years of art, you take your mushy post-romantic wrong note vomit and tie it in with some great cause like global warming or the #metoo movement
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Offline Cato

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Re: Dachau Dithyramb
« Reply #26 on: January 21, 2018, 04:33:42 AM »
From "Is Classical Music Culturally Relevant?":

Anyways all a composer needs to do to be culturally relevant is to title their work in line with some cause du jour.  it’s easy, after ignoring the past 100 years of art, you take your mushy post-romantic wrong note vomit and tie it in with some great cause like global warming or the #metoo movement

In the short story, the work in question dares to use one note (A) to be "culturally relevant,"  rather than a "mushy post-Romantic" style.   The Nazi extermination of European Jewry is (I do not believe) a "cause du jour" any more, but it is still in our memories.   Knowledge about the victims of other exterminations (Stalin's, Mao's, etc.) does seem to have faded.

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Re: Dachau Dithyramb
« Reply #27 on: October 01, 2019, 08:08:26 AM »
                          I was mentioning this story to a recent member, and thought other such members would be interested: perhaps our regular and older members would like to revisit it.

 

                                     The following is a copyrighted story © 2002:


                         
Quote


                           New Work Blasphemes the Holocaust

                                            “Dachau Dithyramb”

                     Review of the Concert by the United Nations Symphony Orchestra
                           by The Mirror’s Music Editor Andrea Pulaski


     The notes for the world premiere of Dachau Dithyramb by Polish-born minimalist  Isaiah Odzarz seem interesting at first, especially if you read them before hearing the work.  For example, he explains the curious title in the following way:

Quote
“Actually a ‘dithyramb’ in ancient Greece was a wild hymn in honor of Dionysus, a glossolalia, so to speak, of ecstasy.  One day I found myself enraptured – in a very negative way – by an image of the Nazi-Jewish Totentanz, a dance to the death, while looking through the pictures of my pilgrimage to Dachau.  Nearly trance-like, I saw the blood-black priests of evil dancing around the shower-oven-altars of their holocausts, the victims forced to perform sacrificial steps at bayonet-point.  And what sounds my images produced!  What sounds!”

     Our “composer” should perhaps leave the realm of music and switch to poetry instead.  “What sounds!”  What sounds indeed!  His program notes, poetic and even dithyrambic, hinting of Paul Celan’s Holocaust poem Death-Fugue, are as fraudulent as the work itself.  Fraudulent, because Dachau Dithyramb consists of one note!  One note, A, is played at various octaves, at various volumes, in not very interesting orchestrations.  At least our “composer” mercifully kept his work at ten minutes.  Or is it that his “enraptured” imagination melted away too quickly before any other notes occurred to him?

     One note for ten minutes!  Dachau Dithyramb is an insult, an affront, a sacrilege: this reviewer suspects our “composer” might even be attempting an experiment in what could be termed musical sociology.  Knowing the inviolate nature of the Holocaust, he perhaps schemes that even a piece of one-note sewage like Dachau Dithyramb will not only be accepted and played by major orchestras, but even lionized, simply because of its premise!  Had he named his work The Scream Of Satan or The Lament Of Prometheus, or anything else, any conductor with brains would have rejected it. But in this experiment Mr. Odzarz wants to discover just how far musico-political correctness has gone.  Will a music director dare to reject a work based on the Holocaust?  Would he not open himself up to charges of anti-Semitism, if he refused to accept a work dedicated to the victims of Dachau?
     
      The enthusiastic response of the audience last night is irrelevant in this case precisely because of the above argument.  Many reasonable people react to what occasionally passes for contemporary art with rolling eyes and derision, unafraid to opine that the emperor has no talent.  But I wonder how many in the audience held their distaste in silence, or even gave in to the pressure to stand and applaud, not wanting to risk the charge of anti-Semitism.  Would you dare to boo a work that purports to memorialize the Holocaust?  You refuse to applaud?!  Why?!  Are you some sort of Nazi? 

    So please understand: this reviewer is no Nazi.  My negative judgment here is purely musical.  In a phrase, Dachau Dithyramb is a musical blasphemy.
     
     As for the rest of the program, Bloch’s Shelomo, a Hebrew rhapsody for cello and orchestra from 1916, was a relief from Odzarz’s nonsense.  No doubt meant to link with Dachau Dithyramb, it was well-played by soloist Wanda Isaaks, whose warm-sounding tone and expressivity were right at home in this work.  The concert concluded with conductor Andrew Scott-Perlington haphazardly leading the orchestra in a very pedestrian reading of the Mendelssohn Reformation Symphony #5.

                              One Note Crying In the Desert

            “A powerful cry of humanity” heard in new work by composer Isaiah Odzarz
                      United Nations Symphony Orchestra concert
                Reviewed by The Times’ editor for music and art Sebastian Lang

     A lament that the audience found extremely powerful, Dachau Dithyramb is stunning in the simplicity of its conception.  Isaiah Odzarz has composed a powerful cry of humanity against all the hate and injustice in the world.  Wordless, Dithyramb gives the listener a sense of a modern voice crying in the desert, bewailing the terrible dance of death which, in the words of the composer, the Nazis forced the Holocaust victims to dance at bayonet-point.
     
     Odzarz has reduced this cry to one note, A, which he uses to great effect in this short, powerful composition.  Whether used as a moan in the cellos and basses, as a shriek in the trumpets and piccolos, or as a demonic march pounded out in bizarre rhythms by the timpani and trombones, the single note A symbolically cements the Jews of Dachau to their all too willing executioners, who therefore cannot escape their guilt.  Sacrificial victims and their evil priests are musically united in the unholiest of embraces.  The impact of this musical simplicity is emotionally overwhelming.
     
     Any work of art derived from the deaths of thousands, of millions, runs the risk of politicization.  (Penderecki’s Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima, poet Paul Celan’s Death-Fugue, Anselm Kiefer’s painting Athanor come to mind here.)  Another risk is the charge of trivialization, which brings to mind things like the LEGO Concentration Camp Playset by Zbigniew Libera and other similar artworks exhibited at the Jewish Museum in New York City in early 2002.  I believe, however, that Holocaust art is necessary, that the risks, the instant controversy, are quite worth it.  In spite of  philosopher Theodor Adorno’s claim that poetry is impossible after Auschwitz, I think that without a living, contemporary expression of such horror, we run the risk of complacency, forgetfulness, and of the resurrection of history’s ability to repeat itself.  Isaiah Odzarz, by using just one note, brands our memories with this insistent cry, etching that cry from Dachau and all other camps from Siberia to Cambodia to Rwanda onto our souls.

    Why the note A?  In an interview Mr. Odzarz explains that the Hindu syllable used for meditative chanting – om – should actually be 3 sounds: AUM.  The “A” therefore is the most primal of sounds.  He also recalled that Arnold Schoenberg’s cantata Jacob’s Ladder ends with one note, symbolizing the extinction of a soul rising up to paradise, and that Schoenberg’s opera Moses und Aron ends with one note also, symbolizing Moses’ despair at communicating his concept of divinity to the Hebrews. These ideas crystallized in the mind of Mr. Odzarz  as he contemplated a work to honor the victims of Dachau.

     Certainly Schoenberg’s shadow is important for Dachau Dithyramb structurally.  In the third of Schoenberg’s 5 Pieces for Orchestra a single chord is heard in kaleidoscopic orchestrations.   A true minimalist, Mr. Odzarz has taken Schoenberg’s idea one step farther: not one chord but one note, one lament, one chanting tone of praise and protest, of prayer and imprecation.
     
     As thematic partners the orchestra then gave excellent performances of Bloch’s cello rhapsody Schelomo, followed by the Symphony #5, the Reformation, by Felix Mendelssohn, the Jewish convert to Christianity.  Such inventive and provocative programming is precisely what is needed more often in the American concert hall today.  The concert will be repeated tonight and tomorrow afternoon.

                                               The Reaction

                                From The Mirror’s Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor:

I happened to be in the audience for the world premiere of Dachau Dithyramb by Isaiah Odzarz.  After reading your paper’s review, I recalled a scene from Solzhenitsyn’s GULAG Archipelago, which described a standing ovation given to Stalin by party toadies.  Stalin remained at the podium, staring and acknowledging for several minutes the wild applause.  Suddenly the audience realized all at once: he was waiting to see who would stop first!  And whoever dared to stop first, well, everyone knew what would happen!  I believe the analysis of your reviewer is quite correct.  I too was not impressed by the effort put into the composition by Mr. Odzarz.  It struck me as a wise-guy stunt, like the silent piano piece by John Cage.  Such antic art might have its place in the world, but not in reference to the Holocaust.  But as a polite American, I have to admit I stood up and applauded too, afraid of Stalin’s stare.

Bernadette O’Reilly

Dear Editor:

Allow me to protest Andrea Pulaski’s “review” of Dachau Dithyramb.  She calls the work a “musical sacrilege”, but the true sacrilege is her review!  Like with too many critics the envy shows through all too clearly!  She is upset because Mr. Odzarz used only one note for his work.  The sad truth is, Ms. Pulaski cannot compose anything, and her review reeks of jealousy.  As a Jew I found the work an interesting expression of the despair connected to any contemplation of the Holocaust.  I will not accuse Ms. Pulaski of crypto-Nazism, just the inability to accept anything new.

Daniel Kaminski

Dear Editor:

A question: how many people like classical music?  Don’t classical CD sales come in at around 3%? So I’m wondering: why did you waste all that space in Saturday’s paper (a half-page picture?) about what seems to be a very boring (one note?!) classical concert?  Just wondering…

Ethan Duff

Dear Editor:

I attended the same concert as your reviewer on Friday night, which presented the world premiere of Dachau Dithyramb.  She writes really very little about the music.  Instead, she criticizes and psychoanalyzes the audience.  What sort of review is that?  And she even shoots herself in the foot by writing that the reaction of the audience was “irrelevant”, apparently because it differed with her opinion.  So why complain about it if it is so irrelevant?  Would their reaction have been irrelevant if they had booed the work?

Ned Pilkington

                              From The Times’ Letters to the Editor:

Dear Editor:

In his review of Dachau Dithyramb Sebastian Lang mentions that Isaiah Odzarz was taking Arnold Schoenberg’s idea of basing a work on one chord a step farther by basing it on one note.

Two comments: basing a work on one note was already done a few years ago by Pauline Oliveros in a chamber work called The Heart of Tones.  In fact, in her work even octaves are dispensed with.  Second, in her memoirs Alma Mahler wrote that Schoenberg once discussed with Mahler basing a work on a single note, but that Mahler strenuously denied that it could be done.  Mahler’s skepticism may have led Schoenberg to use therefore a chord as the basis for the third movement of his famous 5 Pieces for Orchestra, and even that chord occasionally shimmers back and forth to a few other notes.

Professor Constantine Belmont

Dear Editor:

I cannot agree with the laudatory tone of Mr. Lang’s review of Dachau Dithyramb.  What might Isaiah Odzarz compose next if encouraged so?  The Agony of Auschwitz?  And maybe he will use two notes for such a work?  And with a little more effort, as he catalogues and memorializes camp after camp, he might just create a major or minor scale!  Laughable…

L. E. Taubmann

Dear Editor:

Reading the recent flurry of letters about Dachau Dithyramb makes me wonder why there are so few works of art to memorialize the victims of Stalin.  Is it because Stalin was our ally despite the millions he had already killed, despite that he was Hitler’s ally for several years?  Is it because we have miles of film of the Nazi death camps, but practically nothing of the millions of corpses from the Ukraine to Siberia?  Where are the pictures of the 8-12 million Ukrainians Stalin murdered through starvation in the 1930’s?  Where are the memorials, the paintings, the cantatas, the symphonies, the statues, the movies, the books to honor them?

Bernard Saluke

Dear Editor:

I am a 25-year old who hates classical music.  My parents tried to get me interested and forced me into all those Kinderconcerts, just like my teachers, but it’s just a bunch of garbage.  Nothing proves it more than this dumb debate you’ve been running in the last weeks about this thing called Dachau Dithyramb.  It’s what I’ve always hated about classical music, a bunch of snobs claiming their boring music is so special and interesting.  Will the snobs explain how a one-note work can be anything but a bore?  Go to an Insane Clown Posse concert: guaranteed it won’t be boring and you’ll hear more than just one note!

Tyson Adamski

                                        The Composer Responds

Shaken, perhaps even shattered in my mental equilibrium, is the only way to describe the way I have felt recently, after realizing the storm of debate my work Dachau Dithyramb has caused!  Was I naïve not to imagine that my little 10-minute musical prayer would create such a hurricane of contempt?  It appears so!  In my imagination I saw Dachau Dithyramb as a work of meditation and healing: instead people have seen fit to release their vituperation.  This is not what I intended.

I keep remembering the audience’s ovation at the performance 3 weeks ago.  I remember it to counteract many of the negative things written about me personally and about the work.  Will it matter if I maintain that this was no “stunt” to test the audience politically or “sociologically” in any way?  Will people believe me when I say that my composition was not a psychological experiment? 

A composer, an artist of any sort, is an egotist.  Humility is not often found in creative personalities.  The creative artist wants every work to be loved by everyone who experiences it.  Every creation is a universe waiting to attract the observer, the reader, or the listener with the psychogravity of its colors and shapes, the magnetically lilting ideas in its syllables, or the hidden emotional mathematics of its tones.  When somebody rejects this unique universe, whose value seems so obvious to the artist, the repudiation can seem akin to Lucifer’s refusal of God.  The wrong-headed willfulness of the rejection can only make you shake your head in despair.

What can I say?  I am a composer.  I heard the one note in my musical soul as I recalled and envisioned the things seen at Dachau.  This one note – A – and no other was the only note in my auditory vision.  The simplicity of this conception enthralled me: it occurred to me only later, when I had completed the work and began to analyze it like a professor, that it had an affinity with some of Schoenberg’s compositions.  So much the better, I thought.  I was not aware of the work by Pauline Oliveros, but I was not trying to be the first one to compose a work using only one note.  I was being true only to my musical soul.  Did I doubt anything about the work?  Of course!  Composers always doubt themselves, despite their egotism!  We need only look at Beethoven’s sketchbooks to see how often he doubted initial inspirations! God did not whistle perfect melodies into Beethoven’s mind, and if He did, Beethoven had little faith in God’s compositional abilities, since he was nearly always dissatisfied until he had somehow tinkered with the original idea.  So I will admit that other possibilities came to me in the early stages of the composing of Dachau Dithyramb.  Yet I rejected them all in favor of the over-arching directness of using the one note A for the entire work.

Enough!  To those who found my lamenting, wordless song gratifying, I say thank you.  To those who were enraged or disconcerted, I will ask that they listen to the work again.  Perhaps familiarity will breed concord.  To those who find this debate worthless, I can say nothing: their sensibilities must be so degraded that they would find me more incomprehensible than a being from one of the moons of Jupiter.

"Meet Miss Ruth Sherwood, from Columbus, Ohio, the Middle of the Universe!"

- Brian Aherne introducing Rosalind Russell in  My Sister Eileen (1942)

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Re: Dachau Dithyramb
« Reply #28 on: October 01, 2019, 03:22:59 PM »
Well, I think the composer's response gives the game away. He says he never imagined a backlash? He is lying.

And if he is lying the critics are right. It's a stunt that relies on the *title* and Stalin's stare.

Offline Cato

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Re: Dachau Dithyramb
« Reply #29 on: October 01, 2019, 04:23:36 PM »
Well, I think the composer's response gives the game away. He says he never imagined a backlash? He is lying.

And if he is lying the critics are right. It's a stunt that relies on the *title* and Stalin's stare.

That is an interesting idea!  On the other hand, egotism is not unknown among certain personality types, who believe that everyone would obviously agree with them.  e.g. There is a story about a film critic (Pauline Kael), who supposedly wondered after the election of 1972: "How could Nixon win?  Nobody I know voted for him!"
"Meet Miss Ruth Sherwood, from Columbus, Ohio, the Middle of the Universe!"

- Brian Aherne introducing Rosalind Russell in  My Sister Eileen (1942)

Ken B

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Re: Dachau Dithyramb
« Reply #30 on: October 01, 2019, 04:33:03 PM »
That is an interesting idea!  On the other hand, egotism is not unknown among certain personality types, who believe that everyone would obviously agree with them.  e.g. There is a story about a film critic (Pauline Kael), who supposedly wondered after the election of 1972: "How could Nixon win?  Nobody I know voted for him!"
No one who reads GMG doubts there are such people. Lots of them!  $:) :laugh:
Nonetheless his response convinces me he is lying, and the rest follows.

Offline Alek Hidell

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Re: Dachau Dithyramb
« Reply #31 on: October 01, 2019, 06:11:20 PM »
That is an interesting idea!  On the other hand, egotism is not unknown among certain personality types, who believe that everyone would obviously agree with them.  e.g. There is a story about a film critic (Pauline Kael), who supposedly wondered after the election of 1972: "How could Nixon win?  Nobody I know voted for him!"

Ah yes, the Pauline Kael "quote." I'm glad you hedged your bets by calling it a story and using the qualifying adverb, Cato.

https://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2012/10/The-Fraudulent-Factoid-That-Refuses-to-Die

Back on topic, admittedly I didn't read the composer's statement, but maybe he just thought that his piece would be uncontroversial because everyone is on the same side: no one is pro-Dachau. Still, naive at best and disingenuous at worst.
"When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why they are poor, they call me a communist." - Hélder Pessoa Câmara

Offline Cato

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Re: Dachau Dithyramb
« Reply #32 on: October 02, 2019, 06:59:59 AM »
Ah yes, the Pauline Kael "quote." I'm glad you hedged your bets by calling it a story and using the qualifying adverb, Cato.

https://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2012/10/The-Fraudulent-Factoid-That-Refuses-to-Die


Back on topic, admittedly I didn't read the composer's statement, but maybe he just thought that his piece would be uncontroversial because everyone is on the same side: no one is pro-Dachau. Still, naive at best and disingenuous at worst.

Yes, it is interesting how things like that will not die.  I have attacked similar Cicero quotes about the role of taxation and government, which are usually taken from Taylor Caldwell's Cicero novel A Pillar of Iron.

"Disingenuous at worst" - Yes, another good observation!
"Meet Miss Ruth Sherwood, from Columbus, Ohio, the Middle of the Universe!"

- Brian Aherne introducing Rosalind Russell in  My Sister Eileen (1942)

Offline Cato

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Re: Dachau Dithyramb
« Reply #33 on: October 23, 2021, 03:41:51 PM »
I mentioned this topic and story under the What Are You Listening 2? theme: so I thought some of the newer members might like to read and discuss it.  The tale is about 20 years old now!

The story is on page 1:

http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,22661.msg769734.html#msg769734

"Meet Miss Ruth Sherwood, from Columbus, Ohio, the Middle of the Universe!"

- Brian Aherne introducing Rosalind Russell in  My Sister Eileen (1942)