Author Topic: The Babbitt Habit  (Read 9777 times)

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Offline Tahar Mouslim

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Re: The Babbitt Habit
« Reply #20 on: September 15, 2009, 09:22:32 AM »
Coming back to this thread dedicated to Milton Babbitt, a musician that I really love and admire, to give a piece of information and a memory.

The piece of information is to let you guys know about the web site of the New Yorker pianist Augustus Arnone

It is called The complete Babbitt Project

During the spring of 2008, Augustus Arnone performed the complete piano works of Milton Babbitt in 2 concerts

Concert I — March 6, 2008

Allegro Penseroso(1999)

It Takes 12 to Tango (1984)

Partitions (1957), Post-Partitions(1966)

Tableaux(1974)

Preludes, Interludes, and Postlude (1991)

Semi-Simple Variations(1956), Minute Waltz (1977)

Tutte Le Corde (1994)

Concert II — June 10, 2008

The Old Order Changeth (1998)

Emblems (Ars Emblematica) (1989)

The ‘Time Series’

Playing For Time (1977)
About Time (1982)
Overtime (1987)

Lagniappe (1985)

My Complements to Roger (1978), Duet (1956)

Canonical Form (1983)

3 Compositions For Piano (1947)

Mr. Arnone accepted that these concerts be recorded and - today - one can freely download the content of these 2 programs on his web site for individual listening or for sharing. The pianist is just requesting one thing from the listener: to mention his name with the downloaded renditions.

This is a very generous initiative, even more so than these renditions are top notch (listen and compare: it is different, but often better than Taub).

I give you the link with both concerts:

June 10, 2008

March 6, 2008


The memory is still fresh. Last fall 2008, on November 5, at the Miller Theatre inside Columbia University campus, the excellent Zukofsky Quartet played the complete work for String Quartet by Milton Babbitt. The old man was in attendance and was greeted by Jimmy Levine

How much Jimmy loved Babbitt was so obvious and contagious. How great these quartets are was so evident to me. How sharp the mind of the old affable man still was, although the body was tired!

It was an unbelievable concert!!

I just hope the Zukofsky Quartet will now record these pieces.

Last piece of information, I saw a thread dedicated to the Avant Garde Project: this initiative is both a treasure and a gold mine, and I just want to mention AGP 72 dedicated to Babbitt piano work before 1983 played by Robert Taub. It features the content of the old Harmonia Mundi disc that has been out of print for a long while.

A great opportunity to compare renditions by Augustus Arnone and by Robert Taub free of charge  ;D and to realize how inspired and mercurial this music is!








Franco

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Re: The Babbitt Habit
« Reply #21 on: September 15, 2009, 09:55:38 AM »
Thanks, Tahar, for this post.  It is very nice to see someone praising Milton Babbitt for his music.  Unfortunately he is usually mentioned only as the bete noir of modern music.

CD

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Re: The Babbitt Habit
« Reply #22 on: November 11, 2009, 01:42:13 PM »
I've been listening to a lot of Babbitt lately. What got me really interested him was a disc with his 2nd and 6th quartets and other pieces. The quartets are great: wonderfully fluid rhythms and seemingly-infinite harmonic combinations. Whoever says this music in unemotional is dead wrong — there's a kaleidoscopic variety of mental associations.

I've given the Harmonia Mundi disc of the piano music a few listens. The stringency of the earlier pieces is refreshing; like being on insect-time. The two pieces from the 80s (Canonical Variations and Lagniappe) have Babbitt oft-mentioned wit in spades and even (!) reoccurring themes.

I've found the other three extant quartets (3, 4 and 5; No. 1 is withdrawn) from various recordings (most horribly out of print) through online sources, and will be giving them a listen soon. I'll be glad to upload them for anyone interested.

greg

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Re: The Babbitt Habit
« Reply #23 on: November 11, 2009, 04:33:29 PM »
So this is really the complete Babbitt catalogue?
If so, I'll definitely download all of this!  :)

"It takes 12 to Tango..." rofl  :D

Offline Catison

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Re: The Babbitt Habit
« Reply #24 on: November 11, 2009, 08:12:11 PM »
Yes, the quartets are really something.  I've been away from serialist music for awhile, and I have found a recent calling toward their music again.  I'll have to listen to the quartets again.  I forget which ones I have, but I think I have 2-6, though various sources.  Is there a 7th?
-Brett

CD

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Re: The Babbitt Habit
« Reply #25 on: November 11, 2009, 08:33:21 PM »
Nothing on the Wiki page. Has anyone heard his clarinet quintet? The samples from this disc sound really interesting (as does the Feldman):



I wonder why Babbitt hasn't got the same treatment as Carter seems to be getting now (with lots of new releases, concerts, etc.)?

Offline springrite

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Re: The Babbitt Habit
« Reply #26 on: November 11, 2009, 09:11:03 PM »
The Joy of Sextet, and the follow up work (More Joy of Sextet, or was it The Joy of More Sextet?) are nice works that one would never expect from what one's heard about Babbitt's reputation. They are not hard nuts at all. Wonderful stuff!
Do what I must do, and let what must happen happen.

snyprrr

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New Babbitt SQ Rec.!
« Reply #27 on: February 14, 2010, 09:06:53 PM »
Babbitt's SQ No.4 is on record now with the Lagos Ensemble, with Tristan Keuris' No.1.

oo...exciting! :D

bwv 1080

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PaulSC

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Re: The Babbitt Habit
« Reply #29 on: January 29, 2011, 08:27:19 PM »
Thanks for posting the news, it was the first I'd heard of Babbitt's death. RIP, indeed.

snyprrr

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Re: The Babbitt Habit
« Reply #30 on: January 30, 2011, 06:25:52 AM »
well, that really does leaves only Carter and Boulez.

Offline CRCulver

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Re: The Babbitt Habit
« Reply #31 on: January 30, 2011, 06:59:18 AM »
well, that really does leaves only Carter and Boulez.

Dutilleux is also ancient and still writing.

PaulSC

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Re: The Babbitt Habit
« Reply #32 on: January 30, 2011, 12:58:43 PM »
 <a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/0gpKea02bjA" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/0gpKea02bjA</a>
 <a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/u8B0edBXM8w" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/u8B0edBXM8w</a>
 <a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/063s1WW7P2Y" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/063s1WW7P2Y</a>
« Last Edit: January 30, 2011, 01:39:11 PM by PaulSC »

karlhenning

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Re: The Babbitt Habit
« Reply #33 on: January 30, 2011, 03:10:23 PM »
well, that really does leaves only Carter and Boulez.

Wuorinen is still a relative youngster.

snyprrr

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Re: New Babbitt SQ Rec.!
« Reply #34 on: January 30, 2011, 06:55:25 PM »
Babbitt's SQ No.4 is on record now with the Lagos Ensemble, with Tristan Keuris' No.1.

oo...exciting! :D

btw- Composer Dyslexia: it was Kagel, not Babbitt. Does that mean anything? ???

Forgive me, but Babbitt was the strangest looking man,... Yoda as a Turtle? ok, I didn't say that. ::)


I guess I'll throw my two cents in (check later to see if I just repeated what I probably wrote 2 years ago). I haven't heard any of his Nonesuch Sextets, though his Piano Music is right up my alley. It neither enjoyed his piece on that DG disc, nor his piece Relata on a NewWorld disc. I found these orchestral works wearying in that they rely heavily on that piercing, percussive spike attack which causes ear fatigue for me.

I have also sought out his String Quartets. No.5 has only been available on an OOP Music&Arts cd (w/Carter No.4 & Powell '83), and has eluded me my whole career, but it was put on YouTube, and with much anticipation I was disappointed; along with this, I recently heard the Tzadik cd (w/SQ Nos. 2&6), and again, with much anticipation I felt let down.

Which brings me to the Babbitt point. From the first note to the last SQ No.3 (1970) is the uber-serial, ultra refined egghead Masterpiece like no other; well, no, perhaps it would be the heir to Boulez's Livre pour Quatuor (1947?), which itself is heir to Webern's String Trio (1925?). I would welcome a piece more refined than this Babbitt, but it seems to me you float into Feldman territory if you reduce the molecules any more. Yes, this is a bonafide Atomic Piece,... Space Age, utilizing nothing but straight bow, and pizz pluck. Note values are generally short to bloop. It is an inhuman piece, but differently than Xenakis. The cold distance is there though, and that is what I like, the delicate iciness. Brrrr,yum!

SQ No.4 (1970 also) was written right after No.3, and is the more esoteric outgrowth of the previous work's rigid asceticism (No.3, in this stripped essence way, sounds a lot like Webern's mature SQ Op.28). This one contain a few effects (come to think of it, it is very similar to the trajectory of Schoenberg's 3-4). Essentially, this two pieces for a pair, and a beautiful pair they are, haha ::)!!

I think '70-'71 must have been a Height of Total Serialismo Phase I, because I feel as though I do not again hear this particular sound that Babbitt makes (not even he himself, later, in his own SQs (hence my disappointment)), from anyone. I am surprised that it took from Boulez '47 to Babbitt '70 to get the layers of impurities out,... but look, as soon as Purity Appeared,...poof!, it was gone, and the,...ehm, simplicity that is in these pieces has barely been touched on by anyone, I think. Who am I missing?

Does anyone else see these two pieces as singularly as I do? Witness?


BOTTOM LINE: I would recommend the HM Piano Music and the SQs 3-4. The Perfection of Total Serialism in a Nutshell. How could The Computer sound any other way?

snyprrr

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Blab It With Babbitt
« Reply #35 on: August 10, 2011, 08:20:10 PM »



BOTTOM LINE: I would recommend the HM Piano Music and the SQs 3-4. The Perfection of Total Serialism in a Nutshell. How could The Computer sound any other way?

Notice how I recommend what I hadn't heard yet? ::) Well, I fiiinally got that HM Taub disc,... and, music aside, I'm not that wild about the rather big recording, and I don't know if I'd rather have had Alan Feinberg playing. I guess I'm so used to Mode's crystalline sound quality on their piano cds that...ha... I just aaaassumed that this old '80s disc was going to have that dream sound. Well, it doesn't.

It's ok, I guess, but, frankly, I don't think Babbitt's music gets its due here,... I don't know. All the early pieces are very very short, though the Partitions and Post-Partitions make an alright pair.

The next four pieces are all about 10mins. a piece. All this music,... maybe it's the recording,... reminds me of the Stockhausen/Kontarsky cd (it had a pretty 'big' sound too,... though different). In a way, Babbitt is very quaint,... it's just that I had such a preconceived notion,... and we know how they can go,... and I'm just kind of eh on this music.

I really think Mode needs to redo this album,... mmm, with Aki Takahashi!!


Anyone have something more intelligent to say about the subject than I? I wanted to like this,... or, assumed I was going to,... and,... I'm just not that crazy about it. What gives?

snyprrr

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Re: The Babbitt Habit
« Reply #36 on: August 14, 2011, 05:35:23 PM »
Coming back to this thread dedicated to Milton Babbitt, a musician that I really love and admire, to give a piece of information and a memory.

The piece of information is to let you guys know about the web site of the New Yorker pianist Augustus Arnone

It is called The complete Babbitt Project

During the spring of 2008, Augustus Arnone performed the complete piano works of Milton Babbitt in 2 concerts

Concert I — March 6, 2008

Allegro Penseroso(1999)

It Takes 12 to Tango (1984)

Partitions (1957), Post-Partitions(1966)

Tableaux(1974)

Preludes, Interludes, and Postlude (1991)

Semi-Simple Variations(1956), Minute Waltz (1977)

Tutte Le Corde (1994)

Concert II — June 10, 2008

The Old Order Changeth (1998)

Emblems (Ars Emblematica) (1989)

The ‘Time Series’

Playing For Time (1977)
About Time (1982)
Overtime (1987)

Lagniappe (1985)

My Complements to Roger (1978), Duet (1956)

Canonical Form (1983)

3 Compositions For Piano (1947)

Mr. Arnone accepted that these concerts be recorded and - today - one can freely download the content of these 2 programs on his web site for individual listening or for sharing. The pianist is just requesting one thing from the listener: to mention his name with the downloaded renditions.

This is a very generous initiative, even more so than these renditions are top notch (listen and compare: it is different, but often better than Taub).

I give you the link with both concerts:

June 10, 2008

March 6, 2008


The memory is still fresh. Last fall 2008, on November 5, at the Miller Theatre inside Columbia University campus, the excellent Zukofsky Quartet played the complete work for String Quartet by Milton Babbitt. The old man was in attendance and was greeted by Jimmy Levine

How much Jimmy loved Babbitt was so obvious and contagious. How great these quartets are was so evident to me. How sharp the mind of the old affable man still was, although the body was tired!

It was an unbelievable concert!!

I just hope the Zukofsky Quartet will now record these pieces.

Last piece of information, I saw a thread dedicated to the Avant Garde Project: this initiative is both a treasure and a gold mine, and I just want to mention AGP 72 dedicated to Babbitt piano work before 1983 played by Robert Taub. It features the content of the old Harmonia Mundi disc that has been out of print for a long while.

A great opportunity to compare renditions by Augustus Arnone and by Robert Taub free of charge  ;D and to realize how inspired and mercurial this music is!

I just checked out these two links, and they still work. All the Babbitt Piano Music played live. I'll have to get that downloaded.

Offline PaulSC

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Re: The Babbitt Habit
« Reply #37 on: February 13, 2012, 06:49:32 PM »
While the very recent death of Whitney Houston was the big story in the “in memoriam” portion of the Grammy awards show, Milton Babbitt was memorialized not only with a captioned photo during the montage, but with a brief clip of his music (Composition for Synthesizer, maybe?). A nice moment…
Musik ist ein unerschöpfliches Meer. — Joseph Riepel

ibanezmonster

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Re: The Babbitt Habit
« Reply #38 on: February 14, 2012, 08:17:30 AM »
He died over a year ago and I just found out?...  :-\

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: The Babbitt Habit
« Reply #39 on: February 14, 2012, 08:22:23 AM »
Not much of a habbitt, I guess.
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
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