The Music Room > Composing and Performing

Henning's Headquarters

<< < (1697/1702) > >>

Iota:

--- Quote from: k a rl h e nn i ng on October 23, 2021, 11:03:28 AM ---I’ve been mulling of late, partly in response to a virtual acquaintance’s recent enthusiasm for composer N. Composer N. is perhaps a year older than I. She’s an internationally celebrated composer. In fact, I met her at Symphony Hall after a Boston performance of a piece of hers. The Boston Symphony may never play any of my music. There is no benefit to the idle speculation that it is possible they may play my music after my death. When composer N. is commissioned to write a piece, the sum of money is considerable. If I and composer N. sat down in conversation, and I told her the sum I was paid for my recent commission, she might perhaps laugh, if she were not such a nice person, as all reports suggest. None of this is composer N.’s fault, and it’s not a zero-sum game. While I do not believe I hold any of it against composer N., I did not enjoy nor think much of the piece that night at Symphony. I do consider in hindsight that I may simply have been resentful, but neither do I feel that I owe anything to composer N. It also doesn’t help, that the artistic director of a choir dedicated to performing new music, turned a piece of mine down (a piece of which many colleagues think highly) with the ‘explanation’ that my music is not like that of composer N., upon whom they lavish their musical love.

But enough of composer N., whom I wish no ill whatever, and who I hope will continue to enjoy success and prosperity.

Today, I debate which better describes my state: low motivation or nil motivation. My thoughts of late have not (despite the theme of the first paragraph) dwelt upon either resentment of successful living composers, nor self-pity. I am wondering what my goal should be, or even if having a goal is of any use to me. For instance, up to now (let’s say) I have had the ambition that the Boston Symphony Orchestra should play music of mine. But it is plain to me that this is a foolish ambition, as there is nothing I can do to make such a thing happen. Today, I wonder if having that as an ambition (or even as a hope) is not merely pointless but self-deceiving.

So, what?

An old friend of mine composes only when commissioned to do so, and has enjoyed some performance opportunities of which I can only dream. I certainly do not resent him, nor feel envious of him. In a general way, I might wish that I were in a similar position, but if I composed only on commission, I should not have written White Nights, nor either of my two symphonies. It is pointless for me to wish that I had been commissioned to write these, I am practically a musical nobody and I have certainly been treated so by musical somebodies. I am not going to be the next John Williams. Setting aside the speculative q. of whether I could successfully score a film, the universe has not afforded me any such opportunity. Nor am I going to be the next John Adams, Philip Glass or Joan Tower. I observe merely factually, with neither envy nor resentment, that the universe has not afforded me even such opportunity.

Then there is the clarinet, from which I have been perforce separated by my stroke. I pursue my therapy and do my homework. My determination remains staunch. Yet with the impaired sensation in my fingers, it is simply impossible to know, today, when I shall be able to play again. But I ain’t stoppin’.

Perhaps this week I am asking myself, why should I still compose? For most of my composing life, notwithstanding my negligible level of success, I never needed to ask myself such a question. When I was in rehab after my stroke, I did not ask myself any such question, it was simply that I wanted to compose. For only one thing, I was determined to complete White Nights.

As I write today, the latest of the Op. 169 organ pieces I composed was 31 May, and I don’t know whether I’ll finish the set as conceived. The last I worked on the string symphony was 4 Oct. I make no claim or promise as to the future. I can only say, I don’t feel like writing today.

--- End quote ---

An interesting post and I applaud your candidness and have sympathy for your searchings. I find the older I get, the more such questions seem to emerge (though not in my case about composing), and the awareness of time passing/health etc add an urgency to them, procrastination no longer cuts the mustard. Have no advice but will simply say that I have found a question answered honestly in such circumstances is almost always empowering, whatever the answer. Knowing want one actually wants can be surprisingly hard at times, the building blocks of our identity capable of strains of intransigence when it comes to giving approval to something, but often something useful emerges I find. All the best, hope it works out.

Pohjolas Daughter:

--- Quote from: k a rl h e nn i ng on October 23, 2021, 11:03:28 AM ---I’ve been mulling of late, partly in response to a virtual acquaintance’s recent enthusiasm for composer N. Composer N. is perhaps a year older than I. She’s an internationally celebrated composer. In fact, I met her at Symphony Hall after a Boston performance of a piece of hers. The Boston Symphony may never play any of my music. There is no benefit to the idle speculation that it is possible they may play my music after my death. When composer N. is commissioned to write a piece, the sum of money is considerable. If I and composer N. sat down in conversation, and I told her the sum I was paid for my recent commission, she might perhaps laugh, if she were not such a nice person, as all reports suggest. None of this is composer N.’s fault, and it’s not a zero-sum game. While I do not believe I hold any of it against composer N., I did not enjoy nor think much of the piece that night at Symphony. I do consider in hindsight that I may simply have been resentful, but neither do I feel that I owe anything to composer N. It also doesn’t help, that the artistic director of a choir dedicated to performing new music, turned a piece of mine down (a piece of which many colleagues think highly) with the ‘explanation’ that my music is not like that of composer N., upon whom they lavish their musical love.

But enough of composer N., whom I wish no ill whatever, and who I hope will continue to enjoy success and prosperity.

Today, I debate which better describes my state: low motivation or nil motivation. My thoughts of late have not (despite the theme of the first paragraph) dwelt upon either resentment of successful living composers, nor self-pity. I am wondering what my goal should be, or even if having a goal is of any use to me. For instance, up to now (let’s say) I have had the ambition that the Boston Symphony Orchestra should play music of mine. But it is plain to me that this is a foolish ambition, as there is nothing I can do to make such a thing happen. Today, I wonder if having that as an ambition (or even as a hope) is not merely pointless but self-deceiving.

So, what?

An old friend of mine composes only when commissioned to do so, and has enjoyed some performance opportunities of which I can only dream. I certainly do not resent him, nor feel envious of him. In a general way, I might wish that I were in a similar position, but if I composed only on commission, I should not have written White Nights, nor either of my two symphonies. It is pointless for me to wish that I had been commissioned to write these, I am practically a musical nobody and I have certainly been treated so by musical somebodies. I am not going to be the next John Williams. Setting aside the speculative q. of whether I could successfully score a film, the universe has not afforded me any such opportunity. Nor am I going to be the next John Adams, Philip Glass or Joan Tower. I observe merely factually, with neither envy nor resentment, that the universe has not afforded me even such opportunity.

Then there is the clarinet, from which I have been perforce separated by my stroke. I pursue my therapy and do my homework. My determination remains staunch. Yet with the impaired sensation in my fingers, it is simply impossible to know, today, when I shall be able to play again. But I ain’t stoppin’.

Perhaps this week I am asking myself, why should I still compose? For most of my composing life, notwithstanding my negligible level of success, I never needed to ask myself such a question. When I was in rehab after my stroke, I did not ask myself any such question, it was simply that I wanted to compose. For only one thing, I was determined to complete White Nights.

As I write today, the latest of the Op. 169 organ pieces I composed was 31 May, and I don’t know whether I’ll finish the set as conceived. The last I worked on the string symphony was 4 Oct. I make no claim or promise as to the future. I can only say, I don’t feel like writing today.

--- End quote ---
Karl, with all that's been going on in the world (particularly since Covid-19 became a part of our lexicon), plus the additional burden and stresses of having to go through rehab after suffering a stroke, I'm  amazed that you've had the determination, concentration and desire to compose at all!  Do give yourself credit for all that you have created so far in your life and cut yourself a fair bit of slack for not currently feeling inspired.  And shame on that music director for comparing your music to another composer's; I'm actually rather shocked that someone would do something like that.  Surely there would have been a much more diplomatic, kind and constructive way of dealing with the situation?  *Perhaps offering to discuss/show your work to her colleagues; they might have been much more open to performing it than s/he was?  In any event, you have your own voice--don't ever try and fit into someone else's mold; you'll both be unhappy with the results.

*I don't know how exactly one would go about it, but there's probably a way that you could reach out to other choirs/groups which would be much more receptive to performing your work...perhaps a better stylistic fit?

Take care and take heart mon ami,  you'll figure it all out in the end.

PD

k a rl h e nn i ng:
Thank you both very much!

Cato:

--- Quote from: Pohjolas Daughter on October 24, 2021, 07:36:07 AM ---
And shame on that music director for comparing your music to another composer's; I'm actually rather shocked that someone would do something like that.  Surely there would have been a much more diplomatic, kind and constructive way of dealing with the situation? 

PD

--- End quote ---

Amen!   0:) 

A literary agent once wrote to me about an early novel for which I had high hopes (of course I have high hopes for all my novels!).  The comment was basically: "Your story is extremely original, the characters re unique, and your writing style is evocative and well-done.  But that's why it will never be published."   ???   :o

In essence, mediocrity and the well-worn cliche' rule the publishing world.

From the Albert Jay Nock quotation which I offered yesterday:


"(The masses) ask you to give them what they want, they insist upon it, and will take nothing else; and following their whims, their irrational changes of fancy, their hot and cold fits, is a tedious business, to say nothing of the fact that what they want at any time makes very little call on one's resources of prophesy."

k a rl h e nn i ng:

--- Quote from: Cato on October 24, 2021, 08:35:53 AM ---Amen!   0:) 

A literary agent once wrote to me about an early novel for which I had high hopes (of course I have high hopes for all my novels!).  The comment was basically: "Your story is extremely original, the characters re unique, and your writing style is evocative and well-done.  But that's why it will never be published."   ???   :o

In essence, mediocrity and the well-worn cliche' rule the publishing world.

From the Albert Jay Nock quotation which I offered yesterday:


"(The masses) ask you to give them what they want, they insist upon it, and will take nothing else; and following their whims, their irrational changes of fancy, their hot and cold fits, is a tedious business, to say nothing of the fact that what they want at any time makes very little call on one's resources of prophesy."

--- End quote ---

The drought hasn't broken just yet, but I think I see it breaking.

Navigation

[0] Message Index

[#] Next page

[*] Previous page

Go to full version