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k a rl h e nn i ng:
There's also the good news that Ensemble Aubade are performing Oxygen Footprint in So. Carolina twice this week,

Mirror Image:

--- 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 ---

You bring up some fascinating questions, Karl. I, of course, can't offer you any advice as I don't know what is in your heart and what you truly want to do with the time you've been allotted. What I can tell you is I know what it is like to have the creative impulse. I remember someone asking me why I still play the guitar when there's no recording of me in sight and I haven't forged any musical friendships to the point where playing gigs would be a possibility. I answered, "Because it gives me pleasure." Playing the guitar and working on pieces of music gives me a certain kind of emotional pressure release. I have considered forging some musical friendships just as I have pondered the idea of playing some gigs. But, today, I sat downstairs in the basement with my guitar in my hands and all of that stuff didn't even matter to me --- I was content and, most of all, happy to be able feel the vibration of the strings against my chest. There's nothing like it in the world.

I play the guitar because I want to not because I believe I have to and that's all that matters to me at the moment.

k a rl h e nn i ng:
Very good. Thanks for sharing, John.

Mirror Image:

--- Quote from: k a rl h e nn i ng on November 16, 2021, 08:23:00 PM ---Very good. Thanks for sharing, John.

--- End quote ---

You're quite welcome and I truly wish you the best in whatever it is you're dealing with inside of yourself. I think you're incredibly talented and a gifted composer/musician. Don't ever shortchange yourself, because if I could write as fluently as you do, my hand would've fallen off years ago! To be given a gift such as yours is the ultimate blessing.

Pohjolas Daughter:

--- Quote from: k a rl h e nn i ng on November 16, 2021, 05:15:10 PM ---The drought hasn't broken just yet, but I think I see it breaking.

--- End quote ---

--- Quote from: k a rl h e nn i ng on November 16, 2021, 07:14:33 PM ---There's also the good news that Ensemble Aubade are performing Oxygen Footprint in So. Carolina twice this week,

--- End quote ---
Excellent Karl!  So happy for you!  Do let us know how the performances go and how they were received.  Fingers crossed for you....or should I say "Break a leg"?  :-\

PD

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