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krummholz:

--- 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.

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I must have just missed this when I stopped frequenting the Composing and Performing section a couple of months ago. Karl, I don't really know what to say. I feel your frustration and bitterness. I suspect all artists go through this, and I myself experienced very fallow periods as a student when nothing that I tried worked. But I can't have any idea of what it must be like for someone who composes professionally. I only hope that you are feeling better these days and are finding your creative voice again.

Be well my friend.

krummholz:

--- Quote from: k a rl h e nn i ng on November 30, 2021, 04:14:28 PM ---’Tis a modest enough piece of work, but I chopped out the Coventry Carol arrangement today. I am pleased.

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Good to hear this, Karl! I hope it's a harbinger of better times to come.

k a rl h e nn i ng:

--- Quote from: krummholz on December 26, 2021, 05:05:51 PM ---I must have just missed this when I stopped frequenting the Composing and Performing section a couple of months ago. Karl, I don't really know what to say. I feel your frustration and bitterness. I suspect all artists go through this, and I myself experienced very fallow periods as a student when nothing that I tried worked. But I can't have any idea of what it must be like for someone who composes professionally. I only hope that you are feeling better these days and are finding your creative voice again.

Be well my friend.

--- End quote ---

Thanks!

Pohjolas Daughter:
Karl,

How did your Christmas carol arrangement go?

PD

k a rl h e nn i ng:
It was fine, thanks!

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