GMG Classical Music Forum

The Music Room => Composer Discussion => Topic started by: Brewski on September 20, 2020, 07:46:24 AM

Title: Julius Eastman (1940-1990)
Post by: Brewski on September 20, 2020, 07:46:24 AM
What better way to inaugurate a thread on Julius Eastman than with a livestreamed concert, coming up in about an hour. New music group Apartment House will perform Femenine and Joy Boy. (Archived concert will be available for 30 days after.)

https://wigmore-hall.org.uk/whats-on/apartment-house-202009201930

--Bruce
Title: Re: Julius Eastman (1940-1990)
Post by: Scion7 on September 20, 2020, 08:07:34 AM
never heard of him, but looking at some of his 'titles' I think I'll pass
Title: Re: Julius Eastman (1940-1990)
Post by: Brewski on September 20, 2020, 08:45:28 AM
Here's an excellent introduction to Eastman from 2017 by Alex Ross of The New Yorker:

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/01/23/julius-eastmans-guerrilla-minimalism

--Bruce
Title: Re: Julius Eastman (1940-1990)
Post by: Mandryka on September 20, 2020, 10:12:26 AM
What better way to inaugurate a thread on Julius Eastman than with a livestreamed concert, coming up in about an hour. New music group Apartment House will perform Femenine and Joy Boy. (Archived concert will be available for 30 days after.)

https://wigmore-hall.org.uk/whats-on/apartment-house-202009201930

--Bruce

There's a thread I created on queer music where he comes up quite a bit. It's ironic to see him being played at The Wigmore Hall, which is one of the most gay and the least queer place in London. I first got to know him at a big retrospective at Cafe Oto a few years ago. Some of his music has a sort of heartfelt honesty which makes it sound a bit special.
Title: Re: Julius Eastman (1940-1990)
Post by: Brewski on September 20, 2020, 11:21:02 AM
There's a thread I created on queer music where he comes up quite a bit. It's ironic to see him being played at The Wigmore Hall, which is one of the most gay and the least queer place in London. I first got to know him at a big retrospective at Cafe Oto a few years ago. Some of his music has a sort of heartfelt honesty which makes it sound a bit special.

Yes, did see that other thread and the mentions! Based on the few works I have heard, he deserves wide exposure. (I'm a little late to this party.)

This afternoon was epic. Also my first encounter with the new music ensemble Apartment House, and they were formidable. Simon Limbrick, the percussionist, was the anchor in Femenine (1974), with a vibraphone motif repeated, Bolero-like, for 72 minutes.

The concert will be available for 30 days on the Wigmore Hall site:

https://wigmore-hall.org.uk/whats-on/apartment-house-202009201930

--Bruce
Title: Re: Julius Eastman (1940-1990)
Post by: Brewski on October 17, 2020, 09:10:47 AM
Another Eastman work, Macle (1971) is enormously entertaining, as done by the virtuoso vocal ensemble, ekmeles. It's available for a week on the group's website, below, and comes at the end of this most enjoyable concert.

Kaija SaariahoFrom the Grammar of Dreams (1988)
John CageLitany for the Whale (1980)
Agata ZubelAlphabet of the Ars Brevis (2016)
Julius EastmanMacle (1970-71)

http://ekmeles.com/stream.html

--Bruce
Title: Re: Julius Eastman (1940-1990)
Post by: schnittkease on October 17, 2020, 11:17:14 PM
The Holy Presence of Joan d'Arc for 10 cellos is an amazing piece. Kudos to cellist Clarice Jensen, because it would never be performed had she not transcribed the whole thing for publication from an archival recording.
Title: Re: Julius Eastman (1940-1990)
Post by: Brewski on October 21, 2020, 06:07:48 AM
The Holy Presence of Joan d'Arc for 10 cellos is an amazing piece. Kudos to cellist Clarice Jensen, because it would never be performed had she not transcribed the whole thing for publication from an archival recording.

Thanks, glad to know about this! (I have only begun to explore Eastman's output.)

--Bruce
Title: Re: Julius Eastman (1940-1990)
Post by: not edward on November 06, 2020, 07:28:14 PM
The Unjust Malaise 3CD set is definitely the canonical place to start, and includes both Joan d'Arc pieces as well as the big trilogy of pieces that are usually played with 4 pianos.
Title: Re: Julius Eastman (1940-1990)
Post by: Brewski on November 08, 2020, 09:49:03 AM
The Unjust Malaise 3CD set is definitely the canonical place to start, and includes both Joan d'Arc pieces as well as the big trilogy of pieces that are usually played with 4 pianos.

Thanks, edward, for this rec. Much appreciated.

--Bruce
Title: Re: Julius Eastman (1940-1990)
Post by: DaveF on November 10, 2020, 05:15:07 AM
Those of us who were alive and listening to weird stuff in the 1970s will remember him as the baritone soloist on the recording of Davies' Eight Songs for a Mad King.
Title: Re: Julius Eastman (1940-1990)
Post by: Mandryka on November 10, 2020, 05:44:31 AM
Those of us who were alive and listening to weird stuff in the 1970s will remember him as the baritone soloist on the recording of Davies' Eight Songs for a Mad King.

Yes he had a promising start in his career in the modern music establishment before he lost it to drugs and militant queerness and probably all sorts of mental health troubles.
Title: Re: Julius Eastman (1940-1990)
Post by: Brewski on November 10, 2020, 09:45:16 AM
Those of us who were alive and listening to weird stuff in the 1970s will remember him as the baritone soloist on the recording of Davies' Eight Songs for a Mad King.

And wow, what I might give for a video of THAT.

Yes he had a promising start in his career in the modern music establishment before he lost it to drugs and militant queerness and probably all sorts of mental health troubles.

A shame all around, given his talents. But then, the 1970s seem like eons ago, in terms of mental health awareness, gay life, and other things.

--Bruce
Title: Re: Julius Eastman (1940-1990)
Post by: not edward on November 23, 2020, 07:56:27 AM
Yes he had a promising start in his career in the modern music establishment before he lost it to drugs and militant queerness and probably all sorts of mental health troubles.
To be fair, the militant queerness also informed some of his best work. The drugs... not so much.
Title: Re: Julius Eastman (1940-1990)
Post by: Mandryka on November 23, 2020, 09:46:40 AM
To be fair, the militant queerness also informed some of his best work. The drugs... not so much.

Yes this is probably true. There’s also his black identity, Crazy Nigger. I wonder what Cage and Feldman and Wolf thought about a title like that.

By the way, the video I’d like to see (it doesn’t exist) is not Maxwell Davies, but the performance of Cage’s Song Book  with Peter Eotvos, a performance which was so outrageous it made Cage lose his rag big time and blame Eotvos for not keeping Eastman under control. Apparently what Eastman did was aggressively sexual, I’ve got a book about Eastman somewhere which talks about this, I’ll try to find it.
Title: Re: Julius Eastman (1940-1990)
Post by: Artem on November 24, 2020, 01:01:53 PM
What book is that?
Title: Re: Julius Eastman (1940-1990)
Post by: Mandryka on November 24, 2020, 01:10:12 PM
Gay Guerrilla: Julius Eastman and His Music (Eastman Studies in Music) Hardcover – Illustrated, 15 Dec. 2015
by Renée Levine Packer (Author, Editor), Mary Jane Leach (Author, Editor)

Title: Re: Julius Eastman (1940-1990)
Post by: T. D. on November 24, 2020, 01:18:38 PM
Yes this is probably true. There’s also his black identity, Crazy Nigger. I wonder what Cage and Feldman and Wolf thought about a title like that.

By the way, the video I’d like to see (it doesn’t exist) is not Maxwell Davies, but the performance of Cage’s Song Book  with Peter Eotvos, a performance which was so outrageous it made Cage lose his rag big time and blame Eotvos for not keeping Eastman under control. Apparently what Eastman did was aggressively sexual, I’ve got a book about Eastman somewhere which talks about this, I’ll try to find it.

[Emphasis added]
I have a different book which briefly mentions Cage's displeasure at an Eastman performance (yes, sexuality was involved), but I expect the matter would be treated in more detail in Gay Guerrilla. I'll try to find it when I get home from work. Best guess right now is Rob Haskins's Cage bio.
[Added]

Found it. Haskins, pp. 119-120:

A year earlier, in the summer of 1975, he famously lashed out following a performance of Song Books at the University of Buffalo in what has become one of the most legendary and hotly contested anecdotes in Cage's biography. In the words of composer Peter Gena, who described others' recollections of the event,

During the performance, Julius [Eastman] had extended his interpretation to slowly undressing his boyfriend on stage. Then, he approached his (Julius's) sister and attempted to do the same thing. His sister responded 'No Julius, no!". Julius moved on to something else. The next day during a plenary session John pounded his fist on the desk and shouted 'I'm tired of people who think that they could do whatever they want with my music!' Everyone has witnessed pieces where performers or composers make fools of themselves, etc., under the 'aegis of Cage'. Too many mistakenly thought that John cheerfully accepted such abuses.

In all likelihood it will never be possible to learn exactly what happened during the performance, never mind what triggered his fierce reaction. Gena alluded to the possibility that Cage was offended by the open expression of homosexuality; at the time, he wrote, Cage 'became furious over the most oblique references to homosexuality. He felt that his own personal life was "no one's goddamn business."'
Title: Re: Julius Eastman (1940-1990)
Post by: Mandryka on May 03, 2021, 10:24:09 AM
Essay by Richard Valitutto

https://www.historicalkeyboards.org/a-decade-of-julius-eastman/
Title: Re: Julius Eastman (1940-1990)
Post by: not edward on June 01, 2021, 04:15:35 PM
New Eastman recording just dropped. Nothing new content-wise, but very good performances (and Patricia Martin making her second recording of the pieces 40 years after the first).



For those who're OK with downloads, 7digital has it for around $2.
Title: Re: Julius Eastman (1940-1990)
Post by: Mandryka on September 01, 2021, 02:50:52 AM
Big recommendation for the Femenine released this year, from a band called Wild Up. It’s the only one I know where I’ve felt I wanted to stay with it to the end.

https://wildup.bandcamp.com/album/julius-eastman-vol-1-femenine
Title: Re: Julius Eastman (1940-1990)
Post by: Brewski on September 01, 2021, 04:25:10 AM
I'm looking forward to hearing this new Femenine, and the reviews only confirm your comments. Here's a piece from Alex Ross from July:

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2021/07/12/julius-eastmans-florid-minimalism

Meanwhile, Wigmore Hall has reposted this concert from last year, with Apartment House in Femenine and Joy Boy. (No idea how long it will be up.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mFYuzU30ijE

--Bruce
Title: Re: Julius Eastman (1940-1990)
Post by: Mandryka on September 01, 2021, 04:37:57 AM
I'm looking forward to hearing this new Femenine, and the reviews only confirm your comments. Here's a piece from Alex Ross from July:

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2021/07/12/julius-eastmans-florid-minimalism

Meanwhile, Wigmore Hall has reposted this concert from last year, with Apartment House in Femenine and Joy Boy. (No idea how long it will be up.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mFYuzU30ijE

--Bruce

Not keen on Apartment House, they make Eastman sound like an English gentleman.
Title: Re: Julius Eastman (1940-1990)
Post by: Brewski on September 01, 2021, 05:35:31 AM
Not keen on Apartment House, they make Eastman sound like an English gentleman.

Ah, so the Wild Up version is a bit more...uninhibited? (That's the impression left by Alex Ross.)

--Bruce
Title: Re: Julius Eastman (1940-1990)
Post by: Mandryka on September 01, 2021, 06:58:40 AM
Ah, so the Wild Up version is a bit more...uninhibited? (That's the impression left by Alex Ross.)

--Bruce

What I want to say, though you may think this is a bit adolescent and in my defence I’ve just drunk half a bottle of chianti, is that Apartment House is gay - modelled on conventional establishment ideas of how music should sound. On the other hand, Wild Up is queer - a radical alternative to conventional ideas.
Title: Re: Julius Eastman (1940-1990)
Post by: Brewski on September 01, 2021, 03:28:33 PM
What I want to say, though you may think this is a bit adolescent and in my defence I’ve just drunk half a bottle of chianti, is that Apartment House is gay - modelled on conventional establishment ideas of how music should sound. On the other hand, Wild Up is queer - a radical alternative to conventional ideas.

Ah, thanks. (No adolescent accusations will come from me!)

That distinction resonates, especially knowing composers and musicians who identify as one or the other.

--Bruce
Title: Re: Julius Eastman (1940-1990)
Post by: not edward on September 10, 2021, 04:32:30 AM
What I want to say, though you may think this is a bit adolescent and in my defence I’ve just drunk half a bottle of chianti, is that Apartment House is gay - modelled on conventional establishment ideas of how music should sound. On the other hand, Wild Up is queer - a radical alternative to conventional ideas.
Having struggled with the piece before hearing this reading, I think this is an entirely fair assessment. To make a similar analogy, Wild Up's performance is both a party and a riot, and thus entirely inline with Eastman's sensibilities.
Title: Re: Julius Eastman (1940-1990)
Post by: Iota on September 10, 2021, 10:01:34 AM
I've never really found JE's music particularly engaging. I went to a lecture/public discussion of his music a few years ago at the ICA in London with a friend who's very keen on his music, which failed to ignite anything for me. But recently listened again to Gay Guerrilla and got a little more from it, so look forward to checking out that new recording of Femenine to see what comes of it.
Title: Re: Julius Eastman (1940-1990)
Post by: Iota on September 15, 2021, 08:18:58 AM
Not keen on Apartment House, they make Eastman sound like an English gentleman.

Certainly agree with you that for as far as their Bandcamp sample goes, Wild Up sound a deal more interesting than Apartment House.