The semi-wonky play- and reading list from “An Inquiry on Contemporary Music,” a seminar I led Saturday at Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula. Thanks to all the curious listeners and sharp minds who attended.
Lutoslawski: Passacaglia from the Concerto For Orchestra. BBC Philharmonic, Yan Pascal Tortelier, conductor. (Chandos)
Oliver Knussen: “Flourish with Fireworks.” London Sinfonietta, Oliver Knussen, conductor. (Deutsche Grammophon)
John Adams: “Roadrunner” from the Chamber Symphony. London Sinfonietta, John Adams, conductor. (Nonesuch)
Vinko Globokar: “Voix Instrumentalisee.” Michael Riessler, bass clarinet. (Koch Schwann)
Shostakovich: Symphony No. 9, first movement. New York Philharmonic, Leonard Bernstein, conductor. (Sony Classical)
Stravinsky: Tango. Columbia Chamber Ensemble, Igor Stravinsky, conductor. (Sony Classical)
Jose Ortega y Gasset: “The Dehumanization of Art.” (Doubleday)
Virgil Thomson: “The Art of Judging Music” from “The Art of Judging Music.” (Praeger)
Nicolas Slonimsky: “Prelude: Non-Acceptance of the Unfamiliar” from “The Lexicon of Musical Invective.” (Norton)
Alain de Botton: “On Possessing Beauty” from “The Art of Travel.” (Vintage)
Quite the intriguing mix of pieces. Were you limited to six and what was the criteria for choosing them?
I wasn’t limited to six pieces (I picked many more) but these were all that time allowed as the seminar progressed. I chose the various pieces to demonstrate aspects of modern and contemporary music. I would play the pieces without telling the seminarians what they were, and ask them to decipher them in different ways, through discussion and writing. When we were done talking and writing about each piece, usually we’d listen to the piece again. It all worked out very well. A bright group (many of them regular attendees at the Ojai Festival).