I thought coming from Harry was very generous, but it's curious that there's three or four overlappingsituations between me and Harry since I've been a composer. One is that I did a ballet which waschoreographed by Ashley Paige, and Harry subsequently did one, and one of the last times I saw Harry(maybe ten or fifteen years ago) he asked me what it was like working with Ashley. And then Harryknew that I'd worked with Oliver Sacks, and rang me up totally out of the blue asking about Sacks, because he wanted to do an opera based on Sack's book
A Leg to Stand On
. He didn't ask me about mymusic. He's never talked about that because he obviously doesn't think what I've done is particularlyinteresting or particularly valid, so I'm cut off from that world.I'm not sort of painting myself into a corner. I think I'm pretty happy, and I've done pretty well, and Iwouldn't be anywhere that I'm not. But I'm cut off from that world, and also the Michael Parsons-DaveSmith world, that has remained very close to the original principles - the composers whose musicwould lead out of the last chapter of the book, and which could be described in another chapter withoutdeviating from the principles.
These composers (whom I've been seeing) do take an interest in your current work You are doing something different. . .
Well, musically I'm doing something different, not because of any career choices - it's just aesthetic preference: that's the way it came out. You start with something like
In Re Don Giovanni
and variousrepetitive piece which were related to the stuff the PTO were doing, and it just developed the way itdeveloped. I don't exactly look at those guys as being dinosaurs, but I do see why I align myself withGavin - we've tested our work in the commercial world, commercial in terms of audiences, festivals,record companies, and promo, and Tom Waits and
and all those kind of high-risk associations. But the other guys have stayed still for some reason which is kind of curious. Thereshould be somebody around, maybe it's you, who should be writing about this. I have to write a new preface for the reprint of the book
So it is coming out again?
It's coming out with Cambridge University Press sometime this year. I found it very uncomfortablewriting the preface, because on the one hand I didn't want to write the last twenty-five years, and on theother hand I wanted to put it in some conceptual, theoretical, musical, social, artistic context that itwasn't in, and I couldn't get my head around doing something other than basically describing where itcame from, and what my position was. My position in that world was really rather interesting - there'snobody around the scene since then who was as privy to as much of that world, as personally involved.
How did you come to be part of that world?
I became involved in it through journalism. I started writing for the Spectator in '68, and I was doingreviews of Maxwell Davies, Stockhausen, Boulez, Messiaen and all that stuff. Then I went to CorneliusCardew's
- the second performance at the Wigmore Hall (the first performance was at theCheltenham festival) - I was just entranced by the aesthetic world, the musical world which was beingdescribed in that piece. I'd known about Cardew obviously, but I hadn't necessarily heard his music.What I had heard was really like Stockhausen and all that stuff. I found that he was writing musicwhich was - well, a bit kind of dismal, quite simple, quite open to inexpert performers. The thing justtouched me, and opened up a new sound world, and a world of musical objects and objectivity, which Iknew nothing about. I suppose after the performance I must have talked to people about it. I don't think I knew Cardew, I don't think I knew Michael Parsons, I probably didn't know Gavin, I don't think Iknew John Tilbury . . . I'd like to dig out that review and just pinpoint it in time. I think I was reviewinga Maxwell Davies piece, which may have been
Eight Songs for a Mad King
, and I'd been deeply intoall that post-serialism stuff, and I was very disciplined, and very much a purist. So I knew all aboutTavener Fantasy, and the puritanicalness of that music, and especially Max's music.So when he came up with something that was as outrageous and impure and inferior as I thought
Eight Songs for a Mad King
, I went for it and did a hatchet job on it. It may have been
, I don't