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Rudhyar in Retrospect
September 27 & 29, 2010 San Francisco & Portola Valley, California
Other Minds Presents
Rudhyar in Retrospect
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Remembering Dane Rudhyar by Charles Amirkhanian Dane Rudhyar (1895–1985) Rudhyar on Music and Performance Concert Program and Notes Exhibition Catalog Excerpt from Dane Rudhyar: His Music, Thought, and Art by Deniz Ertan Performer Biographies Acknowledgments About Other Minds
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Warrior to the Light. 1952, ink drawing.
Remembering Dane Rudhyar
CHAR LE S AM I R K HA N I A N
It was Friday the 13th, September 1985. Shortly after 11:00am, one of the legends of modern American classical music died at the age of 90 in his home at 1639 Eighth Avenue here in San Francisco. Not only was he one of our most brilliant instigators of musical innovation, Dane Rudhyar was a philosopher, poet, novelist, painter, essayist, spiritual thinker, and our leading expert on astrology, an ancient practice to which his practice of “humanistic astrology” had lent new relevance. Rudhyar was an exile from his native Paris and “Old Europe” which he willingly left behind for the USA in 1916 to pursue new directions unencumbered by tradition. But by the early Thirties he underwent another lengthy exile—this one from music itself, due to changing fashion and the ascendance of Stravinsky’s neo-classical influence. The same Germanic march and dance rhythms Rudhyar eschewed in order to compose his surging, corporeal music, had reemerged to stifle his career. His own work, inspired by late Liszt, Debussy and Scriabin but with a good deal more dissonance, and based in the irregular rhythms of speech, was set to the side and then overwhelmed completely by a movement of musical Americana led by Aaron Copland.
Front cover: Dane Rudhyar, Berkeley 1970. Opposite: photo by Betty Freeman. Back cover: Portrait of Rudhyar by Winhold Reiss.
Thus, from the early Thirties and for four decades thereafter, Rudhyar was only rarely appreciated or performed. Following the conclusion of World War II, feeling defeated because his music was nowhere to be heard, he turned to the creation of a remarkable series of paintings influenced by American Indian styles he encountered in New Mexico. He increased his activities in writing, lecturing and reinterpreting the symbolic language of astrology, all the while wishing to return to his original chosen field of music. It was a particular privilege to have been one of several who gave him that platform in the early 1970s when I was Music Director at KPFA in Berkeley. Rudhyar had moved from Southern to Northern California, allowing me a wonderful opportunity to delve into his life and work. I produced several broadcasts of his music and a public concert of his piano works, in addition to a March 1972 radio retrospective during which audiences heard 25 hours of his poetry, lectures and music, accompanied by interviews. From then on, more and more soloists and ensembles began to take up his early music and commission new works. The fruit of his composing revival includes two of the pieces we will present on our Rudhyar in Retrospect concerts. Days after Rudhyar’s death, my wife Carol Law and I were among those invited by the composer’s widow Leyla to a wake in his honor. Friends and couples were allowed to enter his bedroom one at a time to sit alongside his stately but lifeless form for a designated time period. It was the meditation of a lifetime as the minutes passed in transcendent silence... a chance to absorb our loss, feel deeply our sadness and say our goodbyes. We were two drops in the ocean of his world that included personal relationships with Auguste Rodin, Debussy, Ravel, Stokowski, Varèse, Ives, Slonimsky, Cowell, Ruth Crawford, Lou Harrison, Maro and Anahid Ajemian, Ruth St. Denis, Martha Graham, and Henry Miller to mention just a few (and only from the world of the arts). In commemoration of the 25th anniversary of his passing, we are pleased to share with you the work of this unique individual. Our thanks to Leyla Rudhyar Hill for her generous cooperation, including loaning materials for our exhibit of paintings, scores and memorabilia; also to Rudhyar biographer Deniz Ertan, who has traveled from England to be with us this week. We are sincerely grateful to our stellar performers, David Abel, Julie Steinberg, Sarah Cahill and the Ives String Quartet, for their invaluable contributions. And finally we offer our deep appreciation to the National Endowment for the Arts for generous support through its American Masterpieces program.
Rudhyar in Retrospect is presented in association with Leyla Rudhyar Hill and the Estate of Dane Rudhyar, and has been made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts as part of American Masterpieces: Three Centuries of Artistic Genius.
Above: Rudhyar on his 80th birthday. Opposite: Soul and Ego. 1952, ink drawing.
Dane Rudhyar (1895–1985)
Dane Rudhyar was born in Paris, France on March 23, 1895. He studied briefly at the Paris Conservatoire, and in 1913 Durand published his first short piano pieces and a small book on Claude Debussy. His career and studies were interrupted by the war, but he composed polytonal music for a radically avant garde “multimedia” performance, Metachory, featuring abstract, ritualistic dance. Rudhyar came to New York in 1916 for its performance at the Metropolitan Opera (Pierre Monteux, conductor) in April 1917—the very night America declared war on Germany. Rudhyar remained in America and reached California in 1920, where he wrote scenic music for the Hollywood Pilgrimage Play (1920-22) and won the $1,000 W. A. Clark, Jr. prize offered for an orchestral work by the then-new Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. He made an intensive study of oriental philosophies and music in New York and California and was active in the founding and development of the International Composers Guild and the California New Music Society. In 1925 his Surge of Fire (for small orchestra and three pianos) was performed. Throughout the 1920s he wrote articles and books and gave lectures and recitals promoting “world music” (a term he coined at the time), a new approach to music, and the concepts of “dissonant harmony” and “syntonism.” After 1929 the Great Depression, the pressure of personal circumstances, and developments in the musical world stopped Rudhyar’s activities as a composer for many years. Although there were brief interludes of composing and performances (especially in New York in 1949-50), his time was devoted to lecturing, painting (between 1938 and 1949), and writing. He published several books of poetry, two novels, and volumes on esthetic and social criticism. Over twenty books written between 1935 and 1978 pioneered a psychospiritual reformulation of astrology. His later books present a new, structural approach to a multilevel, evolutionary psychology and philosophy.
A new period of musical activity began in the early 1970s, after Rudhyar’s writings became popular among young people attracted to astrology and Asian philosophies in the mid-60s. In 1972 the Berkeley, California, radio station KPFA produced and broadcast a “Rudhyar Retrospective” that included an exhibit of his paintings and a recital of piano works. Three similar “Rudhyar Festivals” were subsequently presented, by the University of California at La Jolla (1975), by California State University at Long Beach (1976), and by the University of Minnesota in conjunction with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra (1977). A new generation of musicians and music lovers began to respond warmly to Rudhyar’s works, of which seven records have been made. In January 1976 Rudhyar moved to Palo Alto, California, and began composing a series of piano and orchestral works under grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. In 1978 he received the Marjorie Peabody Waite Award from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters for continuing artistic integrity and achievement. John F. Kennedy University and the California Institute for Transpersonal Psychology awarded him honorary doctorate degrees in 1980. In 1982 he was one of six American composers to whose music an entire program was devoted at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D. C. Rudhyar continued to write and compose until the time of his death at the age of 90, on September 13, 1985 in San Francisco. His last book on music, The Magic of Tone and the Art of Music (Shambala Publications, 1982), was translated into French and German. His other books are now published in six languages, twenty of them appearing in French alone.
Left to right: Rudhyar as a boy in 1907; Seal Harbor, 1917; a favorite photo of Rudhyar’s, 1945; from 1923, this photo was used on the cover of Rudhyar’s biography Claude Debussy and His Work; Iowa, 1953; photo by Andrea Cypress, 1977.
Photo by Betty Freeman
Rudhyar on Music and Performance
Music is a means to communicate the psychic energy generated by authentic inner experiences; great music is born of great experiences. Most such experiences involve dramatic elements, because they imply struggle, inner confrontation, conflict and overcoming. Hence my use of the term “syntonic drama.” But the term, drama, refers to more than the narration of a series of external events or interpersonal conflicts. The musical developments deal with crises of consciousness and are meant to evoke processes of personal transformation and, hopefully, of spiritual growth. It is “syntonic” music because it employs vibrant tones rather than abstract patterns of relationship between musical notes. A sound becomes a tone only when a musician endows it with a meaning, be it individual or collective and cultural. Music is the organization of tones, not mere sounds. Tones are sounds which convey the quality of being inherent in their producer and thus have a function and purpose. My purpose in composing is to attempt to induce in both performers and listeners the capacity to live more intensely and feel more deeply. My compositions do not belong to any particular school, nor do they follow the fashion of a decade or two. From the beginning I was unable to accept the neoclassical worship of antiquated forms based on the system of tonality reflecting the way of life of the aristocratic classes of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Nor could I adopt the rigidly intellectual, neoscholastic procedures of the Schoenberg school. Although I have used the musical heritage and instruments of Western culture, I have endeavored to free them from concepts and procedures which are no longer vital and transformative—and first of all from subservience to a narrow sense of tonality.
Classical European tonality is based on the principle of consonant relationship—the relation of many elements to a “root-unity” (the tonic). By contrast my music is inspired by the ideal of dissonant harmony, in which unity is to be achieved as the result of a process of integration involving both development in time (melody) and the resonance of musical space. In the former approach chords appear as strong tonal relationships, while in dissonant harmony they become “simultaneities of sound,” areas of resonant intensity, the vibratory quality of which is determined by the dramatic process the music endeavors to evoke. Though I was among the first European or American musicians to recognize the value of Asian music and to openly promote an understanding of non-European approaches to the use and meaning of musical tones, I never tried to imitate Asian, African, or indigenously American procedures or forms. I believe that each society has its own integral collective psyche or “cultural soul,” the essential character and power of which, at least in its heyday, is released through a specific type of music. Thus I have never believed in musical hybridization. As a culture disintegrates, it becomes open to alien influences which may stimulate musicians to free themselves from subservience to the tradition of the past; but a naive acceptance of the outer forms and products of other cultures is not a truly creative solution. My music flows from the mainstream of the type of Western music which, throughout the nineteenth century, was in tune with the new possibilities of personal transformation engendered by revolutionary social and cultural changes. The musical process should have form in the sense that the totality of musical elements should reveal an inner psychic consistency and internal logic; but the musical process need not be constrained by any of the preordained musical forms of a particular tradition or school. I see form in music not as an objective factor expressing standardized, collective responses to life and human experience; rather it is a subjective element of organic coherence inherent in the composer’s mind and Top: Title page from Transmutation (1976). individuality. My intention is not to compose Bottom: First page of third movement from musical “objects,” as external and dependent on Crisis & Overcoming (1979). style as the making of a chair is to a craftsman. Instead I allow an inner, psychospiritual process to unfold through the combining and development of resonant, vibrant tones endowed with the quality of being which the musical composition seeks to evoke and communicate.
Photo by Edward Weston, 1929.
Monday, September 27, 2010 Swedenborgian Church 2107 Lyon Street, San Francisco Panel Discussion (7pm): Deniz Ertan, Leyla Rudhyar Hill, Charles Amirkhanian (moderator) Wednesday, September 29, 2010 Valley Presbyterian Church 945 Portola Road, Portola Valley ••••• Poem for Violin and Piano (1920) David Abel, violin Julie Steinberg, piano Transmutation, tone sequence in seven movements (1976) Sarah Cahill, piano
I NTE R M ISSION
Stars from Pentagram No. 3 (1925) Granites (1929) Sarah Cahill, piano Crisis & Overcoming (String Quartet No. 2) (1979) Ives Quartet
Rudhyar composed three Poems for Violin and Piano in Philadelphia and Hollywood in 1919-20, but the set was not given its first performance until November 13, 1950, with Anahid and Maro Ajemian at Carnegie Recital Hall in New York City. Tonight’s program features the first Poem, a searching and dramatic duet reflecting Rudhyar demonstrating for pianist Marcia Mikulak at recording somewhat Rudhyar’s struggles session for Transmutation, 1976. Photo by Betty Freeman. and evolving interests at the time. Having landed in New York in November 1916, Rudhyar faced immediate financial difficulties and found himself working as a music copyist “in a freezing room in Greenwich Village . . . near starvation . . . hardly able to speak English.” In the following years he made a number of important musical connections, with conductor Leopold Stokowski, and composers Leo Ornstein, Carlos Salzedo, and Henry Cowell, whom he encountered at a theosophical convention in Halcyon. Rudhyar was investigating a variety of philosophies and faiths at the time, including Baha’i, Theosophy, and Co-Masonry, but was dissatisfied with the societies he encountered. In all, it was a time of both major upheaval and growth for Rudhyar, and the Poem reflects that mix of restlessness and yearning. Its gestures gather strength over and over again, pushing towards a resolution that does not arrive, even in the moody sotto voce of its finale. — Adam Fong; quote from Rudhyar’s unpublished autobiography “Rudhyar: Person and Destiny”
Transmutation: A tone ritual in seven movements was composed in Palo Alto, California, during the early summer of 1976, under a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. It is meant to evoke some of the main phases of a process of inner, psychic, and emotional transformation. This process inevitably has a dramatic character, as it involves overcoming the ego and the ghosts of the personal past. It almost never begins except out of some kind of tragic realization of what blocks the way to self-sublimation. The decision made to overcome the past life (first section), presents mirages and tries to distract the seeker from the process ahead. The third section tells of dramatic encounters, of the attempt to cut away still-cherished attachments. In the fourth section, the aspirant (or ‘disciple’) sees his or her inner life stirred by deeper longings, charmed by dreams, and poignantly hurt by their illusory nature. In the fifth section, he or she faces the impersonal, unyielding forces of karma and the devastating power of that which has been aroused by his or her will to overcome. Once the ego has been battered, peace can come—the sixth section: Compassionate love speaks within, the light descends, touching the very depth of the psyche. The seventh movement resonates with the welcome into the
realm of gentle power and peace. A deep melody intones words of acceptance, and the light rises within. Then all is peace, peace profound. — Dane Rudhyar (from the liner notes to Dane Rudhyar, CRI CD 604) The premiere performance of Transmutation was given by Marcia Mikulak, to whom the work is dedicated, at the Palo Alto Cultural Center Auditorium, February 16, 1976, in a presentation by the City of Palo Alto Arts Department.
Stars, the fourth movement of Pentagram No. 3, Release (1926), is possibly Rudhyar’s most immediately appealing composition, and was certainly one of the most frequently performed during his lifetime. In this work an ascending succession of perfect fifths is particularly evident on the musical surface, where they lend a quality of openness and serenity to the sound. Stars only became available in facsimile edition in 1937. In the 1940s, pianist William Masselos rediscovered the New Music Edition publication of Rudhyar’s Paeans, which in turn led him to other early piano works. He performed both Stars and Granites in concerts across the country, and recorded them along with Paeans for a CRI release in 1969. — compiled from notes by Ronald Squibbs and from the liner notes to Mayer/Rudhyar, CRI 584
Granites (1929) is a cycle of five pieces, played together without pause. In all my music the piano functions as a miniature orchestra capable of producing a great variety of sonorities and impacts. The quality and the psychic intensity of the tones are of the utmost importance, as the continuity and consistency of the musical flow depends on psychological more than formal factors. The performer should try to experience the tones, to allow them to resonate into his own inner being. This is a subjective rather than objective type of music, even though its subjectivity is free from romantic self-indulgence and lengthy developments. It is a music of “tones” rather than one made up of “notes.” Everything therefore depends on the quality and the sustained intensity—the “livingness” of the tones. — Dane Rudhyar Granites was first performed by the composer on August 28, 1929, at the Hotel La Ribera in Carmel, California, in a concert presented by Carmel Wednesday Morning Recitals. The major city premiere performance was presented by The League of Composers in their Second Sunday Afternoon Concert series, on February 2, 1930 at the Art Centre, 65 East 56th Street, New York City. Granites was first published by Henry Cowell in the New Music Quarterly, 1932, and later published by Theodore Presser.
The four episodes of Crisis & Overcoming have no subtitles. They begin with a minor mode which at the end is transmuted into a major realization of calm serenity, a modified E major—perhaps Rudhyar’s symbolic salute to his European culture as he approached the completion of his multilevelled and colorful career. The piece was written for the Kronos Quartet in February and March of 1979, and dedicated to Betty Freeman. — from the liner notes to Dane Rudhyar, CRI CD 604
Photo by Betty Freeman.
Other Minds is pleased to present a selection of Dane Rudhyar’s works including paintings, musical manuscripts, and writings, as well as photographs from throughout his life, correspondence with fellow artists, and other ephemera. Unless otherwise noted, all items are presented with kind permission from Leyla Rudhyar Hill and the Estate of Dane Rudhyar.
HAN DW R IT TE N MAN U S C R I P T PAG E S
All pages are ozalid masters, black ink on vellum, 11” x 14” • Crisis and Overcoming (String Quartet No. 2): Title page and 3rd movement (pp. 18-20) • Three Poems: Pages 1-2 • Transmutation: Title page and first page of 4th movement
PAI NTI NG S BY R U D H YA R
• The Alchemist. • The Capture. 1952, ink drawing. • Color Harmony no. 1. 1947, 21” x 17”. • The Cradled One. 1949, oil. • Dynamic Equilibrium. 1946, watercolor, 21” x 31”. • Gates. 1947-48, scratch and color on gesso board, 9” x 12”. • Magical Patterns • Meditation on Power. 1948, watercolor, 21” x 31”. • Mystic Tiara. 1943, watercolor. • Power at the Crossroads. 1938, oil, 23” x 28”. • Sands of Time. pencil drawing, 7” x 10”. • Soul and Ego. 1952, ink drawing. • Warrior to the Light. 1952, ink drawing. • The Yogi and the Sky Dragon. 1952, ink drawing. Also on display: Portrait of Rudhyar by Winhold Reiss, pencil drawing, 5.5” x 9”.
(Exhibition catalog listings continue on page 19) 14
Meditation on Power. 1948, watercolor, 21” x 31”.
Color Harmony no. 1. 1947, 21” x 17”.
The Cradled One. 1949, oil.
Power at the Crossroads. 1938, oil, 23” x 28”.
LET TE R S
• Three letters from Henry Cowell, each featuring handwritten music on the reverse side (courtesy Stanford University). • Letter from Peggy Glanville-Hicks, August 27, 1957, discussing her recent move to Greece and requesting Rudhyar review the chart of her new collaborator, the choreographer John Butler. • Letter from Naru Hovhaness, wife of Alan Hovhaness, August 14, 1962, describing their extended stay in Japan and plans for studies while there. • Letter from Charles Ives, written by daughter Edith Ives, October 14, 1938, congratulating Rudhyar on his work and providing a donation in its support. • Letter from Otto Luening, March 3, 1968, thanking Rudhyar for his dedication of Tetragams. • Letter from William Masselos, September 6, 1953, regarding mutual friends (including the recent birth of George Avakian and Anahid Ajemian’s daughter Maro) and future work opportunities. • Letter from Anaïs Nin praising Rudhyar’s writing and describing a group of fellow artists, including Henry Miller, who follow his works from Paris. • Letter from Carl Ruggles, September 20, 1926, describing new work, with musical examples. • Letter from Mimi Salzedo, first wife of Carlos Salzedo, May 11, 1974, discussing recent performances including presentations of Varèse’s work by Boulez. • Letters from Sybil Shearer, December 3, 1943 & September 10, 1944, discussing recent projects and personal news. • Letter from Dorothy & Nicolas Slonimsky, conveying best wishes and that Rudhyar’s music “must go on, be published and performed.” • Letter from Ruth St. Denis regarding recent illness. • Letters from Edgard Varèse, February 13, 1924 and May 10, 1968, regarding recent projects. • Letter from Edward Weston (right). • Letter from Rudhyar to Henry Cowell, September 27, 1927, congratulating Cowell on his first publication of New Music Quarterly (courtesy David and Sylvia Teitelbaum Fund, Inc. and the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts)
P HOTO S
Nineteen photos of Rudhyar from 1907 to 1984, by photographers including Edward Weston, Betty Freeman, Tony Milner, and Andrea Cypress
BO O K S BY R U D H YAR
• Art as Release of Power: A Series of Seven Essays on the Philosophy of Art by D. Rudhyar. Carmel, CA: Hamsa Publications, 1930. • A Seed. San Francisco: Ecology Center Press, 1970. • An Astrological Mandala: The Cycle of Transformation and Its 360 Symbolic Phases. New York: Random House, 1973. • The Astrology of America’s Destiny. New York: Random House, 1974. • The Astrology of Personality. New York: Lucis, 1936; later editions also on display. • The Astrology of Transformation: A Multilevel Approach. Wheaton, IL: Question Books, 1980. • Culture, Crisis, and Creativity. Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1977. • Fire Out of the Stone: A Reinterpretation of the Basic Image of the Christian Tradition. The Netherlands: Servire, 1963. • The Fullness of Human Experience. Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1986. • The Magic of Tone and the Art of Music. Boulder and London: Shambhala, 1982. • The Planetarization of Consciousness: From the Individual to the Whole. New York: Harper and Row, 1972. • The Rebirth of Hindu Music. 2nd ed. New York: Samuel Weiser, 1979. • Rhythm of Wholeness. Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1983. • Of Vibrancy and Peace (poems). The Netherlands: Servire, 1968.
P HO N O G R A P H R E C OR DS
from the collection of Charles Amirkhanian • Rudhyar: Paeans, Stars, Granites, William Masselos, Piano. 1969. CRI 247. • Rudhyar Piano Music. Michael Sellars, pianist. 1972. Orion ORS 7285. • The Piano Music of Dane Rudhyar. Karl Weigl, Dwight Peltzer, piano. 1978. Serenus SRS 12072 / CL 2161. • Gillis, Glanville-Hicks, Rudhyar, Freeman. Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, cond. Jonel erlea. 1978. Varèse Sarabande VC 81046. (includes Rudhyar’s Sinfonietta.)
Rudhyar and Marcia Mikulak at 1976 recording session for Transmutation. Photo by Betty Freeman.
OTH E R MATE R IALS
• Program from August 28, 1929 concert at Hotel La Ribera, Carmel, California, presented by Carmel Wednesday Morning Recitals, which included the first performance of Granites, with Rudhyar at the piano. • Program from February 2, 1930 concert at Art Centre, New York City, presented by The League of Composers, which included the first major performance of Granites, with Rudhyar at the piano. • Flyer advertising May 8, 1935 lecture-recital by Rudhyar, presented by the New Music Society in San Francisco’s Forest Hill neighborhood. • Artist’s Statement by Rudhyar, two letter-size typed pages mounted on cardboard, created for October 1947 gallery showing of paintings in Nambe, New Mexico. • Program from November 13, 1950 concert at Carnegie Recital Hall, New York City, which included the world premiere of Three Poems for violin and piano, performed by Anahid and Maro Ajemian. • Newspaper articles surrounding the premiere performance of Poems: Preview by Arthur Berger, New York Herald Tribune, November 12, 1950; Review by Berger, New York Herald Tribune, November 14, 1950. • Program from February 16, 1976 concert at Palo Alto Cultural Center Auditorium, which included the world premiere performance of Transmutation by pianist Marcia Mikulak. • Obituary from San Francisco Chronicle, September 17, 1985. • Obituary from San Jose Mercury News, September 18, 1985.
The Yogi and the Sky Dragon. 1952, ink drawing.
Gates. 1947-48, scratch and color on gesso board, 9” x 12”
Mystic Tiara. 1943, watercolor.
The Capture. 1952, ink drawing.
Rudhyar with Leyla Rael. Photo by Tony Milner.
Dane Rudhyar: His Music, Thought, and Art
BY DE N I Z E RTAN, U N I V E R S I T Y O F R O C H E S T E R P R E S S , 2 0 0 9 .
In a letter of October 15, 1939, Henry Miller wrote to Rudhyar: I think you are doing a great deal for America. But I doubt if America can do much for you. And to be still more frank, I doubt if the art side of you is the important one. I understand very well your attendant, fertile nature, the release of powers unknown through wisdom and right living, but if you will permit me to say so, I think your forte lies in continuing the role of the “mage”—in revelation and inspiration. . . . Even if you are a good musician, painter and poet, you are still better—in my humble opinion—as a modern philosopher, a new order of sage, the Western variety. 1 Rudhyar’s reply to Miller on November 20, 1939, is equally revealing and intriguing: I think you are particularly unfair to American artists. . . . While we have here among painters, composers, and architects, etc., a vitality and richness which, though hindered by a number of collective fears, is a promise of tremendous future. . . . Personally, Americans or the Europeans who have become identified with the life of America, have given me all I have in the way of external influences, and I have not the slightest desire to go elsewhere. The few weeks I passed in Italy two years ago were the most unpleasant; something like a Sunday pilgrimage to official graves.2 Or perhaps, the answer to the question of Rudhyar’s position lies within Nicolas Slonimsky’s words:
Dane Rudhyar is unique among composers in his ability to translate in musical terms the untranslatable. . . . His music is an epiphany. Its harmonies seem to be endless, with cadences being but preludes to the cognition of new revelations, in forms that are philosophically cyclic, each ending being a beginning. His music does not have to be explained; it is the explanation of a puzzle of human existence; it is an answer to a question that was never asked. It is a searching and challenging music. Someone had to compose philosophical music of such human dimensions. This task was assumed and fulfilled, gloriously, by Dane Rudhyar. 3 Within this “philosophical music,” like the metaphor of “inaction in action” or “actionless activity,” Rudhyar’s works evoke (through and beyond such innate and surface tensions) qualities of forbearance, endurance, and composure. His work is not an attempt to be technically first-rate nor to articulate saccharine melodies; instead, it celebrates, stimulates, prods, and evokes together with its ambiguities and aspirations, fitting to the special juncture it occupies. As William James comments, “New Truth is always a gobetween, a smoother-over of transitions. It marries old opinion to new fact so as ever to show a minimum of jolt, a maximum of continuity.” 4 In Rudhyar’s description of archetypal man one is reminded of his own artistic positioning: Archetypal Man stands “in the midst of conditions.” His is the “middle way,” the way of “harmony through conflicts.” He stands poised between all extremes. In Man the mind of wholeness encompasses all there is, was, and ever will be, in that equilibrium which is peace; but at times it is a peace of seemingly unbearable dynamic intensity, because in this peace all opposites meet. 5 In this respect, his musical style may be traced back to Bergson’s understanding of evolution, which is perceived not only as “a movement forward” but also as “a markingtime, and still more often a deviation or turning back.” 6 For the French philosopher, the artist’s standpoint is not final; creative richness indicates “an expansion of life” within which beauty stands for power, and life “shows a stop of its impulse, a momentary powerlessness to push farther.” 7 Correspondingly, Rudhyar commented that “now”—like the musical moment—is balanced “between the inertia of the past and the creativetransformative pull of the future.” 8 Hence creative or creational time is closer to truth, because it “remains always ‘now.’” 9 Rudhyar’s trust in music’s primordial aspects through naturalness, artlessness, and purity inherently evokes the magical as a transpersonal and collective conduit. Aspiring to reconcile distinct forces and tensions (which dwell within the amorphous boundaries of conceptual, aesthetical, psychological, and sociocultural paradigms), his music develops into and behaves like a cathartic agent for wholeness and/or dynamic equilibrium. His musical communication relies on the rhetorics of resonance and Tone, embracing the qualities of naturalness and straightforwardness with the Rugglesian intention to be “clean.” Music is not so much about individual notes for Rudhyar but the summation, the whole, and its quasi-etheric implications that heavily rely on sonority and vibration, permeating through all that lives in and through it. At times his musical output in its entirety resembles a grand performance with no real beginning or end— historically, stylistically, and philosophically. By seeking liberation from the limiting mental conceptions, technique par excellence or definite sets of rights and wrongs, by resisting
systematic processes, and refusing to be existentially destructive or (egoistically) confrontational, Rudhyar strives for something greater and beyond: a deeper (homeostatic) revelation through abstract and homogenous constructions that coalesce and interpenetrate in varying degrees of tension and stasis. It is possible to trace some of Rudhyar’s musical ideas through the minds of other composers of the past sixty years, including (but not limited to) Ruggles, Crawford, Harrison, Young, Riley, Cage, Tenney, Garland, Scelsi, Rudhyar signing books at an astrology conference. and Branca. During the early decades of the twentieth century, Rudhyar’s wish for American music was achieved to a certain extent by the ultramodern composers and the experimental tradition that followed them. Today an examination of his views assists us in understanding the following motivations and directives: (1) a new sense of musical space that is loyal to philosophy (Varèse, Cage), (2) a renewed or awakened sense of the ancient and the magical in sound through resonance (Partch, Crumb), (3) a new sense of organization and form in music that is not just atomistic (quantity-based; intellectual) but also humanistic and holarchic (embracing wholeness; the attitude of human beings belonging to earth, and not earth to them) (Ives, Ruggles, Crawford). Thus—assuming, for a moment, that it is appropriate event to raise such a question— is there anything unique in Rudhyar’s creative oeuvre? Why should we listen to his music today? What can we learn from it? Does he merely repeat historical styles and influences? Or is his music a genuine whole of his own? The same way the relationship between ascent and descent is analogously tantamount to the inner workings of wholeness, such opposites are brought together in Rudhyar’s work, so that they may be reconciled and released through processes of differentiation and integration. On October 2, 1955, in a letter to American astrologer, writer, and counsellor Sydney Omarr, Henry Miller eloquently singled out Rudhyar’s vision and his loyalty to the concept of wholeness: . . . his words, his thoughts, outweigh, indeed eclipse all others. Walking in the hills the other day, my mind filled with his thoughts, it occurred to me that there was a very valid reason for singling him out, for putting him above all the others I have known in one way or another. It is, to put it in a nut-shell, that he has the very special gift of always keeping before our minds the whole. . . . His ability . . . to show the relation between the parts, and finally to relate the parts tot he whole, is a most exceptional one. . . . He is so many things precisely because his sight is always focused on the central core, on the source from which all flows. 10 Rudhyar’s musical idiom is also an example of the autumnal process that witnesses a synchronicity of disintegrating roots and new germinations—simultaneously hinting at such significations as sacrifice, service, and humility. As a composer, perhaps he exemplifies both a modern “Renaissance man” figure and a perspective of sociocultural marginality.
He declared: “What is important is not whether or not a man reaches what his society calls success, but the quality of his reaching.” 11 At the age of eighty-two, looking back at his life’s work, struggle, and aspirations, Rudhyar reflected: I have done what I thought I had to do to fulfill what I had been born for. It certainly falls very short of what I have wanted to achieve, but perhaps it may suggest possibilities and evoke a vision in the minds of a few individuals who have had the courage to emerge from a dreary and binding past, and whom my music and my books may have inspired to go ahead as builders of a potential new world. 12
1 Letter from Miller to Rudhyar, October 15, 1939 (8 pp.), 5-6 (located at Dane Rudhyar Estate Archive (DREA), San Francisco). 2 Letter from Rudhyar to Miller, November 20, 1939 (2 pp.), 1 (copy located at DREA, San Francisco.) 3 copy of statement-letter by Nicolas Slonimsky sent to Rudhyar, April 8, 1975 (1 p.) (located at DREA, San Francisco). Printed with kind permission of Electra (Slonimsky) Yourke. 4 James, William. “What Pragmatism Means,” in The Writings of William James, ed. John J. McDermott. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press; 383. 5 Rudhyar, Dane. The Magic of Tone and the Art of Music. Boulder and London: Shambhala, 1982; 162. 6 Bergson, Henri. Creative Evolution, trans. Arthur Mitchell, Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1983; 104. 7 Bergson, Henri. Mind-Energy: Lectures and Essays, trans. H. Wildon Carr. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1920; 31. 8 Rudhyar, Magic of Tone, 164. 9 Rudhyar, Dane. Beyond Individualism: The Psychology of Transformation. Wheaton, IL: Quest Books, 1979; 70. 10 Copy sent from Miller to Rudhyar (2 pp.), 1-2 (located at DREA, San Francisco). Reprinted by kind permission of Henry Tony Miller, Valentine Miller, and George Boroczi. 11 Rudhyar, Dane. Astrological Insights into the Spiritual Life. Santa Fe, NM: Aurora Press, 1979; 142. 12 Raël, Leyla. “Rudhyar as Tone Poet: The Life and Works of a Musical Pioneer.” (Typescript.) 1977; 174 (as cited by his widow).
I Wayan Balawan
16TH OTHER MINDS MUSIC FESTIVAL
THURSDAY - FRIDAY - SATURDAY, MARCH 3 - 4 - 5, 2011 Louis Andriessen, I Wayan Balawan, Han Bennink, Kyle Gann, Janice Giteck, David A. Jaffe, Jason Moran, Agata Zubel
with Trimpin, Fred Frith, Sarah Cahill, Seattle Chamber Players, Monica Germino, Andrew Schloss, Cristina Zavalloni, Del Sol String Quartet, plus a special Emerging Composers concert Wednesday, March 2 For details, visit www.otherminds.org
DAVID ABEL’s musical activities span a wide range, including chamber music, solo recitals, orchestra appearances and teaching violin and chamber music, and he is noted as one of the finest violinists dedicated to contemporary music. Abel made his orchestral debut at the age of fourteen with the San Francisco Symphony and has appeared with major orchestras throughout the United States. He was a winner of the Leventritt International Violin Competition in 1964 and toured Europe under the auspices of the Martha Baird Rockefeller Foundation. In 1997, Abel made his first appearance in an electronic music context with his performance in Paul Dresher’s Violin Concerto, one of two works composed for him and the Ensemble Electro-Acoustic Band. Abel has been a participant in the Chamber Music West Festival in San Francisco, a member of the Crown Chamber Players at the University of California at Santa Cruz and has appeared at the Carmel Bach Festival, the Cabrillo Music Festival, the Library of Congress Summer Chamber Music Festival in Washington, DC, the Mozart Festival in San Luis Obispo and the Mid-Summer Mozart Festival in San Francisco. Abel’s current recordings include: works by Lou Harrison, John Cage, Henry Cowell, Somei Satoh, Paul Dresher, Morton Feldman (viola) and Peter Garland on New Albion Records; Debussy, Satoh, Bartok, Brahms, Beethoven, Enescu and Dvorak for Wilson Audio; with Phil Aaberg on Windham Hill; viola in Elegy for Jean Genet by John Zorn on Eva Records (Japan); and live performances of the Beethoven, Berg, Brahms and Prokofiev No. 1 violin concertos on Three Treasure Recordings. JULIE STEINBERG (piano) performs regularly as a soloist and chamber musician. Since 1980, she has appeared many times with the San Francisco Symphony in such world premiere performances as John Adams’s Grand Pianola Music, as a soloist in Arvo Pärt’s Tabula Rasa, and in Michael Tilson Thomas’s Mavericks concerts. Steinberg has appeared at New Music America, the Ravinia Festival, Japan Interlink, and Lincoln Center Outdoors. Other performances include Le Sacre du printemps with the Paul Taylor Dance Company in San Francisco, Seattle, and Paris. As an assisting artist, she has performed in master classes with Jean-Pierre Rampal and Mstislav Rostropovich. She holds a Doctor of Musical Arts from Stanford University and has been a member of the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players since 1989. Abel and Steinberg frequently appear in duo recitals, and together they have recorded two sonata programs on Wilson Audio. Joined by percussionist William Winant, they established the Abel-Steinberg-Winant Trio, which is dedicated to the performance of music from the Americas and the Pacific Rim. The Trio has received critical acclaim throughout the United States for their commissions, premieres, and recordings of numerous contemporary works. SARAH CAHILL, recently called “fiercely gifted” by the New York Times and “as tenacious and committed an advocate as any composer could dream of” by the San Francisco Chronicle, has commissioned, premiered, and recorded numerous compositions for solo piano. Composers who have dedicated works to her include John Adams, Terry Riley, Frederic Rzewski, Pauline Oliveros, and Evan Ziporyn, and she has also premiered pieces by Lou Harrison, Julia Wolfe, Ingram Marshall, Toshi Ichiyanagi, George Lewis, Leo Ornstein, and many others.
Photo by Marianne La Rochelle
Cahill has researched and recorded the music of important early 20th-century American modernists such as Henry Cowell and Ruth Crawford, and has commissioned a number of new pieces in tribute to their enduring influence. She enjoys working closely with composers, musicologists, and scholars to prepare scores for performance. Recent appearances include the Miller Theatre and Le Poisson Rouge in New York, Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts, and the Portland Piano Festival. On
November 17th , Sarah will perform mystical works by Rudhyar, Scriabin, and Ruth Crawford as part of San Francisco Performances’ Salons at the Rex series, and she will be part of the Other Minds Festival in March. Sarah’s most recent project, A Sweeter Music, premiered in the Cal Performances series in Berkeley in January, 2009 and continued to New Sounds Live at Merkin Hall, Rothko Chapel, the North Dakota Museum of Art, Le Poisson Rouge, and venues around the country, with newly commissioned works on the theme of peace by Terry Riley, Meredith Monk, Yoko Ono, Frederic Rzewski, Phil Kline, and many others. The San Francisco Chronicle said that “the music, helped along by the impassioned force of Cahill’s playing, amounted to a persuasive and varied investigation of the subject,” and London’s Financial Times called it “a unique commissioning programme that unites artistic aspirations with moral philosophy.” Most of Sarah’s albums are on the New Albion label. She has also recorded for the Other Minds, Tzadik, CRI, New World, Albany, Cold Blue, and Artifact labels. Her radio show, Then & Now, can be heard every Sunday evening from 8 to 10 pm on KALW. THE IVES QUARTET Bettina Mussumeli, first violinist; member since 2005; a graduate of the Julliard School. A faculty member at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, she returned to the United States in 2001 after establishing a major career in Europe, where she became co-concertmaster and soloist with the Italian chamber group I Solisti Veneti. She has performed throughout Europe, Australia, and the Far East. She has collaborated as guest concertmaster with the Orchestra Toscanini of Parma, Orchestra del Teatro Comunale di Bolognia, Orchestra del Teatro di Cagliari, and the Orchestra della Fenice. She also teaches violin at Ars Musica, and has been the chamber music coach at Oberlin at Cassalmaggiore. Susan Freier, founding member and second violinist; attended Stanford University as a Ford Scholar, graduating with degrees in both music and biology. She Clockwise from left: Bettina completed her graduate study at the Eastman School of Music, Mussumeli, Stephen Harrison, Susan where she co-founded the Chester String Quartet, winners Freier, Jodi Levitz. Photo by of the Cleveland Quartet Competition. With the Chester, she Steven Blumenkranz. won the Munich, Chicago Discovery, and Portsmouth, England International competitions and was in residence and on the faculty of the University of Indiana, South Bend. She is a former member of the faculty at Stanford University and a former member of the Stanford String Quartet. She has been a participant in the Aspen, Grand Teton, and Newport Music Festivals; the San Francisco Symphony’s “Sacred and Profane” Festival; and Chamber Music West. She has performed on NPR, the BBC, and German State Radio. She has been on the faculties of the Garth Newel and Rocky Ridge Music Centers. Jodi Levitz, violist; joined the Ives Quartet in 2006. A noted professor of viola and chamber music at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Leivitz was launched on her concert career when she was appointed principal viola soloist with the Italian chamber group I Solisti Veneti, a position she attained while still a student at Juilliard. She has performed as soloist throughout Europe, South America, the United States, and the Far East; she has recorded works of Cambini, Giuliani, Hummel, Mendelssohn, Rolla, Schoenberg, and Schubert on the Concerto, Dynamic, and Erato labels. Levitz holds Bachelor and Master of Musical Arts degrees from the Juilliard School. Stephen Harrison, a founding member of the Ives Quartet, cellist; has been on the Stanford University faculty since 1983. He is a graduate of Oberlin College and Boston University, where he received the Award for Distinction in Graduate Performance. He has toured internationally as solo cellist of the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players. He has also performed on both the “Sacred and Profane” Festival and the New and Unusual Music Series presented by the San Francisco Symphony, and for Chamber Music West. He is currently an artist/faculty member of the Rocky Ridge Music Center and the San Diego Chamber Music Workshop. 29
Other Minds would like to thank the following individuals and institutions whose generous support between July 1, 2009 and September 1, 2010, has helped make our programs possible:
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Floyd & Pin-I Wu • Adam & Alissa Fong • Alex Fong • Charles & Liz Fracchia • Ruth Freeman • Philip & Velia Frost • Michael Geschwind: In honor of Kate Stenberg, New Music Séance • Tess Giannotti & Erik Engdahl • Carroll Ginne • Cathy Goldsmith • William & Elizabeth Golove • Joe Goode • Scott Guitteau • Joan & David Halperin • Susan & Robert Hersey • John Hillyer • Geoffrey B. Hosker • Wayne & Laurel Huber • Joan Jeanrenaud • Catherine Jennnings • Dan Joseph • John Kallenberg • Steve Kandell • Nancy Karp & Peter Jones • Karl Kasten • Robert & Diana Kehlmann • Greg Kelly & Kathy Down • Susan Key • Howard B. Kleckner • Laura Kuhn • Jane Kumin • Georges Lammam • Cheryl Laughbon • Jean-Louis Le Roux • Paul D. Lehrman • Tania Leon • Arthur Levering • Annea Lockwood & Ruth Anderson • Gareth Loy • Donald & Rebecca Malm • Linda Mankin • Richard Markell • Patricia Markle • Dan Max • Gavin Maxwell: In honor of Ivan, In memory of Sally • April McMahon • Susan Miller • Daniel Murphy • Murray Street Productions • Marilyn Naparst • Dr. & Mrs. Allen Odian • Ben & Armorel Ohannesian • Adam Overton • Paul Pappas • Ed Patuto • Albert Pietsch • Robert & Michele Place • Robert Potter • Tim Price • Shulamit Ran • Vicki Rand • Jane & Larry Reed • Ron Reneau • Dorothy Renzi • Tony Reveaux • Robert Rheem • Dawn Richardson • John Rockwell • Jane Roos & Jean-Louis Le Roux • Judith Rosen • Fred Rosenblum • Thierry Rosset • Vivienne Rowe • Joseph Saah • Donald Salper • Eleonor Sandresky • Dieter & Erika Scherer • Stan Shaff • William Sharp • Gordon & Ruth Shaw • Judith Sherman & Curtis Macomber • Robert Harshorn Shimshak • Kenneth Silverman • Alan Snitow • Dale & Nicolas Sophiea • Mary Stofflet • Barron Storey • Leslie Swaha & Scott Lewis • Charles & Mary Tateosian • Marta Tobey • Voline • Patricia Walters • Robert & Martha Warnock • Gordon Waters • Jane Wattenberg • John Wehrle • Wendy Welker • Brad Wells • Christopher White • Richard A. Wilson • Richard F. Worn • Pam Wunderlich • Fred & Katinka Wyle • Yellow Radio, Sebastian Mendes • Mike Zimmerman • Eva-Maria Zimmermann & Charlton Lee Grantors Anonymous • American Composers Forum • Amphion Foundation • BMI Foundation, Inc. • Consulate General of the Netherlands • The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Inc. • Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University • Foundation for Contemporary Arts • Ann & Gordon Getty Foundation • Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation • Grants for the Arts/SF Hotel Tax Fund • William and Flora Hewlett Foundation • James Irvine Foundation • The MAP Fund • Ross McKee Foundation • Meet the Composer: Creative Connections • National Endowment for the Arts • NetherlandAmerica Foundation • New Spectrum Foundation • Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation • Bernard Osher Foundation • Polish Cultural Institute • San Francisco Arts Commission • Thendara Foundation • Zellerbach Family Foundation In-Kind Arizmendi Bakery • Atthowe Fine Art Services • Field Recordings • Fog Building • Internet Archive • La Mediteranee • Neuro Drinks • San Francisco Herb Company • Willows Market Special Thanks Sarah Cahill • Charles Calhoun • Richard Friedman • Cariwyl Hebert • Leyla & Stephen Hill
Margaret Leng Tan
Daniel Bernard Roumain John Cage
OTHER MINDS, INC., is dedicated to the encouragement and propagation of contemporary music in all its forms through concerts, workshops and conferences that bring together artists and audiences of diverse traditions, generations and cultural backgrounds. By fostering cross-cultural exchange and creative dialogue, and by encouraging exploration of areas in new music seldom touched upon by mainstream music institutions, Other Minds is committed to expanding and reshaping the definition of what constitutes “serious music.” Staff
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