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Posts tagged 'Rene Leibowitz'

PSNY Celebrates George Perle's Centenary

Composer, theorist, musicologist, and educator, George Perle was born 100 years ago this May. One of the most notable composers who utilized serial compositional techniques in the twentieth century, Perle left his own distinctive mark developing what some have called "twelve-tone tonality". While still assuring the circulation of all possible chromatic tones, Perle set up internal hierarchies that established unique tonal centers within each work; in this way, Perle came quite close to achieving an ideal of the Serialist movement: to make each piece of music autonomous, breathing with its own internal logic, a glimpse at a possible utopic future. 

Perle took a leading role in establishing scholarship on European modernism in America. With Igor Stravinsky, he co-founded the Alban Berg society in 1968, undertaking crucial research on Berg's works such as Lulu and the Lyric Suite. Like fellow PSNY composer René Leibowitz, Perle took on the burden of promoting European modernist techniques in an environment that wasn't always receptive; to the daunting face of mathematical serialism, Perle added a distinctively approachable American edge. 

We're honored to offer two works by Perle for immediate download: his Woodwind Quintet No. 3, composed in 1967, and his Sonata a Quattro, commissioned and premiered by New York's Da Capo Chamber Players in 1982. Check out a recording of the Sonata a Quattro, on an album shared with another American modernist master, Elliott Carter. 

On May 21, The New York Public Library hosts the Da Capo Chamber Players, along with the Sylvan Winds, cellist Fred Sherry and pianists Michael Brown and Michael Boriskin for a George Perle Centennial Celebration concert. The event includes performances of several works, including Sonata a Quattro, as well as a display of Perle's manuscripts from the library's collection.


New Works from Evan Ziporyn, Lei Liang, René Leibowitz, Christopher Cerrone, and Hannah Lash

We're excited to announce that an amazing new batch of works are now available on PSNY!

From Evan Ziporyn, we have Tsmindao Ghmerto for solo bass clarinet and the Suite from ShadowBang. ShadowBang, a theater piece that combines aspects of traditional Balinese shadow puppetry with Western staging and music, has been recorded by the Bang on a Can.

From Lei Liang, just in time for spring, we have Listening for Blossoms. Check out a recording here: 

Newly available from René Leibowitz: Chanson Dada, the serialist's answer to anti-art. These short monodramas, for child's voice and small ensemble, are somewhere between Schönberg's Pierrot Lunaire and Stockhausen's Gesang der Jünglinge, with a decidedly French touch. 

Continuing with dramatic works, Christopher Cerrone's I Will Learn To Love A Person, in a new version for soprano voice and piano. Containing settings of five poems by Tao Lin, this piece is a rumination on time, love, and communication.  

And finally, Hannah Lash's This Ease, for Chamber Orchestra, commissioned by the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and slated to be premiered on April 26, 2014. Grab a copy of the score before the piece is premiered! 

René Leibowitz on PSNY

René Leibowitz: world-renowned orchestral conductor; tireless advocate of the music of Schoenberg and Webern; surprisingly influential teacher of Pierre Boulez, Hans Werner Henze and Vinko Globokar; author of one of the first scholarly books on Schoenberg (coining the term 'Serialism' to describe his music); and finally: composer of some of the most interesting and under-performed serial-derived works of the mid-twentieth century. 

Born in Poland in 1913, Leibowitz and his family moved to Paris in 1926. He had all the makings for a child violin prodigy, though eventually his father put an end to that career path. But at age 17, Leibowitz found himself in Berlin, studying with Schoenberg and Webern-- a formative time in his life, for he would become Schoenberg's fiercest advocate in France, where he returned in 1933. Steeped in the European tradition, but fervently advocating for a modern break with tonality, Leibowitz occupied an interesting position: he started an international conducting career in 1937, only to have it cut short by the war. During those years, he was active in the French resistance, and wrote Schoenberg and his School, which was immediately translated into English, garnering a New York Times review by none other than Aaron Copland. 

Schoenberg and his School is a remarkable text, relentlessly pursuing the Adornian ideal of dialectical composition: music that bore the weight of the European tradition on its shoulders, but managed to cast off the shackles of tonality and embrace the utopian dream of pure, motivic, idealised Modern music. It is fitting that Leibowitz spent so much time conducting the Western canon. In championing Schoenberg's way forward through history, Leibowitz embraced the Canon wholeheartedly, uniting his political aspirations with his historical aesthetics. In a public editorial spat over Stravinsky (Serialism's favorite whipping-boy) on the pages of Esprit, a radical anti-totalitarian journal, Leibowitz used not Schoenberg as the idealized composer on the right side of history, but Beethoven. Positioning Schoenberg (and himself) on the side of the Western canon allowed Leibowitz to embrace his conducting career while simultaneously composing unabashedly forward-thinking Modern music.

Though his conducting career has been extensively documented, his career as a composer and pedagogue has been sadly neglected by scholars and performers alike. An influental teacher of Pierre Boulez, Leibowitz set the stage for the next generation of revolutionary European composers. Throughout his career as a conductor and pedagogue, Leibowitz stuck faithfully to Schoenberg's compositional methodologies-- through Boulez' "Schoenberg is Dead" article in 1951 well into the early 1970s. Though drastically removed form the public eye, Leibowitz's compositional output from this time bridges the gap between hard-line serialism and the next generation of experimenters, highlighting his sense for lyricism and drama.

In his works for solo piano-- for example, Three Pieces, Op.19 (1950), or Tre Intermezzi, Op.87 (1970)-- Leibowitz's melody and phrasing seems to come not from a machinistic, Serialist-derived arbitrariness, but rather from a fractured compositional voice, one which strives towards motivic unity while realizing the impossibility of that task. Leibowitz maintained this weighty sense of seriousness even in his "non-serious" composition from 1960, Marijuana (variations non sérieuses). This work, for violin, trombone, vibraphone, and piano, is an utterly strange, fascinating piece, mixing the sonorities of the trombone and vibraphone in almost cinematic interplay. 

We're extremely excited to have made fourteen of Leibowitz's works available for purchase through PSNY, including several solo piano works, string quartets, works for violin and piano, and even a work for solo vibraphone! Listen to excerpts of some of these works below.

 We hope to add more works and recordings in the near future; keep your eyes out for more from Leibowitz soon! 

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