on life, music etc beyond mainstream

2021 28 Jun

Frederic Rzewski *13. April 1938 † 26. Juni 2021

von: Hans-Dieter Klinger Filed under: Blog | TB | 1 Comment



Zum Tod von Frederic Rzewski – Nachruf bei BR4 KLASSIK


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1 Comment

  1. Hans-Dieter Klinger:

    Coming together – Attica

    In September 1971, a riot broke out at the Attica Correctional Facility in upstate New York, demanding improved health care, sanitation, and food, as well as an end to beatings. Four days of tense negotiations followed, culminating in the storming of the prison by state police as ordered by Governor Nelson Rockefeller. At least 43 people died, including 33 prisoners.One of those was Samuel Melville (born Grossman; he borrowed Melville from the American novelist), a draftsman who became radicalized by apartheid when his company put him to work on new bank offices in South Africa. He became increasingly active in political demonstrations, which escalated into a series of bombings in 1969. Melville pleaded guilty to conspiracy and bombing the Federal Office Building in Manhattan and was transferred to Attica, where he became one of the leaders of the prison rebellion. He was shot and killed during the retaking of the complex. A book of letters he wrote from prison was posthumously published, and Frederic Rzewski took his text for Coming Together from Melville’s letter of May 16, 1971 (which was first published separately in a magazine):

    „I think the combination of age and the greater coming together is responsible for the speed of the passing time. it’s six months now and i can tell you truthfully few periods in my life have passed so quickly. i am in excellent physical and emotional health. there are doubtless subtle surprises ahead but i feel secure and ready. As lovers will contrast their emotions in times of crisis, so am i dealing with my environment. in the indifferent brutality, incessant noise, the experimental chemistry of food, the ravings of lost hysterical men, i can act with clarity and meaning. i am deliberate – sometimes even calculating – seldom employing histrionics except as a test of the reactions of others. i read much, exercise, talk to guards and inmates, feeling for the inevitable direction of my life.““As I read it, I was impressed both by the poetic quality of the text and by its cryptic irony,”

    Rzewski wrote. “I read it over and over again. It seemed that I was trying both to capture a sense of the physical presence of the writer and, at the same time, to unlock a hidden meaning from the simple but ambiguous language. The act of reading and rereading finally led me to the idea of a musical treatment.”This treatment is the recitation of the text, a few words at a time, over a driving pentatonic bass line of steady 16th notes. The instrumentation is open and the piece can be performed by any number of players, though usually 8-10. Only the bass line is notated; all of the other parts are derived from it in ways specified by the composer. The overall form is also clearly defined, as are dynamics and articulation. (John Henken)

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