Friday, July 11, 2008

Onwards and N-Words

Mary Jane Leach, the musicologist who for so long tirelessly (well, maybe she's a bit tired after all these years) devoted herself to unearthing the oeuvre of Julius Eastman—composer of such provocations as Evil Nigger and Gay Guerrilla, legendary singer of Peter Maxwell Davies' impossible Eight Songs for a Mad King—has (reports Gann) finished. For now. Every available manuscript has been scanned and uploaded as a PDF. Eastman, for anyone who doesn't know the story, was the brilliant and promising composer and vocalist who managed to make even John Cage lose his cool. ("The freedom in my music does not mean the freedom to be irresponsible!" he shouted at Eastman after Eastman interpreted a Cage score's instruction to "lecture" as a lecture on sex, with... reluctant...? audience participation.) But his career slid downhill, his personal life fell apart, and he found himself homeless and destitute. He died in 1990, most of his music lost. So here's what's left. Scholars, start your engines. I'd like you to please decode Eastman's first and only symphony (the, sigh, Symphony No. 2) and prepare a set of parts in time for the fall orchestral season. Could you do that for me? Thanks!



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