Felsenmusick - The Weblog of Daniel Felsenfeld
The Web Log of a Certain Daniel Felsenfeld: Composer, critic, avid reader, aspiring
bon vivant, capricorn, shadowy figure, advice for the lovelorn

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Noise is News

A hearty congratulations to the incomparable Alex Ross, whose virtuoso musico-historical star turn The Rest is Noise made the New York Times' 10 Best Books of 2007 list. And allow me to be the last to rave about this extraordinary work which should be required reading for anyone even vaguely interested in what happened to our past century as told by its music. You cannot read my review (in Symphony magazine) online, so rush out and buy a copy of that mag wherein I join the unanimous chorus of praise. And just remember, I wrote my review when this book was a slip of a review copy, now tattered, a fledgeling, not the insurmountable piece of music journalism that will have historians quaking in their boots for generations to come. It just took a while to publish. Honest.

To sum up my review: this is one amazing book, and even when I wonder why he left out certain things, this is one amazing book and since it is so amazing he is really entitled to leave out whatever he wants. Oh, and the book, it is amazing. Something along those lines--although, if it did not (probably rightfully) make the cutting room floor, I believe I referred to this as a "cultural history you can dance to." Sometimes witty bon mots such as you've come to expect from yr. composer-blogger are worth waiting for--or at least worth reading in a print edition.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Adio, Maestro

I returned from an exhausting weekend away to a letter the death of Maestro Efrain Guigui at 81. He died in Los Angeles this past June from cancer, but these details eluded me. I know this is late in coming, but he will be missed by gneerations composers. Those of us who had the privelage of attending the Composers' Conference at Wellesley (I went twice, was honored to do so) got to meet this Argentinian spitfire, a man slight of stature but huge of personality, talent, and enthusiasm for American music. In fact, in his quiet way, I'd wager more American music was premiered under Maestro Guigui's Baton than under anyone else.

Like any good Maestro adressing the adepts, he could be fierce and demanding, but it was always in the service of music--of your music in specific--and after the rehearsal any unpleasantness was always forgiven. He led one piece of mine, my Thursday Night Overture, with such clarity and musical heft, and I personally saw him do this with dozens of demanding, complex pieces wrought in many styles.

Personally, he was a very generous man: I dined with him and his wife in Los Angeles on a number of occasions (always a steakhouse, he always treated despite protestations) and loved his warmth, his passion, his stories. I iaughed a lot, as did he, and I think that is what I will always remember about him.

So, months later, goodnight Maestro. The world is lighter with you gone, and the cause of American Music has suffered a deep and irreversible blow by your passing. But welucky composers who got to learn so much from you will be forever in your debt, and I am honored to count myself among them.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Sweet Caroline Revealed

Well finally, Neil Diamond, after all these years, has revealed who the Caroline in "Sweet Caroline" is. After such knowledge, what forgiveness--and what's next: the "you" in Morisette's "You Oughta Know"? Brahms' ***? Beethoven's Immortal Beloved?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Felsenfeld at Sea

I am really excited that pianist Jenny Lin will play my piece Insomnia Redux;4am this Friday, November 16, at Bargemusic--a concert on a boat! This is one of my favorite places to hear music in the whole city. Details here. Hope to see you all there.