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

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Times Does it Right

I love the new Blogs in The Times. Of the four articles, the one lighting me especially up is Michael Gordon's moving piece about his string quartet that he wrote in commemoration of 9-11, and more specifically about the bedfellows of art and politics. When it comes to the Big Terrible (and his subsequent musical homage), Gordon especially careful to mention--appropriately, I think--that the event affected him directly. He is, after all, a (dreaded label coming) "Downtown Composer," and that was a downtown happening if there ever was one. Through this lens, he raises the unanswerable question of politics crossing art, and wonders--effectively--whether or not it is an especially good idea. Refreshingly, he comes to no specific conclusion.

As a person who had a very direct experience with 9-11 (I was two blocks away, saw everything including the first plane; it still continues to hurt) I read with a prejudiced perspective, anticipating I'd be upset or offended. Thankfully, I was not, and came away more anxious than ever to hear his piece in reaction.

(Incidentally, I remain bruised by an experience I had once when, in the comfort of the MacDowell Colony, a composer who I believed was my friend accused me of "cashing in" on 9-11 because I wrote a song cycle called The Bridge that made oblique reference. My then-friend seemed to think that the experience was everyone's, and that I had no real right to comment, even though he was in Texas while I was 100 yards away. I still shake when I think about it. Michael's article at long last put me at my ease.)

The other blogs--equally interesting--are by Glen Branca, Alvin Curran and Annie Gossfield. I could grumble about the fact that the composers represented do not hail from the multiple sides of the musical fence (or that they have to be labelled "innovative" rather than, say, "good"), but I will not quarrel. Instead, here's hoping that this is not the only occurrence of this, but a beginning. So thanks New York Times, you've given me a spot of hope. And thanks so much Michael, you made a difficult issue for me a little clearer and easier.

Monday, March 12, 2007

A Dirty Little Secret and Magnificat

Two exciting things coming up for me this week.

Sunday, March 18:
World premier of the "Aria" from the Magnificat, my setting (in English translation) of the New Testament text about the Annunciation of Mary. This will be performed by the fabulous soprano Rebecca Davis, joined by pianist Aleeza Meir. 11am at Old First Reform Church in Brooklyn, on the corner of Carroll Street and Seventh Avenue in Park Slope. You can get there via the Q at Seventh Ave. or the 2/3 at Grand Army Plaza. It is a beautiful space, and I am proud of this new piece Rebecca and Old First were kind enough to commission. Click here For more information.

Monday, March 13:
Dirty Little Secret, the new CD by pianist Andrew Russo features my piece, ,A Dirty Little Secret. This Endeavor Classics disc is a collection of short "encores" by John Adams, Gerard Beljon, Derek Bermel, William Bolcom, Morton Gould, Scott Joplin, Aaron Kernis, Ligeti, Marc Mellits, Amonte Parsons, and Jacob Ter Velduis. I am honored to be in such excellent company.

Andy's already gotten an excellent review -- the praise of his playing is richly deserved. I've also included a link to the Endeavor Web site should you wish to Buy it here. Get it for the extra hip fold-out artwork alone!

Coming Soon:
Art Songs with American Opera Projects' COMPOSERS AND THE VOICE series, May 11 & 12; and my new piccolo piece All Work and No Play in Carnegie's Weill Recital Hall, June 10, played by the amazing Stephanie Mortimore, piccoloateer for the Metropolitan Opera.

Friday, March 09, 2007

And With My Return...

Nostalgically, I started paging through the old blog faves, and found one of the funniest things Alex Ross ever wrote (and he writes quite a few). So thanks for the giggle, Mr. Ross.


So many of my posts are apologies, so why break with tradition. To those loyal out there (and recently I was surprised to find a famous here-unnamed composer who I did not know personally actually read the thing) please accept this as my return to the fray. I've so much to talk about, so much to say, it's just been channeled into three teaching jobs, writing assignments, work-for-hire, and of course composing: songs songs songs for American Opera Projects' brilliant Composers and the Voice series, plus a few other works I'll let you know about soon.

And of course this has curtailed my concert-viewing and record-listening somewhat (that and the damn headphones on my iPod have returned to their maker--any suggestions on less in-ear-painful replacements from the 'sphere), but that too promises to resume.

So more sooner, I promise. Thanks for sticking with me.