Wednesday, 28 October 2009

John Tilbury's short essays

The Experimental Years: A View from the Left by John Tilbury

'[1] Late in 1960 Cornelius Cardew and I gave a concert of music for two pianos at the Conway Hall in London. The programme consisted of American music - by John Cage, Morton Feldman and Christian Wolff - and music by Cardew himself. It was my first involvement in experimental music and the first in a series of concerts which Cardew and I took around to various parts of the country. The predominance of American music in our programmes was of significance; in particular it reflected an attitude to the past which, like that of the Americans, was pure and simple: we rejected it. But at the same time we were ignorant of it: we did not understand how the music of the past had come about. We knew nothing of the changing social role that music had played across the centuries. We had no grasp of the concept of class values in relation to art.' and so on

Cornelius Cardew by John Tilbury

'[1] I first met Cornelius Cardew at the Dartington Summer School in August 1959 when we were both 23 years of age. My recollections of that month are hazy and of no particular significance, but some kind of rapport must have been established because soon after my return to London I received a phone call from Cardew. He had a project in mind, a concert of experimental music for one and two pianos (music by the Americans Cage, Feldman, and Wolff, and by Cardew himself), and asked me if I would like to be the other pianist. In January of the following year the concert took place at the Conway Hall, London. Cardew's performances, in particular of the music of Morton Feldman, constitute to all intents and purposes my first lasting memory of the man as artist. Those floating, sourceless sounds, which he played with an unerring sense of timing and an artistry that was as convincing as it was unconventional, evoked an emotional response quite unlike any other I had experienced in listening to music, and which was intensified by Cardew's profound identification with Feldman's work...' and so on

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