Introduction
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Introduction We are in the 1980s, and it is generally accepted among most artists that modernism is on the wane. What is happening now is less a new movementalthough critics have been quick to name it postmodernism-than it is a movement away from movements, those schools and isms that have bedeviled art and led toward its current sclerotic self-consciousness. It is not easy for an artist to cut adrift from a style like modernism that has had such social approval and pressure behind it. No previous style was nearly so politically adept, nor so total in its power to sway and hold the majority of artists, as modernism; the style still has the power to rail against its defectors (through modernist critics), and it will continue to require courage on the part of individual artists to take alternate courses, no matter what they may be. Apparently no critic alive, and not even every artist, seems to understand that all true artists are, and must be, laws unto themselves. Anything less, and art will not survive. George Rochberg is a composer of moving and powerful music. We have been good friends for many years. I am grateful to him for showing "alternate courses" to me when I was still recovering from my experience with the postWebern movement-which is the form modernism took in the world of music in the decades after World War II-and I feel that his example gave me courage to strike out on my own. In quite another way from Rochberg the composer, Rochberg the essayist shows the dangers of pursuing a course alongside, divergent from, and sometimes in direct conflict with, modernism. Where a piece of music must be a fait accompli, a point of arrival, a self-sufficient organism, a book of essays such as this can be a journey, a transition between points, a traveling correspondent's diary. Where Rochberg the composer shows you where he is, Rochberg the essayist shows you (in part) how he got there. Hence the value of these essays, and why they may well be necessary reading for artists struggling for freedom in their own ways. It is perhaps more common in Europe than here to find thinly disguised puff pieces written about artists and passed off as objective monographs (Andre Hodeir's Since Debussy, discussed at length in the body of Rochberg's text, strikes me as but one of many such books-in that case one written in support of the late composer Barraque). I want it clear that my purpose in urging the publication of the present volume is emphatically not in that spirit, and that my editing these essays does not indicate flor constitute total agreement with George on all points. Happily, there is nothing in these xviii INTRODUCTION lectures and articles that argues for one's becoming a composer just like the writer (no disciples need apply); what they are as a body of writing is an account of the explorations of an inquiring mind, bringing an extremely wide scope of reading and thought into focus on the question: whither music? While I edited these essays, a question stuck in my mind: Will it be necessary for the general reader to know very much about the various submovements of modernism in music-aleatoricism, total organization, and so forth-that George discusses from so many different angles? Two things are true after all about these submovements: (1) hardly anyone outside the realm of serious modern music knew or cared much about them when they were new; (2) already, even the younger composers of today know extremely little about the submovements of thirty, twenty, or even ten years ago. So why the fuss, you may ask, if each of these submovements proved as ephemeral as they in fact have been? Because all these faces belonged to the same body of thought, which held that the past is dead and must be buried-the chief tenet of modernism. In swiping heads off this hydra with his literary sword, George is working toward the heart of the beast. It is simply true, for example, that the produced musics of two diametrically opposed methods of composition -aleatoricism (or "chance" music) and total organization (wherein every quality of music was submitted to external numerical control)-sound almost indistinguishable one from the other; why? What, for another question, has turned composition into an activity for specialists for the delectation of other specialists ? Behind the battles in each essay...


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