Yes, I was kindly asked to write an article for NewMusicBox and I wrote this. I’m not sure what came over me.

If I disappear mysteriously in the next few days, advise the police to begin their investigation with (living) composers.

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  1. george lam
    Posted January 31, 2008 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

    hi jeremy,

    thanks for the insightful article. it gracefully articulated the reason why I write music in the first place: to get at the thing that makes me really, really ecstatic about, well, life. i have no idea what it is (yet), but i feel like with every attempt (even if it’s met with coffee stains) i’m getting that much closer.

    i understand your beef with music which you label as “uninteresting”. but you know, different people have different priorities, and different composers have different causes for delight, and therefore search for it in different ways.

    to close, it’s encouraging for me to know that there is someone out there (you!) who might be just as passionate about the search for “delight” as I am.



  2. msk
    Posted February 1, 2008 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    I read it a few days ago… it’s a brilliant article, one of the best they’ve had, and certainly one of the funniest. Now I know what I’m listening for that I can never adequately explain to anyone.

  3. Posted February 1, 2008 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    I am definitely passing on that link/your article to a couple of composer-friends of mine who are trying to write the “Next Great American Musical”. It seems that they equate “being new” with “not sounding at all like anything that’s come before”. Consequently, they get into these very academic, very analytical bouts of writing… Asking everyone around them – myself included – “Does this sound like Richard Rogers? Like Frederick Loewe? Like Sondheim? Like etc.?” “Does it sound too Classical? Does it sound too Pop?” It always seems that they’ve judged the music even before they’ve written it down or just thought it out in their heads. Consequently, what they end up writing has no “delight”, just “caution”. Very uninteresting, and disinterested.

    Hopefully, I’ll have some better scores to read-thru in the future. Thank you.

  4. brent
    Posted February 1, 2008 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

    I enjoyed your article. I’ve felt for a long time that what makes Mozart’s music seem so special(to me)is the absolute sense of delight he imparts in it. Delight in being the one able to write the music and to perform it. Even the sadder pieces display his desire to experience emotion in all its wonderful forms to the fullest. You explained it very well.

  5. John Perkins
    Posted February 1, 2008 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

    Jeremy, if you will/dare, please rate them: Delightful or No?

    – Olivier Messiaen: Saint Francois d’Assise

    – Sebastian Currier: Vocalissimus

    – Martin Bresnick: The Bucket Rider

    – Witold Lutoslawski: Mi Parti

    – Marc Andre Dalbavie: Concerto for Violin

  6. Posted February 1, 2008 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

    As a young(ish) composer, regular reader of both you, and NewMusicBox, imagine my surprise when I open one and find the other. And THANK YOU! Maybe, just maybe, your words will help the rest of the American new music community not look at me like an alien for what I write. I think the next goal could be: “To write something that Mr. Denk doesn’t yell at.” There’s always hope, right? If you get an unsolicited score someday, I hope you’ll at least give it a whirl.

  7. Ben
    Posted February 3, 2008 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

    Yes. Yes. Yes!

    On behalf of pianists and performers of all stripes, thank you.

    Playing student compositions for 7 years has made me rather cynical. It seems that playing the pieces of many non-student composers (our contemporaries) has not helped much, either.

  8. Posted February 4, 2008 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    If you need to hide out from out and en raged living composers, you are welcome here. I am in full agreement.

  9. Posted February 5, 2008 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    I loved your article, it articulated exactly my thoughts not only on modern music (which, admittedly, I’m not all that familiar with because I haven’t liked very much of what I’ve heard), but also what is wrong with much of modern dance, a topic I’m more familiar with. A piece should be complete in itself, without reading through hours of program notes and research beforehand. Give me the fun and delight of Mark Morris over self-pretentious and serious [fill in the blank, most of modern choreographers today], anyday.

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