「Copland on Music を読む」第9回の3 1959年:完成と未来へ




1959: Postscript for the Generation of the Fifties 



IN MY PREFATORY NOTE to the three preceding articles on American composers I mentioned the variety and complexity of our creative musical scene of today. It is a question whether anyone can hope to summarize the work of the generation of the fifties. One would have to live simultaneously in the four corners of the U. S. A. to know what is going on. There are so many composers active in so many parts of the country that no one observer can pretend to know them all. To take one instance: for every one opera written during the twenties there must be twenty being composed nowadays; and comparable figures are true for other musical media. 



Nevertheless, if we leave aside the large mass of competent and average music that is always being produced, and concentrate on the ambitious compositions of our more adventurous composers, certain tendencies are discernible. The most striking one is the return, since 1950, to a preoccupation with the latest trends of European composition. This comes as a surprise, for, from the standpoint of their elders, it is retrogression of a sort. It is retrogression because it places us in a provincial position vis-a-vis our European confreres. The older generation fought hard to free American composition from the dominance of European models because that struggle was basic to the establishment of an American music. The young composer of today, on the other hand, seems to be fighting hard to stay abreast of a fast-moving post-World War II European musical scene. The new continental composer of the fifties began by re-examining the twelve-note theories of Arnold Schonberg in the light of their more logical application by Anton von Webern. From there he proceeded to a music of total control and its opposite, the music of chance and the music of non-simultaneity, with side forays into the fascinating world of electronically produced sounds, their mixture with normal music, and so forth. All this stirred things up considerably, especially since these young leaders of musical thought abroad ― Pierre Boulez in France, Karlheinz Stockhausen in Germany and Luigi Nono in Italy ― have found sponsors and publishers to back them, instrumentalist ― and this is important ― willing to struggle with their pyrotechnical difficulties, and audiences willing to take them on faith. They created what we in America would call a workable setup. 



Our own youngsters have been less successful in that regard. They have not managed thus far to create a world in which they can fully function as composers. They have been encouraged by awards and fellowships, but their music has not been furthered by conductors on the lookout for new things, and only an occasional performer has ventured to perform their music in public. Such circumstances can be frustrating in the extreme, and it is hard to see where they can possibly lead. That such a cul-de-sac is far from inevitable is proven by the fact that John Cage and his followers have developed audience support and press interest with music that is no less experimental in nature. 



One might point also to the example of Elliot Carter, who has shaped a music of his own out of a wide knowledge of the music of our time. His theories concerning metrical modulation and structual logic have engaged the attention of our youngster composers. Their own music, however, lacks similar directional drive. I detect in it no note of deep conviction: they seem to be exploring possible ways of writing music suggested to them by the example of composers abroad rather than creating out of their own experience and need a music that only they could write. 



I am, of course, generalizing, which is always a dangerous thing to do. Already some youngster may be giving the lie to my reasonings. Even within the area I have outlined we have young talents whose music commands attention: Billy Jim Layton, Salvatore Martirano, Seymour Schiffrin, Edward Miller, Yehudi Wyner, Kenneth Gaburo, and the young Robert Lombardo. A composer like Gunther Schuller has asserted his independence by calling for a cross-fertilization of improvised jazz with contemporary serious music. His own music seems born out of a striking instrumental imagination; later on he may fill it out with a musical substance that matches the fascination of his sonorities. Easley Blackwood, who was a musical rebel in his teens, has developed along conservative lines a music that is arresting. Surprisingly few younger composers belong in that category, but one might add the names of Noel Lee and Mordechai Sheinkman. 



Many of the questions that puzzled the generation of the twenties are still being asked today. What kind of music ought we to visualize for a future America? What form should it take? To whom shall it be addressed? Obviously our younger men will work out their own solutions without asking our advice. But it is only natural that we should hope that they will be able to find sustenance in the answers we found for the music of our own time.