Morton Feldman | Artist
Morton Feldman was an American modern classical composer born 1926 in Queens, New York. Feldman was a major figure in 20th-century classical music and a pioneer of indeterminate music, a development associated with the experimental New York School of composers also including John Cage, Christian Wolff, and Earle Brown. As a child he played piano and studied composition with teachers Wallingford Riegger and Stefan Wolpe, both followers of avant-garde European composers Arnold Schoenberg and Anton Webern. In early 1950 Feldman heard the New York Philharmonic perform Anton Webern's Symphony, op. 21. After this work the orchestra was about to perform a piece by Rachmaninoff but Feldman left immediately, disturbed by the audience's disrespectful reaction to Webern's work. In the lobby he met John Cage, who was at the concert and had also decided to step out. The two quickly became friends, with Feldman moving into the apartment on the second floor of the building Cage lived in. With Cage's encouragement, Feldman began to write pieces that had no relation to past compositional systems, such as traditional harmony or the serial technique. He experimented with nonstandard systems of notation, often using grids in his scores, and specifying how many notes should be played at a certain time but not which ones. Feldman's experiments with chance in turn inspired Cage to write pieces like Music of Changes, where the notes to be played are determined by consulting the I-Ching. Feldman's works are characterised by notational innovations he developed to create his characteristic sound: rhythms that seem to be free and floating, pitch shadings that seem softly unfocused, a generally quiet and slowly evolving music, and recurring asymmetric patterns. His later works, after 1977, also explore extremes of duration. A selection of outstanding recordings of Feldman's works would include Rothko Chapel (1991), Piano and String Quartet [Kronos Quartet] (1993), For Bunita Marcus (1995), Neither Opera (1997), For Philip Guston (1997), String Quartet II [Ives Ensemble] (2001), The Viola in my Life (2006), and Coptic Light: String Quartet and Orchestra (2020). In 1973, at the age of 47, Feldman became the Edgard Varèse Professor (a title of his own devising) at the University at Buffalo. Until then, Feldman made little money from music, instead earning his living as a full-time employee at the family textile business in New York's garment district.
Artist Website: wikipedia/Morton_Feldman
Featured Albums: Morton Feldman
Related Artists: Kronos Quartet, John Cage
Video Clips: Piano, Rothko Chapel, Interview 1967