Friday, April 20, 2018


I may be dead, but still I hear the roads calling, the hills of home and the restless rivers wondering where I am. Mahomet has found a simile for the moon; she hangs limply, broken like an old palm
branch. Do come and visit; you may find me on the Western Front, I go out at night to watch the German rockets. They have white crests, throw flame across no-man’s land, burst into green and blue, drop down in purple rain. I gaze in awe, the last days of a beautiful world.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

The sinking approaches

It is my nature to assume that I am incapable of anything.† One day this will be true, but after the anxieties of last month, I have discovered that somehow progress has been made on the Szent Istvàn opera, now about a third complete. 

The Empress has asked me whether I write my operas from one end to the other and yes, typically, yes, although I build a notebook of sketches before and during, of musical thoughts that come from the gods or hastily-scribbled improvisations at the piano, from which I steal when a synchronicity occurs. I've used some of music from the before-the-fact suite, but the majority is new, and looking back I do seem to let things simply flow from the previous to the next, except when it is time to not. 

I do have a sketch of a schema for the arc of the piece overall, and even thinking of it as an arc gives me a path to follow. Beginnings and endings are both critical, the beginning because it draws in the audience, slowly or suddenly, and a good beginning allows you some freedom in the middle. You do play the audience with the ending, you can't help it, big or little, but one of those, and not something in between.  In the middle, it's important to make it clear that the ending is nowhere near, or they will start to think beyond the piece, and you want them with you. 

Next weekend I travel to Burgenland to meet again with Peter and Gerhard. They do seem to be with me so far, and I'll need to keep them interested to the end. 

Firenze-Roma, 2018 

† the well-respected director Jim Cave points out in his letter dated 24 January that this should read "capable of nothing"

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