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Composing inside electronics – The Music of David Tudor

Colloquium Muziekwetenschap
prof. Julia Kursell

November 19, 15:30-17:00
Universiteitstheater, Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16, zaal 3.01

For a long time, David Tudor (1927-1997) was mainly known as a pianist who premiered the music of avant-garde composers. More recently, his compositions and performances with his group “Composers inside Electronics” and the Merce Cunningham Dance Company have attracted attention. For the historian of music, however, these compositions seem almost inaccessible, because they aimed at live-performance in a radical sense: most often, Tudor made no score, no circuit diagrams, no other prescription; recordings are scarce. But what is more, he designed his equipment in such a way as to be self-destructive. Most importantly – and this will be the central feature of his music I address in this talk – the resulting sounds seemed to live on their own and they also ceased to exist in ways that made them resemble living beings. In my talk, I will relate this feature to the concept of indeterminacy that Tudor had encountered as a pianist in the music of John Cage and the New York School. Departing from there, I will then discuss how his music challenges tacit assumptions about self-identity in musical composition.