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May 14, 2004


Steve Hicken

Thanks for the heads up on this composer. I had pretty much the same reaction to the music as you did.

A couple of comments on Mr. Babbutt and Mr. Palestrant's response to him. First, for the record, Mr. Babbitt didn't give that title to the article; the magazine did.

Second, I've always found it interesting when people say that composers (or artists in any medium for that matter) who create what they feel called to create and trust the audience to follow them they are accused of being "contemptuous" of that audience. It seems to me just as likely (if not moreso) that an artist who decides pre-compositionally, as it were, that the audience needs to be catered to is actually the one who feels contempt towards the audience.

That said, Mr. Palestrant does have a point about post-performance criticism of the audience. However, one can find artists of all styles who react that way to negative audience reaction.

Keep up the good work! This is a fine site.



It's interesting to me that 50 years later, a headline from an audio magazine, probably erroneously, still frames the academic/audience discussion.

I'll agree with Babbitt that music at the time was headed towards (and did end up at) "a variety of universes of diverse practice," but not to the extreme of a scientific-based music, completely contemptuous of a broader audience. There are micro-communities now e.g. the tuning crowd, but even there, the music gets wider exposure.

You are right that pandering is also a form of audience contempt. Maybe the composer/performers e.g. Reich or Glass and composer conductors e.g. Adams or *cough* Boulez get sufficient feedback to successfully balance internal vision and audience response.

I won't presume to give career advice to young Mr. Muhly however...


Surely you've read the article by Evan Ziporyn "Who Listens if You Care?" - a well-argued rebuttal to Babbitt's original.

Cheers! Marcus

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