The Legacy of Cornelius Cardew

The Legacy of Cornelius Cardew

Tony Harris

Language: English

Pages: 228

ISBN: 140944810X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Cornelius Cardew is an enigma. Depending on which sources one consults he is either an influential and iconic figure of British musical culture or a marginal curiosity, a footnote to a misguided musical phenomenon. He is both praised for his uncompromising commitment to world-changing politics, and mocked for being blindly caught up in a maelstrom of naïve political folly. His works are both widely lauded as landmark achievements of the British avant-garde and ridiculed as an archaic and irrelevant footnote to the established musical culture. Even the events of his death are shrouded in mystery and lack a sense of closure. As long ago as 1967, Morton Feldman cited Cardew as an influential figure, central to the future of modern music-making. The extent to which Cardew has been a central figure and a force for new ideas in music forms the backbone to this book. Harris demonstrates that Cardew was an original thinker, a charismatic leader, an able facilitator, and a committed activist. He argues that Cardew exerted considerable influence on numerous individuals and groups, but also demonstrates how the composer's significance has been variously underestimated, undermined and misrepresented. Cardew's diverse body of work and activity is here given coherence by its sharing in the values and principles that underpinned the composer's world view. The apparently disparate and contradictory episodes of Cardew's career are shown to be fused by a cohesive 'Cardew aesthetic' that permeates the man, his politics and his music.

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C. (1961a) 舖Report on Stockhausen舗s Carrȳ舗, Musical Times Vol. 102: 1424, 619舑22. Cardew, C. (1961b) 舖Report on Stockhausen舗s Carrȳ Part 2舗, Musical Times Vol. 102: 1425, 698舑700. Cardew, C. (1961c) 舖Notation 舑 Interpretation, etc.舗, Tempo No. 58, 21舑33. Cardew, C. (1961d) Octet 舗61 for Jasper Johns. London: Hinrichsen [introductory notes]. Cardew, C. (1961e) February Pieces for Piano. London: Hinrichsen [introductory notes]. Cardew, C. (1962a) 舖The American School of John Cage舗, Radio

with Cardew (and the Scratch Orchestra) had fragmented. Cardew, Ideology, and the Bourgeoisie Cardew employs a number of terms within Stockhausen Serves Imperialism without providing definitions. Given the centrality of these terms in understanding the development of Cardew舗s thinking it is worth taking a moment to consider the detail and context of their application. The notion of 舖ideology舗, for instance, underpins Stockhausen Serves Imperialism and becomes increasingly important in the

little value, for the art work more and more exists for the individual alone. (Caudwell 1965: 12) We are faced here with the 舖dilemma of the bourgeois artist舗 as presented by John Tilbury at the Scratch Orchestra discontent meetings, sentiments that are also expressed by Eley (1974: 27). The artist must either enter the market, in so doing diluting the 舖truth舗 of their work and supporting the market driven culture, or choose to exist in an 舖ivory tower舗 where the truth of an artistic endeavour

concerts in Cologne by John Cage and David Tudor which had a considerable influence on him舗 (Wikipedia 2008). This provides, in one concise statement, evidence that Cardew is indeed part of the canon for he has been informed by his immediate predecessors. Elsewhere the entry notes that 舖Cardew舗s most important scores are Treatise (1963舑67), a 192-page graphic score which allows for considerable freedom of interpretation, and The Great Learning舗 (ibid). Composers, if they are to be remembered and

responsibility placed on a performer to think out and contribute his or her own music. (Barrett 1987 in Prȳvost 2006: 338) Issues of compromise are exacerbated further during Cardew舗s later politicised phase as an increasing number of extra-musical factors begin to impact on decisions and directions that Cardew had to make and take. Aharoniȥn takes an interesting stance on the nature of Cardew舗s character in his article 舖Cardew as a Basis for a Discussion on Ethical Options舗. For Aharoniȥn, the

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