Recent Pasts 20/21 Words Series - Philip Glass, Page 3

MAGNUSSEN:

When do you think that happened?   Some people have said that in the future, the textbook end of the avant garde could be 1992 – when John Cage passed away.

 

BRUBAKER:

An interesting speculation.   I think that is an interesting problem, because if you don't have anything to rebel against, it's hard to be a rebel.

 

GLASS:

It's not easy, for the young composers, I wouldn't say it was easy.   The fact that the rules aren't so clear doesn't make it easier….

 

BRUBAKER:

Oh, no, it doesn't make it easier at all. But something that interests me right now is this exact thing we're talking about – I'll just put it in the strongest possible terms – the demise of the composer, in my opinion. Now, it's becoming a little less clear who creates a work, who plays the work, and who listens to the work. Those roles used to seem to be so clear – you know, Beethoven wrote it, Brendel played it, and the audience at Carnegie heard it. But I don't think that quite works anymore.

You've talked a lot before about how Beckett affected you, and this idea that you don't really have the artwork until you have people there taking it in. I think that is only beginning to be seen in the “legit” world. We are just starting to see people understanding that. Sometimes there's such adherence to an absurd level of deference to the composer – not that I'm not very much a part of that, in my own way.

 

GLASS:

Well, the music you are playing tonight has all been pre-composed.

 

BRUBAKER:

It's all pre-composed, absolutely, but I guess I'm not afraid…

 

MAGNUSSEN:

You should hear what he is doing with it…

 

BRUBAKER:

(laugher) That's it! That's what I was going to say. Or this project that I am doing with Nico and Haydn...because in Europe we did it and people's reaction was, “What are you doing to Haydn?” Nico said, very wisely I thought, “Oh, it's like putting graffiti on it.” It is, you know. And after all, what does graffiti do? You could look at it and say, graffiti defaces the wall, but if the wall is really strong and fabulous, then the wall is unaffected by the graffiti. I mean, Haydn ain't goin' nowhere, we haven't ruined Haydn. Just as I hope I haven't ruined Philip's piece…well, you'll be the judge of that…but...

 

GLASS:

It depends whose wall it is, Bruce.

 

BRUBAKER:

It does, of course. But I think that's a boundary that remains. You know, in some quarters, there's still the feeling that the audience is a third-rate participant in all of this.

 

GLASS:

Well, I think that's going to change, also.   I think the next big innovations will be an interactive audience and performance.   I've already been talking to people who are building theaters that will make that possible.   They'll have to be designed differently.

 

BRUBAKER:

Yes.