Morton Feldman - What was great about the fifties is that for one brief moment — maybe, say, six weeks — nobody understood art. That’s why it all happened



Morton Feldman, Give My Regards to Eighth Street: Collected Writings, Exact Change, 2004.

“What was great about the fifties is that for one brief moment — maybe, say, six weeks — nobody understood art. That’s why it all happened.” — Morton Feldman

Morton Feldman (1926-1987) is among the most influential American composers of the 20th century. While his music is known for its extreme quiet and delicate beauty, Feldman himself was famously large and loud. His writings are both funny and illuminating, not only about his own music but about the entire New York School of painters, poets, and composers that coalesced in the 1950s, including his friends Jackson Pollock, Philip Guston, Mark Rothko, Robert Rauschenberg, Frank O’Hara, and John Cage.
Give My Regards to Eighth Street is an authoritative collection of Feldman’s writings, culled from published articles, program notes, LP liners, lectures, interviews, and unpublished writings in the Morton Feldman Archive at SUNY Buffalo (where Feldman taught for many years). Feldman’s writings explore his music and his theories about music, but they also make clear how heavily Feldman was influenced by painting and by his friendships with the Abstract Expressionists. As editor B.H. Friedman notes in his introduction, Feldman’s “writing about art is also of lasting importance.”

“Like the artists involved in the new American painting, he was pursuing a personal seafor expression which could not be limited by any system… His music sets in morchtion a spiritual life which is rare in any period and especially so in ours.”— Frank O’Hara

“He talked wonderfully, sharply, outrageously, but that wasn’t quite his music. One thinks of the disparity of his large, strong presence and the delicate, hypersoft music, but in fact he too was, among other things, full of tenderness and the music is, among other things, as tough as nails.”— Christian Wolff

 

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Morton Feldman essay "American Sublime" by Alex Ross

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