Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition 2014

Djuro Zivkovic

NPR has an article up about the 2014 Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition. The winner is Serbian composer Djuro Zivkovic for his piece for chamber orchestra with piano On the Guarding of the Heart. Here is the piece:

The images seem appropriate as this music has a very "spacey" feel. While harmonically complex, it does not seem to me to be atonal. My feeling about the radically atonal music of much of the modernist phase is that it limits the expressive palette to a very narrow range of unpleasant sensations. But Zivkovic, a violinist, seems to have mystical inspirations and aspirations and the music reflects this. Not having access to the score, I don't want to say anything more detailed about the piece, but it seems quite worthwhile.

Read the NPR article as it includes an interview with the composer. One fascinating comment:
I almost always start with non-musical ideas then try to "paint" them in sound. I was very much interested in various texts, particularly French and German poetry, but since numerous composers used those texts, I was looking for something profoundly different; something that would touch still widely undiscovered philosophical and spiritual texts.
Clearly Zivkovic's music is not about technical intricacy or modernist innovation.

I have mixed feelings about music competitions, but they seem to have made a good choice with this award. Here is the composer's website.


Rickard said...

Certainly seems much more enjoyable than most of the contemporary classical music that recieves praise nowadays. While the structure may be very free (I suppose it is, might be wrong though), it has a sense of direction and the piece is enjoyable to listen to (something that can't really be said about the music of some of the more recognized contemporary composers, for instance Pierre Boulez and Kaija Saariaho).

Bryan Townsend said...

I think the days of high modernism are long gone and there is a significant trend towards tonality of some kind. No idea, of course, of how Zivkovic has structured the piece--not after one listening, at least!