two of the movements
from Peter Ablingers
Voices and Piano
Transcriptions by Mark Knoop
John told me that I should write a little bit and then copy it.
And as I'm copying I get close to the material; I see what I'm
doing, and then I go on, get ideas. And to this day, when I
copy out a page, and I'm getting to the end of the page, there's
no ideas, ... it always works. Because what happens: you say,
I'm not getting any ideas, and then, of course the minute you
say that you get an idea. So it's a marvellous strategy, and it's
exactly how I work. I write for half a day, I copy for the other
half a day, and then the following day I continue the same sequence
over again. I think about it all the time; it annoys me, because we
always want to, after all.
Someone once said to me the reason Charlie Chaplin was a universal
figure because people that saw it felt that they couldn't
get any lower than what was happening in his life. And that's
why we like Fred Astaire. Because we can never, ever, be like
Fred Astaire. And, compositionally I always wanted to be like
Fred Astaire. After all, I'm a New Yorker.
Generalization is this: black notes, white notes; short
durations, long durations; in other words, reinvestigating,
in a general sense, some type of reality principle, not a conceptual
principle, a reality principle: what the hell music is.
And then finding some way, not conceptual, when I'm listening
to the piece, and not listening that profoundly, which stops me
from getting a compositional idea, I go ahead and write the piece
with a very conscious Yin-Yan aspect. What am I going to do, I say,
what am I going to do, not to make it interesting, to write a piece.
You know Mies van der Rohe's remark: I don't want to be interesting,
I want to be good. I want to write a piece!
Most people think: what could I do? I think: what shouldn't
I do? That why when you feel that the music is going this way,
and should go that way, and I went this way, it's like you're
following what you feel is the logical course of it's continuity.
Doesn't like that.
What that psychology, what I shouldn't do, perhaps is involved
with the fact that I'm Jewish. And what is known as Jewish paranoia.
I don't feel comfortable enough feel that everything is on
my side, that it's going to work just the way I want it. I'm not
suspicious, I'm just careful. People like me could make it out of
anything: take my word for that. That's the problem listening to
people like me, or anybody who you feel might have a secret information.
Listen to me: you're lost.
I have a very definite theory - call it theory so that I can be wrong -
that a work of art exists only when the spectator has looked at it.
Until then it's only something has been done that might disappear and
nobody would know about it. But the spectator consecrates it by saying
ìThis is good, we keep itî. And the spectator in that case becomes posterity,
and posterity keeps the museums full of paintings, don't they.
Do they? My impression is that these museums - called the Prado, called
the National Gallery, called the Louvre - are only receptacles of things
that have survived, probably mediocrity. Because they happen to have
survived is no reason to make them so important and big and beautiful and
if there's no justification for that, that label of beautiful. They have
survived. Why have they survived? It's not because they are beautiful.
It's because they have survived by the law of chance, and er...
I think my real feeling is that a work of art is only a work of art for
a very short period... there's a life in a work of art which is short,
even shorter than man's lifetime. I'd call it twenty years. After twenty
years an impressionist painting has ceased to be an impressionist painting
because the colour, the paint, has darkened so much it's no more what
the man did when he painted it. All right, that's one way of looking at it.
So, I apply this rule to all art, artworks. And they after twenty years
are finished: their life is over. They survive all right, because they
are curators of art history. And art history is not art. I don't believe
in preserving, I think, as I said, a work of art dies. It's a thing of
contemporary life, in other words. In your life, you might see things,
it's because it's contemporary with your life: it's been made at the
same time as you were alive. And it has all the requisites of a definition
of a work of art which is ìto makeî. And your contemporaries are
making works of art. They are works of art at the time you live, but once
you are dead they die too. The reason is that ideas can survive more
without distortion, without... death is longer for ideas because the
language stays on for at least a few centuries. In other words, fifty
years ago we like this; one hundred years ago we like that. Showing the
doubtful judgement of humanity on works of art. And that's why I like it
to be only twenty years, have a short life. I didn't care...
Yes, I landed in Lille, I was lunching with a friend of mine who had
it, a Miss Dry, and, she couldn't, she couldn't announce it to me. It was
very funny. So, in fact, when she was so much moved by the fact that she
had to announce it to me, my reaction was ... a cold reaction to, to help
her ... pride, instead of despair and it, it did, it was exactly like
that. It was not despair at all. I had a very great fond regard of that
to accept any malheur. As it comes, I mean, I'm not going to fight it too
much. I don't fight back. I'm against the word ìantiî. It's a bit like
atheist, as compared to believer, and an atheist is just as much of a
religious man as the believer is. And an anti-artist is just as much
of an artist as the other artist. "An-artist" would be much better,
if I could change it. Instead of "anti-artist", "an-artist":
meaning no artist at all. That would be my conception. I don't mind
being an anartist.
by courtesy of Grønland Kammermusikkfestival