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First thing’s first. I think I’ve come up with a title. I think I’m going to call the piece ‘but today we collect ads’, after a quotation from the Smithson Partnership (Alison and Peter Smithson were revolutionary British Architects), writing as part of the infamous ‘Independent Group’ of artists:

“GROPIOUS WROTE A BOOK ON GRAIN SILOS,

LE CORBUSIER ON AEROPLANES,

AND CHARLOTTE PERIAND BROUGHT A NEW OBJECT TO THE OFFICE EVERY MORNING,

BUT TODAY WE COLLECT ADS.”

I like titles. And I usually come up with the fairly early. For me, a title serves as more than merely a label to distinguish between different pieces in a composer’s catalgoue. It actually becomes part of the composing process. Coming up with a title forces me to summarise the agenda or intensions of a piece in a single word or phrase. In doing so, I have to make some decisions as to what the piece is going to be be ‘about’ or what it’s going to ‘do’. Which, I suppose, in the grand scheme of things, are quite important things to decide.

I’m quite pleased with this title. Perhaps I’ll tell you more about it another time.

I’m also quite pleased with the new A2 manuscript paper which arrived this morning to help me write it. It is, quite possibly, the largest manuscript paper my desk has ever seen. At heart I suppose a small part of every composer is somewhat stationary obsessed.

More to follow.

Matthew =)

As I was in Barcelona last June for the Sónar Festival, a friend showed me the catalogue of an exhibition titled ‘Hammershøi i Dreyer’ which was on show at the Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (CCCB) earlier in the year. From what I saw in the catalogue, I wished I were there for the exhibition. Until then, I have not heard of Vilhelm Hammershøi, nor Carl Theodor Dreyer, not to mention the artistic links between the two.

 

After my return, I tried to track down Hammershøi’s paintings in London Galleries, only to discover that they are not currently on display – and there are not that many of them. Edward Hopper has always been one of my favourite painters – that indescribable sense of isolation and solitude is something I always find haunting. You look at some of Hopper’s late paintings – Sunlight in an Empty Room (1963) for example – your mind would wonder what goes on outside the picture, the things that are felt but not seen. I get the same feeling when I listen to Sciarrino’s music; I have heard Omaggio A Burri (1995) and Esplorazione del Bianco II (1986) in concert, and they were possibly the most intense listening experiences I have ever had – very unsettling.

 

Why is Hammershøi’s art so neglected outside Denmark – just as the way Nielsen’s music once was? I know Michael Palin made a documentary called The Mystery of Hammershøi in 2005 for the BBC, which I have not seen. I wonder how much it helped to make non-Danish speakers aware of this marvellous painter.

 

On a brighter note, most of Dreyer’s movies are now available on DVD; my copies of Ordet (1955) and Gertrud (1964) have just arrived. Something for the bank holiday weekend when I get a bit stuck with the composing.
 

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