excerpt from 'The Later Diaries of Ned Rorem 1961-1972' pp. 395-396 (217 words)

excerpt from 'The Later Diaries of Ned Rorem 1961-1972' pp. 395-396 (217 words)

part of

The Later Diaries of Ned Rorem 1961-1972

original language

urn:iso:std:iso:639:ed-3:eng

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395-396

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text excerpt

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We have just given a memorial concert: recent setting by seven composers of Frank O'Hara who died six years ago. The setting were all unsuccessful though not because they were commissioned for the occasion (despite the obvious conclusion that if these composers were not moved to use O'Hara living, then why O'Hara dead?). They were unsuccessful because of the uncertain distance between the poetry's composition and the music's. O'Hara's poems are far enough away to be experienced as the past, yet too close to be convincingly embellished by the present. The poems are 1960s, their music is 1970s. Debussy set Baudelaire a half century after the poet's death, and both not mow remote enough for use to see (hear) them as one. O'Hara was nothing if not a poet of the present. But we are his future, unfocusing his quiet grave. The tone of the immediate past juxtaposed upon the tone of the present produces a unison just slightly out of tune. To a trained ear this is more discombobulating than a juxtaposition of centuries. The legend of Othello, adapted by Shakespeare, prosified by Boïto, musicalized by Verdi, recorded by Tebaldi, reaches us with no sense of anachronism. But it we can cariacature the '50s now, the '60s are still too close for comfort.

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excerpt from 'The Later Diaries of Ned Rorem 1961-1972' pp. 395-396 (217 words)

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