Composer Robert Muczynski died last week at the age of 81. Muczynski fits into that weird category of obscure composers who, in the halls of various conservatories, end up better-known than many figures in the contemporary mainstream. Because of his wind literature, most notably works for flute and sax, Muczynski is one of those names that sits on the tongues of Northwestern students (along with David Maslanka, Dana Wilson, Vincent Persichetti, and a few others)--unlike, say, Lachenmann, or even Stockhausen. Weird, right? Having played his saxophone sonata, one of our repertoire standards, I can vouch for his solid wind writing. Andrew Patner has an obituary.
I wrote what I would call a fairly even-handed assessment of how critics have been weighing in on Dudamel's first year and tour. The L.A. Times continues their crazy Dudamel coverage with this completely ridiculously article from a certain James Rainey; it speaks for itself. I took the opportunity to publicly hate on Rainey, and others contributed--the comments are worth a read.
My main man Justin Davidson weighs in on Dudamel, in one of the more snarky but elegant reviews; Mark Swed looks at Dudamel's season and makes a bold proclamation: "No music director in America tried so much last season." This seems to be a jab directly at Alan Gilbert in New York, and one that really misses the point. Dudamel's successes came from a combination of Deborah Borda's excellent administration, the gifts Salonen already gave the orchestra, and Dudamel's natural personal appeal, inherent musicality, and outreach efforts. But what Gilbert has done at the New York Phil came almost entirely from him: there hasn't been much administrative shakeup since Maazel left, but the orchestra programming (and, at least from reading the reviews, playing caliber) is a whole new ballgame. NY sold out Le Grand Macabre last weekend, and all of that credit lies with Gilbert taking the initiative to really run with this difficult work and make it happen for the city--reportedly, their clever marketing campaign was something he pushed for personally. Though Dudamel may have led some great performances, he certainly did not try, nor succeed, as much as Gilbert.
Davidson lobs one back at Swed with a look at the Kulturkrieg, as I am now calling it, between New York and L.A (okay, Swed's was actually written before Davidson's, but it's more fun to read this way). He comes down a little harsh on L.A. but it's all in good fun; if the L.A. Times is going to sink this far into Dudamania, then we might as well get our own (well-written) dose of Empire State propaganda.