Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Moment Symphony (0'01")

Once a reporter objected to the length of his work, which in his opinion, took too much playing time for Americans. 'You probably don't know,' he answered, 'that I am now preparing a new work which will not take much of your time. It is called a Moment Symphony, and designated for Madison Square Garden, with a super-orchestra of several hundred musicians and more than a thousand choral singers. The conductor will appear on the podium, raise his baton with his right hand, his eyes fixed on a watch in his left hand, then turn around to the audience, and the whole symphony is completed!'
Henri Leiser, "Villa-Lobos: Ambassador of Music," Musical Courier, May 1, 1945.

Villa-Lobos's career is full of practical jokes. The little joke of the Moment Symphony is on one level like the leg-pulling Villa indulged in when he was first in Paris. Daniella Thompson quotes Darius Milhaud, who tells this story about his friend Villa-Lobos:
...when traveling in the Amazon in search of Indian folklore he had found some themes which the Indians themselves had forgotten but that the parrots who live for two hundred years were still singing.
But his musical sense of humour also reminds me of some of the people he came across in Paris in the 1920s: Cocteau, Satie, and the Dadaists. It's interesting that Villa-Lobos, who included a prepared piano in his 1928 Choros #08, should come up with the concept for a musical piece 0'01", five years before John Cage's 4'33".

No comments:

Post a Comment