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Friday, January 30, 2009

"Violence at Carnegie Hall"

Can anybody fill me in on what went on at last night's Peter Eötvös extravaganza at Zankel Hall? [UPDATE: Bruce Hodges has an almost completely different version of the evening's events here (via AR). Rashomon!] Once again, our friend Matt was there, and it sounds like total mayhem. I've edited our conversation down to a monologue, so if this makes no sense or gets the facts wrong, blame me:

Between the first and second pieces someone's phone goes off loudly and obnoxiously. Some queen in the front row yells—"REALLY?" It goes off again. The queen yells, "TURN IT OFF!" It goes off again. The usher confiscates the phone from a poor old deaf woman in the balcony who, everyone can see, can't turn it off, and aforementioned vicious queen yells, "ANYONE ELSE??" (To which another heckler responds, "SHUT UP!") The usher exits with the phone, and the audience claps. The second piece passes uninterrupted, but midway through the third piece, there is a thud at the back door—a scuffle breaks out—someone yells, "You can't go in!" I'm thinking, "WTF—violence at Carnegie Hall."
[DSJ: "hahahahahahaha, there was a Kagel piece like that."]
Someone in a thick coat tromps down the stairs of Zankel, the usher tells them to shhhhh, and she goes to the front of the auditorium—I think she's going onstage, but instead she sits next to the loudmouthed queen! She then GETS UP mid-piece, again, and moves one seat closer to said queen. The piece finishes, and this woman, drunk, STANDS TO ACCEPT THE APPLAUSE!
Sounds like Carnegie wasn't expecting the throng of rowdy drunks that shows up to Eötvös concerts. People, when you program music by the European avant-garde, you've got to be prepared: you're courting the city's worst riff-raff. Did anyone else witness this? Better yet, do you know any of the parties in question? Leave a comment, or email me at the address to the right.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Delaware's Getting Lucky Tonight

Hey all you Corey Dargel fans out there, I know you're all waiting with baited breath for the long-delayed second half of my appreciation, but in the meantime I got this press release in the mail, and I'm afraid there's no amount of snark or silliness that would make it more enjoyable than it already is, so here's me copyin' and pastin' that mofo. Upshot: concerts TONIGHT, SATURDAY, and MONDAY, in Wilmington, Philly, and NYC, respectively. Details:

Hello everyone. Ever wonder why classical musicians have the longest and most frequent masturbatory sessions of any demographic?* Avian Music attempts to answer this question (or inspire the tendency) by encouraging composers to be more sexually explicit in their music. Avian presents its "Love Machines and Shameless Hussies" concert in Wilmington, Philadelphia, and New York City respectively Jan. 29, Jan. 31, and Feb. 2. (details below). *Source: "Self-Actualizations of Repressed Sexual Desires in Classical Musicians," Journal of High-Art Medicine, Issue 302, July 2006 I'm particularly excited about these concerts because Avian has commissioned what will be my first classical chamber music piece in more than seven years! Yes, I've temporarily abandoned my drum machines and synthesizers in exchange for a Baroque soprano, flute, piano, violin, and 'cello, but I haven't stopped downloading porn while composing. My piece, "Sexual Side Effects," is a 12-minute song cycle dealing tenderly with issues of impotence, sexual anxiety, distraction, and inadequacy. Bring a date! Other works on the program include: Conrad Cummings' and Michael Korie's hilarious (and beautiful) neo-baroque song cycle, "Positions 1956," based on marriage and sex manuals from the 1950s. Peter Flint's "Three Songs;" Joseph Hallman's "Pornstar Paradox;" Raymond Lustig's "The Moon Ascending;" and Miss Dirty Martini's live reconstruction of Sally Rand's legendary fan dance set to Debussy's Clair de Lune. Details about the performances: Jan. 29, 2009 6:30pm sharp - Wilmington, DE Delaware Center for Contemporary Arts 200 South Madison Street $10 Call 302-656-6466 to make reservations. Jan. 31, 2009 8pm sharp - Philadelphia, PA with Chamber Music Now! The Community Education Center 3500 Lancaster Avenue $20/$12 students To purchase tickets call 800-595-4849 Feb. 2, 2009 7pm sharp - New York, NY Le Poisson Rouge (ages 18+ only, unless accompanied by a guardian) 158 Bleecker Street $10 To purchase tickets call 212-505-FISH For more info and to reserve tickets online, visit www.avianmusic.com Performed by AVIAN MUSIC featuring Laura Heimes, Chris Pedro Trakas, Arash Amini, Cyrus Beroukhim, Andrew Sterman, and Blair McMillen Love, Corey

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

New Music Fantasy Baseball

So the discussion of that there John Williams piece in my last post, and in a directly opposite post over at Johnson's wonderful Rambler has me playing a silly parlor game in my head, and you're all invited to join me. The challenge: What composer do you think would have been a better pick for the Inaugural commission? Leave your answer in the comments section. It can be as pragmatic or fanciful as you like, just explain why you think your pick would have been more appropriate than that ol' vanilla John Williams. For example: Terry Riley! Terry Riley isn't going to win a Pulitzer anytime soon, let alone an Oscar, so it would be a nice thing to do to hand him a big huge occasional commission like this, but he still has just enough prestige to make the White House look good too. The conventional wisdom is he's not serious enough for the academic crowd, not easy enough for the populist crowd; he's pigeonholed as a minimalist composer. Well, the conventional wisdom is wrong, of course. Riley's music is affable and sophisticated, both. What's more, its respectful borrowings from African, Asian, Native American, etc etc etc cultures is a lot more reflective of actual American musical traditions than the stuff composed on the Copland/Williams axis. That was fun, right?? Now you try. Who should have been picked this year or, alternatively, who should get the big commission in 2013?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Quartet for the Next Four Minutes

So I don't know about you but I thought that John Williamses inaugural piece was really quite good. It was not particularly innovative or daring, no, but this was not the occasion for "daring," and let's admit, Mark Swed's implication that Elliott Carter might've been a better pick is frankly absurd. (Can't you just hear some gorgeous gnarly atonal texture starting up, and then everybody in America goes, "Oh. Modern music.") I didn't think Williams' Coplandesque choice of "Simple Gifts" as a theme, or the Copandesque idiom of the piece in general, were very imaginative either, or even very well suited to the occasion (other than Obama's noted fondness for Copland) except as the expected cliché. Ah yes, Copland was America's greatest composer; ah yes, Americans are a simple folk. Well, I'm done disputing Copland's greatness, but as for Americans, an awful lot of us are fancy. Growing up, I never felt quite at home in Copland's America—not the America he actually occupied, mind you, the America he composed; it reminded me too much of the place I was trying to escape. It took years for me to reconcile myself to the deeper satisfactions of his music. But it's worth noting that none of the detractors from Williams' inaugural piece seem to have found anything wrong with it beyond the predictable sins of style. That's probably because the actual craft of the thing was nigh impeccable. Like, the concept of the piece was a little on the nose: you've got these four instruments, entering gradually, each doing its thing—all playing in harmony, but not quite as one—until finally they find a common theme. It's about diversity and unity and perseverance and all of those things that Obama was talking about in his speech, but it was communicated entirely without words. Just in case you might have missed the point, a canny bit of casting brought us an Asian cellist, a Jewish violinist, a Latina pianist, and a Black clarinetist (leading a Greg of my acquaintance to dub the work THE JEWTINOBLASIAN QUARTET, thereby shaming all Gregs, everywhere, with his racism), and the Black guy took the lead. DIGRESSION: How excited are you to have suddenly heard of Anthony McGill? There aren't a whole lot of young star clarinetists on the scene, and along comes this guy, younger than I am (God that's hard to say), good-looking like WHOA, and he can play your motherfucking face off. No wonder we never heard of him—he's been hiding under the Met stage this whole time, playing principal—but he is probably having to dodge record contracts right now. Everybody making a big deal out of how these guys were finger-synching needs to hush, because I have a feeling the actual sound of a live clarinet playing out-of-doors in the freezing cold would have given us no clue as to this guy's excellence. But Williams. I'm not exactly mister contrarian for defending the most famous composer in the world, but the dude's popularity has earned him a legion of haters, sometimes justly (didn't his "stirring" Private Ryan score gross you out?) and sometimes not: he got famous, after all, by having an instantly recognizable compositional voice, and by being incredibly good at what he does. The world of film music is full of hacks and amateurs; John Williams is not one of them. Listen again to the duet between Perlman and Ma:Isn't that counterpoint actually kind of nifty, the way they're never in rhythmic unison? The lines are elegant and expressive, and they interact in unexpected ways. The mood is solemn, but not pompous, and surprisingly ambiguous. What more, really, do you want? This sounds to me like one of the most thoughtful pieces John Williams has ever written. It's not some holy and immortal masterpiece of music—when Yo-Yo Ma jokingly called it Quartet for the Next Four Minutes, that seemed just about right—but as an occasional piece, it filled a need, one towards which classical music is especially well-suited. Few of our greatest composers could have filled it so well.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Artists Formerly Known as "Victrola"

Huh, I got word that Missy Mazzoli's bandsemble, Victrola, was asked to change their name by Sony-BMG, the company that formed when Sony Music merged with BMG, the company that bought RCA, the company that bought the Victor Talking Machine Company, which produced the Victrola record-playing machine, in 1906. It's easy to see why they would feel threatened, not because the RCA Victrola label is still active (it went kaput earlier this century), but because, dude, vinyl is making a comeback, and all those hipsters who bought the new Animal Collective LP are going to need decorative wooden cabinets to play it in. In related news, this is all starting to make me nervous about the legal status of my drag persona, Elektra Nonesuch. But ANYWAYS! The newly rechristened VICTOIRE (new myspace here) will be playing with So Percussion at Galapagos next Wed., Jan 28 at 8 pm ($10). You have to go, because So is playing Cage! And you love Cage almost as much as you love VICTOIRE.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

LA PHIL SEASON ANNOUNCEMENT LIVEBLOG

I'm liveblogging the press conference announcing the Los Angeles 2009-2010 Season, their first with Gustavo Dudamel! The critics are all yelling at each other over whether this guy is The Next Leonard Bernstein or The Great White Hype, but whatever, that's a lot of noise. He's an interesting artist, from what little I've heard, and the buzz from inside the organization is Great—the players like him, and they say he's bringing to L.A. the same commitment to education that he brought to, uh, whatever place he's from. I never liveblogged anything before! Do you think this will work? 4:22 - The press conference is supposed to start in 8 minutes I think. Right now I am looking at a bunch of empty chairs and I am cursing Los Angeles for opening their stupid gorgeous Disney Hall as soon as I moved away. The stream is working fine though. I can see the little tiny people taking their seats in the auditorium. 4:24 - Should I be Twittering this instead? I still don't know what that Twitter is for. Do you do Twitter? 4:25 - These times are all East Coast, btw. 4:27 - JoJo's computer, which I was streaming this on whilst I liveblogged, went into Sleep mode and had to be reawakened. Must remember to guard against this as liveblogging continues. 4:28 - Are there a lot of people in the auditorium? I can't tell. 4:34 - Oh cool I just found FULL SCREEN MODE. This is much better. 4:35 - I can't decide whether I'm hungry or thirsty. Maybe I want some black tea with milk. 4:36 - My mom cans her own jams and jellies. I bet some apricot jam on bread would be prefect, with some Earl Grey and milk. 4:37 - WAIT HOLD ON WHAT'S GOING ON THERE ARE PEOPLE NOW. The chairman of the Phil is telling us how exciting it is for him to be the chairman in these challenging times. He just got back from the inauguration! There was a lot of classical music at the inauguration. 4:39 - President and CEO Deborah... Gordon? is talking now. This press conference is being webcast live, she says. 4:40 - Ooh, they're going to welcome him with a cinematic somethingorother! Short Ride in a Fast Machine is playing. Mariachis! Surfers! Dancers! Hahaha the KNBC anchorpeople! Buddhist monks! At the observatory! Rock and rollers! Somebody at the Getty! Frank Gehry! Plácido Domingo! Esa Pekka: STILL SEXY. I think he's younger than I am. 4:43 - Okay that's over, it's back to real people. Jesus, Gustavo literally is younger than I am, isn't he? I'm SO OLD. Gustavo Dudamel: "Wow." Haha he made a joke about the comically loud movie screen still rolling up behind him. 4:45 - He's speaking Spanish! I speak Spanish! He's saying, he's very excited. 4:46 - Barbara is also very excited. 4:48 - TALK LOUDER, GUSTAVO. Um, he wants to bring classical music to the people. He wants to say hello to his wife, who is watching on the internet in Venezuela!! 4:50 - The inaugural concert will be broadcast around the world! He made some "very unconventional decisions," including a World Premiere! 4:51 - "L.A. has a tradition of new things," he sez. "With the traditional repertoire, new repertoire." Hahahaha "a premiere is always CRAZY, like WHAT WILL HAPPEN???" They're also doing Mahler 1. 4:53 - "It's actually very rare that there's a world premiere on the telecast!" says Barbara. God, what's wrong with America. OMG WHAT'S GOING ON!!! SOMETHING CRAZY!!! Is John Adams about to come out??? YES OMG OMG OMG 4:54 - Hahahahaha Gustavo is ADORABLE. He's acting all nervous and shy with John Adams. Hahaha "The LA Phil audience has been witness to some of my triumphs... and some of my fiascos." (He means Dharma at Big Sur.) 4:56 - John Adams is writing his FIRST SYMPHONY for the L.A. Phil, subtitled "City Noir." [I thought he said something like, "The piece is called Symphony ('City Noir')," though maybe he said, "The piece is called, simply, City Noir."] 4:57 - It's inspired by the music from film noir, and that's the jumping-off point, but it's also concerned with his Grand Theme, which is what is the music of California. Now I'm wondering if I misheard, and he said Adams's 1st Symphony and not Mahler's? [No, I heard right, they're doing both.] 4:58 - This is SUCH a good idea. Adams is a big crowd pleaser. He says he had GD's interpretation of Mahler 2 in mind when he wrote the piece. 5:02 - Talking about tour plans. And John Adams is directing a festival! A sequel to Minimalist Jukebox as it were. It's called WEST COAST WEST COAST, or maybe he said WEST COAST BEST COAST. [WEST COAST LEFT COAST.] 5:03 - NAMES: Lou Harrison Piano Concerto, Salonen LA Variations, Mel Powell, Bill Kraft, Henry Cowell, Daniel Lentz, Amy X Neuberg, Morton Subotnik, Harry Partch, Ingram Marshall (WHOO!), Frank Zappa, Leonard Rosenman - Rebel Without a Cause. 5:05 - Joshua Redman! Christian McBride! A big hand for Tom Newman, who's going to write for the Kronos Quartet a concerto Adams thinks will have "a very long shelf-life." 5:06 - Gustavo's also doing a festival? Of American music? He's still talking way too quietly. Ginastera, Copland, Carlos Chavez, something something. He wants to create an America without divisions. Like the Golijov Passion. Or something. 5:10 - He's talking about a poet? Named Alberto something? What's going on. 5:11 - Stephen Hartke organ symphony!! Derek Bermel!! Plus John Adamses piece and two other world premieres. [Whoa, I must have misheard: a total of NINE world premieres this season, not five.] Thomas Adès will be in residence. Terry Riley dubbed the Disney organ HURRICANE MAMA, which is awesome. My battery is about to die. Who's the other composer she named? [Unsuk Chin. She is a great pick, and not an easy one.] 5:16 - Gustavo is talking about the Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles and how much he loves conducting them. Basically it's the American Sistema, is what they're sayin'. Did I mention he's adorable? "I think it's [his educational project in L.A.] one of the most important projects happening in the world." 5:17 - Adams on the Sistema: "The extraordinary thing you feel, when you're in Caracas, is that young people think classical music is cool." 5:19 - Time for questions for the audience. "THIS IS ALWAYS DEATH." (Krusty the Klown.) But first, did you know the L.A. Philharmonic has the second biggest budget in the US? Yay that's cool. 5:20 - GUSTAVO I STILL CANNOT HEAR YOU. I've just fallen in forever love with you but baby I CANNOT. HEAR YOU. 5:21 - The cat is clawing the crap out of this loveseat, but it came with the apartment and was already clawed to hell, so I'm gonna let it slide. She's so CUTE! 5:23 - Buffering. 5:23 - What in the HELL is this lady talking about. "Bel canto tuning." GUSTAVO WILL YOU PLEASE SPEAK OUT ON THIS IMPORTANT CONTROVERSIAL TOPIC. HOW DO YOU INTEND TO TUNE THE LOS ANGELES PHILHARMONIC 5:25 - what the 5:26 - Did the feed just cut out? What's going on. 5:26 - Black screen. LADIES AND GENTLEMEN THE FUTURE OF PRESS CONFERENCES 5:27 - I wonder if maybe the Powers that Be brought the press conference to a halt because they knew we couldn't handle the truth about tuning. 5:28 - Okay the picture's back. And the cat is here! Gustavo calls Frank Gehry "Pancho." 5:31 - FINAL QUESTION. The question was not recorded. BUT Barbara says they are they took a hit with this lousy economy, sure, we all did, but they have a long-term plan and they're sticking to it, they're not letting some Depression put the kibosh on their AWESOME FUTURISTIC PROGRAMMING. THE END Okay wow, that was pretty exciting, and not just because everybody kept saying over and over how excited they were. The picture of the new L.A. Phil is pretty clear: they're damnin' the torpedoes and charging ahead into a comprehensive program of music education and new-music advocacy. "The composers are the heroes now" are not the exact words Barbara used, but something close to that. Dudamel has accepted the baton from Salonen and is running with it: like Salonen's, this is programming designed especially for Los Angeles, California, America and the Americas, music from the "here" and "now" in very small and very large senses of the words "here" and "now." Something truly great is happening over there. [More coherent coverage here. Full press release here.]

Sunday, January 18, 2009

He Touched Me

Ran across this disc at work today. I think that maybe the Pilgrim Jubilees should have given this title a little more consideration before they decided to release it—and yet I am so glad they didn't. If the members of Pansy Division read this, I am begging them, BEGGING them, to record a cover of the title track. Thank you.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Four Text Messages

1. Last night, out of the blue, Maury D'Annato:

Did your hits just go way up?
What? Why do you ask? Did—WHOA, I just got my first-ever link from La Cieca, the world's greatest opera blogger! This is, dears, the classical music blogging equivalent of the Congressional Medal of Honor. I'm still a little dizzy. Did La Cieca just compare me to Alex frickin' Ross? And yes, for a hot minute my hit counter went through the damn roof. 2. Night before last, I got this message from one of my Gregs, who's caught Eighth Blackbird on their tour of the West Coast, reading simply:
OMG bearinettist = dreamboat.
Y'see people?? I do not lie. Now okay, that right there speaks for itself, but later Greg also shared some very interesting thoughts on the Reich and Rzewski pieces we discussed earlier, so remind me to tell you all about it. 3. & 4. Did you hear that Glenn Branca was one of two electric guitarists to win $25,000 grants from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts? Well the other electric guitarist was this Mick Barr guy, who is from around here! So I txt msg'd my friend Kyle, the lead singer of Mick Barr's old band, for comment:
Haha! Knowing Mick, he'll spend it on Danzig bootlegs.
A minute later:
Or a deluxe ant farm.
He's kidding, people, he's kidding! He loves the Mick Barr! And his music. Although, weirdly, when I listen to Barr's records, they kind of sound like they'd be made by somebody who could manage spend $25,000 on either Danzig bootlegs or a deluxe ant farm. Or maybe somebody who could tell Philip Glass that Two Pages (for Steve Reich) needs a little more focus.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Magnanimous Bard: Listening to Other People's Love Songs (Part One)

Oh yeah um Happy New Year! Okay so. Corey Dargel's got another big show this week, a revival of his piece Removable Parts at HERE Arts Space in NYC (Jan 7-11, $20, tix here), so let's take this opportunity for a nice hard look at his latest record, Other People's Love Songs, which you've already heard me going on about plenty, but humor me. And before I forget, subscribe to this podcast! Free Dargel mp3s, including his new Christmas song for Time Out New York. It's not a project totally without precedent. There's that Momus album, Stars Forever, where he accepted commissions from people like Jeff Koons and Cornelius to write a synth-pop song about each of them. And of course there's Stephin Merritt's livre of love songs. These aren't a terrifically useful comparisons, I know, since aren't those guys's pop songs (not to put them down) way simpler, way catchier—but I think the fact that Dargel's music has an indie-rock niche ready to slip into, this niche of overenunciating white boys unafraid of synth presets, may have something to do with why I find it so satisfying. He's written here about the advantages of writing, setting, singing, and performing one's own songs—advantages which might seem obvious to lovers of indie rock and other singer/songwriter-driven musics, but which sometimes have to be explained slowly and clearly to visitors from Planet Classical—so instead of talking about how these advantages work for him, let's talk about something just as important, namely the way he makes his project's disadvantages work for him. Disadvantage #1: He is not a highly trained singer. I don't mean that he isn't skilled, or well-practiced, I just meant that he's not going to tear the roof off with gospel melisma or hit a high C in full voice. His range is limited, he probably couldn't (consistently) project to the back of a concert hall without a mike, and he probably couldn't navigate rapid shifts in pitch or color or dynamics the way that a trained singer could. But for the audience he's reaching out to, these skills aren't all that important. Quite the opposite: virtuosity, a highly polished singing style, are marks of insincerity to the indie-rock crowd. Just as the current generation of composers grew up listening to pieces like In C or Clapping Music that could be played by anybody, many of today's most celebrated pop singers grew up listening to artists with seemingly ordinary voices, and rejecting the spectacular displays of R&B and classic-rock vocalists. Bands inspired by Death Cab for Cutie or Neutral Milk Hotel are all about putting the text across clearly, not about showing off or milking each syllable for maximum expressive value. I'm not saying their values are somehow preferable to the values of singers inspired by Mariah Carey, I'm just saying that Dargel's is not only a worthwhile aesthetic, but one that, unlike that of most "accessible" composers, actually does click with what the kids today are listening to. On their crazy "i-Pod" machines. Disadvantage #2: If you're gonna do everything yourself, you're gonna have to rely on technology to play anything you can't play with your own two hands. And up to a certain point, the closer you come with any kind of synthesizer to actually simulating the sound of a musical instrument, the more your audience is reminded that they are listening to something inhuman. In robotics, this is known as the paradox of the "uncanny valley"; here's a handy musical illustration I posted to this blog a while back. Even if you have the resources of time, technology, and $$$ to really pull off a one-man MIDI Symphony, you're just as likely to weird your audience out. Fortunately, Dargel does "weird" and "alienating" very, very well. The sensations of estrangement and alienation are his bread and/or butter. Accordingly, his instrumental patches actually aim towards the false, the cheap, the mechanical, as if attempting to pre-empt accusations of same—while also hedging against sentimentality. A charming melody on a tinny synth patch puts finger-quotes around its designs on your feelings; in the same way, a patently counterfeit "rock beat" programmed into a computer ironizes said beat's designs upon your booty. Here again, he locks into recent trends in rock and, even more, in dance/hip-hop, in which the attempt is not to escape the constraints of dated technology in favor of sampling that sounds "fresh" or "live," but to foreground the falseness of the electronically generated material. Like, you've heard this Postal Service song, right?It's just like that. There's no attempt to conceal the fact that this is basically a record that two dudes made (with a lady singer also), using the resources at hand, without even having to be in the same room together. Yes, the beat makes you wanna get up and dance, but it makes you wanna get up and dance in the brightly-colored costumes of an imaginary 1985. Note Ben (Death Cab) Gibbard's vocals too—text first, "emoting" a distant second. And finally, Dargel's use of electronics dodges this bullet:

One big thing is the drum set right now. There are a lot of composers who are trying to incorporate the drum set into classical arrangements. It’s really hard to do that and make a synthesis that makes sense, because people have been using drum sets for a long time. The drum set is a totally oral instrument and everyone has their own feel to it and if you try writing it down it’s very difficult to do and have it make sense. I feel like there are so many concert pieces that have a drum set in it and the drum set sounds so stupid.
That's Ted Hearne, interviewed here (hattip DJA) Good lord, there is nothing worse than a composer trying to hip shit up by dragging a drummer onstage. STAY AWAY. By rejecting both the hi-tech and the "rockin'," Dargel neatly avoids the risk of trying to sound hip, even as he taps straight into actual, vital pop culture trends. Okay, there's obviously a lot more to say about this album, but why don't I post this right now so that the mention of this week's concerts might actually do somebody good, and then I'll write the rest later. Alrighty? (Image ganked from an old CRACKED Magazine, via Cartoon Brew via Boing Boing. I swear I only found the pic after I had already written the line about "i-Pod machines.")

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Nixon in Nixon

Sir Anthony Hopkins, in the latest Gramophone:

Music often helps me find a way into roles. I listened to Copland all the time when preparing to play Richard Nixon on film.
Listening to a pinko composer to portray a red-baiting politico! Interesting.... But on the other hand, maybe Hopkins is getting to the heart of Nixon's self-delusion. Mightn't Tricky Dick have styled himself a Coplandesque American folk hero? In related news, Sly Stallone—not to be outdone—now claims that he listened to nothing but old Nixon speeches during the filming of CopLand.