Today, 12 January, is the birthday of American composer Morton Feldman (1926 - 1987), identified with the avant-garde in indeterminate music along with his close associate John Cage. Feldman grew up in Brooklyn, where as a young man he studied with Wallingford Riegger and Stefan Wolpe. He met Cage in 1950 after they both stepped out of a New York Philharmonic concert following a disturbing audience reaction to Webern’s Symphony, and the rest is history. 

Although active as a composer, Feldman worked in his family’s textile business until age 47, when he took a teaching post at the University of Buffalo. His works, sometimes quite lengthy, are characterized by slowly and subtly shifting patterns and textures wholly apart from the realm of functional harmony—which the composer said “hears for us, like going to a public accountant.” He died at his home in Buffalo in 1987 after a battle with pancreatic cancer.

12 January 2012 ·

Curtis Lindsay
Pianist, composer,
expert in nonsense.

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