19 September 2017

Refreshing the slate


Sleepyheads, Wake Up! — good prospect for a reading, should really wrap it up

White Nights — still a work purely on spec, can in principle aim for completion 1Q18

New stuff:

[the HTUMC Christmas Concert] . . . should think about some pieces with harp accompaniment

Flute duo for Carol and Peter . . . working title, Gym Bags in the Dark

Concertante piece for cello and orchestra . . . working title, Sleepwalking to Olympus

17 September 2017

henningmusick: Recital [17.ix.2009]

henningmusick: Recital:
TODAY!! [i.e., eight years ago]
Noise in the Library
The Exquisite Sonic Disturbances of Karl Henning
Heedless Watermelon, Opus 97 (2009) flute & clarinet
Irreplaceable Doodles, Opus 89 (2007) clarinet solo
The Angel Who Bears a Flaming Sword, Opus 94a (2008) alto flute solo
Lost Waters, Opus 27 (1994-95) harp solo
Studies in Impermanence, Opus 86 (2005) clarinet solo
Tropes on Parasha’s Aria from White Nights, Opus 75, the ensemble
Peter H. Bloom, flutes
Mary Jane Rupert, harp
Karl Henning, clarinet
Thursday, 17 September 2009
West End Branch, Boston Public Library
151 Cambridge Street
Free & Open to the Public.
Just try to shush ’em.
Eight years ago tonight.  I am not sure we have ever made so much noise in any library since.

This morning is my church choir’s first Sunday of the season “on duty.”

The beat goes on.

15 September 2017

One Twilight Realm

“You have a choice.”
—one theme in both Minority Report and Hellboy, neither of whose screenplays (probably) was written by a Calvinist
Any number of times over the years, and in many different contexts, I have repeated, no doubt in paraphrase (even allowing for English translation) a witty and illuminative distinction made by a 19th century German critic (named, I believe, Kraus—but don’t hold me to it) between the two German-speaking capitals. In Berlin, he wrote, they describe the situation as “serious, but not hopeless”; but in Vienna, “hopeless but not serious.”

More about hopeless but not serious in a moment.

Over the past twelvemonth (and not to the exclusion of other composition) I have 1. composed my first Symphony (there may seem to be a degree of hope implicit in the use of the ordinal number first, which I neither confirm nor deny); 2. completed (i.e., composed the bulk of) a major Clarinet Sonata; and 3. resumed significant work on the full evening’s ballet, White Nights. These three pieces are, without rival, my major instrumental works. They have not yet been performed (—in fairness, the Symphony is still warm off the press, so a performance as early as now, while by no means impossible, would only have been a wild chance—) nor is there as yet any prospect of a performance.

We might say there is (at present) no hope of their being performed.  So often when the word hopelessness is used, there is an implication of permanency, of a compulsion upon the individual to resign himself to an absence of hope.

Right at the moment, it seems hopeless. So what?

At the moment (and, all right—it’s been a long moment) I write a lot of music that is not performed. And, it ought to be conceded, I am (though by no means a dotard) rather past the age one might normally think of for an up-and-coming composer. Maybe the Symphony will someday be played in my hearing. Maybe in my lifetime. Maybe not.

But the hopelessness is not a fixed element. It may be only, that there is no hope at present.

This, Gentle Reader, is all just reflection, just thoughts.  No decision is being made, no resolution taken, this day.

My state of mind remains, so far as I can tell, unchanged. I compose, not because I am paid to do so, nor really because I have any expectation of being paid to do so in the future; I compose, because I enjoy doing so. I compose the music which I should like to hear, and which I should like to know the thoughts of listeners, should it be given them also to hear. I compose because, when I have completed a given piece, I find the arc of activity gratifying, I find the musical result, the fact that there is a finished musical object, gratifying.  I dig the resulting music, as (I believe) any real gone cat would.

While I am not at all suggesting that I would be anything other than much better pleased for the music to be performed for an audience, and for the audience to register and express their enjoyment of, delight in, the music—I enjoy, indeed to a degree I exult, even in this twilight realm, where there are completed compositions which sleep awhile, sleep for centuries it may even be, before they are awakened unto an audience.

My lot, then, is hopeless, but not serious.

When a man is in despair, it means that he still believes in something.
—Dmitri Shostakovich [ note to self: try to confirm ]

14 September 2017

Auspicious beginnings

Monday evening, Triad made a good start with rehearsing the Gloria. Then, Tuesday evening, Carol Epple, Peter H. Bloom and I read through the Tiny Wild Avocadoes, the first time the wind version has sounded out, causing actual air molecules to vibrate.

The performances will be in October and November, and they will be excellent, if I do say so myself (as, I suppose, I just did).

henningmusick: Commuting here, commuting there

henningmusick: Commuting here, commuting there:
No actual writing yet today. Read through Nicodemus some three times, and also through the present state of just what everyone was expecting once. [14.ix.2012]
There was a time when just what everyone was expecting was still being written?  In a state when even the composer was expecting something?

Got together with an old friend to catch up over a nice dinner last night (the Great British Beer Company, in fact).  How pleasant for the composer, in bringing his friend up to date on musical activity over the last twelve months, to list (and tell the background stories of) the First Symphony, the Clarinet Sonata, and the revivification of the White Nights.

12 September 2017

And, next

Triad rehearsal last night.

k a rl h e nn i ng Ensemble rehearsal tonight: the first try of the wind Avocadoes.

What thoughts I have this morning, Johannes, about the opening of your F Major symphony, and a piece in 6/4 which was conducted in 3/2, ostensibly for clarity, but which sucked all the musical life out. The Flattest Brahms in the Universe.  Something for which no conscionable musician would ever wish to be responsible.


Something I read this morning: “...150 previously-unreleased tracks....”

What I immediately thought: “Man, all 150 of those must be sooooo good....”

Dear composers,
Thank you for your patience. I’m sorry to say we were not able to program your piece this season. Choosing 15 from 750+ pieces was very hard, but I’m excited about the world of new music after having seen a slice of what you are doing. We’ll be announcing our season shortly, and we hope you will keep in touch and share your work with us again. 
Thank you and all the best!

11 September 2017

Checking in

Triad auditions yesterday;  first rehearsal of the season this evening.

Still awaiting word on the call which was to have been announced on the first (but for which we got the nice courtesy message).

The Cantata Singers invite me to sub for a spring concert, but I need to consider whether I really want all those late weeknights for so sustained a time.