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Baker's Dozen

Music Of The Spheres: Rhys Chatham's Favourite Albums
Danny Riley , June 15th, 2016 10:37

The veteran avant-garde composer picks records by Morton Subotnick, Charlemagne Palestine and Maryanne Amacher and more to tell Danny Riley how his music, including new album Pythagorean Dream, has evolved

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Edgard Varèse - Density 21.5/Octandre/Ionisation
The way I got into contemporary music was Edgard Varèse, Density 21.5. My father was a serious amateur harpsichord player. In the house there was mostly music from the Renaissance period going on all the time. We went up as far as Bach and that was it. I studied harpsichord with my father and later on I started on flute with a flute player named Sue Ann Kahn, who had studied with Samuel Baron, a well-known flautist. I heard on the record player a French composer living in New York called Edgard Varèse. A very modern, atonal, difficult piece, so I asked my teacher if she would teach it to me – fortunately she was a contemporary music specialist, even though she was teaching me Bach. I went to see a concert of hers at Carnegie and it was all contemporary. It was through my flute playing that I got involved in contemporary music.


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