Symposium: The Late Music of Morton Feldman


November 4, 2011 - 10:00am to 4:00pm

The late music of Morton Feldman: A symposium

November 4, 2011
Presented by Pitt's Department of Music and its contemporary chamber music series, Music on the Edge
Funded by the Arts and Sciences Faculty Research and Scholarship Program.
Organized by Amy Williams, Assistant Professor of Composition/Theory


The works of Morton Feldman (1926-1987) occupy a central place in the American experimental tradition, not just within the music world. Feldman was very often inspired by non-musical sources, including Persian rugs, abstract expressionist paintings by Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning and Philip Guston, and texts of Samuel Beckett, John Ashbery and Frank O’Hara. Kyle Gann remarked that, “in the current Babel of musical styles, Feldman is almost the only composer whose music appeals across stylistic boundaries, among minimalists, postserialists, 12-tone holdouts, electronic composers, academics, Downtowners, MAX programmers, DJ artists, and other miscellaneous wastrels.” Why does this music have such a broad appeal? This is one of the questions that will be explored during the one-day symposium on Feldman’s late music. The first session will include scholars whose research places Feldman within a larger historical context.  The second session will call upon performers and composers who worked intimately with Feldman in the 1970s and 1980s. The symposium will be framed by two concerts presenting two late chamber pieces, Patterns in a Chromatic Field and Crippled Symmetry

Symposium Schedule

Part I: 10am–12:30pm: Musicological and Analytical Perspectives

• Amy Beal: musicologist, professor and chair of the music department of the University of California Santa Cruz.

• Kyle Gann: composer/musicologist/music critic, professor of music at Bard College.

• David Matthews: recent PhD from University of Pittsburgh. His paper will be drawn from his recent dissertation, entitled “Morton Feldman’s For Samuel Beckett: The Semiotics of Musical Time”.

Part 2: 2–4pm: Reflections and Recollections

• Jan Williams, percussionist, emeritus professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Former colleague of Feldman’s and dedicatee of numerous works.

•Peter Gena, composer and professor of sound/music at the Art Institute of Chicago. Former student of Feldman’s.

•Orlando Garcia, composer, professor of music and director of School of Music at Florida International University. Former student of Feldman’s.

Morton Feldman Mini-Festival Concerts at Wood Street Galleries

Concert 1, Thursday, November 3: 8pm: performance of Patterns in a Chromatic Field (1981) by Jonathan Golove (cello) and Amy Williams (piano). Before this 80-minute work, New York School poetry will be read aloud by Jan Beatty, poet and host of WYEP’s radio show, Prosody. More information…

Concert 2, Friday, November 4: 8pm: performance of Crippled Symmetry (1983) by Lindsey Goodman (flute), Amy Williams (piano) and Jan Williams (percussion). Before this 90-minute work, New York School poetry will be read aloud by Lynn Emanuel, poet and Professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh. More information…

Morton Feldman Symposium and Mini-Festival homepage

Concert Series