Three Questions for Sixty-Five Composers

Three Questions for Sixty-Five Composers

Bálint András Varga

Personal eBook

University of Rochester Press



Master interviewer Bálint András Varga poses three probing questions to renowned contemporary composers about their work, and carefully renders their answers in their own words.
Do today's composers draw inspiration from life experiences or from, say, the natural world?
What influences, past and present, have influenced recent composers?
How essential is it for a composer to develop a personal style, and when does this degenerate into self-repetition?
These are questions about which some of the most important composers of the late twentieth and early twenty-first century often have quite strong feelings--but have seldom been asked.
In this pathbreaking book, Bálint András Varga puts these three questions to such renowned composers as Luciano Berio, Pierre Boulez, Alberto Ginastera, Sofia Gubaidulina, Hans Werner Henze, Helmut Lachenmann, György Ligeti, Witold Lutoslawski, Luigi Nono, Krzysztof Penderecki, Wolfgang Rihm, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Toru Takemitsu, and Iannis Xenakis. Varga's sensitive English renderings capture the subtleties of their sometimes confident, sometimes hesitant, answers.
All statements from English-speaking composers -- such as Milton Babbitt, John Cage, Elliott Carter, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Morton Feldman, Lukas Foss, Steve Reich, Gunther Schuller, and Sir Michael Tippett -- consist of the composers' own carefully chosen words.
Three Questions for Sixty-Five Composers is vital reading for anybody interested in the current state of music and the arts.

The Hungarian music publisher Bálint András Varga has spent nearly forty years working for and with composers. He has published several books, including extensive interviews with Lutoslawski, Berio, and Xenakis. His previous book for the University of Rochester Press is György Kurtág: Three Interviews and Ligeti Homages.


1 colour, 40 black and white illustrations
352 pages
Eastman Studies in Music
Hardback, 9781580463799, May 2011
Personal eBook, 9781580468091, May 2011
Library eBook
University of Rochester Press
BISAC MUS020000, MUS050000, MUS006000
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Table of Contents

Milton Babbitt
Sándor Balassa
Luciano Berio
Sir Harrison Birtwistle
Pierre Boulez
Attila Bozay
Earle Brown
Sylvano Bussotti
John Cage
Elliott Carter
Friedrich Cerha
George Crumb
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
Edison Denisov
Henri Dutilleux
Péter Eötvös
Morton Feldman
Lukas Foss
Alberto Ginastera
Karel Goeyvaerts
Sofia Gubaidulina
Georg Friedrich Haas
Hans Werner Henze
Klaus Huber
Zoltán Jeney
Mauricio Kagel
Georg Katzer
Ernst Krenek
Ladislav Kupkovic
György Kurtág
Helmut Lachenmann
György Ligeti
Witold Lutoslawski
François-Bernard Mâche
Michio Mamiya
Giacomo Manzoni
Paul Méfano
András Mihály
Tristan Murail
Marlos Nobre
Luigi Nono
Krzysztof Penderecki
Goffredo Petrassi
Emil Petrovics
Henri Pousseur
Steve Reich
Wolfgang Rihm
Peter Ruzicka
László Sáry
Pierre Schaeffer
Dieter Schnebel
Alfred Schnittke
Gunther Schuller
Johannes Maria Staud
Karlheinz Stockhausen
András Szollosy
Toru Takemitsu
Dimitri Terzakis
Sir Michael Tippett
László Vidovszky
Wladimir Vogel
Gerhard Wimberger
Christian Wolff
Iannis Xenakis


Revealing (new statements from) . . . the majority of the defining figures of Western music since 1945. . . . Extremely informative and carefully edited. . . . A broad panorama of contemporary music, showcasing many major artistic isssues and illustrating the enormous diversity of the international scene. MUSIC LIBRARY ASSOCIATION NOTES (Peter Laki)

The responses vary greatly in length and complexity . . . (but) the variety, together with the lucidity of the responses, makes for a more engaging read. . . . One of the more thought-provoking books on modern music. CLASSICAL MUSIC (Toby Deller)

The responses from . . . Mauricio Kagel, Helmut Lachenmann, and Iannis Xenakis . . . are as lucid an introduction to their musical preoccupations as could be hoped. Production values are as consistently high as one expects from the University of Rochester Press. . . . The most illuminating such symposium of composers cast "in their own words." Absorbing and highly pleasurable reading can be assured. GRAMOPHONE (Richard Whitehouse)

Essential reading for anyone interested in contemporary music. ON AN OVERGROWN PATH (

In this rich book conceived by Bálint András Varga, eminent composers of different generations converse with each other through their highly distinctive answers to three recurring, probing questions. Each page of this book is haunted by questions of memory -- not least, how a composer's specific style develops through time.
--Frank Madlener, General Director, IRCAM (Centre Pompidou, Paris)

Typical of Bálint András Varga, the most civilized and intelligent of publishers, to elicit such a multiplicity of responses to three deceptively simple questions. Necessary reading for all who care about the music of our time.
--Sir Simon Rattle, Chief Conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic and Artistic Director of the Berlin Philharmonie

This book presents a rich collection of personal statements by our most famous recent composers. . . A fascinating compendium of an important chapter in contemporary cultural history.
--Franz Welser-Möst, General Music Director, Vienna State Opera

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