Nice riff going on at Kyle Gann’s blog over the New York Times critics’ choice of their prime cuts of minimalism.
What struck me was the list’s insularity. Apart from a concerto by the Dane Poul Ruders, issued on a small US label, all the composers and works chosen were American.
Granted, minimalism was a Californian invention by Terry Riley and LaMonte Young, arising from their exposure to John Cage and to eastern esoteric philosophies. But the tendency was far-flung and often oblivious to its antecedents.
The so-called East European Holy Mininmalism of Part and Gorecki was pretty much sui generis, rooted in counter-communist early Christian monodies, unaware of US trends.
And the work of Michael Nyman arose chiefly from his rejection, as a critic and composer, of ascetic, Bolulez-led modernism.
Between them, Gorecki’s million-selling third symphony and Nyman’s soundtrack to The Pianist, reached an audience tenfold that of the entire NY Times list. Some of the greatest hits of minimalism were made outside America.
Not just insular, then, but seriously myopic.