Harold Budd on Morton Feldman

2014Harold Budd
Invisible Jukebox, The Wire, January 1997
Tested by Mike Barnes

Morton Feldman
Extract from Triadic Memories (Sub Rosa)

Harold Budd: Beautiful piece. I haven’t a clue what it is.

Mike Barnes: It was composed in 1981 and it’s an extract from a 73 minute piece.

Harold Budd: I imagine then that it would be Morton Feldman. Triadic Memories? Beautiful. [Budd looks at the CD] Fafchamps: completely unknown pianist to me. Beautiful performance. Feldman was a sublimely beautiful artist.

Mike Barnes: Were you influenced by him?

Harold Budd: Absolutely, yes. When I was a ‘proper’ American avant garde composer, I scandalously ripped him off. I was originally attracted to the notions and philosophy of John Cage. From that I spun off to Feldman, who seemed less doctrinaire and more interested in the potential of what sound can actually do to your state of mind and where you are and how you get through the world. He was responsible for some extraordinary moments in American music.

You and I could play this piece; do you know what I mean? It doesn’t require the ability to play Liszt preludes. It’s completely antithetical to that notion. All you need is the kind of spiritual aggressiveness to sit down and be true to what’s in front of you. The hard part with a Feldman performance is the control necessary in order to continually pull it off for such a long time. So in many ways, this piece is documenting the fact that this gentleman had made the decision to do a 73 minute version of it and he did it, believing in it all the while. Not a ‘gig’ in other words.

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