Thursday, March 08, 2012

Golijov's overture "Sidereus": it may not be any more "borrowed" than a lot of other music


The New York Times “The Arts” section today (March 8) has an article by Daniel J. Wakin, “Musical Borrowing Under Scrutiny”, link (website url) here . The flap concerns the concert overture “Sidereus”, by Argentine composer Osvaldo Golijov.

There’s a recording with the Sao Paolo, Brazil Symphony on YouTube (url address) here, a ".wmv file".  The piece is said to be dedicated to Henry Fogel (conductor?) I played the work, which sounds a little post-romantic but tends to repetition, and calls to mind (Cuban composer) Ernesto Lecuona’s “Malaguena”, a piano favorite when I grew up in the 50s (before Fidel Castro).  A particular babysitter used to play that work for me all the time!

Golijpv says the material for the overture comes from discarded material from the film Tetro, by Francis Ford Coppola in 2009. (With Coppola, “you never know.”). Composer Michael Ward-Bergeman collaborated with him on this movie.  Golijov, according to accusations, took material instead from Ward-Bergeman’s “Barbeich”.

I could not find the Barbeich work on YouTube, so I can’t say from my own ear what the similarity is.
I remember when composing, in my high school years, that I was concerned that someone could say “I’ve heard that before.”  Of course, composers say that all music involves some copying (as does all literary work, which is said to be a flaw in the copyright concept, as in books by Google counsel William Patry).  I am not a natural “melodist”, but in the Sonatas, if they come to life in my remaining years, there are some themes that will “sound familiar” even though I can’t place them, anywhere.  I think they’re original.

(Previous comments about this issue appear Jan.26, 2012, near the end of the post.)

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