A well-known court composer — fictionalized Salieri as seen in Amadeus, 1984.
  • A well-known court composer — fictionalized Salieri as seen in Amadeus, 1984.
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Michael Gordon: Rewriting Beethoven's Seventh Symphony, for orchestra (2006)

Of course you also risk getting compositions such as this offering by Michael Gordon. Sorry, but this sounds like a section of Formula One cars downshifting over and over. It’s a prolonged gimmick.

Of course you also risk getting compositions such as this offering by Michael Gordon. Sorry, but this sounds like a section of Formula One cars downshifting over and over. It’s a prolonged gimmick.

Concerning the court composer or orchestral organization composer and compensation. Almost every orchestra has a donor or 20 with guest houses somewhere in the city. The composer would receive housing. The donor gets to possibly fall into a Haffner situation where their name lives on in association with a composer.

The orchestra organization would also pay off any student debts owed by the composer over the course of the five year stint. A modest stipend of a thousand dollars per week could also be associated with a donor individual or corporation.

What if the orchestra got a video game company or movie studio to make a contribution with the stipulation that some sort of collaboration could ensue? I’m thinking here of the resounding victory the San Diego Symphony had at Comic Con—this year with Star Wars.

Or even better, what if the orchestra organization created a partnership with iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, Google, Amazon, Rhapsody or any of the dozens of music services out there? What would a $50K donation mean to such an entity to help progress the development of new and original music? Certainly it wouldn’t break the bank and all of those companies keep claiming they want to make the world a better place. Here’s their chance.

The top 20 orchestras in the country could all afford to find housing and a thousand bucks a week, plus student loans. I haven’t even mentioned grant writing.

Think about this. Using the previous article’s idea of each composer creating a new symphony every year over a five year residency, that’s 100 new symphonies in five years if the top 20 orchestras do something like this.

What’s the benefit to the orchestras? Affordable new music every year.

What’s the benefit to the composer? A job, a reason to write music, a chance to develop as a composer, published and performed music, and no student debt after five years.

What’s the benefit to the patrons? New music every year and an additional layer of community as they experience the growth of the composer each year. Maybe some of the patrons would even have a chance to get to know the composer.

Will something like this happen? No. No, it won’t. It will live only as the musings of a middle-aged music lover such as myself.

Why not make this my dream and make it happen? Who knows, maybe that will be the case, but any talents that I might possess are far removed from the system-affecting mechanisms required for such an undertaking.

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