Interview mit Alvin Curran
Das Gespräch fand in Currans Privatwohnung in Rom im November 2007 statt. Gegenstand des Gesprächs sind sein Verhältnis zu Giacinto Scelsi und die Geschichte der Musica Elettronica Viva.
Interview: Martina Seeber / Abschrift: Björn Gottstein
Again, as time goes on, these kinds of memories become cloudy. I think, let me say this, I arrived in Rome in December of 1964, and I immediately took residence in a small apartment in Trastevere, a typical thing to do, and ...
... not the worst thing to do ...
... no, not the worst thing, well, I wasn't used to Roman winters. There was no heating then. The Italians believe that it never gets cold here, but of course it does get very cold. And I was always very, very cold and freezing. Anyway I learned to cope with those things. But a long story short is: everything happened very, very quickly, in the sense that in 1965, which basically was the beginning of the year, because I arrived here the turn of the year, the end of the year, late December, and incidentally I arrived from Berlin – I will tell you that story later, an interesting story, I was a DAAD student, Stipendiaten, invited by Elliott Carter, but anyway, that is another story, an interesting one – but anyway, I was here and I was writing music and then I had an apartment on Piazza Navona, with a view to Piazza Navona, something which would be unthinkable today, and I was just a young American who was going to live in Rome for a little while and then go back to America, and probably look for a teaching position in the university and become what normally American composers do. They become university professors. Thank goodness this never happened in my live. I mean it did happen later, but many, many, many years later. So to come to the story. Was it Scelsi first or MEV first? Basically, the origins of MEV were the following, and it is well documented, but I am not clear whether it was the middle of 1965 or 1966. So hence two years. Surely I had met Scelsi by 1965. For sure. Because one of the big events at that time for new music in Rome was to go every Friday evening to the RAI concert hall, which was out by the stadium, I can't think were it is. I don't remember the exact name, but anyway, it is a little outside the city. And every night there the radio orchestra would play a concert in which there was normally one contemporary piece. It was really a program very much like Westdeutscher Rundfunk or other stations in Europe were doing at that time. They were helping to support and sustain and commission new music. And so there was a lot of actually orchestral music at that time. And I went to every one of those concerts, generally speaking. And that is were I met Scelsi for the first time. This man walked in, with these amazing luminous eyes, with his beguiling smile, usually with two beautiful women on either arm, and always wearing one of his magical Afghan or Tibetan hats, prayer hats, and I said, who is this man, I have to meet him. And then everyone said: Oh, it's Conte di Scelsi, Count Scelsi. The Americans especially were fascinated. And there were many Americans in Rome at that time.
That was amazing. I always asked why. It seemed ot be a hotspot of young composers.
Well, it is like there are a lot of Americans in Prague today or why in certain places, because it is cheap. You could live literally on nothing. You could rent a little place on Piazza Navona (lacht) which you could can't do today for life or money. You could eat wonderful food in a simple Trattoria everywhere for next to nothing. And so a lot of young students and a lot of young professional, especially artists, people interested in cinema, in theater, like the Living Theater was another – do you know what the living theater is? Yes? – well all of these confluent and migratory trends, there were many Germans here as well, a lot of German students would come here for the same reason. A, because Rome is a beautiful place to live (lacht), there is no question about it, everybody wants to live here. And there were even some prospects of work. So to answer the question again, because I am certainly making a few circles, I certainly met Scelsi at one of these concerts. I was introduced to him. How and when we later became close friends I am less sure, but I aways seem to, at a certain point, to – especially during the MEV time, but even more clearly in the early 70s – I would receive a telephone call from Scelsi saying, please come to a party or reception or come over, there are a few people I want you to meet. And the something began in the early 70s again, to come regularly to all of my concerts. Let me say "my concerts", because after MEV was no longer fixed in Rome, by 1971, I began as a survivor, as a lone person who was once in MEV, to begin to create my own musical life here. And my own musical life took place in two worlds. One was, I was open to doing commercial music for films and I made lots of music for animated cartoons, with a young company in Rome, and then for some small cinema and television, and I was making what then became a rather well known kind of solo performance art, where I put myself at the center of my own music and would create these long pieces, maybe two hours or one and a half hours long, using taped backgrounds such as the Giardino Magnetico, and singing, using my voice, playing the Flugelhorn, playing synthesizers, and it was indeed an original and first music theater of this kind in Italy, so I became a kind of a "cosa celebre" overnight here. But I am just jumping ahead, I want to go back, because we skipped over MEV. Anyway. I met Scelsi first for sure. At one of the concerts at the RAI auditorium. And later by no solicitation of my own I think that somehow he more or less sought me out. I think he might have understood that I might be interesting or had directions of possibly even spiritual ideas and musical ideas that were very close to his own. And indeed they were. But that leaves me to tell the story of MEV, does it not?
We may just decide to talk about Scelsi now. Because you started with that.
Well, if I talk about Scelsi then I talk about Scelsi ...
... and the will later go back to that point and take the other road.
What were the spiritual ideas? Yoga ...
Absolutely. It was very popular at the time. The Beatles were seeing Guru Maharishi and all of the famous Indian gurus were coming to the west and were having an enormous influence on the cultural ideas of European and American materialist thinking and philosophy. And bringing, I would say, at the right time, ideas of endless cosmic return and endless flow and these kinds of ideas, reincarnation and so on. At a time when there was a real crisis, there is always a crisis, anyway, but it was more an obvious crisis, because it was a youth revolution that came about in the late 60s, this brings me to the MEV story, but I am going to stick with Scelsi. Anyway. Scelsi became, to those of us who knew him, however briefly or in what context, mostly from soirees at his house or little invitations to his elegant dynasty, small, but it was truly a dynasty, overlooking the equally large, gigantic dynasties of the ancient Rome, you know, 2000 years ago. The Claudius' and the Cesars, their houses were directly in front of Scelsis, overlooking the Roman forum. So Scelsi became in the midst of a basically Marxist, Christian view of the world, either Marxist or Christian or both, some were both, so they were not mutually exclusive, there were certainly very, very strong philosophical and spiritual roots at work in the Italian post war history, but I can't give you this for sure, but I could feel it in my flesh, and you could feel it. Scelsi was an alternative to all of that. He was somewhere else. He was not in that. And he didn't bother to talk about those things. He was talking about how to become immaterial, not how to become material. Again, my way of presenting this may seem a bit categorical, and it may sound like I am speaking in high properly terms, exaggerating, but I am not. Scelsi actually seemed to be to exaggerate in many ways. People who know him. But for people who truly new him he was a genuine believer in something. We don't know what. We don't know what he believed in. But he did, he was definitely touched in his own life by the power of Eastern philosophies, just the way John Cage was and just as many other people in the American scene were, including Lou Harrison and possibly Harry Partch, who tried to reinvent the ancient Greek music. So Scelsi was searching. He was searching for something. And the worn-out philosophies of Europe and of Christiandom and of Christianity, of which: he was a good Christian, I mean I attended his funeral in Rome where the priest got up and said: Dear Giacinto, you have been such a good friend to me, we went to school together, we did this together and blablabla, and he was a friend, his priest. So this is the interesting dichotomy of life in Italy, where you can be a Buddhist or you can be outside the Western influence and the Western sphere and the Western mentality, but when it comes to birth and death, you are back inside. (lacht laut, lange und herzlich)
There were thoughts of C. G. Jung with the global spiritualism.
[2 17:05] Exactly, well, people had to make those decisions, but either for reasons of respect, or for reasons out of his control, maybe because he had no say, maybe because he was now dead that no one could ask him: do you want a funeral in this church, in your church, where you went as a child. In fact, this is on Viale Manzoni, not as a child, but anyway, where he had another apartment, I don't know if that is still in the belongings of the family, he had a huge apartment on Viale Manzoni, and this church was next to RAI radio station on Viale Manzoni, very ugly church, horrible place, but anybody who knows Italy does not find this a contradiction. I mean I can remember being in a small place, a small, little town in Liguria, not far from La Spezia, Ledici it is called, a lovely little port, and one day I was walking on the street and I saw that there was a funeral in front of the church, but outside the church was a sea of red flags with a hammer and sichel, and so everybody, because obviously the person who had died was a communist, he was receiving the rights of the Christian god inside, but his friends would not go inside the church, so they outside with hammer und sichel. But these contradictions are alive in Italian culture, and Scelsi also, I think, was touched by all of this. He was not only Italian, but he was one of those rare intellectuals and aristocrats, who had the good fortune from being able to study and travel and do what he wanted, to become quickly a young man of international experience. So he spoke all the languages. His English was very, very good, his French was even better. German? Did he speak German? Maybe. I don't think so. But nonetheless, that French and English, at that time in the 60s, 70s not many Italians spoke English. Now they all speak English, a little bit, because the schools have provided, but he had his English from studies in England, marrying, his first wife was an American woman, and so on and so forth, not his first wife, his second.
His first wife was English.
An English woman. And then his second was this art gallerist.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Frances McCan.
Was the gallery closed?
I never went to the gallery. Yes it was. At the time I knew ... I am just trying to remember if I went to a show at that gallery. I don't think so.
What did you talk about with Scelsi? Did you have topics you discussed?
I don't think Scelsi talked much about anything. I think his way of communicating was this feeling of courtship, not courtship between man and woman, but creating a salon, his court. And to bring people together, who would exchange ideas, talk in normal ways, I would say basically it was somewhat stiff and formal in the old sense. Always jolly and gemütlich, and always warm, and always good food, and good cakes. Scelsi particularly liked sweets. He was a very, he loved these huge creamy cakes, pies, this high, not Sachertorte, but you know those other ones with lots of cream. Anyway, I don't know what we talked about. Like I said, I don't think we talked about anything. We certainly never talked about music. No. Because what was communicated in this room was an understanding. A feeling of unity and a bond among people who shared a certain relationship with sound and the people who made those sounds. This itself sounds mystical and silly. But it is the truth. I swear. I would sit for hours in Scelsi's house and I would come away and what would we talk about. I don't know. Certainly not banal daily things, who was doing the concerts. Maybe sometimes a little about life, in some political problem in the music world, and I must say in this regard, the two people that were always present at these events, because not everybody in Rome loved Scelsi, in fact, many, many people disliked him immensely or were afraid of him for whatever reason, because he was certainly not one of them. But what really impressed my was the Franco Evangelisti was always present. He was one of the only ones of the young generation of Italian composers who understood that Scelsi, whatever his music was or whatever it came from, was something genuine and something extremely important. Because Franco Evangelisti himself pushes himself to the point where he stopped composing, because he saw the futility of writing music in the Western style, and he saw the futility with these number games, dodecaphony, blablabla, that other stuff, and all this kind of dramatic gesturality of the middle 60s, late 60s. And I think in Scelsi he found someone who, not a revolutionary as Evangelisti thought of himself, he found someone he could share a common distance or a common space that was not coming from the centre of European music. OK? That is important. And the other person who was always there, was an old friend, an elegant distinguished man, who was Petrassi.
I met Petrassi.
No, because, he is not alive any more.
Oh, that is right. He died some years ago.
It was in 1996. I did my tesi di laurea, my final work at university on Petrassi.
On one of his operas, Morte dell'aria.
So we exchanged some letters and I went to see him.
Well, you see, Petrassi is another one of this generation, who was a truly gentlemanly composer, a gentleman and composer.
But he was aesthetically on the other side. He was of the academics writing in the old style.
Very much. But somehow, I don't know for what reasons, it might have been a class thing, or he certainly didn't share ideas of mysticism or Hinduism or Buddhism or any of that with Scelsi, I am sure. But maybe it was purely a class bond. That they were of the same level of society. I don't know. I don't know. But Petrassi was frequently among the people present. I didn't know Petrassi very well. The American composers at that time had a high esteem of Petrassi. Some came to study with him here at Santa Lucia.
He must have been a very good teacher.
I am sure he was. He taught everybody. He taught Berio, he taught Nono, he taught all of the Italians. Everybody came to study with Petrassi. Anyway. Evangelisti and Petrassi were among the two people who were always present in what we call the salotto, the salotto, salon. So that impressed my. I liked Evangelisti very much, but because he was such a kind of determined and radical revolutionary. He really wanted to blow things up. And what did he do? He discovered spontaneous music making. He did throw composition aside. And even like Stockhausen did in 1968, 9, with his group, you know who they are, I can't remember all their names. Even they moved in that direction of liberating the music from the paper and bringing the music into, that is creating a music in tempo reale, in real time, in Echtzeit.
Did you talk about or did you know what Scelsi was trying at that time, like improvising and this kind of translation?
No. You know, I heard about those things. And you know, when you were in his house there was all this cludder and he had these bowls on the piano and they were all full of these little tapes and all the tape was hanging out. I was shocked. How could he. I knew that he was recording himself. He had his little ...
... Ondiola ...
... no ...
... and a Revox ...
... and the Revox was on the left, and old revox, and then he got a new revox, and so obviously he was set up, so in the moment of inspiration he could turn the Revox on, put a tape on and start playing, and everything would record. Badly of course, he didn't have good microphones, didn't know how to put the microphone correctly. So I did know that he was doing that. But that didn't interest me, because by then I was already in a quick four or five years one of the leading improvisers or with one of the leading improvising groups in the world. So these small things of composers, improvising, but yeah, OK, OK, but it was more an aristocratic way of doing things, but I was in the streets, you know, not so nice places, even prisons, working with people, trying to create musics with large groups of people and with non-musicians, and so creating situations at that time which were already beyond the concept of improvisation as Franco Evangelisti understood it. Because that was a very pure aesthetic, controlled and intense. And in this regard I have to speak for a moment about MEV. MEV was wild, crazy, completely out of control. And hoping through these kind of mental and physical postures to embrace something beyond the music that we imagined possible at that time. We were always pushing, pushing, pushing to further and more experimental and even more dangerous places. I am putting this in the context of the elegant apartment of Scelsi, Via San Teodoro Otto, which was a wonderful place for us to go, because we were poor artists and we looked at this wonderful man with his Dali paintings and his Buddhist shrine and his Tibetan trumpets and so on. And it was all magical, it was totally magical to be in a place like this and to be in the presence of this man. The fact is, if a man is improvising privately at home and recording it, that's fine. It was wonderful in fact. We understood. We: myself, Rzewski, Richard Teitelbaum, many others certainly understood that this a wonderful and powerful discovery by a single composer, to be able to execute his music in the moment, spontaneously. We were already making another kind of revolution. We were in 68.
Did you know that his scores were transcribed from tapes?
Well, yes, that all came. Yeah. I knew that. Bit by bit. But none of that was interesting to me. Because my feeling was, I had already broken through personally for myself so many barriers about composition, improvisation and music making in general. Even the meaning of music and its social and political importance, you know, cultural, all of these things, and its spiritual importance. But for me it was not interesting how a person makes their music. What was interesting for me was that they make it. It didn't matter. I couldn't care less if somebody took some numbers and threw them in the air and they fell on the ground, or dice, or I Ching sticks. It didn't matter. What mattered to me was the sound. And if the sound represented the idea and the concept and had its own inner logic and coherence and hopefully poetry, then I was not interested in it. If not, not. It doesn't matter. I mean there could have been a hundred Scelsis making music like that in the world, but we don't know about their music. In other words: maybe it is not interesting that someone sat at home with a Revox on Thursday afternoon, hit the button and started playing.
But it is interesting that he found his place in between composing and presenting himself in public, which he probably wouldn't have done.
No. He wouldn't have done that.
And he wouldn't release his tapes, because they may have just been the things in between. Did you ever listen to him improvising?
I think yes, once at a birthday party, I think he improvised for about two minutes. One or two minutes. That's very quickly.
On the Ondiola?
No, no, on the piano. It was a birthday party were I actually dedicated a piece to him. It was on his 79th. It was a piece with 79 notes in it. And it was, how did it go. I have it here. Or maybe I don't, because I gave it to the Scelsi foundation. I think it was this. (spielt Klavier) So there 78 d-flats and then the 79th was (spielt ein D, lacht). That was it. But he loved it. He really loved it. I performed it on his piano and he really loved that piece. And then he later gave me one of his pieces dedicated to me, one of those pieces for electric guitar with feedback. ... I have it here. Afterwards I can go. I have a Scelsi folder here with some things.
Did you ever assist to any of the making of his works, like the Capricorno?
Yes, of course, I performed on the Capricorno, which was a very big pleasure for me, even though I was just hitting the gong on your chest, a gong you wear on your neck. And Michiko of course singing. We did this in a studio in Rome. And other Scelsi: I did help him, at one point I had some problem with tapes and wanted, I think it was, I don't remember the pieces, seven or eight instruments ...
... seven, eight instruments? There are quite a few. With or without voice?
With and without.
With is Pranam ...
... Pranam I & II. He send me with a guy named Luca somebody to Paris. He payed for our tickets. We had to go, I don't remember, it was very complicated, and had to do some, at that time: very fine editing at a studio with tape. At that time everything was magnetic tape. And also to clean the tapes. They were very noisy. So, he would pay me from time to time to do a little job like that. And then once he asked me to transcribe something which was not his music but probably would have ended in one of his pieces. Maybe it did. I don't know. And it was so hard for me to transcribe. It was Korean Pansori music. Do you know this music?
Listen to it. It sounds just like Scelsi. It has these two oboes, a kind of a trumpet, a violin, and they are all playing near unison (singt laut mikrotonale Schwankungen). But they are all playing together, following each other, slightly out of tune. It is very, very beautiful music. It is Korean court music. Which in Korean is called Pansori. P A N S O R I. And he gave me a recording. I didn't know what it was. Maybe I found out later. Maybe he didn't even tell me. He knew I needed money. He knew I was a poor composer. So he said: here, transcribe this. So I did. Very hard work, because everything was microtonal.
His transcriptors really had a big job, because in the contemporary music they were developing it from a classical point of view.
Well, the one thing that I am curious about is, the people who orchestrated his orchestral music. I don't know who did that.
That was Tosati.
That was Tosati. OK.
Who hated his music.
Of course he did. I met Tosati all the time, always at Scelsi's house, until he died. He was very well known but very snobbish. He didn't seem to be a nice fellow. Anyway. I didn't know that he was his main transcriber. But whatever sound he brought to that music, let's say something as big as Konx-Om-Pax or Uaxuctum or one of those pieces. It doesn't matter if he hated Scelsi's music. He understood something. He understood, and I think he executed, certainly Scelsi was not able from seeing the score to, say, an orchestral score, I don't know if he looked at those things or didn't look, I have no idea, I never saw very much of his music.
He didn't look very much at the orchestral things. Just little parts. He was concerned with the smaller pieces.
I saw him at rehearsals with people. And the musicians of that time, we are now speaking of the late 60s, the early 70s, the idea, when you go to a conservatory to play an oboe, a trumpet or a clarinet, is to play perfectly in the Western tradition. Perfectly in tune, perfectly in equal temperament.
And Scelsi wanted completely the opposite. For everyone to play slightly in between the pitches. Just like any normal musician would do in Istanbul or Beirut or Kazakhstan. And he new that. Because making those sounds on the scales, say on Arabic scales or Middle Eastern scales, Maqam and so on, is natural. The ear hears perfectly the proportions and the distance and Scelsi knew that musicians could do that.
How did he work with him? Who did
you see there? Like Francis?
Well Francis, I was very good friends with her of course, Francis certainly was one of the few people, not one of the few but few instrumental players who like Michiko had this admiration and excitement about Scelsi's music. And then in turn found that Scelsi could invent things for their techniques. She would go and play him things with multiple bows or these kind of things. And then he got inspired to think about this. And that wasn't alone. There were many players. Especially young Americans, French, some German players I think, but there was always a flow of people coming who like making a pilgrimage to see the famous guru (lacht). And of course when you go to see the guru you expect to receive some wisdom. But Scelsi didn't always provide wisdom. But I must say that he could easily provide a lot of inspiration. And again, without talking about music. Yes, he did, there were sessions where he would rehearse with people. I wasn't actually at many rehearsals with Scelsi were he would speak with the musicians and get them to practice that way or that way. That I didn't witness so much. But in the salon, the salotto, I was always meeting very interesting people. I think the conversation of course would be not between and Scelsi and yourself, but between other interesting people that you would meet there and then you would converse about music and situation and so on. But I must say that his salotto did bring a lot of people together. A lot. Some day you would meet John Cage, some day you would meet Morton Feldman, someday you would meet Heinz-Klaus Metzger, someday you would meet ... I don't know. Even Elliott Carter, who was my teacher and really didn't like Scelsi's music.
Whose teacher was Petrassi.
Oh, Elliott Carter was a student.
He was so old, that he had generations of students.
That is right. Carter studied with Nadia Boulanger and, that is right, with Petrassi. And also, very similar to Scelsi, Carter was an American aristocrat, I am sorry for going on this diversion, but an American aristocrat who never had to work outside of his music, didn't have to have a job, a wealthy man, and was also like Scelsi an international man who spoke languages, conversed with people from around the world. One of the few Americans, who actually feel comfortable in Europe. And maybe I am wandering to far a field but I am trying to bring into memory my focus of this genral atmosphere around Scelsi and the young musicians and the historians who would come there like Metzger and so forth. All of whom would, as when you meet, maybe not everyone thought he was an interesting and great man. That wasn't necessarily the point. The point was, you don't know in your lifetime too many people who have a lovely apartment overlooking the Roman Forum. And everybody went there to sit in this room. Under the Dali paintings of him and his wife.
And one would meet him at a certain hour?
Yes, from five at the afternoon, five or six, he would just call and say: Giacinto, can I come over? I want to talk to you about something. He's say: come over, stay for dinner. It was very easy going, very informal.
So we can switch over to the MEV.
OK. That is another world. (lacht)
Did Scelsi come to the concerts?
To an MEV concert surely he came. I am trying to think. Actually to the MEV concerts I am not sure that he came. But maybe he did. Maybe he did.
Because he went to all the concerts.
He went to a lot. The MEV is so, I say this, because it is a joke, the "sogenannte Studio", was in a garage in Trastevere. It was in an old factory that used to make bed springs for beds. And so the place was very dirty and full of metal parts.
What was the idea of getting together for improvisation? And why is it Musica Elettronica Viva.
Well the idea was, I can tell you the origins of this quite specifically. I believe it was 1965, late 65, 66. Frederic Rzewski was in residency in Buffalo, New York. And he was also simultaneously together with John Cage and David Tudor. At that time David Tudor and John Cage were experimenting a great deal with contact microphones. And they were putting them on all kinds of objects and they were amplifying the sounds, which basically are quite interesting. Put it on a surface of wood or metal, different kinds of strings and so on. And it was a fascinating opening. At the same time, at the same time, Richard Teitelbaum was a young student from Yale University who had a Fulbright grand and came to stuy here, I forget if he was studying with Petrassi or Luigi Nono in Venice. But anyway, be it was it may. Richards was already fixated by the fact that he had the first Moog synthesizer modules with him. So he had that, Frederic returned with this idea, we have to get contact microphones, and then Frederic in his, let's say, theoretical delirium, not delirium (lacht), no, he was not delirious, but in his theoretical enthusiasm, was writing articles on the possibility of doing music, and I don't know if you have read these articles by Frederic, early stuff, "Spacecraft" and that kind of thing. So these two elements: the fascination with the contact microphones on found objects, literally objet trouvé, and invented objects, and the presence of Richards very little Moog synthesizer, just a few modules, put us in a very advantageous position in 1966, 67. Together with a group of other young Americans, among who was a young man, then, who is no longer alive, Jon Phetteplace, who was a student of this very important electronic music composer from Florence, whose name I've forgotten.
From Florence an Electronic Composer?
His music is great. It is very static.
He is more known in the inner circle, isn't he?
That is right. I am not thinking of Giuseppe Chiari Actually I think he was from Pisa. Well anyway. John Phetteplace had been studying with this man and had this inspiration. And my electronic experience was practically nill. I was still writing a lot of music. We were all writing music. We were all composers. Still writing beautiful scores, making beautiful objects. But in any case, this group came together or sort of precipitated out of nothing. I don't think there was a reason that it actually happened. But we were all friends. And that includes and Italian, Hungarian-Italian man, Ivan Vandor, still alive, he lives in Rome. And he was a jazz saxophonist during the war but then became a very very good composer of new music. But he was looking for some liberational experiments for himself, and we were all looking for forms of liberation. The time was a period of liberation, 68, 67, 69 was a moment of global revolution of young people around the world. It was a mix of part of Rock'n'roll, of, interestingly enough, influences of Eastern philosophies, ecology, feminism, many tendencies suddenly just all came to the surface like out of nowhere. And a lot of people theorized that if we acted on all of these things, in some way, properly, we could transform the world. (lacht) So MEV was born out of this, in this milieu, physical milieu and psychological milieu.
Didn't you have some kind of manifesto in the beginning, saying: we are going to try and do this or that or did you just start making music?
There was a manifesto. There were several manifesti. Actually there is, again I have a folder here full of things, if you want to photocopy them, there is a lot of MEV writings, maybe some of them you don't have. And one or two of them are called manifesto.
It was a time of manifestos.
Absolutely. In spite of everything, also I neglected to mention one other contact that I personally had, a very important contact. In 1965, yes, 1965, with Cornelius Cardew, who was another extraordinary composer, extraordinary person, and a revolutionary, a true revolutionary. He really tried as best he could to change as Christian Wolff titled one of his pieces: to change the system. And tragic death unfortunately. But I was very attached to Cornelius. I even copied music for him. He was here on a study grant, studying with Petrassi. (lacht) So these were totally crazy things, but at the same time we would meet and drink and talk. And dream. Everybody would dream. Of the future. We were all very young. I was, I don't know, how old was I in 1968, 67? 27. No sorry, I was 25. 25 years old. A good age, 24, 25, a good age to put your roots down and take risks. Young people can take many risks. And we were all taking risks. In fact, so much so, that we were basically taking our own histories and throwing them out the window. We wanted to be done with a certain past, with a certain tradition, with a certain way of making music, with a certain bourgeois supremacy, with a certain boring materialistic music making for the elite. we wanted to be done with that. i mean these sound like revolutionary words, don't they?
Well, at a time like this ...
... it was a time. And so the MEV group was founded in 66 and by 67 Frederic Rzewski had numerous contacts to European radio stations because he was already recording so much with Boulez and Stockhausen and Nono and Berio and was playing all of these very hard pieces for all of these composers. So Frederic was very well placed for us to organize our first tour I believe in 1967, and that took us to Berlin, Akademie der Künste, to Nürnberg, the German radio, to Baden-Baden, in the Hans-Rosbaud-Studio, very famous places. And here we were these long-haired, mad-eyed, stoned-out hippies, you know, grungy clothes, but coming and suddenly making a music, that no-one had ever heard.
In the middle of the establishment like Akademie der Künste.
Exactly. In fact at the Akademie der Künste people attacked us. They jumped on the stage and tried to stop us. This wasn't the only time.
Was this the tour with Spacecraft?
Could you perhaps, even though there is a text by Frederic Rzewski with the CD, in few words describe the idea of Spacecraft?
Well "spacecraft" is a metaphor. I think the essential meaning of Spacecraft is ... well, first of all it can mean so many things, and it is such a beautiful concept, the craft of space, that is the art of space in a way. Craft and art are very closely assimilated. So spacecraft on the one hand meant the dislocation of sound in space, the diffusion of sound in space, the overcoming of the barrier between the Bühne and Publikum, and so making the space one and shared by everybody, musicians, music and public together.
How did you try that?
Well, by letting people walk, by making a circle, people could sit in the middle or lie down or be on the outside or the inside. And there is the metaphor of space which is the eternal space, the interior spiritual space. And so I think these piece for all that it had early on in of its most primitive representation of sound by just using glass and wood, let me see if I have some old MEV instruments here, no I don't, maybe I can find something later, but anyway ...
There was "glass played which was ...
... the shape of a piano." The outline of a piano.
It was amazing. It was really beautiful. But if you played it with something like this ... let's see if I can do it ... I can't do it with the plastic ... I have to get something different .... oh, it's this double glass, it is not vibrating properly ... (spielt Glass) You get these horrible screaking scratches, we were mixing this with synthesizers. At this time there was a man named Allen Bryant, who built his own synthesizer.
Which was a kind of lo-fi instrument?
Very lo-fi, but beautiful and beautiful to look at. It looked like a tower with wires coming out, it looked like a space machine, that you have seen from very cheap science-fiction movies. So we were using very simple and primitive electronics and simple and primitive natural sound sources, like, as I said, metal, glass, wood, and then we would have at the same time, a cello, that was Jon Phetteplace, as long as he played with us, which was not long, and then I brought a broken trumpet that was not working properly and other percussion instruments. So the music was on the one hand a rejection of the traditional instrumentarium of Western music and at the same time a rediscovery of the art of making sound with anything, with any object whatsoever. And it is this that really inspired all of us. And it is this, that everyone began working, building their own little instrument so that they would have a personalized sound and they would get certain sounds. And Frederic had springs, and he would take these springs, you know, that you use for doors and things like that, and amplified those. And that was really beautiful.
And there was also Richard Teitelbaum using brain waves.
Yes. Well, that was a special piece of his that used the feedback of the alpha wave brain activity.
Like the Alvin Lucier piece.
Exactly, but this was before Lucier actually. And which would then trigger electronic oscillators. So if the amplitude or the frequency came to a certain point we would here the result in some kind of ... (imitiert elektronisches Wabern) ... whatever. I mean it was all very, very primitive and simple. Those beginning moments in live electronics were very important moments because they were moments of genuine discovery. Today, for example, I can sound like an old man, I can say, well anybody can do this stuff. You go and buy some new music programs on your computer and you can do anything. You can do anything. But this was still a time of essentially and musically speaking like walking on the moon. Nobody knew anything. Where they were going, what they were doing, and they knew that the whole activity, that is the being inside this improvisational activity with these simplified instruments was in some way bringing us in contact with the essence of music.
Was it important that it was also with means of a new technique, working with electronics, like Stockhausen said that with the means of electronics he would reach spirits from outer space which you wouldn't reach with a violin maybe?
Well honestly, I don't believe that for any minute. I don't believe that any sound source is more interesting than any other. They are all the same to me. It is how a creative person uses a sound source in his or her creative act that makes that sound come to life. And that can then bring you to new destinations that you have never been to. Music is a voyage. Music is a trip. Music is this endless river, we don't know where it is going. But those kind of rhetorical and typical statements of that time were coming from one idea. And the idea was very much an European idea to me. Because there is something in the study of music in Europe which is closely allied and connected to the whole concept of logic and reason. And even though there is a long history of opposite movements, such as Dadaism, Futurism, political movements in the arts which tried to break down reason and logic, a statement like that of Stockhausen is typical for that mentality. Because it was thinking the technology must be somehow the product of the human mind that is so advanced and therefore can be maybe the only way that we can exactly, as they say "appunto" in Italian, get on the train to the next planet. To the next space. And as I said earlier. I don't buy that. I think the dropping of this spoon (lässt Löffel fallen) is as powerful, if done well in the right way, at the right moment, in a piece of music, as any machinery in electronics. And my own music is always based on the use of natural sounds, but always electronics all over the place, synthesizers. I don't have any here now. So it is all relative. It is all relative. And I think the message and the meaning of the work of Musica Elettronica Viva is coming from young active interested composers such as Rzewski and myself and Teitelbaum and others, we weren't just coming out of the school for bad children. We actually had diplomas and degrees with the finest teachers in the world. And even though we were very young we had a lot of experience. We understood that that experience was very important to us. Just the other day I was talking to Frederic Rzewski about Schumann's Dichterliebe and we have these conversations about Schumann's counterpoint and harmony just as we might about dropping a spoon on the floor. And to us it is the same material. It is the same energies. It is the same human seeking of transformation and the transformational capacity of music. Music can transform.
And that was basically live performed music. You never aimed to be a studio for electronic music.
Oh no. No no no. I mean we called ourselves like a studio but it didn't have any of the pretenses or the money or the finances or even the look, we didn't even have a name on the door. It was a hell. it was dirty and completely the opposite of anything ... it was a garage. It was an industrial space.
Was it this?
No. This is close. But this is my loft apartment in Via della Rosa.
Yeah, lovely. I mean it is beautiful. I love that place. It is right near Piazza Navona.
Did you, before you were doing the pieces like Spacecraft, did you do decisions what you would do or what was the starting point?
The idea at that time was to initiate an improvisation without a score, without a time limit, without any kind of authority, no conductor, no rules, basically.
And a kind of program?
Well a program
emerged in the music of those people making it. That it did. We would
normally start quietly and build up to something. And then
[Ende der Minidisc 1]
I think we were talking about having concepts for improvising or not having concepts.
Yes. The late 60s period was characterized by two forms of liberational structures. One was total anarchism, that is allowing everyone or anyone within the improvising context to express themselves within the limits of good behavior, that is without harming anyone or themselves. Because these events could become destructive violent, human beings tend naturally towards states of unpredictable behavior when given unusual amount of freedom. They have never experienced this kind of thing before. I know and MEV knows this very well because we created this piece called Sound Pool, where we invited to come and cast a sound into the pool with us. Well this was a very nice and poetic idea. But the reality was very often, that things got crazy and people started breaking furniture and chairs and tables, beginning to liberate the materials of the concert hall or the places we were playing in. So is it were, it was part of this 68 time to imagine a kind of musical structure that had absolutely no rules, no concept, well concept yes, but no controlling, authoritarian limits. So it is like driving in Germany where there is no speed limit. You just drive as fast as you want. If you kill yourself, you kill yourself all the better, because you are driving faster. (lacht) But that's the risk you take. OK. So the other side to this picture was a vast amount of developing materials and ideas and concepts coming from both within MEV and in similar groups like AMM of Cornelius, Scratch Orchestra, of Larry Austin's improvisation group in the United States, all of these were coming out the same period, the same needs to push the possibilities to the limits and to discover those ways of making new music truly new by making it in real-time. So this movement was already becoming a world movement. Not everywhere, but there was certainly simultaneous beginnings. Nuova Consonanza also happened to be in Rome and so on.
What did distinguish you from Nuova Consonanza?
I just want to finish what I was going to say, because I think it is important. The important thing about this development, and especially in the English area around Cornelius Cardew, is that people were creating, were asked to create, even if they weren't musicians, pieces, compositions. They could be text compositions, they could instructions, they could be instructions, they could be drawings, they could be symbols. They could be anything. And so this imagination, this process of expanding the musical vocabulary at this moment, but not only the vocabulary, but the space in which this vocabulary would take place. Someone said, yes, I want to make music in the trees, put people in the trees, and have them sing or play trumpet or violins, actually a piece I have been wanting to do for a long time, people have done this now, but anyway, these kind of things, exploring real space, exploring real spacial ideas, along with the collection of a vast amount of conceptual music to be made mostly via a set of instructions, so these were really scores. And the Scratch Orchestra collections and other collections coming about, plus MEV were itself making pieces, either for ourselves or within our group, we experimented with this too, so as composers we were still composing. We had no intention to stop composing. But as a collective, as a collective group, as a collective behavior, as a way of relating to the rest of the musical world our intention was to avoid composition, avoid instructions, avoid Dirigenten, avoid anything that would remind you of older ways of music making.
When you were touring like in 67 ...
... with Spacecraft ...
... with Spacecraft, would the improvisations be similar or where they completely different.
Well of course. This is a very good question. A very good question. And I could sit down with you and it would be interesting for me to do this, not today or tomorrow, I have many recordings from that period, not all good, but you listen, let's say we played on Thursday somewhere, then on Friday and then the next day on Saturday or Sunday or something. And yes it is the same people, it is the same instruments pretty much, sometimes we would find a new instrument, and yes the spaces were pretty much the same. It was either a recording studio in Baden-Baden like the Hans-Rosbaud-Studio or it was club scene in Düsseldorf somewhere, which incidentally we played in a club in Düsseldorf and Stockhausen came with all of his people and just after he heard our performance he said that he had invented improvisation. This is true. We know this. Karl-Heinz is a dear and respected, I have a great admiration for this man. I don't have any problem, that he is hearing something that is close to his imagination and then goes and does it. Differently, because he was controlling people with his mixer, which is pretty stupid, authoritarian. This is old music like Vivaldi, as far as I am concerned.
I worked with him two times, singing in a choir in two of his operas. And the working concept, the way he works with people is authoritarian.
Terrible. The first day I had to decide if I stay if I want to have the Stockhausen experience or if I leave immediately.
It is crazy. He makes people cry. He makes people faint.
He does. If one is weak and gets himself into a corner.
So he has his own problems. But he is a great composer. I admire even the late works. And his late electronic music is even very, very beautiful. So I do not engage in Stockhausen bashing as they say. No, where must German composers do, because they have had it up to here with Stockhausen. And as a father figure he no longer seems to be a good one. But he is still a great composer.
We were talking about the differences of the performances from one night to another.
The performances are basically determined in the end by the individual's state of mind, by the individual's well being or not, and the general vibration in the space or with the producers making the concert. So if things are going well we can all feel inspired and reach some more magical moments. If not, things might just sound ordinary and deja-vu. I can say this though, from my memory, it is very hard to reconstruct 40 years ago, but my general feeling was it was very, very exciting to perform on tour. Not every night but every few nights. And it was very exciting because the playing of Spacecraft at that time for us, and I think my colleagues will agree without my being the only spokesman, I think it was like reinventing music each night. What happened the nights before or the times before didn't matter. Very much the way a great artist who is playing, let's say, the Beethoven violin sonatas, will get up on tour, will have to play in San Francisco, Tokyo, Berlin, every time they play it is the same music, but every time you play that music it is another music. It is another experience. And that is what we were actually aware of, and especially aware because there was no Partitur. The Partitur was collective bonds which linked us and made us agree as a social group to go do this and to do this for money, for pay. But the excitement of not having to literally repeat every night, let's say like a rock group has to repeat exactly, literally, perfectly their score and notes every night, this was the maximum freedom from that. This was the absolute, it was playing the same piece but with different music every night.
But the piece you developed during your playings before?
Well, we practiced, we had long sessions here in Rome, we had sessions where we would open the studio for the night and invite guests to come, just for contributions, they could for a pizza after the show, and we would play for an hour, an hour and a half, and people would come and it was really fantastic. But these were practice sessions. We were practicing in public, in the very beginning with the group. And then there were people who wanted to come and sit in with us, because, I mean we were not so fixed an rigid. And already by 1968, 69 we were inviting some young people to perform with us who weren't even musicians.
People who were interested?
You inspired hippies who thought that they could contribute to this music. And we allowed that to happen. We opened the doors. And then we further opened the doors, as I said, in the Sound Pools, to the entire public.
Where did you play in Rome?
Where did we play in Rome? Not far from Scelsi's house actually. It is just on the other side of the Tiber. Well, if you want to visit the place, you can actually visit it. It is down on artist's studio, and there are friends of mine who have taken the place, who have rented it. The street is named Via Peretti. I think it is 26, 27.
That was your room? It was not a bar or a club?
No. It was ours. We rented it. It was a commercial space. A laboratorio.
So the place you played was the same place you practiced?
What about the later development. You made pieces which seemed to be connected, like Unified Patchwork and Unified Patchwork Theory years, no decades from each other?
I mean our association by 1971 began to extend to first of all Steve Lacy had a very important contribution. He was one of the original extra members who entered the group by association. And being already a renowned jazz saxophonist, he himself was looking for an extended, not techniques, but avenues for research in his own imagination. And with the MEV he really found that. And mind you, the association of MEV with the entire free jazz movement, and that includes everything from the European to the American, was immediately put into focus. In the early 70s we did a tour in the US with Anthony Braxton and Maryanne Amacher, who does incredible electronic music. So we toured with the two of them on a very rainy and wet winter into the middle of the United States. And that was a very beautiful experience. And years later many members of the free jazz movement would move in and out for singe concerts with us or near us. So our association with other improvised music, but improvised music coming from the so-called free jazz area, which was very important then, because it also represented, both in Europe under Schlippenbach, under Evan Parker and, who are some of the German ...
... Brötzmann ...
yeah, Brötzmann especially, it represented another form of liberation, different from the liberation of Afro-Americans. But the meaning of that music at the time had a tremendous political significance. And so our political affiliations and ideas were naturally associated with the same kinds of political directions, especially of the Afro-American black jazz people, but the jazz people weren't even playing jazz anymore, they were just playing free music. And the music of that period, of someone like Anthony Braxton for example or George Lewis or, I can't think of everybody's name now, but these people were extraordinary. Because essentially what they were doing was making spontaneous music. They weren't playing jazz anymore. They put that behind. As a historical phenomenon. And they were making a liberated form of jazz, of jazz! of music! which had incredible power, incredible energy, but similar to the power and energy that the MEV music had.
So do you remember how the projects were connected, like Unified Patchwork and Unified Patchwork Theory over the years? One was in 77 ...
Well, these were occasional titles we would give a piece. But they were both invented by myself. I invented them. And they had no particular significance, except that they sounded nice, at the time.
But why did you choose titles that were related to each other. One was with Steve Lacy in 1990. And the other one also?
It was with Steve Lacy probably. Oh yeah, for sure. That was recorded by an Italian company here.
How did your music change during the years? Did you have different concepts?
No, the MEV music.
The MEV music didn't exist. I mean we weren't a group anymore after 1970. When we, actually 71, when we toured with Braxton. That was the last group, feeling of being a group, and then after that we would be approached by any numbers of producers to do concerts in Europe or the States or anywhere. And we would do them just for the fun of playing. But the MEV as such had already outgrown its brief and intense history from 65 to 71 or something. And we, too, had all gone on different careers, our own careers as composers and performers. Frederic was having tremendous success, and I was starting to get quite significant recognition and commissions. Again, commissions for doing unusual projects like Merry time rights??, where I asked people to perform with me or with my tapes, actually.
What about the later concerts then?
Well, the thing is we allowed the group to go on. What we always discussed is, you can look at all over our writings and letters over the years and inevitably every year Frederic or somebody would ask, is there such a thing as MEV? No-one could answer that question. We had a legacy, and much more than the Rolling Stones or The Beatles, even though they performed intensely around the same period. But became multi millionaires where we remained poor and remained politically active and artistically active, trying to transform music in many different ways with many different kinds of content. So this period of MEV, the classic historical period of Rome and a brief period in the United States for one tour was essentially the history of MEV. In Boston, that was it. After that we would play one or two concerts a year up to 2007 when we performed at the most high point of American music, which is Tanglewood concerts in the United States, founded by Aaron Copland. I think Aaron Copland would have liked MEV music but most of the people there didn't like it. Anyway, a long story short is: MEV existed in that period, and really existed. Was on the scene. Produced LPs. And concerts all the time. It had an immediate place in history right from the start. After that it is like a club of increasingly aging men get together once in a while (lacht), always for money. We never did it without being paid for it. So it wasn't a hobby, it was a business, a small business. But we never solicited any more tours or we never solicited records, and now we are faced with having to, how do you say, put our legacy in order, and our old tapes, very much like Scelsi, and we are trying to put out a box set of 4 CDs which will be basically an overview of MEV from 1966 to 2007. If not 2007 then certainly 2002 which was the last concert we played with Steve Lacy in Ferrare. It was a wonderful concert. And so you can't say, I mean I am just being a little bit facetious here, playing with words, as I like to do, but the truth is MEV ceased to exist as a major working unit where everybody lived together and practiced together and so on. An in the succeeding years we existed quite well and always responded to the request to perform and to be on the scene in different and very creative ways. But the music, I think, changed only as we ourselves grew as individual performers and composers. And both Richard and I were the most developed electronically and we would be using different synthesizers and then different computers, and we would be doing things like this. So we did a evolve in a strange way. Frederic always stuck to his piano and a few toy instruments at the last concerts, but sometimes would do some Dadaistic performances like lying down under the piano as if he were in a garage, an automotive garage, working on an automobile, and performing on the piano from under the piano. You know, these are old Dadaistic performance art kinds of things. And from time to time this would come out of our, how do you say, our suitcase of history. We all carry our suitcase of history.
But also you changed. My impression, when I listened to it, was that the early improvisations were not only wild but also kind of aggressive, almost destructive, to crack things to get further and in the later ones, this may be a prejudice ...
... no, I think your observation is correct. But the early improvisations are informed as much about political revolution as musical revolution. Whether in fact we were ever revolutionaries, that would be ... I mean I can't call myself a revolutionary. I am just a, I don't know what I am, I am just a post dadaist myself. But I am. I mean, I play with junk. I don't have any junk here today, but I was seeing it somewhere the other day. But anyway, I can show you my suitcase full of junk. And these things, this music, acquiring this knowledge, playing spontaneous music is not only about playing the piano or the violin. It is about playing space and this is where Spacecraft comes in. It is about playing anything in the space from moving a chair, you know, just like that (schiebt Stuhl), you know things like that would suddenly, they might have been in the times of Cabaret Voltaire, in the Dada period, revolutionary, that someone is sitting and (schiebt Stuhl), this chair doesn't play well, for the same reason the glass didn't go well, it has little things on it, but you know what I mean. Making music with anything, anywhere, anytime, those are the things that MEV really believed in. And those principals, well, they are not for everybody, and not everybody knows them or things they are important, but the few who do, those improvisers who know, can walk into a space with nothing, just their own body, and make music, just by, you know (macht Geräusch), just some stupid gesture can become potentially a convincing and perhaps even interesting performance. And this, to me, is, again, as I dropped the spoon, moving my slipper on the floor, if I don't have anything else and that is the only sound I can make, I will use that. I will use it. So these ideas of utter simplicity, perhaps even stupidity, perhaps even madness, perhaps even foolishness, had a very, very important part in the MEV music. And it wasn't because of any theoretical ideas. It was because we understood that, with all our respect and love for the great European music tradition, because it is one of the great music traditions of all people and all time, we know that, but this moment enabled us, this moment of urgent, how do you say, what is the right word, urgent exit. I am saying we had to get out from under the heavy weight of the great big traditions, in which we were completely trained and completely knowledgable. But this moment, for us anyway, and this is a bit different than the free jazz people, because we were coming from a white European tradition. Free jazz was coming from Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong, the great black tradition, fabulous music, fabulous music. Which itself was interested in the European tradition. When I first met Stockhausen, not Stockhausen, when I first met Braxton, it was interesting, he was this crazy guy with big afro hair out to here, it was a festival in Belgium. In 1969 or something like that. It was in the snow. It was snowing out. In a big tent. And everyone in the tent, there were thousands of kids grooving on very weird music. And Braxton came up and said, we didn't know him before, "I am looking for Rzewski. I have got to meet Rzewski." And so Rzewski was there and said "I am Rzewski" and, of course, they immediately became good friends. But his real goal was to meet Stockhausen. He said "I have to meet Stockhausen. Where is Stockhausen." Nobody knew where Stockhausen was. I got to meet that man. He knows. He knows about certain things. I have to meet him. So it was really interesting, a black American, ex-jazz musician, coming and wanting to meet the master of European avantgardism. I find that brillant, very natural, very beautiful. All I am saying in all of this is, that the crossing and intercrossing of tradition of lines and ideas coming from Europe, coming from Afro-American jazz, coming from even folk musics, coming from, let's say, the magical music of Harry Partch and tuning of central Asia and old Greek scales and what all. We don't know anything about that music. This is all intellectual invention. But through the intellectual invention and all of these crazy things someone with talent and intuition and commitment will discover something remarkable. Just like Partch did, like Conlon Nancarrow, like John Cage. Cage discovered everything – I am just going off on my own now, I am just improvising – no, but Cage left, how do you say, terra bruciata ...
There is a word for
it. Tabula rasa. Because this man was such an inventor that nothing
stopped him. He did everything. By the time of the 1950s he had done
every imaginable thing, amplifying trees and leaves and using spaces
and using chance operations and radio and phonographs and using
fragments of known music. Everything. He didn't leave us almost any
space. But all of his work was a fantastic inspiration to do it not
like Cage, but it is like when someone invents, let's say, the radio.
There is not one radio. There is the radio how you make radio and so
on. So Cage invented or reinvented music in the 1950s. There is no
question about that. He really did things that were revolutionary.
And based on a very conscious principle of cosmology. Well, you know,
how do you deal with that. I just want to go and throw myself on a
keyboard (wirft sich auf die Klaviertastatur). And just see what
happens. But Cage, he couldn't do that. He could not act
spontaneously. He had to structure every moment, every detail of
these actions. So he hated improvisation. Even though he made the
greatest improvised music. (lacht) It's true. This is true. Poor
John. I love John. If he had heard that. Anyway, coming back, I don't
know where I left off, I am just sort of going freely, doing a free improvisation myself, reflecting on the relationships,
which have come, which have become not only part of my music and the
music of MEV, again what I was talking about basically, the history
of MEV after 1970 to the present, and I was saying that each of us
has gone on personal paths remaining always composer, remaining
always true to, essentially, the European tradition, the American
tradition and so on, but always remaining true as well to
experimentalism, as an infinite source of inspiration. And this is
what was great about Cage. He was the experimentalist. And those of
us who knew him and worked with him were very lucky in our life time.
But the MEV music of our time, well, let me give you an example. I
spoke about this concert in Tanglewood on August 2nd 2007 in this
most marvelous cathedral. It is this wooden building on the campus
there, at Tangelwood, it is called the Seiji Ozawa Hall. It is all
wood. And the back wall opens up like a garage, it is very high, so
it really looks like a cathedral, beautiful sound in it because there
is wooden walls, a wooden roof, wooden floor, everything, it is all
wood. It is one of the best sounding halls I have ever performed, and
MEV was in complete quandary. Quandary means we didn't know what we
were going to do. And we were trying to figure something out. To face
this very important concert and this audience and so on. And what
happened. We decided after a couple of proposals, my proposal is
always: let's play, just let's get up and play, and Frederic and
Richard had another idea. They wanted to play as quietly as possible.
Something the audience would never expect us to do because we were
always thought to be loud and in you face and aggressive. And so we
did. We played as quietly as possible for 45 minutes. It was
beautiful, it was truly beautiful. If you like I can give you a copy
of that performance. Because it is the most recent performance. I
think I have those two eggs ...