Stephen Albert, shut down poet

In 1992, one of America’s most promising young composers was tragically killed in an automobile accident. I didn’t know much about Stephan Albert before I caught his “To Wake the Dead” on Art of the States. I listened to this splendid song cycle with lyrics pulled from Joyce’s Finnegans Wake: a revelation. Albert was an immense talented artist. His style is demonstrably influenced by Stravinsky, Ives and also Sibelius. Albert’s reverence for musical rhythm of Joyce’s language led him to create some of the most outstanding masterpieces of the end of the 20th century, such as his First Symphony “RiverRun“, which excited Rostropovich at the premiere. On my YT channel I uploaded the recording by the Russian Philharmonic Orchestra, under Paul Polivnick. “RiverRun” is the very first word of the first sentence of Finnegans Wake. The work was not meant to be programmatic itself, but the lusty and moody ambience evoked seems to describe Ireland’s Liffey River stream which Joyce held so dear. According to me, one of the most interesting thing of this work is definetely the orchestration of such plush harmonies. This music is poles apart 80’s New Complexity. I don’t like to label it as New Semplicty or Neo-Romanticism or Post-modern. This music is the elusive human pursuit of the Sublimity. It doesn’t need any label.


About epogdous

I'm an italian student of Pharmaceutical Biotechnology in Sapienza University of Rome. Dispite my scientific interests (which range from structural biology to immunology, etc.) I cultivate a deep passion for classical music and in general for musicology. As a teen I studied the flute but basically I'm a self-taught pianist and composer. I'm well-acquainted with the music of 1850-1950 era. I generally don't like to say I have preferences for some composer in particular but I can't deny that Ralph Vaughan Williams and Charles Ives hold a great fascination to me. I think that the common message of their music is the transcendentalist precept "low living, high thinking".
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1 Response to Stephen Albert, shut down poet

  1. Shaun Rigney says:

    Hello epogdous. The RiverRun Symphony was extremely important to me while I was composing my first guitar concerto (Lapis Lazuli 1985-1990). I was a music student in the late 1970s and early 80s. I had already dismissed serialism as an error and although I was interested in electronica, I found much electronic music lacking in structural coherence. My own music bifurcated into two distinct lineages: electronica with clear structures and narrative elements, and instrumental music rooted firmly in various vernaculars. Lapis Lazuli was concerned with the genealogy of the guitar and its music, and was also an unabashed love letter to the instrument. I was heavily influenced by Joaquin Rodrigo, who delighted in referring to the real and imagined music of a vanished Spain. Although I was writing in a distant, non Hispanic land (Australia), I was unconcerned by cultural ‘correctness’ or national idendity: I was interested only in music. Here is an excerpt from Lapis Lazuli, the “Bach” movement:

    Thanks for posting the Albert, I would love to get hold of the CD if it is still available! Thanks again.

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