Jay Sydeman

Back to: News
July 31, 2007
Follow News

Beethoven and me: 'Oecumenicus' revisited


Whereas Beethoven's music is characterized by early, middle and late periods, mine has five, with all music I wrote prior to my third period characterized as BO - "Before Oecumenicus."

It's 1967 and I've just lugged "Oecumenicus," unfinished, to Erich Leinsdorf (conductor of the Boston Symphony), who commissioned it.

Leinsdorf: "You know, you're like Beethoven. He, too, has to write a lot of music for the jewels to emerge. So just finish the piece and move on."

(A few months later)

Sydeman: "It's done - the summation of all my musical ideas rolled up into this large "Concerto for Orchestra," 45 minutes and 4,674 notes in all (more or less)."

Leinsdorf: "The only way I can get it into the program is to premiere just the last section after Isaac Stern plays."

Sydeman (utterly crushed): "How do you think Beethoven would have felt if only the last movement of his ninth symphony had been played? (Leinsdorf is sympathetic but unmoved.)

(40 years later)

Sydeman: I just finished a studio recording of "Oecumenicus," the big orchestra piece I did for Leinsdorf in '67. I want to do a CD release event.

Fellow composer Mark Vance: So let's do a return to '67 evening that includes the painters, poets, socio-political events of the time, unleash Mikail Graham's massive computer skills to recreate an era and let "Oecumenicus" rip.

A brilliant idea that is coming to fruition on Friday, Aug. 31, when I'll present "Oecumenicus" for those hardy souls who seek sonic adventure. Drink a glass of wine while taking this adventure in the Besemer Concert Hall, 11417 Red Dog Road, Nevada City. It starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for $20 adult and $5 student may be purchased at the door, but please call (530) 478-0983 to reserve your seat.

ooo

Jay Sydeman, a resident of Nevada City since 1988, has had his music described by the New York Times as "refreshing, fascinating, astringent, quite dazzling."


Stories you may be interested in

The Union Updated Aug 30, 2007 03:50AM Published Jul 31, 2007 03:00AM Copyright 2007 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.