No octaves. Ever.

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But living in Rome for a year in the 70s changed me forever. Giacinto Scelsi (“the Charles Ives of Italy’) was there back then (I used his Steinway piano to compose there). He would sit at his dual Ondolias in his apartment overlooking the Palatine Hill, recording primordial drones and spacey improvisations onto reel-to-reel tapes; Fredric Rzweski lived here, too — his variations on The People United worker song mixed Lizstian virtuosity with leftist political edginess, and made a big splash everywhere. Back then I used to trek up to see the gentle Goffredo Petrassi in his elegant apartment for lessons and lunch. I sat with Luciano Berio in Lukas Foss’ studio at the Villa Aurelia, as he lamented, “life is too short to have to sit through the mindless repetitions of those minimalists.”

more from Robert Beaser at The Opinionater here.

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