Persephone, a.k.a. TSE, "premiered" in Philadelphia over the weekend. The incidental music/sound installation for Robert Wilson's theater-piece finally received its concert premiere by the Relache ensemble, the group who made the recording for the sound-installation. I say "premiere" because I'm not sure the piece was ever intended to be played in concert…but hey, I hope people liked it.
On Saturday night I went to see Alice and Wonderland with a fun score by Tim Burton's regular collaborator Danny Elfman. Proman pointed out an Elfman interview where he says Alice's theme is a PG homage. Interesting. I'm happy he's giving credit but I don't really hear the connection this time around (maybe someone out there does?). It's not as obvious as the Elfman score to Errol Morris' last film Standard Operating Procedure for which no one went on record as saying Glass had anything to do with influencing the sound of the film's score. Curious.
This Elfman interview also makes me feel sad. For years I have defended film music. It's discouraging to hear a prominent composer say that he's "doing" Philip Glass' style music. I think this sort of exchange of ideas and styles is much more common in popular music and Hollywood (as it used to be 100 plus years ago in classical), but I also wonder where the compositional conviction is? as in, "I write my music."
I'm not saying that anyone lives in a vacuum of artistic purity, but I can't recall Glass ever saying "I'm doing Wagner here." Actually my biggest beef is with composers who don't do what Elfman is doing…For example, James Horner's score for Avatar is built around a main theme for the blue people which has already been heard in "his" score for Glory which in fact finds itself originally in Prokofiev's Ivan the Terrible. Or for that matter in Adams' autobiography he pays minimal lip-service to how Nixon in China owes "a little" to Satyagraha. Yeah, I agree, as in everything. So I guess what I'm saying is that outright plagiarism is worse, but credited-heavily influence isn't all that much better.