this piece has been making the rounds lately; some of my friends have been variously angered, puzzled, and amused by it. it took me a while to really apprehend but I think it's wonderful.
"Marche fatale", a march of death. Lachenmann writes about avoiding banality as an artist's perennial struggle – where does one go when one's entire career-worth of music is now accepted as common currency, fodder for composition students in ivory towers? at the twilight of a career or a life, where now we can hear a new Lachenmann piece and "get what we expect"? is that not banal too?
Lachenmann writes too, in the program note, about a recourse to "utility music"; music written for use. and as we see, in quotations and in the glib face of this march, anything can be co-opted for "use", can be rendered banal by a culture that has learned to exploit it or capitalize upon it. "Marche fatale", a march of death – even Wagner's transcendent "Tristan und Isolde" is not safe from trivialization; music has a half-life just as people have lives, that must grow old, possibly irrelevant. "Marche fatale" has a cheeky surface but I think there is a real wistfulness, not in some kind of longing for the past, but for an exhausted present. I'm thankful that it's also a lot of fun.