Towards a Concerto of Deliverance
First posted on
Starship Forum in
June, Nov 2002.
MP - 22 Jun 2002
Central to the theme of Deliverance is the expression, "the best within us", found explicitly or implicitly throughout Rand's works. The phrase is used like a motto by many objectivists.
"The best within us" is that which is the "Deliverance", that which delivers and that which is
delivered: our will and genius to create the values for our lives, that from which comes the
"tension of purpose", that with which we release ourselves from suffering -- that with which we
ascend to the sunlit world of laughter, beauty, and joy.
MP - 24 Jun 2002
As human beings, we can be humble in the face of our fallibility: in view of our limited
context of knowledge at a given time, and our mistakes when we are ignorant of relevant facts.
We also are humbled by the boundlessness of that which is yet to be known and done, by the
marvels of that which others can create. But we can also be proud of what we have achieved by
our own will and exertion, achieved despite fear and ignorance, overcoming adversity and
anguish, even just risking comfort and security to seek out new values and solutions. For this we
can justly feel proud. Authentic and earned pride is our guard against both conceit and timidity --
and is a rich source of sincere generosity, kindness, and compassion for that which is "the best
within" all human beings.
MP - 25 Jun 2002
I still like your [...] idea for the concerto, too. It will definitely help evoke the motifs of "tension of purpose" and "freedom of release". I wonder how you will convey the introspective moods that are in the "faint echoes" from the past.
How much confinement within the classical concerto form do you expect to be? If it's
appropriate for you to use text or lyrics and if it can be made to flow with the music (or even if
it's used as an interlude), would not that role supersede any preset form? ("Form follows
function".) As a listener, I would anticipate the main concerto-esque trait to be: a dramatic
engagement between the one and the many, self and other, thesis and antithesis -- aspiring and
striving for synthesis and integration -- achieving a climax, a transcendence, an apotheosis, that
is the triumph and reward. Traditional notions of a concerto may be expected by some listeners,
but, while you are coming from some tradition, you are also ascending that tradition. After all,
this is the 21st Century, and your concerto will bring in the future.
JMC - 25 Jun 2002
Thanks very much for your encouragement about the evolving concerto form. And your take
on the "faint echoes". Most helpful.
JMC - 26 Jun 2002
The Yinjia account with the documentation of responses to it are fascinating. I get the sense that there were other responses as well which you didn't include. It's very interesting to get a glimpse of the mysterious man who has become patron, instigator and producer, co-producer of Concerto Of Deliverance. Even before the commission, the relationship gave me a great deal to wonder at.
The query of Mr. W[...] reinforces the question you & I have been kicking around. Clearly he jumped to the conclusion that a concerto has particular characteristics: we are most familiar with concerti that feature a solo instrument, often piano, especially in the 19th century, with symphony orchestra (of the type developed since Mozart/Beethoven). I heard the last portion today of one of the violin concerti by Alfred Schnittke in this traditional mould. Wow! But the form has been bent to meet particular needs many times. Before Mozart it was not as clearly delineated: Concerto Grosso was groups of instruments alternating variously with an orchestral ensemble, as is Bartok's Concerto For orchestra. A short definition from Grove's is at http://w3.rz-berlin.mpg.de/cmp/g_concerto.html.
I guess the point is that we need to clarify the nature & intent of the piece. No doubt this has already crossed your mind as you issue 'press releases' (posts) in the forum and elsewhere. I don't have a succinct way of categorizing it yet. We know that it will feature electronic music synthesizer and that the title is inspired by a passage from Atlas Shrugged. It could include a number of as yet undetermined elements. Maybe you have a suggestion for a descriptive one liner. Personally, I can barely think of it, because I'm so overwhelmed just trying to get comfortable with the idea.
Anyway, let me know what comes to mind.
JMC - 26 Jun 2002
Forgive me for adding this note to the last email. When I reviewed in my mind what I'd said,
I realized that a mechanical description of format does no justice to the elevated spirit of the
endeavor. As you've mentioned more than once, it is above all a message of strength and hope,
the feeling of sunlight and transcendence that must define the piece. Somehow can we a find a
way to convey this intent when informing others of the project?
MP - 27 Jun 2002
Yes, the Yinjia story evoked (and provoked) more reactions than what I documented to you. The affair had multiple levels of significance, but the specific context within which I relayed it to you was the way the story is also a depiction of Yinjia's deliverance (though a still incomplete deliverance.)
I read the page [Grove's description of concerti [at http://w3.rz-berlin.mpg.de/cmp/g_concerto.html], and still it doesn't make me doubt that what you're doing suits the form of a concerto. Your composition will likely have traits of a rhapsody, and it'll certainly be symphonic, and also dance-like, but a concerto (as we've been describing it the past weeks) it definitely will be: that's an axiom of the composition.
Traditionally, the concerto structure has been found to be so varied (in purpose, complexity, instrumentation, orchestration, duration, etc., and even in the number of movements) that the only obvious, undisputed common characteristic is that it was a traditional (i.e., pre-20th C.) form. Addinsell's Warsaw Concerto is a single movement of only about 10 minutes. Shostakovich's 1st Violin Concerto has 4 movements. Dvorak's Cello Concerto has been referred to as his 10th Symphony by some musicologists. Your concerto will be different, yet again.
So there isn't a single concerto mould that we need worry about being expected to fit into. We don't even need to worry about your not solely using traditional instrumentation and orchestration. You are writing music, not for the 19th, but for the 21th Century.
If you keep focus on that single Rand Deliverance passage, while creating your own musical expression of it, unbounded by any mere tradition or convention, then everything will integratively fall into place, and the rest will not really matter.
My initial reason (going back decades) for wanting to it to be a concerto -- rather than a rhapsody, or a symphony, or a suite, or any of the classical structures -- is this simple reason: I want to hear in music what I read in Rand's theme of Concerto of Deliverance. I have searched throughout much of the history of music, and none I've heard quite does it. Whether or not others have their own conceptions of, or candidates from the past for, the "Concerto of Deliverance", that is not of primary relevance. For me, only you could do it, because, among many other important reasons, your music is of the 21th Century. This will be John Mills-Cockell's "Concerto of Deliverance".
The title "Concerto of Deliverance" is a singular, monolithic title, with a direct, inspirational and commemorative connection to a literary genius (Rand) and to a vast and potent philosophico-cultural force (objectivism). It is not a "Concerto for ___ , Op. ___"; it is uniquely a "Concerto of Deliverance".
Another way of looking at the title is this: the operative word is not "Concerto"; it is "Deliverance". So you're not primarily writing a "concerto" (with all the expected connotations of its tradition); you are writing "a 21th Century Symphony of Triumph", "a Soaring Sunburst of Sound", "a Sunlit Song of Immense Deliverance" -- "a Concerto of Deliverance".
Finding an accurate category for your composition shouldn't be important now; "concerto"
will suffice. As to a one-liner: How about a phrase like one of the above. At least until we come
up with a better one.
JMC - 28 Jun 2002
We're in complete agreement about definition of concerto, this concerto.
Towards a Concerto of Deliverance - 1
Concerto of Deliverance