Were I given the run of deceased composers to experience one as a composition teacher, I'd probably have to go with Morton Feldman. I just can't seem to run into a single printed word from the guy without thinking that a) he is catastrophically right and b) no one else has ever said that.
The most recent mind-blower is here, from an interview with Robert Ashley published in Contemporary Composers on Contemporary Music, edited by Elliott Schwartz, Barney Childs, and Jim Fox:
"Unfortunately for most people who pursue art, ideas become their opium. The sickness that you feel about the situation today is a piling up of multitudinous suggestions and multitudinous misconceptions, each tumbling over the other. There is no security to be one's self. There is only a total insecurity because people don't know who they want to be."
And then, the next page, it gets even better:
"You go to the various festivals and you see fantastic technical equipment. And all the time you feel that the young composer has immorally been given the moral license to lead a parasitic life...What the schools and the important pedagogues are doing is just perpetuating a tragic syndrome, a tragic misunderstanding about what it is to be a composer. But then, perhaps they don't think of themselves as composers. I think that composing for them is just an incidental activity in the power struggle of ideas."
"I think that composing for them is just an incidental activity in the power struggle of ideas."
Haven't been able to get that one out of my brain for a few days now. Precise as an arrow, devastating as a bomb. It's enough to make a guy want to quit writing blogs for a while...
10 Best of 2014
January: Wyoming and the Open
February: New Mexico and the Holes
Notes on The Accounts