Hello. I've been thinking of playing a charity concert next year for an LGBT charity in the UK, and thought it would be quite fitting to have pieces composed by said community. Does anyone know any that composed things for violin/viola and piano?
Thanks in advance!
Britten wrote a violin concerto and a Suite for Violin and Piano - though I have never heard any of them performed!
Poulenc has a gorgeous violin sonata, and Corigliano of course has stuff for violin.. There's the Barber violin concerto, although not sure if you'd want to be doing concertos. An arrangement of something by Bernstein - say, pieces from West Side Story - would probably be pretty easy to find and a crowd-pleaser.
Schubert, Tchaikovsky, Saint-Saens, Barber, Evan Fein, Copland, Menotti, Rorem...
I am puzzled why the composer had to be gay? The whole idea of tolerant and inclusive society has gone too far, imho. Music is music and it is a sad day when you choose to play Tchaikovsky because he was alegedly homosexual. If you want to rise above pick a movement labeled as gay and laugh
"The whole idea of tolerant and inclusive society has gone too far, imho."
Irene, I had 2 gay friends back in my country when it was quite dangerous to do so. I walk the walk before I talk the talk. Can you say the same and still see when a culturaly appropriate attitude borders with hipocrisy? Why is it that whoever rises a common sense question is instantly labeled as the opposite? This will not help the gay cause or just any minority issue.
Ned Rorem wrote a beautiful set of movements for violin and piano called Night Music. I played a selection of movements on my senior recital at Oberlin.
I think Irene is spot-on. It's an LGBT event, so spotlighting LGBT composers seems entirely appropriate. If you were playing at a luncheon for the Women's Club, you might very well choose to highlight women composers. If you're playing for the Estonian Heritage Club, you'd almost certainly try to pick an Estonian composer or two.
I will abstain from more comments on this since my point is completely misinterpreted and miss understood and missused.
I’m surprised by the lack of reading comprehension or mendacity some people can show. Rocky didn’t say at all what some users intend to make him say.
Also consider Charles Tomlinson Griffes, whose music was suppressed by his sister after his death because she discovered through his diaries that he was gay. Though he did not write anything for violin/viola and piano, his Poem for flute and orchestra (which is still performed with some frequency) has been published in an arrangement for violin and piano.
Some recent scholarly research I’ve read suggests G.F. Handel was also gay. Any of the 6 wonderful violin sonatas by Handel you could play with either piano or harpsichord.
Miguel, please enlighten us, O Brilliant One, as to what Rocky meant to say.
Szymanowski as well.
Recently Beethoven scholarship also suggests that he might have been gay. (
Starts to sound as if they were all gay ;)
@Lydia, I had that same idea as well
I don't think Rocky's idea was meant to be in any way disparaging towards being gay although the phrasing unfortunately is negatively suggestive and the idea of inclusivity and tolerance going too far is a trope used by right wing factions and even misguided liberals (as a racial parallel, the notion of colour blindness).
Lydia: I think what Rocky really intended to say is that the whole idea of of tolerant and inclusive society has gone too far in his honest opinion. That music is music and that it is a sad day when you choose to play Tchaikovsky because he was allegedly homosexual. I hope this helps you shed some light on the matter.
You just repeated what he wrote, Miguel. The way that many of us are reading that literal statement is that it is, as Irene put it, "an ugly response".
Lydia, I don't think that music is informed by sexuality the way it is informed by its cultural and national context. We can clearly see a grouping of music composed by Russian musicians that displays Russian vernacular musical roots: folk, religious, etc.... But I don't think one can say that there is 'gay music' as such that informs music language per se...so I'm not sure of that analogy.
I had no idea that most of those composers were gay. So according to what is written in this topic Britten was gay. If that is the case you can play his Elegy for solo viola. A beautiful piece. You can hear it on YouTube. There are quite a few YouTube videos with different violists playing it.
But performing music isn't about performing "the greatest" music all the time. All musical performances exist within a social and cultural context. When you're playing at a LGBT event, it makes sense to play something by a gay composer.
@Andrew Hsieh I think you have a good point there
Andrew, from my part, concerning 'gay music', this was mentioned in the context of tackling Lydia's analog. There is no 'gay music' in the vein of Russian or French. Perhaps one can speak of a gay sensibility...but then, how to define that within such an abstract acoustic art form?
Being gay is as inherent as being a woman, a person from Russian descent. If people can organize programme around women composer, Russian composers, etc., why NOT gay composers?
Actually, one can pose the same sort of questions regarding women composers (and not a Russian composers).
Why someone has to feel ‘sad’ about a LGBT music event focusing on LGBT composers just baffled me.
Schubert should probably not be on the list. There has been a bit of a food fight about that among musicologists, but the case against is quite strong, IMO.
Schubert should probably not be on the list. There has been a bit of a food fight about that among musicologists, but the case against is quite strong, IMO.
So, I went to DePaul in the heart of Chicago’s north side for my degree in composition. Even there in the 1980s, discussion was largely about the male composers and it was just accepted as part of understanding many of our great creative predecessors.
Even though there is no "gay aesthetic" per se, being gay influenced the lives of composers and in many cases, worked its way into compositions -- just like composers in heterosexual romantic relationships (good or bad) often had their compositions influenced by their partners.
I've gone back and forth about whether to add my 2 cents to this discussion. I'm not qualified to respond as a "musician". And I understand no attack was meant. But if you're not part of the oppressed minority, you probably don't get it. As a gay woman, I can tell you that for gay people, it was required for so long that you hide your sexual orientation in order to avoid being thrown in jail or a mental hospital, that most of the accomplishments by gay people that we might want to honor are simply unknown. There is something positive when you're a member of a denigrated group about discovering that members of your group made significant contributions.
”idea of of tolerant and inclusive society has gone too far in his honest opinion”
Peter Maxwell Davies
Thanks “Alf” for the suggested piece. Peace!
Peace and catburgers, Edward!
I agree with what Elise Stanley said about Rocky's post. To me Rocky makes a very valid point, but his idealogy cannot be put into practice quite yet since parity has not been achieved to a reasonable level.
Maria, nice post.
apologies aside, I think Rocky's position arises from bigotry, pure and simple. Its a typical position put forward by a lot of Trump supporters.
I date back to the days before this became a political label.
Malcolm, you're lucky. I grew up in a Bible Belt town where people could barely say the word "gay" -- it had to be whispered -- and to be gay meant ostracism, people hiding their children from you, etc., functionally being erased from existence. (We had a carpool with a lovely family that was disrupted because the father turned out to be gay -- more precisely, bisexual. The town basically cut off all contact with the family and they had to move.) My parents were so terrified that I (as a tomboy) might eventually turn out to be gay that they wouldn't let me buy Hot Wheels cars.
I just want to thank Beverly Harris for adding your two cents! I think that was beautifully expressed - and it is sad. So much lost to history, indeed. And I have also found it to be true that it is hard for those who have not experienced being part of an oppressed minority (whatever it is) to truly understand. This isn’t meant as an attack, simply as a statement of reality. Even my dearest, closest friend, who was by my side all of my childhood, failed to notice so much of the incredibly hurtful exclusion that I experienced due to my race/being biracial. She, as an adult, powerfully apologized that she missed it (with no prompting from me, and with no complaint from me, either); her husband is part of a minority group, and she is starting to have eyes for what he experiences.
Lydia, I agree with you "...to be gay,...it's not the end of the world",and I also agree with Rocky, which statement I interpreted as meaning: why the distinction? So you are in essence both saying the same thing. If we were only to listen to certain composers' work on the basis of the record of their private life (in today's context), there would no doubt be a number of great composers (old and modern) who would go into oblivion. We are living in a time when statues of the leaders who shaped our country are taken down because some of their views and actions, hundreds of years ago, are non longer acceptable and offensive to some in today's context. This is where sometimes I think things are taken a bit too far, but I disgressed from the OP's topic, sorry. I hope my views didn't offend anyone.
Roger St Pierre "We live in a time when statues of the leaders who shaped our country are taken down because some of their views and actions, hundreds of years ago, are non longer acceptable and offensive to some in today's context."
I wasn't refering to such extreme, but to views that were at the time widely accepted and the norm throughout society. Racist imperialism, murder, misogyny, antisemitism, etc. were never acceptable nor the norm, although nepotism seems to be gaining popularity these days... oops, I am disgressing again, sorry.
Oh, but they were...at many points in history re. many groups of people..
You can chose to erase history and be bound to repeat it, or embrace it and learn from it rather. Many seem to think the former is best unfortunately. So in that context, LGBT composers should be celebrated and the OPs intent well placed and appropriate.
There is a difference between “erasing history” and celebrating it or refusing to think about atrocities done in the past. I don’t think the statues you are probably referring to should be destroyed, personally, or the people forgotten - it would be dangerous to erase all trace of them, which is what I think you’re trying to say. But a museum -where information can be given re. their whole selves and actions - seems like a more appropriate place to house such controversial statues than a town square, which is *historically* a place reserved for “heroes”. Leaving such monuments up could be considered more akin to “erasing history” than addressing the issues raised by those wanting them to be removed.
Thanks to all of you for your replies!
You could adapt something by Elton John. I recently heard a song of his on the radio, Nikita, which has a classical feeling.
So if I did a programme of Tchaikovsky, Britten, Schubert and Saint-Saints would that work?
Could be a fine program, with the caveat on Schubert.
There might be an argument for keeping Schubert in the program anyway just for stylistic contrast. It probably depends on the specific works chosen. Tchaikovsky and Saint-Saens could sound like stark contrasts, or too similarly Romantic era.
I'd go Schubert Arpeggione sonata, Tchaik Sounvenir de Le Cher, Op 42, Saint saints Sonata no 1 and Britten's Elegy
In addition to Schubert's financial condition and social status, he was also 5'1", which was very short even for the times. His friends called him "Little Mushroom" which suggests, er, not someone whose physique was his fortune.
Echo Dash by Jennifer Higdon! You need women on your list too! Or any other piece she wrote for violin and piano. She's a wonderful composer. There are also a few other LGBT composers that are in Hilary Hahn's collection "In 27 pieces". I think Nico Muhly is for example. Basically, there's lots out there. Just have fun!
IMHO you should not select Britten for a LGBT-themed concert (for non-LGBT themed, it is fine), simply because many people still ignorantly associate homosexuality with paedophilia, even though the two are like separate sexual orientation, and most high-profile child sexual abuse cases originated from the 'sacred' place by presumably straight, powerful, married adult men.
@Matt, I think you have a good point there. I could swap out Britten with a collection of stuff from West Side Story (I found the other day)
I think that would be a good idea. West Side Story is always popular with audiences too.
Right thats sorted then. Thanks everyone!
Why the Saint-Saens sonata and not another of his pieces? You'll need a very good collaborative pianist.
The only one of his that is within my technical capabilities currently
There isn't that much evidence of Saint-Saens being homosexual either. His remark "Je ne suis pas homosexuel. Je suis pédéraste" was almost certainly made flippantly and suggests he wasn't active in either sphere. He did have children by his wife.
Poor Rocky, he doesn't know what times we live in, hahahaha. My condolences to you, Rocky, I do share your thoughts and understand what you're trying to say.
I don't think is appropriate to celebrate LGBT music with pedophile composers. seems that just the kind of thing that should be left out.
In fairness, I didn't know that about him. The whole point of asking was because I didn't know any LGBT composers (other than Tchaik)
It is worth noting that until the early 20th century, homosexuality was something you *did* versus something that you *were*. The behavior might have been treated unfavorably, but it was not an identity the way we think of it now.
Getting married and having children is not proof of being straight. Many gay people past and present marry members of the opposite sex and have kids in order to somewhat fit into their society.
Oh my, what a can of worms...
Poulenc wrote a compelling and programmatic violin sonata in memory of the gay spanish resistance poet Fedorico Lorca who was murdered during the Spanish civil war by the Nationalists.
Poulenc's sonata sounds a bit outside of my technical profiency currently...
But it is soooo beautiful.
There are some nice Barber and Copland collections out there.
So much to chose from- at least from the 50% who got published and supported.
Well when you figure about 5% of the population is LGBT, and then you go to IMSLP and look at the enormous list of composers there, 1 in 20 of them is or was probably LGBT. Okay that's going to be a really rough estimate but still it's a lot of gay composers.
Tammuz, in late 19th century France, pédophile meant someone who loved children, not someone who abused them, as it should do now, coming from classical Ancient Greek words denoting child and liker - e.g., someone like Lewis Carroll or Dr Barnardo. On the other hand, pédéraste, also, as you pointed out, derived from classical Ancient Greek, is formed from roots meaning child and sexual "love" (eros). So its connotations were never good, and in the context in which Saint Saens was speaking, were not meant to be. As I said, he was probably speaking tongue in cheek.
Is it ethical to "out" someone by sheer force of historical research? Would a composer who closeted himself during his lifetime want his works performed on a program celebrating the contributions of LGBT composers? Would it matter if that composer were still alive?
The OP: LBGT charity concert, thought it would be
Matt, thanks for your support
I never said Jake's idea wasn't a good idea. I think it's quite fine and appropriate. My jazz quintet played for an LGBT event a few years ago. It didn't occur to us to select tunes written by LGBT people although certainly there are many to choose from (Billy Strayhorn, etc.). What I'm wondering is whether, in these times, if we booked that gig again, we should feel *compelled* to do so. It's one thing to do something for a group because you feel it's a nice gesture (which I believe is Jake's situation), but quite another to do something because you feel society is expecting it.
Yes, Craig, there was nothing untoward or sexual about Lewis Carroll's (Rev. C.L.Dodgson's) love for children. It is thought that the distancing between him and the Liddells was caused by speculative gossip about him and the chidren's governess and also about him and "Ina" (who might have been Alice's older sister or even her mother, both named Lorina).
Maybe I'll add more oil to the pan here. :) This post is less relevant to the musical aspect (which is Rockys essential point I believe) and is in a more general tone.
PS re composers who were murderers: I forgot about a murdering (and adulterous) English (partly Welsh) composer who was contemporary with Taverner and Tallis - can anyone think of his name?
John R, you may be thinking of Thomas Campion (1567 - 1620), though Wikipedia says he was exonerated.
I'm with Rocky M. A composer's gender/sexual orientation is completely irrelevant. In the case of dead composers, they can't even defend themselves.
John, I do find your comment proving of why representation is important. Nobody should need to "defend themselves" as if being gay or bisexual is an abhorrence. Sadly that is a major attitude though. I have had my life threatened before for being gay. I don't even hold my fiancee's hand in public anymore because of the looks and comments people give. Alas, such is the reality of the world. If gender and sexuality do not matter, then why should one react as if this is a witch hunt.
Whether you are in or out of the closet depends mostly on how oppressive your society is. Being outed once you are dead is a different thing.
I'll enter my comment in the form of a dialog between two hypothetical v-com members:
Given the context of Jake's concert, I think it would be perfectly fine to mention that a particularly composer's sexual orientation is in question by scholars, as part of introducing a work. It's part of the context of the work for that interest group. I would otherwise only mention it if it were directly part of the work's history, i.e. "Composer X dedicated this piece to Mr. Y, a beloved friend that some people scholars might have been his lover."
@Paul, let’s be clear that no one has haphazardly attributed homosexual characteristics to certain historical figures without at least some lengthy historical debates and essays.
Matt, sure, I get all that. I haven't been living in a cave for the past 50 years. Whether something has been attributed to a historical figure "haphazardly" is a subjective matter, though. How many times has historical research "proven" something only to be reversed 50 years later with finger-wagging judgment cast upon the previous scholarship for being superficial or sloppy. I work at a public university, and as such, I am in the clear majority among my colleagues as a progressive firebrand. But those with minority viewpoints (and here I am talking about things slightly right of center, not fascist garbage) do have a case to make about whether there is room at all within the public sphere for their thoughts. Even the neutrality of ignorance, as expressed in the form of a sincere question, can become grounds for derision and shaming.
I think Paul makes some good points. There seem to be some fringey strands of scholarship where people try and infer all kinds of things from going back and reading novels or writings of this or that author. Oh, this person must have been gay or lesbian, or this or that, because that's how someone would write in my specific cultural context nowadays, or sometimes it's just really wishful thinking. People were not all post-modernists hundreds of years ago, living in the west, and not all writings are memoirs.
Last year, I attended a bluegrass festival. No music other than bluegrass was performed. That didn't seem strange to me at the time, but in hindsight, and in light of prior posts, maybe I should have taken a stand for greater diversity? ;-)
Matt - please could you check your facts as regards Alan Turing's death through cyanide poisoning. It may or may not have been an act of suicide, and there is no evidence to connect it with his prosecution and (elective) punishment for homosexual acts
Sometimes orchestras and musicians hold events where they play compositions by jewish composers...many of who are far more informed by European wide classical music than by any jewish tradition per se ( although even then there is a vast difference between Yiddish central/eastern European and Sephardic middle eastern...so even then there is no uniformity within the grouping itself). Would we be as inclined to criticize such an event as in the LGBT case?
Jake asked a question, and got some really good answers. Special thank you Bruce Berg, for pulling that obscure one.
@Julie, you're a woman, aren't you? :-)
“Someone said they thought it would be okay if a few INNOCENT men went to prison if it moved the needle on how badly women are mistreated in the American workplace.”
I think we are talking about innocent sufferers of both genders, and personally I'm not only referring to the workplace.
Some people just need to get off their computers and go outdoors.
Matt, out of curiosity, if you supported/believed in justice and equality for women, you would be de facto a feminist. Unless you don't support or believe in such a thing of course. Or is it because the term feminism has been soiled and perverted by right wing types?
@tammuz, I believe in fairness for all, and the best policy balance that will optimize social, economic, generational, and environmental well-beings (not that my opinion matters much though).
Mary Ellen, thank you for telling me that Thomas Campion was a composer - at school I only ever heard of him as a poet. But he died more than 20 years after Taverner's death. But I gather that one of the best known victims of the murderer of whom I am thinking was a lady composer ...
Tammuz, "feminism" has incorporated a variety of ideologies and political movements. Shouldn't Matt have the right to decide whether he does or doesn't want to use the term to describe himself, rather than you attempting to do it for him?
Exactly David, a variety, with differing, even sometimes conflicting, opinions on how to achieve what constitutes the core similarity between this different movements: equality between the sexes. This belief and work towards equality is what defines feminism in general, not the method of how to achieve this by one theorist or activist over another. If someone believes in this equality , then they inherently possess feminist beliefs...even if they conflict with another feminist on how to achieve this equality. If you don't fundamentally believe in the equality of the sexes within society, then you're not a feminist. Matt can choose whatever he wishes for himself, and I have the right to note a probable (edited) deduction if I observe it.
Matt: "For example, I don't necessarily advocate for women in developed countries to spend more time in the workforce, as this will continue to exert more impact on their countries' already struggling population growth, people's chances to get married and childbirth, and children having less time with mothers. "
Tammuz, that depends on what you mean by "equality". Does that mean "exactly the same"? Certainly, we can all agree that women are generally better at some things than men, independent of cultural influences and social conditioning.
David, where in my post did I say that meant "exactly the same"? It's quite irrelevant to my point. I am not trying to define what women choose to do or not to do, let alone what you or I think theyre better at... that is their business. And that is the point. Their lives, their bodies, their business.
"Equality" can mean different things to different people. That's why I asked.
Gender equality is not a buzz term. It is in various charters and officially enshrined in the law system of several countries. It might be a buzz term for you perhaps.
The various charters and laws do not all use the same definitions, and are still in a state of flux from both new legislation, and various court rulings over interpretation.
That is indeed the case; but certainly Matt's view falls outside the entire spectrum of interpretations or definitions (whether on the basis of sameness, positive action or transforming gender identities) . Functionally, gender equality is for equal opportunities afforded to women in society, work place, etc...whether that be done via the sameness principle (women enter the market as it is), positive action (changing the work conditions to suit the perceived difference of women), or through a redefinition of gender and transformation of society. While all different, the aim is to ensure that, functionally, gender inequality is undone and that women are afforded the same opportunities in society Matts view is incompatible with any of these views. This is why I said that bringing up that point of what is meant by equality
The semantics defence": because it can not be defined it isn't true or valid.
Elise, my mother was the major mover, motivator, and shaker in my family. She also got consistently much higher grades than my father in both college and grad school, despite any sort of male/female grading prejudice there may have been in place at that time, favoring males. She will always be one of my major heroes, along with one of my sisters, who has adopted a bunch of fetal alcohol syndrome and crack cocaine babies, in an attempt to make the world a better place.
"I don't necessarily advocate for women in *developed* countries to spend more time in the workforce, as this will continue to exert more impact on their countries' already struggling population growth."
David wrote about "a panoptic view that women should spend more time in the workforce, in all situations .... Not all women want to. Shouldn't that be up to the individual woman, or are you (presumably a male) better qualified to make their decisions for them?"