A letter from William Glock to John Amis, dated July 1962
The worst has happened. I’ve been trying desperately to get in touch with you.
Nono has finished his piece.
I think he stayed away from Darmstadt (‘ill’) in order to finish it, and anyway I feel we must do our best to put it on.
But... It’s for soprano, viola, cello, d.b., celesta, keyboards, 1 tam-tam, 12 crotales covering all 12 semitones – but the exact pitch I don’t know; are you an authority on crotales? If Gigi’s letter (sent apparently 5 days ago) reaches me tomorrow morning I’ll let you know.
‘Gigi’ is Luigi Nono, Italian avant-garde composer, disciple of Schoenberg and Webern, central figure of the notorious ‘Darmstadt School’, (a term which he coined in a 1958 lecture).
Nono’s only published work for 1962 is Canti di vita e d'amore: sul ponte di Hiroshima. It’s not clear if it was that work that Glock was referring to. There was certainly a 'new work' promised in the Dartington program but Canti was always going to be too epic for the Summer School's resources. But the soprano mentioned, Dorothy Dorow, was at Dartington that year at the same time as Nono, and gave the premiere of Canti at the Edinburgh Festival at the end of August, with the London Symphony Orchestra.
Dorothy Dorow & Ana-Raquel Satre
Did Nono and Dorow rehearse at Dartington? Did the students work out the crotales? And who were these students? It was quite a class: Peter Maxwell-Davies, Richard Rodney Bennett, Harrison Birtwistle, Hugh Wood, Robert Saxton, Brian Elias, Alexander Goehr, Cornelius Cardew, Nick Maw and Susan Bradshaw among them. Nono taught in Italian, with Max as interpretor. He was an iconoclast, an ardent communist and hard taskmaster. His other claim to fame, at Dartington at least, was his refusal to shake hands with Benjamin Britten, also visiting that year, on artistic grounds.
Nono and Max (1959)
Can anyone out there enlighten me on what work William was talking about? I'm off to have another rummage...
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