SoundNotion 60: I Dare You Not to Cry

This week FoTS Matt Schoendorff joins the panel to discuss sound masses, the most interesting Polish man in the world, big female lists, quiting trombones, Greenwood, helicopters in opera and not crying over spilled cello.

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  • Thanks for the discussion, guys! To help fill in the picture on the Vienna Philharmonic and the William Osborne comments, Osborne’s wife is the trombonist Abbie Conant who had a well-known controversial tenure with the Munich Philharmonic ( and he has been an outspoken critic of the practices of many European orchestras.


  • Whoa! I can’t speak for the other guys, but this is new to me. Perhaps I’m naïve, but I’m honestly shocked that such discrimination was so overt and so recent. Thanks for filling us in Rob, and thanks for listening!

  • Just discovered your show though my friend Jim Holt and have really been enjoying the episodes! I wanted to throw in my 2 cents on the Stockhausen piece. I really understand Sam’s reaction here. The various things called for in the piece (the helicopters are the best example) seem to us in this day and age to be crazy extravagances. Like, Louis XIV extravagant. I think to our modern sensibilities it’s like some kind of shocking waste of resources. However, the piece was conceived in a different world from the one we currently live in. The artists of the time – really everyone thought on a different wavelength than we do. I think it’s really difficult for us – being born after these days were already over – to try to put ourselves in this mind set.

    I know the composer Robert Moran pretty well. He did many pieces along these lines back in the 60’s – piece that utilized entire cities and hundreds of thousands of people. There was a vid recently posted on You Tube, from that time documenting one of these “City Pieces”. I watched it, and in awe I emailed Robert and said “I’m just blown away by this. As a 30-something composer I could never imagine being afforded the opportunity to even conceive of something on this scale. This could never be done in any city today.” – The first line of his response was, “Those days will never be repeated.”

    So, I’d love to see the Stockhausen – yes, for the spectacle, but also as a window into a time that’s really gone now, and may never return.

    • Anthony, thanks for listening. That’s a great story about Robert Moran. For better or worse, I think he’s right. It’s hard to imagine anybody having the clout to produce something like that today. However, I think it’s possible that web projects could take their place. The spectacle may not be the same, but the scope could be even larger. City piece? Fugghetaboutit! Why not a piece that unfolds globally?

      The YouTube Orchestra and YouTube Choir are not my kind of music, but they may represent the beginning of a new way to think about the scale of a piece of music.

      • Ahh – great point about the web – I think you’re right! Looking forward to this weeks episode!