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Posted at 10:25 AM ET, 02/ 2/2011

Milton Babbitt postlude

By Anne Midgette

As a follow-up to the passing of Milton Babbitt, I wanted to call everyone's attention to the film that has been posted over on NPR about Babbitt's life.

This film was a labor of love by Robert Hilferty, a wonderful journalist and friend who died tragically and much too young last year, leaving the film unfinished. It was completed by a friend of his and Babbitt student, Laura Karpman. It's an important document on many levels and should be seen by as many people as possible.

By Anne Midgette  | February 2, 2011; 10:25 AM ET
Categories:  national, random musings  
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I'm sorry but I find it very hard to celebrate the life of Milton Babbitt, the composer. He wrote music that was virtually impossible for the average (even above average) listener to understand and delighted in that fact. Worse yet, he influenced a school of composers who followed in his footsteps. It was years before younger composers decided that making music no one could stand to listen to wasn't smart or necessary. Perhaps a century from now this letter (and others like it) will end up in a revised "Lexicon of Musical Invective" but I'm not betting a nail of my house on it.

Posted by: BobTatFORE | February 2, 2011 3:17 PM | Report abuse

I agree with BobTatFORE. Although Milton Babbitt may have been a perfectly charming individual, his music is completely irrelevant to the vast majority of listeners and musicians, and except for a small coterie, of composers as well. It's a sign of how things have changed that his position at Princeton is now occupied by Steve Mackey, whose roots are in rock music and who plays the electric guitar.

Posted by: Lutoslawski | February 3, 2011 8:35 AM | Report abuse

I had the good fortune to study with Milton Babbit in the 70s and admit his music is not for everyone, but then neither is Tolstoy or Kafka.

Love what you love, understand what you're able and don't worry about the rest. When all is said and done, it can be said he did the world a good turn!

Posted by: ThinkTwiceWriteOnce | February 4, 2011 3:50 PM | Report abuse

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