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Christian Wolff$
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Michael Hicks and Christian Asplund

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780252037061

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252037061.001.0001

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Situations of Too Extreme Difficulty: 1951–1959

Situations of Too Extreme Difficulty: 1951–1959

(p.19) 2 Situations of Too Extreme Difficulty: 1951–1959
Christian Wolff

Michael Hicks

Christian Asplund

University of Illinois Press

This chapter chronicles Wolff's compositional period from his entry into Harvard in 1951 to his inadvertent entry into military service in 1959. During this time, all but one of Wolff's surviving compositions were piano pieces—seven works in which he moved from Cageian gamuts and prepared piano to utterly new configurations of musical materials and composer–performer relationships, though still generally within Cageian overall forms. To write for piano—Wolff's own instrument—fostered innovation and evolution, since it relieved him of the need to manipulate instrumental timbres. At the same time, he had not only himself as a potential player, but also Cage and, more important, Cage's friend David Tudor, whose superb technical skills, severe discipline, and zeal for the newest and opaquest music had become the New York School's virtuoso ace in the hole.

Keywords:   Harvard, John Cage, David Tudor, piano, military conscription, ratio-neume notation

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