“The New York School Died,” wrote artist Ray Johnson, on an envelope piece of mail art. Not quite yet. The New York School lives on, outlasting in Christian Wolff, who will turn 80 on Sunday. He celebrated his birthday publicly at Roulette Thursday night, playing his own chamber music in a warm, convivial concert.
The New York School—John Cage, Morton Feldman, Earle Brown and Wolff—was not so much ideological but social. The composers shared some of the same values—Brown and Cage worked together, Wolff studied counterpoint with Cage, but their musical directions differed. Taken together, they cover a vast amount of the territory of post-WWII avant-garde and experimental American classical music.