Julius Eastman’s Guerrilla Minimalism 

Source: The New Yorker.

Minimalism, the last great scandal-making revolution in twentieth-century music, has become venerable. This season, Steve Reich and Philip Glass are being celebrated worldwide on the occasion of their eightieth birthdays. (Reich’s was in October; Glass’s is on January 31st.) Arvo Pärt, the auratic “mystic minimalist” from Estonia, received similar genuflections when he turned eighty, in 2015. Boxed sets have been issued, academic conferences organized, books published. Kyle Gann, Keith Potter, and Pwyll ap Siôn’s “Ashgate Research Companion to Minimalist and Postminimalist Music,” the most comprehensive treatment to date, covers everything from John Adams’s “Harmonielehre” to the electronic drone pieces of Éliane Radigue.

The major revelation, though, has been the brazen and brilliant music of Julius Eastman, who was all but forgotten at century’s end. Eastman found a degree of fame in the nineteen-seventies and early eighties, mainly as a singer: he performed the uproarious role of George III in Peter Maxwell Davies’s “Eight Songs for a Mad King,” in the company of Pierre Boulez, and toured with Meredith Monk.

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