Dreamy fag music

June 5, 2006

In the summer of 1978 I was a composition student at Tanglewood, studying with Gunther Schuller.

I also had seminars with Henri Lazarof, Theodore Antoniou, Jacob Druckman, George Crumb, and a few others. I was awarded the Koussevitzky Prize for my composition “Seven Pollock Paintings.” It was a good summer. That was the summer I met Lenny. I also met Angus Whyte.

RB Tanglewood.jpg

One day I was sauntering down the grand hall in the old Koussevitzky mansion (called Seranak –– the place where all the student composers live while the Berkshire Music Festival is in session) I heard this alluring music wafting through the halls. It was a piano. There were beautiful harmonies flowing through the hot humid western Massachusetts lake-humidity afternoon air. It was Angus playing the opening of the Schubert B flat major sonata. I didn’t know the piece at the time. I introduced myself and asked “what is that dreamy fag music?” Angus roared with laughter and told me it was Schubert. I said “Schubert must have been gay.” “I think he was” Angus replied with amusement.

Here is the opening of Schubert’s B flat piano sonata as played by Wilhelm Kempf.

[audio:http://rogerbourland.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2006/06/Molto-moderato.mp3]

Schubert: Sonata in B flat, D.960, Molto Moderato, performed by Wilhelm Kempf.

Later we smoked a joint. Angus took this picture. No I wasn’t naked. I had on shorts but Angus clipped them out of the picture. It was 95 degrees and 100% humidity. No air conditioning.

Angus continues to play dreamy fag music: Poulenc, me, Ravel, John Fields, and many more. I now write it. There are stretches of my music that tap into that dreamy fag music feel. (Listen to my “Poem” if you need convincing.) I hear it in a lot of Beethoven’s music and for that reason alone I’ve always thought he was gay (takes one to know one).
——
[I asked Angus permission to share this story, and here is his response:]

“Yes, Darling. You may print it, with one caveat: It’s “John Field” singular, just as it’s “Julia Child” singular…And I’m still playing Mendelssohn, Field, Schubert, and occasionally Haydn slow movements as if they’re ALL dreamy fag music! Big Love, XXa.”

addendum:

I should point out that I have no interest in making “dreamy fag music” a phrase for common usage. I don’t say the word “fag” but have the right to do so much as blacks can say nigga.

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