Saturday, February 07, 2009

Max Neuhaus & The King of Denmark

I saw yesterday that the great percussionist/sound artist Max Neuhaus passed away last week. I'm loath to do dead people posts (and it seems they come much more frequently anymore) but his interpretation of Morton Feldman's short piece for solo percussion, "The King of Denmark", holds a special place in my heart. I think I first heard it when I was just beginning to get into Feldman, anyway I listened to the hell out of it to the point that now after not listening to it for years (or so?) I can hear long passages of it in my mind. I know I've listened to the whole album w/ that piece on it but none of it sticks in my mind like "The King of Denmark".

I just read while looking up information about "The King of Denmark" that Feldman wrote the draft score on the beach at Coney Island inspired by the noises around him. That image is pretty wonderful. The other interesting bit of minutiae about the piece is the story behind it's title; which comes from an apocryphal story of the Danish king Christian X who is said to have worn the Star of David in silent protest to the nazi occupation of his country. For some reason I'm a complete sucker for the shorter Feldman pieces and especially the ones w/ colorful titles, my other big favorite is "Madame Press Died Last Week at Nintey" (I think I even had a post worked up I never finished about that piece?). Anyway the great UBUWEB still has up an mp3 of the Neuhaus "The King of Denamrk" along w/ the rest of that album, here. They also have some other Neuhaus stuff as well. Also, I saw this awhile ago but forgot about until now but there's a Youtube clip of a young guy performing "the King of Denmark", pretty well I might add.


Kameron D Kiggins said...

Hi, I found this blog while researching a paper on Morton Feldman for a music class. Any blog with Morton Feldman and Mike Watt is a blog I want to read.

Like General MacArthur, I shall return...

tom nihilist said...

Thanks you for the kind words.

Watt and Feldman are two of the biggies for me!