Michael Nyman in 1983

For some years I have been meaning to upload some of the material I have gathered over the years, including interviews I conducted with experimental composers and performers. One of the most useful, clearest interviews was my interview with Michael Nyman, 23 March 1983, just a few days after I had seen him in Hammersmith with the eponymous Michael Nyman Band, performing music from the Peter Greenaway film, The Draughtsman’s Contract. Although the Nyman Band, and the Campiello Band before it, had been in existence and successfully performing since 1977, The Draughtsman’s Contract was the start of Nyman’s fame as a composer of music for film, opera, and other genres.

I interviewed Nyman in the kitchen-diner of his home in Ladbroke Grove. He was not interested in rehashing his research from past criticism and Experimental Music: Cage and Beyond (Studio Vista, 1974), his landmark history of experimental music that has yet to be supplanted, despite numerous attempts. His disinterest was just fine: I could read that Nyman to know him; what I didn’t yet know enough was his “rebirth” as a composer after years of music writing and research. Michael Nyman was a gregarious, charming host. The interview stops where he says, “I’ll come and show it to you,” but afterward he did show me his music, from the Waltz in F onward. It was a brilliant afternoon, and I was sorry that my little cassette machine was unable to pick up this second session, as videocameras do today.

The interview is now on the Reprint Series of Jems: Journal of Experimental Music Studies. Next up: a special Jems forum on the EMC² Festival last March is in final preparation.

Author: Virginia

Virginia Anderson is a writer who messes with the EMC Blog. She specialises in the study of experimental, minimalist, and free improvisatory music. She also plays clarinet, and has recorded on Zanja, Advance, and Rastascan Recordings, specialising in new works for Eb clarinet and free improvisation.

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