By Christopher Fulkerson

Being an American Classical composer is like being a European born in exile.

We composers, at least those of the Uptown sort, are attempting, basically without success, to continue an important aspect of Western civilization that is not being encouraged by the world around us.

One day at the U.C. Berkeley Music Library I spent about three hours tracing the lineages of just three of my teachers. This information came from the Grove's Dictionary, that is, the edition before the New Grove's. I would read each article far enough to get just the names of teachers, and read on.

The earliest date I found was in the 14th Century. Later editions of the Dictionary have different data, but I have not updated this list. I also have a number of other teachers to list.

In case you can't read my writing, highlights include Sessions, Babbitt, Milhaud, Dallapiccola, Schoenberg, Zemlinsky, Bloch, Parker, Fux, Schenker, Bruckner, Sechter, Durante, Corelli, and Gluck. I make no attempt to disguise my pride in this lineage, and there is more.

For example, there is an unbroken line from me through Imbrie, Bloch, Thuille, Baerman, Liszt, Czerny, Beethoven, Neefe, Tag, Homilius, J.S. Bach, J.C. Bach, Pachelbel, Kerll, Frescobaldi, Luzzaschi, de Rore, Willaert, Mouton, Josquin, Okeghem, Dufay, and beyond.

More rigorous research would of course result in emendations to this list. But the gist of it is clear.

This sort of thing encourages me when I think on how little our activities seem to matter to our society.


Posted November 15, 2009