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Salient: Victoria University Students' Newspaper. Vol. 24, No. 7. 1961.

The Young Composer Today

page 4

The Young Composer Today

A popular opinion held today is that the overage young composer tends to be a clever imitator rather than a genuine artist. The intention of this article is to point out some of the problems facing the composer, with the hope of leading to a better understanding of this very difficult art form.

The artist seeks to accomplish two things: to create beauty and to express himself. To do this he needs to have first a strong enough desire or incentive. Secondly, some established criterion (style) to guide him, especially in the earlier stages, and thirdly, a sound technical training.

The first is an inborn quality but can be developed. Technical competence is reached in time. The most difficult requirement is to find a suitable criterion from which he can develop his own individual sphere.

We can clearly see the influence of Haydn and Mozart on the early Beethoven. He can be criticised for copying a style, yet in his later years his own individuality came very much to the fore.

The young composer of today is faced with the same problem, made more difficult because of the number of "schools" which have developed. He is forced to experiment with all or most of the theories and gradually select one.

The criticism that new composers tend to be imitators is well grounded. This is hard for the composer, who needs confidence; also for the listener who has to suffer psuedo Bartok or Schoenberg.

The composer Will, to a certain extent, from the start express himself although it may not compare favourably with accepted "masterpieces." The listener must try to identify himself with the individual and not with the school he had temporarily adhered to, and also to train his own ear to accept sounds of the age he is living in.

Music is a union between the composer and his audience and unless both realise the problems that exist there can be little hope of a full understanding and a genuine critical appreciation of our new music.

Ray Twomey.

[This article is a reply to an article on Music Students published in "Salient" issue, April 7.]