Friday, October 30, 2009
If you had to choose a Hallowe'en costume of a famous composer, who'd it be? I'm about 16 inches too tall to pass for Richard Wagner and, as cool as his sideburns were, he had that weird under-the-chin beard going on. Rossini, especially as he reached my age, is a more attractive idea, between the pajamas, the tournedos and, presumably, some other conspicuous signs of a sinful old age. A choice more consistent with this particular holiday might be Gesualdo, sword and gun in hand (for more colorful and ghoulish parties, however, Gesualdo's cuckolding victim, the Duke of Andria, might make a more exciting apparation, bloodied and wearing Donna Maria Gesualdo's dress.) Or how about going soaking wet, as Robert Schumann, freshly fished out of the Rhein? Or all in black velvet, as Erik Satie? Perhaps because their images are still so fresh, contemporary composers don't appear to provide many more attractive alternatives, with Cage's denim uniform, fungi basket in hand, or a Brook's Brother-suited RCA synthesizer-operating Babbitt seeming harmless at best. But perhaps, in the right jack'o'lantern light, encountering a Morton Feldman imposter or La Monte Young double might just cause a fright.