Monday, September 17, 2007

Keeping up with the profligate

In April, I posted a short item about prolific composers of symphonies. At that time, I noted that the Finnish composer and conductor Leif Segerstam then held the record for most Symphonies by a living composer with 180 examples. I've just checked in with the Finnish Music Information Centre to learn that Maestro Segerstam is currently up to #185, which bears the title "Casting Broadly Thoughts or Shadows on left- or rightovers from pathcrossings in mental musical freewaysystems..." (which is a pretty good example of Segerstamian English). At his present rate of production, it would not be surprising if Segerstam eventually equals the reported achievement of the late US composer Rowan Taylor with 265 Symphonies, of which I have not heard one.

The bulk of Segerstam's symphonies apparently involve flexibly timed elements, and at least some of them are conductorless. His technique is usually described by words like romantic, expressionist, and stream of conscious. While the use of flexible elements may well contribute to the ease of his composing, they are still an real accomplishment and the fact that more than 100 have been performed is a significant accomplishment.

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