Morton Feldman

Writings about the music of American composer Morton Feldman (1926-1987)

Hand-made music: Feldman’s scores

To start on Feldman’s “Triadic memories”, I knew I needed to get a new copy of the score, but what I really wanted was a facsimile of the manuscript. Here’s how to get these scores and why I prefer them to the newer computer-typeset ones.


Recently I’ve had a very engaging e-correspondence with pianist Adam Tendler about Morton Feldman, memory, and memorizing Feldman.

How do you listen to a six-hour string quartet?

Last year I spent a good deal of time listening to Morton Feldman’s music, trying to get a picture of his entire body of work. I started with the works of the early 1950s and marched forward through the 1960s and 1970s. When I got to 1983, I faced the need to listen to Feldman’s String quartet No. 2, his famous six-hour string quartet, the longest work of a composer who wrote many long works. How do you listen to a six-hour string quartet?

Feldman early and late

Recently, I learned Morton Feldman’s Two pianos, a short work from 1957. I’ve also been listening to the String quartet II lately, and I’m recognizing the same processes of musical attention in this late work—just at a massively greater scale (hours instead of minutes).

Feldman’s nerve

I’ve often made the statement that art is an act of faith. I think that my “act of faith” is the same as what Morton Feldman called “nerve”, an inner strength born out of a connection with inner necessity. I bring this subject up because I just recently listened again to Morton Feldman’s opera Neither, and was struck by what a colossal display of nerve that work is.

Pedaling in early Feldman

In looking at Feldman’s piano music from the 1950s one thing I’ve noticed is that there are almost no pedal markings. I listened to Aki Takahashi’s recording of the first two Intermissions and Extensions 3 to hear how she did it.