Cornelius Cardew: We Sing for The Future

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Cornelius Cardew—We Sing For The Future! [Frederic Rzewski, piano]

Twenty years on, Cardew's music still provokes controversy. Even amongst his many admirers, his later 'political' music in particular creates unease and perhaps misgivings. The relation of the music to its 'programme' and to the lofty aims it purports to serve is problematic enough, so let us remind ourselves what Cardew himself wrote about this music in the seventies: 

"I have discontinued composing music in an avant-garde idiom for a number of reasons: the exclusiveness of the avant-garde, its fragmentation, its indifference to the real situation in the world today, its individualistic outlook and not least its class character (the other characteristics are virtually products of this)."

"We Sing For The Future is a composition based on a song. The song is for youth, who face bleak prospects in a world dominated by imperialism, and whose aspirations can only be realised through the victory of revolution and socialism. In the framework of a solo piano piece lasting about 12 minutes, something of this great struggle is conveyed. The music is not programmatic, but relies on the fact that music has meaning and can be understood quite straightforwardly as part of the fabric of what is going on in the world." 

This recording was made possible in part by Other Minds with support from the Thendara Foundation. Frederic Rzewski - For nearly four decades Frederic Rzewski has been a leading interpreter of new music for the piano, premiering and recording the music of Stockhausen, Cage, Pousseur, Feldman, Wolff and many other composers. An improvising pianist, he is active both as a soloist and as a founding member of the MEV (Musica Elettronica Viva) group. A composer as well, he is the author of numerous compositions for piano, chamber ensemble and orchestra.

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