In Memory of Composer Meyer Kupferman

The total output of Meyer Kupferman includes several operas, dozens of songs, tens of orchestra works, a few string quartets and woodwind quintets, dozens of solo works and a few hundred chamber works. This enormous oeuvre, perceived as a whole, can be said to exemplify the gestalt idea. Anyone who picks twenty works at random will see contrasting stylistic elements, but the essential Kupferman will emerge – big, emotional, humorous and grand. Throughout his career, he followed expression and meaning wherever it led musically, without regard for promoting a consistent image. “The fact that stylistic signatures seem to have become so overwhelmingly essential to composers today has troubled me since the late 1940’s,” he wrote in a letter to the New York Times in 1988. “[A]ny great leap forward, any revolutionary stylistic change by a gifted composer will certainly be absorbed in time and accepted by his listeners.” Serialism, tonality, neoclassicism, minimalism, total serialism, aleatory – as the debates about form and harmony raged, Kupferman refused to accept assignment to a particular camp and gleefully adapted any techniques that suited him.

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