How does a composer complete his final symphony 113 years after his death? He leaves behind sketches of what he planned to do and someone else painstakingly does their best to fill in the missing pieces.
A few weeks ago, Musica Nova (http://www.musicanovaaz.org), an orchestra that I play bass with and that specializes in programming new and neglected classical music, performed the regional premiere of Anton Bruckner’s 9th symphony with the 4th movement completed by William Carragan.
Carragan and our conductor Warren Cohen also shared ideas about the interpretation of music: tempi, expression, “Did Bruckner really mean to have those notes in the trumpet?” etc. Both men commented about how great it was to work together, saying “we were able to solve the problems because we were totally open to working with each other” and “[he was] wonderfully open minded to some of my quirky ideas.”
It’s not often that classical music conductors get to collaborate with living composers, let alone modern day composers collaborating with a long-gone master. It was very exciting at the first rehearsal to look to my left and see an amazing line up of nine French Horns with about half of them doubling on the infrequently seen Wagner Tubas (a sort of bass French Horn). The reviews were great and you can read more about it on the Musica Nova blog http://www.musicanovamusings.org/.
How would you feel about having one of your major works completed by someone else a hundred + years later? Would you be glad that they cared enough to spend the time and creative energy? Affronted? Appalled at the choices? Delighted with the result?