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Steven Mackey
Program 1: You Call That Music?!

250 years ago, when composers included "noise" in their music, they mimicked the sounds of the physical world, like farm animals and gunshots. But by the late 1800s, they were using harsh, aggressive sounds to represent the internal, psychological anxieties of the coming modern age.

And then, of course, during the 20th century, composers blurred the line between noise and music even more. From the dissonance of early modernism to music that glorified the machine—from musique concrete to the ear-deafening throbs of hyper-amplification—art music gave us just about everything an increasingly noisy world could offer.

What's music, and what's noise? In this program, Michael Tilson Thomas demonstrates that noise is in the mind of the listener. His guest is contemporary composer Steven Mackey.

Audio Listen to the program


(If no performer is listed, piece performed by San Fransisco Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas.)

Steve Reich: Four Organs
(Nonesuch 79451-2)

Gregorian Chant, Lumen ad Revelationem and Nunc Dimittis
Capella Antiqua Munchen/Ruhland
(Celestial Hamonies 13094-2)

Josquin: Missa Pange lingua
The Tallis Scholars/Phillips
(Gimell CDGIM 009)

Monteverdi: “L’Orfeo”
Concerto Vocale/Jacobs
(Hamonia Mundi HMC 901553.54)

Mozart: Serenade in B-flat, K. 361 (“Gran Partita”)
Berlin Philharmonic Wind Ensemble
(EMI 3 43424 2)

Bach: The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1
Ralph Kirkpatrick, clavichord
(Archiv 289 463 601-2)

Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 3
Steven Lubin, forte piano/The Academy of Ancient Music/Hogwood
(L’Oiseau Lyre 421 408-2)

Carlo Farina: Capriccio Stravagante
European Community Baroque Orchestra/Huggett
(Channel Classics CCS 4392)

Jean-Fery Rebel: “The Elements,” Chaos
Les Musiciens Du Louvre/Minkowski
(Musifrance 2292 45974 2)

Beethoven: Symphony No. 6, Op. 68 (“Pastorale”)

Richard Strauss: “Ein Heldenleben,” The Hero's Deeds of War
London Symphony Orchestra/Tilson Thomas
(CBS MK 44817)

Beethoven: Overture to “Fidelio”
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Tennstedt
(EMI 7 47086 2)

Beethoven: Symphony No. 9
Berlin Philharmonic/Karajan
(Deutsche Grammophon 429 036-2)

Brahms: Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Opus 68
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Jochum
(EMI 7243 5 69515 2)

Schoenberg: Five Pieces for Orchestra, Peripetia
London Symphony Orchestra/Craft
(Koch 3-7263-2)

Stravinsky: “The Rite of Spring”
(RCA 09026-68898-2)

Ives: “From the Steeples and the Mountains”
(RCA 09026-63703-2

Henry Cowell: “The Banshee” (original)
Chris Brown
(New Albion NA 103 CD)

Edgard Varese: “Arcana”

Brahms: Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Opus 68
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Jochum
(EMI 7243 5 69515 2)

John Cage: “Bacchanale”
Margaret Leng Tan
(New Albion NA 070 CD)

Pierre Schaeffer: Etude Aux Chemins De Fer
(Ellipsis Arts CD3670)

Edgard Varese: Poem Electronique
(Ellipsis Arts CD3670)

Paul Lanksy: “Night Traffic
(Bridge BCD 9035)

Steve Reich: “It’s Gonna Rain”
(Nonesuch 79451-2)

Jimi Hendrix: “Purple Haze”
(MCA MCAD-11671)

Jimi Hendrix: ”The Star Spangled Banner”
(MCA MCAD-11671)

Frank Zappa: “Apostrophe'”
(Rykodisc RCD 10519)

Howlin’ Wolf: “Shake For Me
(MCA CHD-5908)

Steven Mackey: “Physical Property”
Steven Mackey, guitar/Brentano String Quartet
(Albany TROY 588)

Steven Mackey: “Tuck and Roll”
Steven Mackey, guitar/New World Symphony/Tilson Thomas
(RCA 09026-63826-2)

The MTT Files are supported by a grant from Koret Foundation Funds and by members of Minnesota Public Radio. The MTT Files are part of Keeping Score, made possible with lead funding from the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund and with generous support from The James Irvine Foundation, Marcia and John Goldman, Nan Tucker McEvoy, William and Gretchen Kimball Fund, the National Endowment for the Arts, and others.

Michael Tilson Thomas