Up before dawn yesterday to head out to Ickenham and deliver a lecture on the music of Jan Dismas Zelenka. The more I hear of his writing the more I am fascinated by it, and am becoming convinced that here is a major talent of the Baroque era whose music has been pretty much hidden away for 250 years or so. By all accounts Bach, who knew him, copied some of his music for use at the Thomaskirche in Leipzig, and if that is not a compliment, I really do not know what is. I have yet to hear a movement of Zelenka’s I have not found interesting, and some of it is simply breathtaking.
With his Missa Votiva still ringing in my ears I dodged travel chaos to head back into town and get some composing done in my hideaway. My latest competition entry went off on Sunday, and there are three more submissions to get done in fairly short order, so I am concentrating on them for the time being. As mentioned before, one of them will involve trimming a rather flabby piece by 20% or so, so I took the opportunity yesterday to give it a listen and see what I thought.
Amusingly, it is clear that this piece, which was submitted for another competition in 2011, was extended to within an inch of its life in order to comply with the minimum length required. Given that the next submission comes with a maximum, shorter length attached, I have simply removed the redundant bars which I think I put in last time around, also adjusted the metronome mark to what it always should have been. It is undoubtedly a better piece as a result, but good enough? Probably not, for it is one of those works where I am testing out ideas rather than writing freely. I can see quite clearly what I was doing, but it does not always make for the best results.
I also scanned the guidelines for another submission, headed across town once more and, between a couple of bouts of teaching, dug out the sketches of Why Should We Not Sing, and did a little bit of tidying and listening. There is more here than I remembered, and the quality is better as well, so I am hopeful of using a little bit of free (for which, read “compositional”) time this week to get the orchestration all but done.
As far as lecture notes go, the outlook is calm at least for the next week. There is a busy weekend ahead, including, I believe, a performance of the Missa Seria at St. George’s, but before then I have the chance to make some significant headway into my writing and also to fire off yet more speculative competition entries.