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Posted on 30 Sep 2010
I remember meeting Charles Wourinen in New York, probably in 1959. At that time, he and some other young composers based at Columbia University, including as I recall a man named David Johnson, were writing music saturated with glissandi. I recall hearing a recording of a very impressive piece by Wourinen for trombones and strings that was practically all glissandi. As far as I could tell, their interest in glissandi stemmed from their absorbtion (practically universal at that time among young composers) in the Bartok string quartets.
It's interesting to speculate on whether Ms. Coates might have had some contact with this group. In any case, Bartok was a huge influence at the time and glissando string writing was an important feature of his style.
This is NOT to take anything away from her work or her originality. I listened to her 9th quartet last night with the greatest pleasure, mixed with the excitement of discovering a powerful new voice. What a shame that her work isn't better known, as she is clearly an important composer. Thanks so much for bringing her music, and her very interesting ideas, to our attention.
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