Notes for the work, In C by Terry Riley
(comments by Joe Holmquist)
In C by Terry Riley was written in 1964. In the late
1950's and early 1960's, a handful of talented young composers were looking
for a way out of the Second Viennese School's cul de sac established by Schönberg,
Webern, Berg and numerous skilled composers outside of Vienna.
A handful of rebelious U.S. composers was poised to 'discover' a new style
of music called Minimalism. This group included Terry Riley, La Mont
Young, Frederic Rzewski, Steve Reich, and Philip Glass. In C
is the first blockbuster hit from that group, written in 1964. It was
recorded on the Columbia Masterworks label and was a pivotal event in the
career of Riley.
Prior to the advent of Minimalism, Western Music employed a dualism between
created tension using dissonance, texture, and rhythm versus the release of
those tensions. In C was a pathfinder composition away from this
means of expression, because it ignores traditional Western composition tools.
To enjoy this piece we recommend that the audience accept the choices of
the live musicians in concert with the pre-recorded sounds. The 'unpredictable'
is a classic part of the Riley charm.