David Matthews composer

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Two Parodies for my brother Colin's birthday

From Volte-face: the diaries of Pierre Boulez

Saturday 13 February 1999
It is becoming difficult to maintain my public persona in the light of my changed views. Can I confess this? Hard to admit the falsity of what one has struggled all one's life to uphold, yet the truth has to be faced. I suppose the real turning point was just over a year ago, when in London I chanced to hear on the radio that revelatory piece. A melody of exquisite refinement, projected over an orchestral accompaniment of magical transparency, with the delicate sounds of nature as if overhead in the distance. It came to me like a bolt of lightning: this is music that makes Webern totally irrelevant! What was this extraordinary work and who was the composer? The announcer told me: In a Monastery Garden by Albert W. Ketèlbey. Since then my life has been changed utterly.

Thursday 18 February
The BBC telephoned about a concert next year. The usual boring suggestions: Berg Op.6, Webern Op.6 and 10, Erwartung. I was about to tell them what I really wanted to conduct: Grofe's Grand Canyon Suite, Addinsell's Warsaw Concerto, but couldn't quite bring myself to do it.

Sunday 21 February
Continuing my studies of the Lloyd symphonies. What a genius he is. Feel by comparison I don't know the first thing about orchestration, or structure. But in a year's time I may be confident enough to being a symphony of my own.

Ate some Shepherd's Pie and went to bed early with a Barbara Cartland novel. Her searing romanticism satisfies my present mood. And she is such a stylist!

Friday 26 February
I remember now that Messiaen told me about Ketèlbey some time in the early 1950s, said he owed everything to him. At the time, with the arrogance of youth, I didn't take any notice; now it's obvious.

Ketèlbey himself was certainly influenced by the third piece of Webern's op.10, which he saw in manuscript on a visit to Vienna in early 1914: In a Monastery Garden was begun that year.

So there is a lineage: Webern-Ketèlbey-Massiaen-PB.

Wednesday 3 March
Letter from Sony, inviting me to record all the Françaix orchestral works. How delighted I am to be able to make a small reparation for my disregard of the great master during his lifetime.

Sunday 7 March
Am getting on well with my revision. The piece will have to be renamed of course, but not so drastically: patience strong ist der dichter. It should make quite an éclat.

From The Sibelius Diaries

17 January 1946
The Eighth Symphony is finally completed! Parcelled up score and Aino took it to post office to send to Boston. Drank champagne and smoked five cigars.

18 January
Terrible misgivings about symphony. Aino rang up post office and fortunately was able to retrieve score. Burnt it.

20 January
Cold. -25 Celsius. No alcohol in house. Went to Helsinki to buy some.

25 January
Back from Helsinki. Can't remember what I did there, but seem to have spent 30,000 marks. Have also lost my coat and one shoe. Violent tremors. Went to bed. Depression - presentiments of death.

26 January
Snow, wind. -35 degrees. Drank three bottles whisky. Went for walk but fell over on path. Aino found me and locked me in bedroom. Depression.

29 January
Sunshine. 10 degrees. Went for walk. Saw nine swans - good omen. Worked on new symphony. Godlike sounds, wonderful inspiration. You are a great man, Jean Sibelius.

30 January
Worked a little but got nowhere. Symphony is impossible, my life worthless. Hope end will soon come.

31 January
Blizzard, huge winds, -40 Celsius. Swan fell down chimney. Burnt symphony in stove.

3 February
Koussevitsky writes to tell me that he performed by Fourth only 78 times last year. Why am I so neglected? Drank four bottles whisky and threw elk sandwich at Aino. Remorse, depression.

4 February
Long talk with Aino. Agreed I must give up this life. Will definitely renounce alcohol and tobacco.

5 February
Began new symphony. Aino cooked lemming stew. Such a dreadful taste I had to drink two bottles vodka afterwards. So much for resolutions.

8 February
Springlike weather. Went for walk and saw ten swans - good omen. Worked well on symphony. Aino made mushroom and larch bark soup.

9 February
Ill in bed. Aino ill too.

12 February
Worked all day, though still shaky.

13 February
Spring sunshine. Went for glorious walk. Worked all day in state of great exaltation.

15 February
Finished symphony. It is a work of genius, certainly.

16 February
Alcohol, deep depression. Symphony is terrible.

17 February
Snow. Burnt symphony. Began a new one.