“It is conscious plagiarism that demonstrates invention: we are so taken with what someone else did that we set out to do likewise. Yet prospects of shameful exposure are such that we disguise to a point of opposition; then the song becomes ours. No one suspects. It’s unconscious stealing that’s dangerous.” — Ned Rorem, Paris Diary (Summer 1951)
Michael Finnissy: […] The reality that we, as living composers, are forced to accept- as natural- that the music of the past is unquestionably so much better than anything we might write and is going to be played so much more than ours is, is just bizarre.
Paul Steenhuisen: Do you think it’s something peculiar to this time?
Finnissy: I think it began to happen in the nineteenth century, a facet of bourgeois culture, that the good old days are better than the here and now. The past is more secure, more comfortable, and you know less about it.
(Interview with Michael Finnissy, Sonic Mosaics, Conversations with Composers, Paul Steenhuisen, 2009)
Tyler Versluis is a composer and pianist.