(Per)forming Open Form: A Case Study Using Earle Brown's Novara

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Drake Andersen


Most accounts of Earle Brown’s open form compositions focus on the notated qualities of individual events in the score. However, the conductor’s role in ensuring continuity and formal coherence within a performance is rarely acknowledged. In this article, I analyze recordings of three performances of Brown conducting his composition Novara (1962), two with the Virtuoso Ensemble in 1966 and one with a group of Dutch musicians in 1974. The conductor’s interventions in each performance embody a range of strategies used to suggest structural function and organize the time of performance. The multiplicity of musical processes in play within—and between—performances in turn suggests a parallel with Jonathan Kramer’s concept of multiply-directed linear time.

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