Almost Nothing

A performance of 16 Trompeten, a work by Antoine Beuger in a performance by the trumpet classes of Corrado Bossard and Andreas Wulf conceived by Craig Shepard. Photograph: Betti Vock.

Almost Nothing

Can you hear the difference between a pause and silence? Composer Tom Johnson explores recent trends in European minimalism and silent music.

During my fifteen years living in New York, I believed, like almost everyone else, that minimal music was an American music. But now, after living twenty-six years in Europe, I feel that this genre is as much European as American. I am not a critic or a musicologist, and I don’t go to lots of festivals and receive lots of CDs, so what I know is mostly just things I run across in my life as a composer. I must also emphasise that I do not in any way feel that European music is better than American music. In recent years my trips to the US are extremely rare, so I am quite out of touch with things there and can’t make comparisons anyway.

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Published on 1 December 2009

Tom Johnson studied privately with Morton Feldman and established himself as a composer of the minimalist group in New York in the 1970s, later settling in Paris, where he has lived since 1983. Among his works are The Four Note Opera, Failing, Narayana’s Cows and the Bonhoeffer Oratorio.

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