Alvin Curran, Caspar, Edith Schloss, Richard Teitelbaum, Barbara Mayfield, Nicole and Frederic Rzewski in Piazza Navona, 1967. Photo Clyde Steiner
As Frederic walked around Wroclaw looking for a copy of the Financial Times he thought, "My God, Beethoven is just another Polish composer like me." The price of Brent Crude fell 2 points that day. At the same time Richard was translating his own CV from Tibetan into Yiddish in a reconverted Midi barn on the other side of the tenure track in upstate New York; he was also constructing a Golem out of old Moog Modules. Steve Lacy wore a green cordurouy suit as he sat in Cafe de Temple and continued to compose the history of melody on a napkin. He had Harpo Marx do the footnotes and Ahkmatova the book. Hearing Steve's melodic portraits, Alvin pushed Milhaud's chair into into the aerobic counterpoint room, recorded it, blew on a conch shell and and began signing invitations to the 21st century. Garrett List planted a Dada Tree in the Ardennes Forest and then went on to invent a machine which could remodel the quarter note to conform to Belgian standards. And George Lewis quietly hummed the Bill of Rights in retrograde inversion, waiting for an Internet Log Jam to clear; tiring of that, he took the A Train out of his trombone case, connected his hard drive to the Chicago EL and opened a beer. Via della Luce, Martin Buber, the Baader Meinhof Gang, Steve Ben-Israel, Pistoletto, The Living Theater, Yoko Ono, Pierre Clementi, Cornelius Cardew, Suzie Creamcheese, Giuseppe Chiari, The Pink Floyd, Enrico Rava, Brian Eno, Michael Nyman, Paik and Moorman, Elsa Morante, Jon Phetteplace, Braxton, Amacher, Carol Plantamura, Mayfield, Schloss, Abbeloos, Bryant, Vandor, Frans Brüggen, Andor at one time or another all were blessed by the convulsive howling sheets of sound that MEV let out... They and many others were all part of the mix Internationale that has since become the MEV score, its manifesto, and Book. Wherever Utopia burped MEV was there, in the front lines ready to hand out soup, performance instructions, sticks. The biblical word "circuitry" handed down by Tudor and Cage became synonymous with the cosmos and ethical egalitarianism. And time became the place where everyone met to step outside of it. We diligently ate Brown Rice, because it made us think of Kosher Hot dogs and a classic like Claire de Lune was executed with Curran's mandolin Obbligato by Rzewski wearing a Gorilla mask, because in Stockholm in l969 no one had done that yet. Police and Fire officials were regular patrons of our events; often there to stop them when the audience got too "collective," or when students misread our cryptic chord symbols as instructions in building bonfires. From our instrumentarium we hauled out Baroque fog horns and Somali camel bells, Transtiberium pane-glass pianos and with these we decided the music would start from the beginning, near Ur. This music was born stark naked, like a child at birth; squawked and was to remain naked all of its life, even as MEV travelled clothed in Jumbos to deliver it to whoever ordered it, like home Pizza. The intense rehearsals of the formative period were all we needed, for once we learned the language that we alone had invented we could all speak it , and so could anyone else— it was, after all, based only on mutual trust - and this, like the origins of all the great languages of the world could not be explained, but could be transmitted simply in a few basic signs that any hurdy-gurdy player with a stop watch could understand. Like most music, it somehow started, went up and down a few times and after a while stopped. The only difference between this and say Pergolesi, was that in the process everyone within hearing space disappeared (like Spacecraft )and only on repeated listenings to the tapes was one convinced that that music had, indeed, been made in a room. Now this once youthfull music is made by four middle men with curriculae, anarchist credit cards and vegetable gardens - so the chord changes are more complex than before and flated fifths can now mutate into funghi porcini faster than espresso. And, like that of our students parts of what we do is made in a Trailways Workstation, but unlike that of our students we still cook it on a can of Sterno out back.
Alvin Curran, for Musica Elettronica Viva concert at WDR, March 1995