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Home » London » TILBURY, JOHN: Cornelius Cardew - A life Unfinished

TILBURY, JOHN: Cornelius Cardew - A life Unfinished
A massive (1070 pp) book, over 30 years in the writing - and as far as I have got to date - beautifully written. Thorough and without fat, Tilbury never loses sight of what is important or relevant and doesn't pursue trivia. By page 29 we are at the Royal Academy and then follow Cornelius through his years in Köln with Stockhausen (and the Darmstadters), his return to the UK, Treatise, AMM, The Scratch Orchestra and The Great Learning, then his twists and reconsiderations in the light of an extreme political conversion - with much background and insight drawn from Cardew's own journals and the recollections and testimonies of friends and acquaintances. That's as far as I have got so far, coming next is the long Maoist period, his critiques of Stockhausen, AMM and his earlier works, People's Liberation Music, arrest and imprisonment and what really happened toward the end of his short but very eventful life. No one could wish for a better biographer, Tilbury is understanding but not apologetic, painting a picture that leaves space for what can't be known, attempting to represent events honestly, irrespective of whether they reflect well or badly on his subject. This is neither hagiography nor trouble-making, trying rather to take an unsentimental, unsanitised position on the manifold complexities of Cardew's life and work. It is also a history of the rather remarkable and significant times through which Cardew lived - culturally, socially and politically - as an engaged and not uninfluential actor. Tilbury is also an actor in this story and he doesn't pretend to be neutral, he does however carefully recognise and distinguish his own understandings and self understandings from those of his subject. So far as I have got, this is an exemplary biography and an important historical document, at once a profound insight into the musical innovations of the '50s and '60s and a joy to read.
SORRY, PLEASE ADD £6 toward the brutal cost of postage.

Code: tilburyCardew
Price: £52.50