I couldn’t breathe any more. I needed air. I was tired of the same round of manipulating the pitches, vertically and horizontally … What I finally realized was that there were no cadences, that you can’t come to a natural pause, that you can’t write a musical comma, colon, semicolon, dash for dramatic, expressive purposes or to enclose a thought.
Asked about Schoenberg’s remark that artists must be “cured of the delusion that the aim of art is beauty,” Rochberg replied: “I have re-embraced the art of beauty but with a madness, absolutely. That is the only reason to want to write music.” He ends with the ultimate praise for Reilly, “I have to say you really understand my music.” One must read the full discussion to comprehend similarly.
Reilly’s interview with Gian Carlo Menotti, whose beautiful operas ignored the new orthodoxy from the beginning, discusses Menotti’s difficulties with the critics, and his having the last laugh with enormous popularity and even growing critical acclaim. His story of meeting Padre Pio is disorienting in these skeptical times, with Menotti refusing to tell its outcome as being too “private” to reveal. Reilly even interviewed perhaps America’s most honored composer just a few years before his death, David Diamond, who told him:
so much of the music that was written during the 1950s and part of the 1960s, music that was basically textural in the sense that the sonorities were the important thing, or patterns of sound, have not lived on. In fact, they’ve disappeared. Nobody ever listens to them. It’s because there is a lack of real musical language which communicates. In other words, there is no melodic substance and there’s no feeling in the sense of emotion, whether it’s lighthearted emotion or whether it’s dark and profound emotion.