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Marjan Mozetich - JPop.com
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Marjan Mozetich

Marjan Mozetich

Marjan Mozetich


As a young piano student in Hamilton, Ontario, Marjan Mozetich discovered the world of European avant-garde art music at the local library. He was fascinated by what he heard and, it seemed, hooked for life. A few years later, while studying composition at the University of Toronto's Faculty of Music, Mozetich found himself in conflict with his professors, whose views on what constituted contemporary music he considered rather conservative. After graduating in 1972 Read more on Last.fm
As a young piano student in Hamilton, Ontario, Marjan Mozetich discovered the world of European avant-garde art music at the local library. He was fascinated by what he heard and, it seemed, hooked for life. A few years later, while studying composition at the University of Toronto's Faculty of Music, Mozetich found himself in conflict with his professors, whose views on what constituted contemporary music he considered rather conservative. After graduating in 1972, the young freelance composer co-founded ARRAY (now ARRAYMUSIC), a group dedicated to performing and promoting the works of younger Canadian composers. In his own music, Mozetich experimented with virtually the entire palette of contemporary compositional techniques, from pieces written in graphic notation, to those that called for the banging of chairs in addition to more conventional means of producing sound. Small wonder, then, that eyebrows rose the early 1980s, when Mozetich, card-carrying member of the avant-garde, suddenly embraced Romanticism. Viewed at a distance of nearly two decades, the shift is less sudden than it then appeared. In fact, Mozetich had been concerned for some time that his music was not reaching an audience, and, that if no one wanted to hear it, it had very little reason to be. In the mid-1970s, while on a Canada Council-founded European study tour, Mozetich took part in a master class with the Italian composer Franco Donatoni at Siena.

The young Canadian dared to espouse the notion that music is emotion, that it is a medium in which to express feelings. "Immediately I got punced on", Mozetich recalls. "I defended myself but not in a very intellectual way." Back in Canada, he realised that he had lost his taste for modernism, the very music that had inspired him to become a composer, as a teenager back in Hamilton. That world had become sterile: composers, Mozetich realized, were supposed to "create a hypothesis and realise it musically, like a research paper.

I thought this was ridiculous". But there were a few composers whose music he felt drawn to: notably Terry Riley, and the New York minimalism of Philip Glass and Steve Reich. What Mozetich absorbed of that style into his own music was not the "phase-shifting" that was minimalism's main feature, but rather its simple, direct harmonies, userd in a non-narrative way, and the almost hypnotic effect of its repetitive patterns. "I never went totally minimal", Mozetich insists. "I never set the material and then set it in motion and let it spin itself out. I had to put my two cents' worth in! And then I found the less repetition I used, the more Romantic the music sounded." One of the first pieces to demonstrate this new approach was "Dance of the Blind" written in 1980.

Mozetich's sudden U-turn stunned his colleagues in the compositional community, but audiences loved it. Mozetich got an even greater response at the 1992 Banff String Quartet Competition. He wrote the imposed work for the competition: Lament in the Trampled Garden. Many in the audience were moved to tears.

Mozetich was pleased, but not surprised by this reaction. Much has changed in the musical world over the past two decades. Mozetich no longer feels like an isolated traveller in the world of tonality. But it's still a difficult road. There are those who hear in his music only the simple harmonies and repeated patterns, and assume that the compositional craft required is somehow unseemly. Mozetich is not disturbed by this, or not much anyway.

Though it would be nice to be universally loved, he's not especially interested in writing music to satisfy critics. Rather, he says, his aim is to write music that expresses beauty, sensuousness, emotion - things that give him pleasure. It's not compromise, he insists, because in doing so, he's only being truer to himself. And it's that truth that audiences connect with.

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