INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
The Wire DECEMBER 2001 - by Julian Cowley
REVOLUTIONS FROM SCRATCH
Twenty years ago, British avant garde composer Cornelius Cardew's increasingly political activities were terminated by a hit-and-run driver. But his idealistic vision of a music that could shatter the division between art and the public continues to inspire his generation of musicians. Julian Cowley surveys the life of a true English revolutionary and hears testimony from friends and associates, including members of AMM, Michael Nyman, Christian Wolff, Frederic Rzewski, Alvin Curran and others.
On 13 December 1981, in Leyton, East London, the life of a galvanising activist in music and in politics was brutally terminated. Cornelius Cardew - composer, player and educator, cultural catalyst and (from 1971) ardent communist - was struck by a car and killed by a hit-and-run driver who was never identified. Cardew had been a member of AMM and The Scratch Orchestra. More recently, he joined the Revolutionary Communist Party of Great Britain. Twenty years after that tragic event, the vitality and commitment to idealistic principles that characterised his life continue to take effect through the lives of those who shared his values.
I keep coming back to the clarity and sharpness of focus of what he did, says Christian Wolff, a member of the New York School whose music first reached England largely through Cardew's efforts. It was a passionate clarity, he says. Cardew had the capacity to cut through mystification and conceptual clutter. He was acutely aware of what was actually involved in the processes of composing, performing and listening to music. His associates were led to think again about their own creative activity. Another American composer, Alvin Curran, recalls Cardew's calmness, his fiendish knowledge of the avant garde and his crystalline constructs derived from it. In time, Cardew would come to direct that alertness more explicitly towards political analysis. Organist, Michael Chant, who worked alongside him in both musical and political contexts, remembers Cardew as at the same time liberating and a hard taskmaster, demanding that we too put our musical and human talents where our best sentiments lie.
Cornelius Cardew was born in May, 1936. His father Michael was a well-known potter; his mother Mariel worked as a painter and teacher. Although Cornelius was to become a radically unorthodox educator, his own musical training was solidly conventional. As a child he was a chorister at Canterbury Cathedral School. Between 1953-57 he studied piano, cello and composition at the Royal Academy Of Music. He entered the arcane world of the European avant garde when a scholarship took him to study electronic music in Cologne under Gottfried Michael Koenig. Between 1958 and 1961 he acted as assistant to Karlheinz Stockhausen and worked on much of the orchestration for Carré, a piece scored for four orchestras. Stockhausen recognised Cardew's theoretical sophistication and granted his seal of approval to his performing skills. Cardew absorbed lessons during this period, as is evident from his Third Piano Sonata, but he found Stockhausen unpalatably autocratic. An encounter with John Cage and David Tudor supplied a more sympathetic lead. Cage offered performers liberation from traditional forms of subservience to the composer's will. Cardew started to introduce indeterminate elements into his compositions, notably incorporating graphic components in his score, Octet 61 For Jasper Johns.
For Cardew, indeterminacy was not merely a novelty. Making creative freedoms available to performing musicians, he signalled a persistent concern for music-making as a human activity, something that people do, rather than a rarefied art detached from everyday living. Later, in an essay Toward An Ethic Of Improvisation, he wrote: Musicality is a dimension of perfectly ordinary reality. During 1965, Cardew studied with Goffredo Petrassi in Rome. There he also met composer Larry Austin, who in June 1963 had founded the New Music Ensemble in Davis, California. The group, featuring expert musicians such as reeds player Jon Gibson and percussionist Stanley Lunetta, were committed to the idea of collective improvisation with no preconceived plan. Austin's tapes of their spontaneous compositions fired the imagination of Italian pianist Franco Evangelisti, who formed Il Gruppo Di Improvisazione Nuova Consonanza with other Italian musicians, including Ennio Morricone on trumpet. Cardew watched inquisitively, then joined in.
In Rome, Frederic Rzewski, a friend of Evangelisti and Cardew, formed the improvising group Musica Electronica Viva in 1966 with other visiting American musicians including Alvin Curran. Curran recalls that, prior to his baptism in MEV, Cardew was my first mentor... smoking joints on the banks of the Tiber and discussing things that as a young innocent composer, fresh out of Yale and Elliott Carter's big shadow, I had no idea existed - noise, revolution, graphics, chance, total education. After Cardew's death, Curran paid tribute with the piano piece For Cornelius. Rzewski, who remained a close associate of Cardew, remembers him as a musician, an artist, whose commitment to the things he believed in drew enormous respect from his fellow artists, just as it drew cat-calls from his critics. His careful, cool mind inspired many of us. His whole life was an experiment. He laid his life on the line.
In 1961, Cardew trained and occasionally worked as a graphic designer. Rather than compartmentalise the various areas of his life, he fed design skills into composition, and the challenge of producing effective graphic scores. In the mid-1960s Cardew became affiliated to the Center for Creative and Performing Arts at State University of New York, Buffalo. In 1967, the Gallery Upstairs Press, located in Buffalo, published his Treatise, a one hundred and ninety-three page graphic score into which he had channelled most of his creative energy since 1963. In Wiggly Lines And Wobbly Music, an article for the journal Studio International (1976), he described this elegant composition as a cross between a novel, a drawing and a piece of music. For Treatise, Cardew jettisoned all but vestiges of conventional notation and, crucially, he scrapped the notion of an 'ideal version', corresponding to the composer's intention, lurking transcendentally beyond the marks on the manuscript paper. Instead the lucid, precise score, arranged around a central spine, is itself the piece. Treatise has to be read from left to right, and Cardew insisted that performers should be consistent in their response to his opaque symbols, adhering to their chosen interpretation of a particular sign or shape. Yet the score offers no guidance even as to the number of players or the instrumentation. When pressed, he supplied his working notes as Treatise Notebook (1971), where he insisted that the sound should be a picture of the score, not vice versa. Still, it has been realised in sound on numerous occasions by various musicians. The first full recording, performed by the ensemble conducted by Art Lange and featuring Jim Baker, percussionist Carrie Bolo, reedsman Guillermo Gregorio, cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm and Jim O'Rourke on electronics, was issued in 1999 on hat[now]ART. It's a graceful, disciplined performance that acknowledges conceptual links with New York School composers such as Wolff and Morton Feldman. However, it's just one option, an attractive and persuasive one, among countless others the score might generate. An excerpt is realised by pianist John Tilbury, one of Cardew's closest associates throughout the 1960s and 1970s, on his fine Matchless CD Cornelius Cardew: Piano Music 1959-70. And a restrained reading of the of page one hundred and eighty-three of Treatise concludes Sonic Youth's Goodbye 20th Century.
Back in London in 1966, Cardew became involved with AMM, formed in 1965 by saxophonist Lou Gare, drummer Eddie Prévost, cellist Lawrence Shaeff and guitarist Keith Rowe, in order to improvise in ways distinct from conventional jazz. Initially, Cardew viewed AMM as players able to broaden the scope of responses to Treatise. Cardew's training undoubtedly made him nervous of scoreless playing. There was something about free improvising that evaded analysis and left him apprehensive, but he immersed himself in the AMM experience, adding cello and piano to the group's dense clouds of sound interspersed with spells of silence. That AMM quintet can be heard on AMMMusic 1966 (ReR).
Playing with AMM enabled him to feel at home with the discipline that freedom can engender. Michael Nyman, in his book Experimental Music (1974), quotes Cardew's observation that self-discipline is the essential prerequisite for improvisation. Discipline is not to be seen as the ability to conform to a rigid rule structure, but as the ability to work collectively with other people in a harmonious and fruitful way. Integrity, self-reliance, initiative, to be articulate (say, on an instrument) in a natural, direct way; these are the qualities necessary for improvisation. In 1970, when the BBC broadcast a 1966 recording of Treatise, Cardew remarked that it was a transition between my early preoccupation with problems of music notation and my present concerns - improvisation and a musical life.
Revelations did not flow in one direction only. Lou Gare speaks of the wonderful musical adventures they shared. When Cornelius joined us he opened us up to many new musical possibilities, and took us to play in places which without him would not have been accessible to us. In return we were able to show him that improvisation was a very direct and straightforward was to make a powerful music. Keith Rowe, viewed by Cardew as the David Tudor of the electric guitar, grew especially close to him. Cornelius was my best friend, perhaps the only one to understand my music, always generous and sincere, he comments.
Following Schaeff's departure, Christopher Hobbs joined the group, a line-up documented on The Crypt - 12th June 1968, as well as a 1969 recording made in Aarhus, Denmark included in the three CD set Laminal, both on Matchless. Hobbs was Cardew's first student following his 1967 appointment as a professor of composition at the Royal Academy of Music. In tutorials, they investigated the potential of ordinary words as notation, using the common medium of human communication to create musical scores. Cardew stressed the need for maximum clarity in the wording, allowing performers to be creative interpreters while precluding recklessness. Increasingly, Cardew questioned the authority assumed by conventional musical education, and sought to dispel any sense that musicians were special people, set apart from humdrum reality. Virtuosity deserved respect, but not to the exclusion of other qualities and abilities.
Still, Cardew accepted that Treatise appeared daunting even to highly trained musicians. He became interested in devising music which enabled as many people as possible to participate. Michael Chant suggests that one of Cardew's finest qualities was that he consistently posed the question of how there could be mass participation, direct participation, in music making. His experience and his character led him to the pursuit of the collective expression of what is emancipating and what will emancipate the human personality.
Cardew, like Chant, came to view communism as the route to this progressive goal. But in the late 1960s he sought other means, aware of La Monte Young's radically adventurous scores and the Fluxus spirit of art for and by all. The Tiger's Mind (1967), a verbal score, assigns 'characters' to be acted out by performers and is accessible to people without formal musical training. This move away from specialised musicianship continued with Schooltime Compositions 1968, a notebook containing verbal and visual prompts to action. Each composition is a matrix to draw out as interpreter's feelings about certain topics or materials, Cardew declared. An example is Song Of Pleasure: I am rowing a boat on a lake. The sounds - the regular breathing, the small creaking and thudding sounds of the oars in the rowlocks, the water lapping and sucking at the belly of the boat, the occasional passing bird - all combine to make a song of pleasure.
From 1968 until 1973 Cardew taught evening classes in experimental music at Morley College in South London. Painter Carol Finer, who attended, recalls, Cor saw us all as potential performers and composers, to be taken seriously, even though some of us, such as myself, had no professional music training or expertise. I learnt that there was a valid music available to all, outside of the so-called professional musicians, and that I could be part of it. Music was for everyone.
Cardew was a committed if unorthodox educator. Richard Reason, his student at the Royal Academy in 1969, recalls composition classes at Cardew's home, where they exercised their imagination, inventing games and other surprising ways to instigate music. At the same time that he was puzzling his establishment colleagues, Cardew contributed to the anarchic 'Anti-University' that had a short and elusive existence in East London. For him, teaching was not laying down the law, but enabling others to join in processes of discovery. With Keith Rowe and Eddie Prévost, he took up study of Chinese language and culture. The major work of this phase was The Great Learning, begun in 1968 and completed in 1971. A monumental composition lasting around seven hours in total, it enables amateur and professional musicians to participate as equals despite different levels of skill and varying backgrounds. Christian Wolff calls it one of the very great works for collaborative, communal performance.
The Great Learning is divided into seven Paragraphs, each setting a text derived from the Confucian school of Chinese philosophy. It incorporates group rituals and focuses attention upon the material qualities of sounding things - organ pipes, human voices, stones, metal and wooden objects. In the first Paragraph, whistles play over drones, speaking voices enunciate the text; in the second, massed drums compete with chanting voices. The score, which mixes some conventional notation with verbal prompts and diagrams, explicitly requires the participation of untrained musicians in the concluding three Paragraphs. In 1971, Paragraphs 2 and 7 were recorded for the German label Deutsche Grammophon. The recording has recently been reissued by Organ Of Corti, augmented with a recording of Paragraph 1 performed at a memorial concert in 1982.
Members of the Morley College class were amongst the initial performers of The Great Learning. With composers Howard Skempton and Michael Parsons, Cardew kept this big working group alive, and thus The Scratch Orchestra came into existence. Michael Nyman, a member of the orchestra in its early days, observes in Experimental Music that for Cardew it was the embodiment of certain educational, musical, social and ethical ideals. The ensemble was conceived as a research and performance collective operating according to egalitarian principles. Yet Cardew's experience, reputation and temperament seem often to have granted him a guiding role, despite his best intentions. Howard Skempton says, What I remember about Scratch Orchestra rehearsals is that nothing much happened until Cornelius arrived - sometime after the scheduled starting time. These rehearsals had the air of relaxed family gatherings. Cornelius was always calm and confident, and this inspired confidence in the rest of us. Skempton later paid tribute to his friend and teacher with the piece Well, Well Cornelius.
John White, born a month earlier than Cardew, collaborated with him in various composer/performer situations from 1963 to 1070, including The Scratch Orchestra. He recalls, I found him one of the most inspiring musical and philosophical influences in my life. He was a glowing example of cool but dedicated attitude as a performer, a delight to work with in ensemble and a creative artist of infinite fecundity. He was an unassuming and natural leader and an altruist of the highest order.
Cardew continued to expand the connotations of the term 'music', as he had with his Treatise score and verbal pieces. His Draft Constitution, which appeared in The Musical Times in June 1969, offered the definition of a Scratch Orchestra as a large number of enthusiasts pooling their resources (not primarily material resources) and assembling for action (music making, performance, edification). Cardew added, The word music and its derivatives are here not understood to refer exclusively to sound and related phenomena (hearing, etc.). What they do refer to is flexible and depends entirely on the members of The Scratch Orchestra.
The Scratch Orchestra first convened in July 1969. Its first concert followed on November 1 at Hampstead Town Hall, in North London. The group subsequently played diverse venues, ranging from CND rallies on village greens to 'proper' concert venues such as the Queen Elizabeth Hall. Most radically, it undertook literal musical journeys. A trip to Richmond, Surrey in 1970 included the performance of a piece for sticks by Christian Wolff in Kew Gardens, guided by prompts like: As a group stand and stare in a shop window. Humm automatically. This action was conceived by members Psi Ellison and Judith Euren. The number of participants fluctuated between thirty to a hundred, including AMM, John Tilbury, Organum's David Jackman, and familiar figures such as Michael Nyman and Brian Eno. Nyman emphasises that The Scratch Orchestra defined itself not through constitutions or the intentions of one composer, but through the interests, idiosyncrasies, ideas, creativity of the group of individuals, drawn from any number of walks of life, who made up the orchestra.
The Scratch Orchestra's performances encompassed five categories. Scratch Music required members to keep notebooks recording ideas for solos. When a new solo was added, previous ones assumed the status of accompaniments. All was not straightforward, however. In 1971 group member Michael Chant remarked, I know no one who claims to understand what Cornelius Cardew means by 'scratch music'. In 1972 Cardew edited a book of such pieces, called Scratch Music. It offered by way of clarification that this category of performance was half-way between composing and improvising. I saw it as a necessary curb on the free expression of fifty players, and as a training ground. Such a curb seemed to him a practical necessity regulating relative loudness amongst the players, or ensuring appropriate pacing for what might be a long performance. Training would enhance the capacity of players to envisage how apiece might work and how the music might sound. In Scratch Music, word again mingle with visual images, drawings and designs. On one page, philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein is quoted: An expression has meaning only in the stream of life. Other pages carry instructions such as Tune a brook by moving the stones in it, and Fly musical kites.
Carol Finer found the experience inspirational. Those Scratch Orchestra days were amazing and wonderful, she recalls. I experienced the joy of collective activity combined with a genuine endeavour to reach out to our audience. Popular Classics were readymade pieces. One member would introduce a particle - an excerpt from a score or recording - of music known to several others, who would join in playing as well as they could from memory, improvising where necessary. Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture and Beethoven's Fifth Symphony might feature, but the repertoire extended to compositions by orchestra members, such as Christopher Hobbs's Voicepiece, dating from his student days. As a concert organiser Cardew had, since his time in Germany, introduced early works by Terry Riley and La Monte Young to European audiences. Cardew visited Terry Riley in New York during the mid-'60s, inquisitive about his pioneering minimalist work Terry Riley's In C. He took the score back to England and staged one of the first performances of the piece. In C also achieved Popular Classic status.
Then there were Improvisation Rites. The Draft Constitution proclaimed: An improvisation rite is not a musical composition; it does not attempt to influence the music that will be played; at most it may establish a community of feeling, or a communal starting point, through ritual. Examples were collected and published as Nature Study Notes (1969), distributed through the experimental Music Catalogue, which Hobbs had set up to promote innovative work. The first rite (which doesn't entirely seem to conform to Cardew's proclamation) specifies, Any number of drums. Introduction of the pulse. Continuation of the pulse.Deviation through emphasis, decoration, contradiction. Another says, Seventeen people play simultaneously at one piano. Reference to musical instruments was not obligatory: Converse with pigeons (real or imaginary). Establish a rapport. An enigmatic rite, attributed to Cardew, instructs: Construct a silver pyramid. Bathe it with light. Play.
Eddie Prévost had envisaged such a pyramid two years earlier. He went so far as to build it, and in 1969 at a festival at London's Roundhouse, the specially assembled Music Now Ensemble did the playing. Cardew participated in the group under the direction of Keith Rowe. Prévost has recently retrieved this strangely luminous music from his personal archive, and issued issued the recorded improvisation on a Matchless CD entitled Silver Pyramid.
A fourth category consisted of original compositions, written by members specifically for the orchestra. Finally there was the Research Project, designed to ensure the orchestra's cultural expansion. Members were invited to undertake journeys into new areas of knowledge and experience, approaching research as a means of growth, rather than as the accumulation of data. The aim was to get as close as possible to the object of research, which might come from any sphere of life. In addition, members were asked to spend some time developing new musical instruments.
The Scratch Orchestra was an experimental group, and necessarily fostered questioning attitudes. In time, tensions arose within it and internal contradictions came under close scrutiny. Some members found other outlets for their musical energies. Some felt that Cardew's role was too dominant. Some were concerned that the orchestra was insular and detached from the concerns of the masses. Marxist members such as John Tilbury and Keith Rowe were keen to politicise the group's activities and when, on the road from London to Portsmouth, The Scratch Orchestra encountered a strike by shipyard workers, members were struck by a disturbing sense that its activity was irrelevant to the lives of these working people.
In August 1971, issues raised by documents which had been circulating under the tile Discontent were openly discussed. The Scratch Ideology Group was formed to study socialist though: Marx, Lenin and Mao in particular. Some members of the group were alienated by this development, and from that point on the days of The Scratch Orchestra were numbered. Cardew soon aligned himself with Maoist Marxism and, along with Tilbury, Rowe and others sought to evolve music that would serve the cause of the oppressed. Cardew's shift to this explicitly politicised position was grounded in ethical awareness that had long been evident in his approach to musical activity. In 1967 American composer Morton Feldman wrote an article for Source, a music journal co-founded and edited by Larry Austin, in which he declared: Any direction modern music will take in England will come only through Cardew, because of him. By way of him. If the new ideas in music are felt today as a movement in England, it's because he acts as a moral force, a moral centre. This aspect of Cardew's character also struck Terry Riley: His social awareness really appealed to me as a composer. You don't live in a world as if in a vacuum. I was really interested in his way of trying to integrate this into his music and that he felt compelled to do it.
The Scratch Orchestra performed The Great Learning at the Proms in 1972. Cardew then turned his back on experimental music and started to write politically charged songs with a strong message, reverting to traditional notation and harmonic structure. In 1974 he published Stockhausen Serves Imperialism, a collection of essays by Cardew, Rod Eley and John Tilbury. As well as Stockhausen, John Cage also came in for bitingly dismissive criticism. Cardew now argued that, compared to classical music, modern composition is less effective, wholesome, moving, satisfying, delightful, inspiring, stimulating and a whole lot of other adjectives that are just as widely understood and acknowledged and just as hard to pin down with any precision. He acknowledged that The Scratch Orchestra had a worthwhile goal, to break the monopoly of a highly trained elite over the avant garde, so we made music which was quite concretely 'simple' in its assault on the senses. We wanted to devise a kind of music that would release the initiative of the participants. But in the event, isolation, chaos, and mystical introspection inclining to the cult of individualism prevailed, rendering the group impotent, trapped in a cul de sac of bourgeois ideology.
In 1974 he performed on the Deutsche Grammophon recording of Steve Reich's Drumming: such music could still grant him the means to make a living. He formally renounced his involvement with The Scratch Orchestra and works such as Treatise and The Great Learning. He now saw Confucius as a representative of a repressive regime, seeing Mao as a progressive alternative. In 1975 he became chair of the Progressive Cultural Association. The PCA singers staged concerts in working class communities, especially London's East End, singing against fascism and racism and for the Republican cause in Ireland. From 1975 to 1977 he taught a class, Songs For Our Society, at Goldsmith's College, London. In 1979 Cardew helped found the Revolutionary Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) and remained a member of its Central Committee until his death. He and Tilbury joined the group People's Liberation Music, playing folk and agit-pop. Anxious to communicate with working class audiences, he approached his former student Richard Reason, who regularly played piano in pubs, seeking advice on how to make his own pub performances more effective. He visited folklorist Al Lloyd and searched his library of music for suitable source material.
In effect, he had renounced musical modernism and become a socialist realist composer. The Italian label Cramps issued Four Principles On Ireland And Other Pieces (1974), with Cardew playing recently composed piano works. These include Soon (inspired by Mao's article A Single Spark Can Ignite The Prairie), The Croppy Boy (based on a song of the Irish uprising of 1798), and Bethanien (written in support of a campaign to build a hospital for children of working people in West Berlin, where Cardew had lived on a DAAD fellowship during 1973). The album has recently been released on CD by Chicago label Ampersand, with sleeve-notes by by Virginia Anderson (whose book-length study British Experimental Music: Cornelius Cardew And His Contemporaries is a valuable source of information). In her notes, she observes that the Cramps recording documents a pivotal time in Cardew's work, poised between the strictest interpretation of Marxist aesthetics and the development of his voice within those aesthetics. Piano Music (B&L) includes some of these pieces, plus Cardew's performance of his Thälmann Variations (named after the leader of the German Communist Party who opposed Hitler's fascism), Andrew Ball and john Tilbury playing Boolavogue (Cardew's last composition, based upon an eighteenth century Irish rebel song) and Andrew Botrill's rendition of Sing For Future Variations. These three works indicate how Cardew was developing his music. He came to recognise that the best lessons the past had to offer could enrich relevant music for the present. Towards the end of his life he registered for an MA degree in musical analysis at King's College London, seeking further critical resources to identify what was useful in music's history.
Christian Wolff perceives a complete and explicit break between two phases of Cardew's compositional life. The first embraced the avant garde of Stockhausen and Cage; the second gravitated towards politically driven music in more or less a nineteenth century concert idiom on the one hand, and on the other the popular, folk, sometimes near-rock idiom for use at demonstrations, political meetings and the like. Frederic Rzewski prefers to emphasise continuity, suggesting that Cardew's renunciation of the avant garde was just a rigorous consequence of his experimentalism. His experimentation with socialist realism was a logical continuation of his earlier experiments. Graphics, improvisation, nonsense poetry, ancient Chinese texts, all these things were ways to music.
Hugh Shrapnel, who studied with Cardew and became a member of The Scratch Orchestra, also prefers to stress fundamental continuities: Cornelius's music was unique in character: it could be grandiose in formal conception in works such as Treatise and The Great Learning; express the lofty ideas of the working classes for a better world in Thälmann Variations and Boolavogue; but could be quirky, even humorous in expression. Although throughout all stages of his musical life he sought to democratise contemporary music and create a music that had relevance to the ordinary people, he was no populist. No composer was more serious-minded and opposed to the commercialisation of music in every way. For Cornelius the idea behind a piece of music was the crucial thing, i.e its content. Terry Riley attended a performance of overtly political music Cardew gave in Berlin. He found the music less engaging than Cardew's earlier compositions, but I really admired the fact that he was doing it and that he was trying to make people aware of the injustice in the world..
At the time of his death in 1981, Cardew was scheduled to perform Treatise with AMM. It appears he was working towards an accommodation of his earlier achievements within the imperatives of his later work. Music by Bach and the Internationale were performed at his funeral. Memorial concerts were staged in London, Chicago, Tokyo and New York. Cardew created works of rare conceptual clarity and elegant design. His associates drew support from his calm purposefulness, relevant knowledge and freedom from cynicism. He opened up music, expanding its definition and making it accessible to anyone who felt the need to participate. Michael Chant suggests that Cardew can serve as a model to progressive musicians and artists irrespective of ideology. His name lives on in the Cardew Foundation, which publishes his work and supports young composers, and the Cornelius Cardew Ensemble, formed in 1995 with the aim of broadening the general public's access to contemporary music.
As for the future of his memory, John Tilbury is currently working on a biography of Cardew; Virginia Anderson is writing a history of The Scratch Orchestra. The twentieth anniversary of Cardew death was commemorated at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music festival in November with a performance of The Great Learning, and concerts by Tilbury and Skempton. The group Apartment House, soon to release a Matchless CD of his chamber music from the period 1955-64, also took part. A new recording of Cardew's piano music played by Frederic Rzewski has just been issued by New Albion. On December 29, a Cornelius Cardew Day event will be held at London's Conway Hall, with Rzewski, AMM, John Tilbury, members of The Scratch Orchestra, the Promenade Theatre Orchestra and People's Liberation Music. At this time of commemoration it's appropriate also to bear in mind Alvin Curran's words: Cornelius lived in the future, often far beyond the hearing and sight ranges of most of us.