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from Sunday, September27th of the year2009.

A great thrill for me a few weeks ago was to play at Columbia University, where I did my undergraduate degree. It was designed to be a one-off reunion of the 802 tour Thomas, Sam and I did last year: an interlocked sequence of music by all three of us, ending with The Only Tune, a piece that incorporates all of us, written by me, featuring Sam. I had forgotten how fun it is to do that show. You can read a review of it here, which is cool because it uses the word “precious” in an inoffensive and descriptive way.

Ooh, there is a really bad review of my concert last night in the Guardian. I have never seen “flavour of the month” spelled in that way and am secretly thrilled to be dismissed in such a fashioun.

There’s a slightly bitchier one here, from the Telegraph, which said of my piece, “the result was slow, painful death.” What’s so genius about cunty English reviews is that all they do is provide you with awesome pull-quotes like the one above. A total pan can be a great thing; does everybody remember that genius Frank Bruni pan for that restaurant Ninja? My friends and I read that shit and the first thing we did was pick up the phone talking about do you have a table for eight.

= = = = =

I watched this movie Angels and Demons on the plane, and I have to say, it was fun. There was this amazing moment in the score where it turned into, like, ecstatic Terry Riley music with solo violin; who could ask for anything more in an action movie? I would like to call a temporary moratorium on the use of 7/8 in action sequences, though. It’s a little much, a little forceful, a little . . . embarrassing? It might be about creating that kind of drive through harmonic changes, rather than through an Orff-like pulse. Listen to me, trying to obscure the pulse! I’m going to end my days writing total serialism, I’m sure of it.

paul_bettany_grande3I was also pleased to see that the movie featured trustworthy Swiss blonds, too, as opposed to the last one, where my boo Paul Bettany was, like, albino and evil. All you ljóshærð people need to get an advocacy group together, because this is going to be the craniology of the new century, thanks to Dan Brown and J.K. Rowling.


  • It seems like they both cribbed each other’s notes, although I’d be rather curious to have heard the concert. And beyond the gushing praise for Sir JT (I have never really particularly enjoyed his music – his ancestor, I think, was considerably more talented) I’m surprised they’re still on with this Händel worship (a German whose music had considerably more to do with the Italians and French than their own national styles)….

  • Well said Patrick!!!!

    what he said.

  • Never trust a swiss blonde.

  • Totally worth the “cunty” (your word, not mine…hehe) English reviews if for no other reason than your entertaining take on them. Hell hath no fury, etc. etc.

  • Keep it up Nico! I’ve learned so much from your compositions and your blog. Can’t wait to hear (and see) what you do next.

  • Werq, queen!

  • Patrick – you mean John Tavener’s ancient ancestor John Taverner?

  • That’d be the one!

  • I just wanted to say that your concert at Columbia was lovely, really wonderful. Do you actually reply to these comments? Do you read them? Anyway, I’ve lurked around your ‘blog quite a bit and it’s always such enjoyable reading. Just wanted to say thanks.

  • You are, however, “achingly hip.” Does that mean the guy wants to be you real bad?

  • This has nothing to do with the post:

    I played Mothertongue (Archive, specifically) during a game of Daycare musical chairs yesterday. The kids went ballistic. They loved it. It might really be as universal as you hoped it would be.

  • I laughed at a “total serialism” joke. I feel like if Jeff Foxworthy made an equally horrible spin off to his “You know you’re a redneck when…” routine about music school, I would have just qualified.

  • i’ve missed the chatter.

  • Good point, good point. I think it has a slightly SLIGHTLY less offensive shine in UK context, perhaps, but I see that you are writing from a commonwealth xxxchange, so perhaps I misread.

    Please don’t use ‘cunty’ as a derogatory adjective. What about all that ‘don’t use gay to mean bad’ routine? Isn’t it all the same?

  • so bummed i missed the columbia performance, especially considering that i live a block away! your music is inspiring and your blog is hilarious.

  • Ow. That is indeed cunty! Don’t let them get you down.

  • Betsy Jane Ella III
    October 9th, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    The proper word is “vagíny”. If we’re going to be both vulgar and misogynistic.

  • I’ve lurked around your ‘blog quite a bit and it’s always such enjoyable reading. Just wanted to say thanks.


  • I’ve lurked around your ‘blog quite a bit and it’s always such enjoyable reading. Just wanted to say thanks.


  • This just needs a few ellipses. “Nico Muhly, the twentysomething, achingly hip American composer, contributed two recompositions. …[T]hese seemed unspotted masterpieces….”

  • I will bet you dollars to dime-bags that the reviewer got an erection while typing the words “achingly hip”.

  • Hello. I’ve just discovered your music. Why do you keep repeating the (furiously banal) address of my alma mater in your piece “archive”?

  • I have to say I find the two words “achingly hip” when used by a reviewer far more offensive than the word “cunty” – good use of an adjective there, Nico, it really summed up the reviews you were referring to.\n\nI went along to the Barbican night, and really enjoyed your two pieces, which along with the Tavener were the highlight of the night for me. Plus, reading your blog has introduced me to David Lang which is another result. Anyway, enough fawning, why aren’t you bringing the Bedroom Community tour to the UK?

  • Why don’t you come to France and help me with my studies at the Conservatory?