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GUARDIAN – Michael Nyman on his Hillsborough Memorial: ‘It can only have an emotional purpose’

The uncompromising composer talks about how his popular success means he is still an outsider, and how the 1989 Liverpool football tragedy made him feel personally guiltyMichael Nyman, sipping dumpling soup in a Japanese cafe around the corner from the museums of South Kensington in London, offers a delightful and unlikely image from when he became music critic of the Spectator in 1968 and his mother first realised he might make something out of all those wasted years studying music. “She would buy the Spectator,” he says in his dry monotone, “and cut out my reviews and carry them around in her handbag to show to her friends.”It’s like something out of Monty Python: Mrs Nyman sitting in the Lyons’ Corner House with her circle, asking: “Have you seen what our Michael’s got to say about Cornelius Cardew and his prepared piano this week?” It also fits nicely into Nyman’s self-definition as the outsider of British contemporary music: the composer always ignored by the opera houses, scorned by his peers for doing all the vulgar things having a large audience, writing film soundtracks, making money that aren’t done by those he calls “real composers”. It’s reached the point where he feels there’s “something heroic” about his rejections from ENO and the ROH, “but it pisses me off, because I’m a very good opera composer, and I read with a combination of envy and joy when an opera that’s been commissioned from my colleagues is given two stars by the Guardian. I know I could write an opera that’s equally as bad, but I won’t get a chance.” Continue reading…

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