Morton Feldman (1926-1987) was a unique and influentialAmerican composer. His experimentation with non-traditional notation, improvisation, and timbre led to a characteristic style that emphasized isolated and usually quiet points or moments of sound. Feldman’s meeting with John Cage in 1950 set his entire future direction and musical aesthetic. Cage’s circle of composers, which also included Christian Wolff and Earle Brown, combined with the influence of the visual artists that Feldman befriended (including Pollock, Rauschenberg, and Rothko), helped him to discard traditional music aesthetics for a less ordered and more intuitive, “moment form” approach to structure.
In his earlier work he experimented with graphic and other notations. By 1970, using conventional notation, his distinctive doctrine of quietness, stillness and lack of dramatic rhetoric was fully in place. Feldman’s best-known chamber works of this period include The Viola in My Life (1970- 1971), Rothko Chapel (1971), and Why Patterns (1978). In his last compositions, Feldman became interested in the use of time and proportion. The resulting pieces became greatly expanded in scale (his composition For Philip Guston lasts four hours, and his String Quartet II can take up to six hours to perform).
Feldman lived and worked in New York throughout most of his earlier creative career. In 1973, he was offered the Edgar Varèse Chair in composition at the University of New York at Buffalo, which he held until his death in 1987.
Two Pieces for Two Pianos
These two short pieces were written on November 17th and 21st 1954.