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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution


  Composer Profiles

Michael Sahl

has his own home page


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Click here Music for RealAudio 5 interview excerpt with the composer, 5:39.
Click here Music for a different RealAudio 5 interview excerpt with the composer, 2:49.
Click here Music for RealAudio 5 comments by the composer about opera, 3:44. In RealAudio2/14.4.
Click here Music for Exiles Cafe in RealAudio 5 stereo format, 3:59
Click here Music for Exiles Cafe in RealAudio 5 mono format
Click here Music for Exiles Cafe in RealAudio 2 format
Click here to reach his page.


Buckinx on Sahl

     The fascination for a newly defined music, whether we call it postmodernism or not, is at last widely breaking through. We see many signs of it, not only in the growing number of listeners to this programme (so much indeed that it has to be checked again because one could not believe it), but also in the last issues of a magazine like "Musiktexte" or in the bastion of modernism, the MusikKonzepte, or in a country like France were the old Boulez centralizes the power on the music scene and where nevertheless composers as Dusapin or Rabinowitsch or more and more performed, or in a dangerously organized country as the Netherlands where an opera following the new cultural views had attracted not less as 7,000 people.

     European musicologists and music lovers are aware that the most convincing impetus to this new culture came from the United States. Michael Sahl is more and more considered as one of those composers who influenced the culture of today. At the end of the seventies, where we place the breakthrough of Michael Sahl, it could have given a first impression of just something new. But even then it managed to give a wonderful synthesis of that period, including the ideas and techniques of seemingly every important artistic tradition, be it avant-garde or jazz or mixtures derived from folk or light or even film music. What was not at once clear (at least to myself), was the important fact of this stylistic pluralism, in which the old polarisation between High and Low Art, between Elitism and Populism, had vanished. The pluralism and the non-hierarchic aesthetic foundation have since then become the markstones of the new culture, and this is worldwide.

     Many people who are still thinking in the outgrown categories, are afraid of an art which could be too easy, or from the other side, too conceptual. That has been the reason why Michael Sahl and his likes, had to meet too much mistrust. We are so lucky to witness the last months an increasing interest and profound appreciation for his art. Indeed, it is very pleasing music for those who only want to give a glimpse of attention. But for those with subtle ears, it is very subtle music. It possesses not only the subtleness of the most subtle classical music, it is also deep in feeling and profound in its concept. As a matter of fact, thanks to the broadening awareness of postmodern theories, people realize the multi-layered art like Michael Sahl's.

     We are happy to have reached this stage in cultural evolution, in which an art of this importance is both for cultivated as for other listeners at the same time. It is attractive, but good too.But that could be applied to Mozart's period also. Moreover, and this is fascinating, in Michael Sahl and his music we meet a composer which is at the same time of classified historical value, a monument of the late seventies at the roots of our new culture; and at the same time more lively as whoever you could mention among young composers.

     It is a strong encouragement for optimism and belief in our culture, that Michael Sahl's free and open mind has been rewarded by general appreciation.

Boudewijn Buckinx, 4.November 1998
Programma De Toonzaal VRT Radio 3 Brussels

To reach the composer: msmy@rcn.com