I want to post today about a couple of modern classical music composers, as I have been puzzled at not being able to find any evidence that Robert Anton Wilson paid any attention to modern classical music. One of them in particular seems like somebody RAW could have known about.
Arvo Pärt is a serious modern composer who has achieved a remarkable feat: Large numbers of people actually have heard his music. That's something that can be said about only a few modern composers. After he experimented with some of the usual modernist styles, Pärt came up with a spare, minimalist style that he calls tintinnabuli.
There is a telling anecdote about one of my favorite Pärt pieces, a much-recorded two movement work called "Tabula Rasa." The music critic Alex Ross records in his book, The Rest Is Noise, that the piece was played for dying AIDS patients. The patients would ask for the "angel music" to be played again, their term for the second movement of the work, "Silentium."
Because of his popularity, I wonder if RAW knew of Pärt, just as I wonder why RAW never mentioned composers such as Philip Glass, Steve Reich and Elliott Carter.
The other composer I want to mention is Lou Harrison (1917=2003), also a much-recorded composer who wrote music that was unique but also more listener-friendly than many modern compositions. Harrison was much influenced by Asian music and used concepts such as microtones and just intonation.
But this is why I wonder in particular about Lou Harrison: The composer lived for many years in the Santa Cruz area, near where RAW also lived at the end of his life. A professor at UC Santa Cruz, Leta Miller, is one of the world's top experts on Harrison. Harrison's music must have been performed in the area. Harrison worked with and supported Charles Ives and John Cage, two composers RAW must have been familiar with. Did RAW and Harrison ever cross paths?