A Lilypond engraving of Morton Feldman’s Piano and String Quartet (1985)
“By the ’80s, when Feldman started writing longer pieces, I foolishly didn’t take the time to listen to them and Feldman drifted out of my musical consciousness. Then, in 1987, Morty died.
Within the next few years I began to listen to some of his late works. Two of them, Piano and String Quartet (1985) and the Turfan Fragments, particularly struck me. Piano and String Quartet is the most beautiful work of his that I know, and on examining the score I began to see that many of its quiet mysterious chords were actually inversions of themselves. Repetitions of material were never exact repetitions. In the Turfan Fragments, there is again a play of rhythmic phase relationships within the music. Feldman was able to combine extremely chromatic harmony, soft dynamics, and generally slow flexible tempos with “minimal” phase and variation techniques. I felt like I was getting a composition lesson from the grave. I wanted to call him, to tell him, that I had missed the boat with his late pieces, to ask how he made them—but that was no longer possible.
I miss Morton Feldman, and I love and admire his music.”
– Steve Reich