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Nico Muhly

Nico Muhly’s opera Marnie, based on Winston Graham’s novel, opens at the Metropolitan Opera in New York this month.

Diary: How I Write Music

Nico Muhly, 25 October 2018

The primary task, I feel, is to create a piece of art that is better than the same amount of silence; I would prefer to sit silently thinking for ten minutes than to listen to certain pieces of music, and therefore feel that it is my duty as a composer to occupy the time of the listener and the musicians with something challenging, engaging and emotionally alluring. I don’t want to play them a movie with a clear exposition, obvious climax and poignant conclusion, nor do I want to drop them blind into a bat cave of aggressively perplexing musical jabs. I try to create an environment that suggests motion but that doesn’t insist on certain things being felt at certain times. Mapping the piece’s route helps me avoid the temptation of the romantic journey or the provocateur’s dungeon.

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