Robert Ashley, In Memoriam


Robert Ashley, composer of 20th and 21st century opera, died this past Monday at the age of 83. To mark his passing, we'll revisit this New Sounds program from September 30, 1991, which was the first time “television-opera” composer Robert Ashley had visited the WNYC studios.

As an introduction to this show from the archives, John Schaefer remembers how riveted he was by Ashley's work "Perfect Lives/Private Parts."  When first considering what sort of new and unusual music should be part of the New Sounds show in general, that "television-opera" was included in Schaefer's new music canon, and to this day remains one of his "desert island discs."

Ashley's work was widely considered to be the pre-cursor of "music-television," since, as he said, “many more people watch television than go the opera.” On this show, he and host John Schaefer discussed his work "Improvement (Don leaves Linda)", the reissue of his opera, the Kitchen-commissioned “Perfect Lives,” in conjunction with the publication of opera’s libretto as a book, and other projects on the horizon. 

According to Kyle Gann's blog, Ashley had just finished a piece called Mixed Blessings, Indiana, and was particularly proud of it.  As a coda, the world premiere of Ashley's final opera, Crash, will be performed along with two of the composer's other works at the 2014 Whitney Biennial in New York April 10-13.


PROGRAM #723: "With Guest Robert Ashley" Original airdate: 9/30/1991





Robert Ashley





Perfect Lives(3 CD set) 

"The Banker," excerpt [8:30]

Lovely Music #4917

Improvement (Don leaves Linda)

excerpt [8:00]

Elektra/Nonesuch 79289

Perfect Lives (3 CD set)  

"The Backyard," excerpt [8:30]

See above.

El Aficionado

excerpt [5:00]

Lovely Music 1004

Jorrit Dijkstra

Pillow Circles

Pillow Circle 88 for Robert Ashley, excerpt [5:12]

Clean Feed 166CD