New Works: Words without Song

How can music comment on society? To the extent that electronic sounds suggest the dissonances in everyday life? Perhaps. But, as Italian-born Composer Luciano Beno says, music "cannot lower the cost of bread. It is incapable of stopping wars, it cannot eradicate slums and injustice." Granting that much, Beno, a leading innovator of musical forms, refuses to accept the conventional barriers. He is appalled that composers today seem to regard music as an isolated phenomenon, created in a vacuum for the "greater glory of musical systems."" Never before, he says, "has...

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