New Classical Featured Artist – 06/06/22 – 06/19/22
As we enter Pride Month and Black Music Month, we’ll be hearing the works of a composer who has been overlooked. His name is Julius Eastman. Eastman was born in 1940 and grew up in Ithaca, New York. He was an artist who, as a gay, black man, aspired to live those roles to the fullest. He was not only a prominent member of New York’s downtown scene as a composer, conductor, singer, pianist, and choreographer, but also performed at Lincoln Center with Pierre Boulez and the New York Philharmonic, and recorded experimental disco with producer Arthur Russell. He was also ahead of his time in terms of both musical and personal terms. He often incorporated racial slurs into his titles, which created a lot of controversies and modeled his own gender fluidity. In one instance he gave a performance of his work Femenine in a dress and truly advocated for finding our authentic selves.
Eastman seemed to have created a path to a successful career. He landed a position at the State University of New York at Buffalo and in 1974, he earned a Grammy nomination for a performance of Eight Songs for a Mad King by Peter Maxwell Davies. Sadly, Eastman had some personal struggles and suffered homelessness. He died alone in 1990 at a Buffalo, NY hospital, and his death wasn’t publically reported until eight months later. He was 49. He truly pushed the limits of sexual and musical identity. We’ll honor his life in this playlist.
Connect with Classical Music Indy’s New Classical channel to hear works by Julius Eastman.
Image credit: Donald Burkhardt