Composer Reflects On Legendary Dance Company

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When experimental composer Christian Wolff was commissioned to create music for the legendary dance choreographer Merce Cunningham, he was given just one directive: the length of the piece. Theme, tempo, mood, orchestration-all the rest was up to Wolff. The dancers in the company often wouldn’t hear the music until their final rehearsal.

Though more common now, this kind of collaboration-with music and dance occurring at the same time yet sort of independent of one another-was revolutionary when Wolff and Cunningham began working together in the 1950s.

Merce Cunningham died in 2009 but his company is presenting a farewell legacy tour hitting Paris, New York, Tokyo, Berlin…and, this week, Hanover, where Christian Wolff taught music at Dartmouth for many years. Wolff joins us to talk about his extraordinary collaboration with Merce Cunningham.

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