THERE IS A SPACE BETWEEN the artist and his artwork that has been better mapped by painters than by composers. The painter, after all, has the advantage of standing for hours and hours only inches from his painting as it comes into being. The composer spends those hours in a technical act of notation whose relation to the final work is oblique and not entirely determined; then the musical artwork comes into being in a public arena, without the comforting benefit of creative intimacy. One of the achievements of Morton Feldman (1926–87) is that, perhaps because of his connection to so many painters, he was better able to guide us through that space than any other composer of his century. No other figure of the last thirty years has had such widespread and visceral influence on young composers. His sensuously intuitive works, often uniformly soft in their dynamics, the late ones lasting as
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