In November 2010, I publicly announced my ongoing problems with Open Court, a.k.a. Carus Publishing Company, regarding royalties issues and availability problems surrounding my book Endless Enigma: A Musical Biography of Emerson, Lake and Palmer. In the months after the announcement, I heard from nearly a dozen other Open Court authors who told me that they, too, had experienced problems collecting promised advances, royalties, or both, from Open Court. In fairness to Open Court, after I made my public announcement the book (which had been unavailable for two years) was reprinted, and in December 2010 I was paid the royalties I had been owed since March 31, 2008. However, the March 31, 2011 deadline came and went without me receiving the contractually obligatory royalties statement from Open Court for 2010 sales. I finally did receive said royalties statement in late July, 2011. Curiously (or maybe not-so-curiously, given my history with the company), the royalties statement did not include a check for the royalties I was owed. I have received no further correspondence from Open Court since that time: as of August 2012, Open Court still has not sent me a royalties statement for 2011 sales, which was due to me on or before March 31, 2012. I will be pursuing this matter in the near future and will announce the outcome of my course of action in the next update.
Classical Piano Recordings
As I said in the March 2012 update, I am asked occasionally if there will be another Hermetic Science album and my answer is that at this point in time, no further Hermetic Science albums are planned. While this does not rule out the possibility of another Hermetic Science album, it increasingly feels as if Hermetic Science, and indeed, progressive music, belongs to a past phase of my life. I am moving on to other musical pursuits.
One involves an effort to record as much of my classical piano repertoire as is feasible over the next couple of years. Phase one of this project was launched this summer, when, on July 24, I did a live-in-studio recording of nearly 80 minutes of piano music with a fine young engineer and former student of mine, James Adams, currently a music major at Humboldt State University. I am pleased to say that over sixty minutes worth of these recordings have been posted on this website, including works by Chopin, Liszt, Brahms, Franck, Holst (my own transcription of his orchestral masterpiece Egdon Heath) and Ginastera. These works can be not only listened to, but downloaded, for free: please return to the main page and click “Edward Macan Classical Piano Recordings” for details.
Writing and Other Projects
In 2011, Jonathan Friedman invited me to contribute a chapter to Routledge’s The Routledge History of Social Protest in Popular Music. I responded by writing “The Music’s Not All That Matters, After All: British Progressive Rock as Social Criticism.” I believe this chapter represents the definitive summation of the political and social vision of seventies British progressive rock. It also marks the first time that anyone has attempted to unravel the two somewhat contradictory strands of “protest” that are equally essential parts of prog rock: the modernist “protest” against philistinism, which is largely aesthetic, and the populist “protest” against the government-corporate-media complex, which is largely political. The book is scheduled for a spring 2013 publication.
A few people are aware that before I emerged as a major popular music scholar in the mid 1990s, my area of scholarly specialization was the music of Ralph Vaughan Williams, Gustav Holst, and early twentieth century British art music generally. As I became increasingly occupied with rock music scholarship during the second half of the 1990s and on into the new millennium, my interest in these composers and their world had to be put aside. In 2004, I made a decision to reapproach this subject. I never announced this, because I knew that to write the kind of book I hoped to write would require a tremendous amount of research—seven years, as it turned out. But in the fall of 2011, I began writing the book which I believe will become my life’s work as a scholar. I am tentatively calling it Medievalism, Pastoralism, Orientalism: Vaughan Williams, Holst, and the Construction of Twentieth-Century English Musical Style.
My thesis, simply put, is as follows. Between 1906 and 1910, Vaughan Williams and Holst drew on three important cultural constructs of late nineteenth and early twentieth century Britain—pastoralism, medievalism, and orientalism—to create discrete musical idioms that could be read as “pastoral,” “medieval,” and “oriental.” During the 1910s these idioms began to blend, and finally merged into a “new English style” that carries on both the William Morris-influenced “medieval socialism” that animated Victorian medievalism and Edwardian pastoralism, and the interest in a network of alternate spiritualities derived from Eastern religion and Western esotericism that animated fin-de-siècle British orientalism. Eventually, not only the essential musical vocabulary of Vaughan Williams’ and Holst’s “new English style,” but much of its ideology, gradually “trickled down” into popular English consciousness during the course of the twentieth century, to be spectacularly resurrected in the explosively creative and vibrant environment of 1960s and 1970s British rock culture.
As of today, I have completed eleven chapters of this book, which I anticipate will probably consist of about 20 chapters in all; that is, it’s probably just under one-half complete. I will issue further updates on this web site as the book progresses.
The Web Site
Other than the addition of the page devoted to my classical piano recordings, there has been only one other substantial update to the web site: never-before-available footage of the Macan-Durham-Nagy lineup of Hermetic Science performing a medley of Curved Air’s “Cheetah” and ELP’s “Infinite Space” at an April 1997 show has been added. A few may recall that medley appeared on the first Hermetic Science album of 1997, but did not appear on the Crash Course compilation of 2006. It therefore became unavailable when the first album sold out in 2006. The posted footage represents a good performance of the medley, and I am happy to get it back into public circulation.