Composer Golijov explains use of borrowed music in “Sidereus”

Posted on: March 9, 2012

“Plagiarism? Excessive borrowing? The normal creative process?” writes Daniel J. Wakin in Thursday’s (3/8) New York Times. “Suggestions that Osvaldo Golijov, one of today’s most sought-after composers, improperly incorporated the work of another composer have stirred up a squall in classical music circles. … In composing his overture ‘Sidereus,’ the Argentine-born Mr. Golijov was said to have borrowed excessively from a work for accordion and ensemble, ‘Barbeich,’ by Michael Ward-Bergeman, a composer, accordionist and close friend. Mr. Golijov, however, said that both works, as well as a string quartet he recently wrote, were partly derived from several discarded minutes of a film score that the two composers collaborated on. That movie was ‘Tetro,’ a 2009 film directed by Francis Ford Coppola. … ‘Sidereus,’ the subject of this fracas, is a nine-minute overture by Mr. Golijov that was commissioned by a consortium of 35 orchestras to honor a music industry official, Henry Fogel. Mr. Fogel is the former president of the League of American Orchestras, whose board put up $50,000 toward the commission. … The orchestra league and Mr. Golijov’s publisher, Boosey & Hawkes, have stood behind the composer.” The matter was brought to light by composer and NPR music critic Tom Manoff on his blog after attending a performance of Siderus with trumpet player Brian McWhorter. The two had worked on a recording of Barbereich. Wakin continues, “Mr. Ward-Bergeman issued a statement early on during the controversy, saying: “Osvaldo and I came to an agreement regarding the use of ‘Barbeich’ for ‘Sidereus.’ The terms were clearly understood, and we were both happy to agree.”

Posted March 9, 2012