What’s with the proliferation of lowercase titles for classical works?

Posted on: March 21, 2017

“Composers of what is known, for better or worse, as classical music have broken over time with sonata form, tonality, serialism and minimalism. And in recent decades, quite a few have also broken with the shift keys on their keyboards,” writes Michael Cooper in Sunday’s (3/19) New York Times. “All-lowercase titles abound. Hans Abrahamsen’s vivid song cycle ‘let me tell you’ has been a breakout success of recent years. This month the Detroit Symphony Orchestra played Jeffrey Mumford’s ‘of fields unfolding …echoing depths of resonant light.’ And the uncapitalized compositions of David Lang have given New York some of its biggest musical events…. Austrian composer Olga Neuwirth said that she traced some of her unconventional titles to her interest in the Wiener Gruppe, a movement of postwar Austrian writers….. [Nico Muhly] recalled the ‘serious typographical crisis’ he experienced once while discussing the slew of lowercase works being played at the New York Philharmonic’s (uppercase) new-music series, CONTACT! ‘Composers: can we call a halt to the lowercase titles?’ Mr. Muhly asked…. A post-lowercase era may be dawning.… The group [eighth blackbird] … recently renamed itself. It is now Eighth Blackbird.” Read Symphony magazine’s Fall 2016 article about the titles of new orchestral works here

Posted March 21, 2017