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Fanfare Contributor Bio

Adrian Corleonis

A few colossal solitaries apart—e.g., Partch, Sorabji, Nancarrow—the world loses color and interest for me about the year I was born, that is, the year Rachmaninoff died. Mundane existence fell away at three when first I got Mother’s 78s on the player and was forever transformed by the dissonant chords and Promethean surge of the “Eroica” intersecting rural Virginia’s perpetual hillbilly hoedown—a recognition given an exponential fillip at 14 in southern California by first hearings of the Tannhäuser Overture and the Franck Symphony. Recordings were ever after the indulgence of a grand nostalgia for times I seem almost to recall—Paris from the Franco-Prussian War, Jazz-Age Berlin—and I parted company immediately with pop “culture” (cultivating idle trashiness) in a still-glowing rage of melomania, never to look back.

In 1965, a small inheritance enabled me to visit London, Paris, and Rome and return with a steamer trunk loaded with scores and a few recordings by the bande à Franck. A taste for the rare, recondite, and arcane was blossoming. Already, the peculiarly American association of the arts with academia—with the shifty, sweaty, low traffic of courses, “credits,” exams, degrees, and other parasitic nonsense—loomed as pernicious and perverse, while the notion that my pleasures and pursuits require “validation” was revealed as a conspiracy of the mediocre. I have lived as a philosopher, that is, prudently and apart. I have never owned a television and hear only brief newscasts from the radio. Beethoven remains, for me, pristine.

My first review—of Alkan’s stupendous op. 39 Études in Ronald Smith’s heroic traversal—appeared in Fanfare’s January/February 1979 issue, and I have been a regular, often voluminous, contributor since. Insofar as I possess a personal style, it emanates from a jostling in the inner ear of the dignity and directness of Alfred North Whitehead’s grandest cadences with the colloquial verve of H. L. Mencken—though, of course, I claim the distinction of neither. As a critic, I learned by emulating Peter J. Rabinowitz, whose encyclopedic grasp and clairvoyant acuity—seizing unerringly upon the synecdochically telling detail—taught me to listen. Writing for Fanfare is a privilege. Thanks to the enterprise, helmsmanship, and (above all) supernatural patience of Our Founder, I have been able to expatiate for Fanfare’s select audience upon nearly all of the immortals, famous and obscure, about whom I prepared myself to write.

Some things must ever remain hidden—O, for a genuine apocalypse! I entertain the faith that as I pass from this life it will be revealed who has struck the deepest. Franck? Busoni? Gershwin? Fauré? Delius? Joplin? Or a complete surprise closer to me than myself yet somehow overlooked? Perhaps, when the Gates of Light swing wide, Cole Porter will stride forth to greet me as celestial choristers kick up a percolating rendition of You’re the Top. Until that magic moment, I continue to fulfill an archetypal function in my community as the strange old man with the weird music and the cats.


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