TUDOR stories and anecdotes

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From: Robert Hauk

Date: September 24 - October 8, 2002

Here are a series of emails exchanged between Robert Hauk, John D.S. Adams and Erin Donovan regarding his surprise purchase of Tudor's bandoneon....

On 9/24/02, Robert Hauk wrote:


I bought a bandoneon earlier this year, and inside I found names of
poeple who probably worked on it. The latest name was David Tudor,
giving the address on Willow Grove Road in Stont Point NY. I didn't
think much about it, I certainly recognized the name of David Tudor, but
I thought it might be someone else. I have been reading a biography of
John Cage, and realized from the Stony Point address that my bandoneon
must have belonged to David Tudor. The date written in the bandoneon is
1960, and I have since found that there was a performance titled
'Bandoneon!' that David in 1966. I am interested to know if my
bandoneon was the one used in this performance.

I realize that 1966 is a long time ago, and there may be no way to
answer my questions. I didn't find any references in the online catalog
for the Getty Research Institute in the David Tudor collection about a
bandoneon. Any help would be very much appreciated.


On 9/24/02, John D.S. Adams wrote:

Dear Robert,
What a fabulous find! Your instrument definitely once belonged to David Tudor, the late composer/musician. I'm glad the instrument has found it's way into the hands of someone who cares about its lineage.

I know that David had 2 Bandoneons, one of which I believe is in storage at the Cunningham Dance Foundation facilities in NYC. I'm not sure which he actually used in the performances of 'Bandoneon!'. The Getty probably has photos of that event which might allow you to compare your instrument with the one he used in that performance.

Regardless of whether it was used in that particular piece or not, this instrument you own I'm sure has a rich, strong, positive creative spirit about it. Enjoy! Check out http://www.emf.org/tudor for more info on Tudor.

Best Regards,
-John D.S. Adams

On 10/06/02, Robert Hauk wrote:

I have done a bit more reading about David Tudor and some of his work
with the bandoneon. I tried to contact Lowell Cross about his work with
David on the Bandoneon! performance. He might have some pictures I
thought. Also I looked at the web site for the Getty Institute, and of
course there is a gold mine there. It looks like David kept a lot of
stuff, and there could be notes there on the setup for his bandoneon
performances and pictures.

Do you know if Lowell Cross is still around?

It is a wonderful thing finding this bandoneon and it's history. I
spent some time playing music for dance with a small group of people.
We experimented a lot, and I have always been interested in experimental
music. Cage's book 'Silence' had some influence on me. I never would
have expected buying a bandoneon to have any connection to this kind of
Thanks again,

From: John Driscoll

Date: Tue, 6 Aug 1996

One time we were doing Rainforest in San Diego and we had all gone out and gotten these little Phillips amps and were using them - when after about the first hour there were little plumes of blue smoke rising from the different table tops --- they were all defective needless to say.

From: John David Fullemann

Date: Thu, 13 Jun 1996

In Buffalo we played a '30s theatre that was originally gorgeous but essentially ruined by 30 years of abuse and neglect. The marquee had 10 ft. Pontiac-indian head, but I do not recall the name. There were 2 pairs of 6ft Western Electric basreflex with 18" speakers from the thirties. (two channel mono?) They were probably driven with 10watts or so. Now the new theatre committee had bought 2 bridged 700w Yamaha amps but the new JBL clusters had not arrived so they were using the WE bins. We had our usual 4 604Es also. During sound checks the WE cones would stick and sound would cease to come from one or more of the stage units but the local crew swiftly leaped up and smashed the cone with their fist and we were back in business. They shrugged, it was normal. Incidentally, the new carpet was fitted in the hall and part of the balcony but they had not come so long as rolling the carpet out of the exits into the corridors and stairways so all exits (in the dark of course) were sort of blocked by 3ft carpet rolls attached to the floor. Soundance revved up and the WE bins were indeed lovely (terrific booming with swept lo frequency stuff, etc). After a new minutes, sound dropped out from the stage units and DT & I discussed whether or not I should go up and kick start them again. Suddenly smoke and then flames appeared from one of the left speakers. DT grinned from ear to ear and cranked it up a little bit more. The audience backed up a few rows and some were making for the exits. Someone grabbed a firehose and moved towards the speaker. A trail of hose-colored dust followed him. Sigh.

Nancy Gibson's brother (cousin?) made for his car and returned with a little aerosol can extinguisher. Case closed. Merce et.al continued (there were serious discussions in the little house) like pro's and the applause was deafening. DT liked to terms like sliced and sizzelling but that night he outdid himself. Yes.

DT had 4x6 filecards with the setup and it remained very constant through the years I watched him. The only changes were newer boxes made to replace old dead ones and the functions were imitated fairly closely. When replacing a unit, no attempt was made to duplicate (I never saw a schematic, I drew them as needed from the unit) with original schematic or transistor types, etc.

Perhaps it showed in the interview, but I will always have a warm spot in me for this piece. I still believe it differed from anything else and required considerable courage to perform night after night. -JohnF



This page was last updated on August 13, 2002. For more information contact: John D.S. Adams (john@stonehousesound.com)
or D'Arcy Philip Gray (starchy@cam.org). Server space generously provided by Electronic Music Foundation.